Editorial: A new Brand of consciousness

Seán Dagan Wood

When Russell Brand challenged the status quo in a Newsnight interview, he was picking up on a shifting sense of what is possible for society – and recent successes in international diplomacy are among signs that he may be right

At times, it might seem like things will always carry on in roughly the same way as they are now; business as usual. But then something arises and expresses deeper changes that have been building beneath the surface.

One such occasion was 23 October, when Russell Brand appeared on Newsnight and articulated a widely shared disenchantment with the current political and economic system.

Brand’s immediate rejection of the logic of his interviewer, Jeremy Paxman, gave an insight into how the cultural foundations of our society – the sense of what is true, what is of value, and what is possible – are changing, and with them the systems they uphold.

“I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm, which is quite narrow and only serves a few people,” said Brand, “I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity.”

Challenged to define the alternatives, Brand said it wasn’t his job to conjure up a “global Utopia” there and then but that there are brilliant thinkers and organisations out there, and that crucially, we can all do it together. Regular readers of Positive News will be no strangers to the evidence for this; there is an abundance of it within the articles we publish.

But most importantly, Brand was calling for a “revolution of consciousness,” as he wrote at the time, to underpin any social change.

When the US and Russia reached agreement in September on a UN resolution over Syria’s chemical weapons and averted a military strike, there was vast pressure from a public who – although horrified by the Syrian chemical weapons attack – knew that the old rhetoric of more violence was no longer viable.

Again cynicism and militarism were undermined when, on 24 November, after decades of dispute and tension, Iran and six world powers reached a historic agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Of course, these situations are complex, and the world’s troubles remain vast and in many cases they are worsening. But a world overly defined by fear, conflict, individualism and materialism – as too often described by much of the media – is perhaps one that increasingly people don’t recognise. It’s too limited in its expression of reality; of what it is to be human, of our connections to others, of the diversity of lives we live, of our inner and outer experiences, and of the possibilities we know in our hearts.

Brand has also said: “What’s important, and what’s defining, are the things we all share: love, unity, togetherness. As long as we have cultural narratives that eschew these ideas, that suppress these ideas in favour of negative human traits, we are all existing in opposition to one another.”

The successful diplomacy that has occurred regarding Syria and Iran, and the voices arising for alternative ways of structuring our societies, are signs that the narrative is changing. So at times when we might only despair at what we see happening in the world, take confidence in the knowledge that there are deeper seeds of change edging always towards their spring.

This editorial appeared in the winter 2013 print edition of Positive News. To receive a copy, please become a member

Photo title: Russell Brand

Photo credit: © Ray Burminston

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  • Paula

    “A great idea in the background of a dim consciousness is like a phantom ocean beating upon the shores of human life in successive waves of specialization. A whole succession of such waves are slowly doing their work of sapping the base of some cliff of habit.”
    – Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas

  • jsjbdbdi

    This man is an idiot. Nice to have ideas but there is literally no substance to what he is saying. Anyone can say “lets start a revolution”, but what are you going to put in place Russell. Whats the plan. Whos going to be in charge and how will they make it better than it is. Its idealistic ramblings of a man, I would describe as a machine gun f@#$ ing a dictionary.
    All words and no content.
    If you want to make a difference vote, take interest, make a party and run (maybe join the monster party).
    Evolution not revolution Russell, ya turd!

  • Caroline

    Give the guy some credit for even speaking about trying to change the shallow priorities of the media and the celebrity culture that is dominant in our society today.

  • Paul O

    Brand was eloquent and spoke truth. However if he asked people to spoil their votes rather than not voting, perhaps this would send a much clearer message to the people we elect to care for all of us.

  • Rob L

    We are in the midst of an expansive conscious evolution, brand like numerous people on the planet have simply heard the calling and awoken from the limited expression of consciousness that we have all been conditioned with. Everything we’ve ever believed in is about to change as we move out of a segregated fear based understanding of reality into a more unified Love perspective. He doesn’t need to have all the answers, just by shining light on the problems with the way our society is run means that solutions will be offered at the right moment.

  • Josh Costar

    I saw the interview a month ago and Paxman is secretly in agreement with Brand and acting out the old way to show how it no longer serves us.

    This time it resonates so much I am crying with joy. It is true. The new time is here. .

    Start identifying the areas you are passionate about and create a vision of your most beautiful imagioning. Know that the right people, resources, circumstances and events will manifest I order to create that which is for the highest good.

    Sending you all love.

  • Graham

    I think there is an obvious answer to all of the worlds problems – greed and selfishness brought on by money, possessions and ego. Humanity on all scales is divided into the haves and have nots. There is only one world with limited resources and we tap into those resources to create products and services. The division of those products and services is determined by your standing in society and how you got there. So here’s the solution…total monetary reform, the division of labour with a just reward. It’ll never happen but it’s what is required. Wipe the slate clean and start again, together as one. There are a number of interesting investigative videos on youtube about how money works worth watching. We can all see the problems so let’s not all focus upon them, instead let’s talk about solutions.

  • cephalon

    You don’t even mention that Brand openly calls for a socialist world? For someone like me who is living in a socialist system where everyone is fantastically thoroughly brainwashed into supporting their own suppression, it is blatantly obvious that Brand is a statist agent. Sounds like BS to you? Then listen to this : http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=COMj3Nw2c3M

  • Blake

    I think what was important in the now famous Brand Interview wasn’t so much the messenger (though I have to give him credit for being so coherent when he gets passionate) but the message – it was a pretty good delivery of the post modern critique of modernism.

    Probably many of the readers here will recognise that there is an emerging worldview that holds different values from the worldview that we see in politics, in business, in banking and in the media and that difference seems to be getting more clear lately with the banking crisis and the energy price scandal here in the UK.

    @cephalon – it’s not important what kind of system he espouses – the bigger point is he’s attempting to verbalise what many of us know deep down – that we need to create something entirely new that allows us as human beings to flourish in a way that recognises an inherent unity and relationship rather than a Cartesian and Darwinian philosophy of separation that rewards selfishness.

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