A couple of weeks ago, prompted by lots of activity on facebook, I published this article about Russell Brand’s recent interview with Jeremy Paxman.
A few days later I published this one about how our insane system of money-as-debt is slowly driving our economy off a cliff.
The Russell Brand article has been viewed by ten times more people than the article about money, which is disappointing.
Russell’s interview with Jeremy was, frankly, and incoherent rant. His article in the New Statesman on the same subject was much more articulate but told us nothing that we don’t already know.
He’s basically saying that the vast majority of the population is utterly disillusioned with our ruling class, weary of the mendacity and greed of politicians and corporations, and longing for some sort of change that allows us to live free from the fear of poverty and ecological disaster.
Despite all of the opportunities that Russell has had during and since the interview with Jeremy he hasn’t come up with anything that’s of any practical use: nothing that could help us to get us from where we are to where he thinks we should be. He has done nothing to define any of the problems that have made him so angry, let alone identify root causes, or list the requirements for any solutions, or propose solutions, or discuss the things that need to be done to deliver them.
All Russell has done is say what lots of people are thinking, which is a good thing as far as it goes, but it doesn’t really take us very far. If we want to do more than grumble about how bad things are, if we actually want to make things better, we have to start tackling the problems themselves.
My article about money-as-debt tackles the root cause of most of the things that Russell is raging against. Much of the dysfunction in our society – poverty, pollution, war, famine, unsustainability – can be attributed to our abuse of money, and can be solved by changing the ways in which our financial systems work.
So why does my article on a loud-mouthed clown ranting about the evils of the system get ten times the number of views as my article about what’s actually wrong with the system and how we might fix it?
The celebrity factor has, no doubt, a large part to play. Russell Brand is famous, so his name attracts attention. But there’s more to it. Russell is expressing an opinion that’s widely held and we are drawn to people who reinforce our own opinions. We like Russell’s rant because he’s saying what we want to say ourselves and he’s getting heard on our behalf.
And it’s easy. Agreeing with Russell requires no effort on our part. All we have to do is listen to him ranting and say “Yeah. You’re right, Russell. The world’s a mess and it’s all their fault.” We enjoy the warm glow of our collective indignation.
In contrast, digging into our dysfunctional systems to discover the roots of the problems and working out what could be done to fix them is hard labour of the sort that most of us will avoid if we possibly can. My Russell Brand article doesn’t ask much of the reader, whereas the one that discusses money-as-debt is full of unfamiliar ideas that are hard to grasp. I can imaging eyes glazing over and the mouse clicking back to whatever is trending on facebook.
But no matter how much Russell rants and how much you agree with him, the hard fact is that nothing will change for the better unless we work out exactly what’s wrong, what can be done to fix it, and then build consensus to makes change happen.
So how do we proceed from being an amorphous mass of disgruntled individuals to a movement of informed citizens who know where they want to be and how they plan to get there?
Russell is motivated by abstract notions of sustainability and shared prosperity. He wants a revolution of the mind that leads us to a place where everyone is able to thrive in harmony with our island earth. Other people just want a job that offers more than wage-slavery, or an old age without fear of cold and hunger, or healthcare that’s reliable and affordable, or a business environment that allows productive people to be productive, or a way to share resources without resorting to war.
It is very difficult (some would say impossible) to achieve any of these things under our current financial system, which corners most of us into merciless employment or passive acceptance of hand-outs, demands rapacious use of the worlds resources, and is designed (intentionally or otherwise) to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few at the expense of the many.
Having spent the last few years investigating how our money system works I am now absolutely certain that its dysfunction is at the heart of all that is wrong with our society. Fixing our money system won’t solve all of these problems but it will give us a solid foundation on which we can build a better world for ourselves and future generations.
How do people like me, who have done the hard studying and thinking, convince you that we’re right? Articles like the money-as-debt one clearly aren’t the answer. Too long, too dull, too detailed, too hard to understand.
The nuts and bolts of change, the details of how we get from here to there are important but they’re of little use while most minds are preoccupied with fear and anger and most hearts are heavy with pessimism.
Russell is right: we need a revolution of the mind.
Those of us who can see what a better future might look like and how we can get to it have to take a step back from the nitty-gritty of our ideas and start telling stories, making pictures, describing how the world could be and what sort of journey we will have to go on to get there.
We have to learn how to entertain and engage people with ideas that are easy to grasp and absorb, using language that removes barriers to understanding. We need to distill our ideas into headlines, hooks, catchphrases, and the like that embed the possibility of change for the better into our collective consciousness.
“Russell Brand Ate My Hamster!” might not have anything to do with solving the problem of money-as-debt but it got you to click on the link and you’ve now read to the end of the article. Still far too many words and not enough entertainment, but it’s a start.