Democracy Is for Life, Not Just Elections
Democracy Is for Life, Not Just Elections
By Russell Brand /

A mate who I trust said to me; “You know what this election boils down to? Who do you want to be protesting against on May 8th? Or whenever they finish counting, negotiating and posturing?

David Cameron and a Tory coalition or Ed Miliband and one led by Labour?”

I suppose, implicitly my argument has always been – the Tories – let them wrench out the organs of the nation with such ferocity and contempt that usually phlegmatic people are dragged into the war against the establishment by the dreadful, eviscerating G-force.

The conservatives are such cinematic villains, the Etonian gits with their Freudian slips; the “West Villa United” supporting, “career-defining”, Darth Vader toffs. If you’re auditioning for heads on spikes “come the great day”, there’s no competition.

Like the fierce and exciting Nicola Sturgeon, or anyone with ears, I thought the difference between the two main parties was insufficient. Ed Miliband’s campaign manager, David Axelrod – a more appropriate name for a spin-doctor it’s difficult to imagine – he may as well be called Zach Huxter, is the bloke who delivered unto us Barack Obama; a tidal wave of potent promise that became a drab damp patch of disappointment. If that doesn’t induce a sigh of impotent lassitude you’ve got more “Yes We Can optimism” than Rolf Harris’s art dealer.

In the episode of The Trews in which I interviewed Ed Miliband there is no Damascene moment. I did not tumble back in a white beam of enlightened reverie, scales falling, realising that the Westminster machine, with a different pilot will serve ordinary people. We decided to endorse Labour before we approached them for the interview.

The simple truth is I don’t have a “ready to wear” system of government to offer people on May 8th and neither does anyone else I’ve yet spoken to.

My fundamentalist abstemiousness became untenable because of mates making practical pleas of varying import;

1. “My brother has MS, if the Tories get in, his independent Living Fund will be cut and he’ll have to go in a home or move into mine…”

2. “My kids can’t do a production at school because of budget cuts…”

3. “My daughter can’t go to university because we can’t afford to pay a student loan back…”

4. “Our drug treatment day care program is being shut down due to cuts…

In the grand scheme of Revolution these are small problems, I agree, small problems that can be somewhat assuaged with the small solution of getting rid of the Tories.

Ultimately what I feel, is that by not removing the Tories, through an unwillingness to participate in the “masquerade of democracy”, I was implicitly expecting the most vulnerable people in society to pay the price on my behalf while I pondered alternatives in luxury.

The reason I didn’t suggest it sooner is because, twerp that I am, I have hope. I really do believe that real, radical change is possible that the tyranny of giant, transnational corporations can be ended, that ecological melt-down in pursuit of imaginary money can be arrested and reversed, that an ideology that aspires to more than materialism, individualism and profit can be realised and practiced.

People that know a lot more about this than me, and probably you, advised me that we’ll be better off rucking with a Labour government than a Conservative one – if that strikes you as a pitiful choice, more sympathetic I could not be – but some people are facing much worse dilemmas than reneging on a puritanical political stance.

Does this country need a radical new political movement? An equivalent of Syriza in Greece or Podemos in Spain? It feels like it does and when the next administration fails to deliver because of the limitations of parliamentary politics I’ll happily participate in setting it up. With you.

Do we need an international confederation of new political alliances that are committed to real change, real democracy, a revolutionary alternative to capitalism? That can challenge the IMF, WTO, WBO and all the other global acronyms so portentous and phony they may as well be the wrestling federations they sound like? Of course we do, my schedule’s pretty clear, I’ll join in. Will you?

What Ed Miliband said on The Trews that seemed positive is that his government will be responsive to activism and campaigning. That will be pretty easy to evaluate quickly. Are media monopolies being broken up? Are the urgently needed houses being built? Is austerity continuing? Is the NHS still being privatised? Are we still blaming immigrants, the disabled and disadvantaged for massive economic problems that they can’t have created? Is domestic policy being dictated by unelected elites in the financial and corporate world?

If the answer is yes then you know that democracy in its current form is near redundant, that we are not offered reasonable alternatives and that parties that try to, like the Greens are stymied to the point irrelevance by ancient electoral architecture.

My position will not have changed on May 8th, I’ll be doing my best to amplify movements I believe in, from housing, to trade unions, football fan campaigns, social enterprises, digital activism, student occupations, organic agriculture, crypto-currencies; the same things I’m doing today, the things I’ve been learning about for the last 18 months; since I said I don’t vote on the telly.

My recommendation that people vote Labour is an optimistic punt that the degeneration of Britain will be slowed down and the lives of the most vulnerable will be a little more bearable than they’d’ve been under the Tories.

Nothing more ambitious than that.

It will take serious activism, committed action comparable to the sacrifice of those whose memories are continually evoked as a spur for us to vote. The women who died for that right, the people all over the world branded terrorists and imprisoned or executed for demanding democracy.

I fully understand that real change, real democracy is not something that can be palmed off in a booth twice a decade, a crossed box and crossed fingers. Democracy is for life, not just elections.

4.1 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 12,524 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 3,168 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 3,027 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Mark Corske's Engines of Domination (2014)
60 min · 2,849 views today · Political power -- armed central authority, with states and war -- is it part of human nature? Is it necessary for human communities? Or is it a tool that ruling elites use to...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 2,221 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 1,558 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,539 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Gil Scott-Heron Deconstructs Colonialism and Black History in His Own Unique Style
3 min · 1,142 views today · His-Story: I was wondering about our yesterdays, and starting searching through the rubble and to say the very least, somebody went to a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 1,021 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 919 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 900 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 826 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 547 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 494 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
Anarchists - What We Stand For
unknown · 472 views today · Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a political philosophy, anarchism is based on the idea that organization does not require rulers—that...
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 393 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 380 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Are You Lost in the World Like Me?
3 min · 293 views today · Animated film by Steve Cutts for 'Are You Lost In The World Like Me?', taken from These Systems Are Failing- the debut album from Moby & The Void Pacific Choir. 
The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism
Chris Hedges · 277 views today · College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity—embodied in...
Eckhart Tolle: Your Facebook Ego, That's Not Who You Are
2 min · 263 views today · “Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past: the "little me" and its story. This...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Democracy Is for Life, Not Just Elections