Monday, 28 October 2013

Russell Brand and Why He's Wrong

I've heard a lot about Russell Brand over the last couple of days, particularly an interview he gave following the New Statesman's decision to appoint him as a guest editor. So I thought I'd look it up. If you haven't seen it already, watch it here.

Brand is absolutely correct when he points out that our current corporatist model of governance doesn't work. It serves only a high-class elite, and pretty much ignores everyone else. He is also correct when he says that the vast majority of people are disillusioned and disenfranchised by the current system.

However, he is utterly wrong when he tells people to withdraw from the democratic process and resort to revolution. Revolutions kill people, and I can't think of a single example of a revolutionary movement that has produced a utopia. They produce war, death and starvation. They invariably involve replacing one dictator with another.
He is also utterly wrong when he makes broad-brush strokes describing his idea of this utopia - a socialist model based on the forced redistribution of wealth funded by heavy taxation of corporations. How many times does this model have to be tried, and ultimately fail, before people realise that it is a lie?

Every time such a system has been implemented, it has failed. Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Vietnam, Idi Amin's Uganda, and we're witnessing it again in North Korea. If you deprive the most productive people in society of the fruits of their productivity, they will stop producing. And then there's nothing to share out.

And that's not taking into account the fact that corporations don't pay tax. Ever. You can levy taxes against corporate accounts, but the incidence of the tax is borne by either their shareholders in the form of lower profits (which doesn't happen very often), their employees in the form of lower wages or their customers in the form of higher prices. So high levels of corporate taxation actually hurt the people that socialists profess to care about - ordinary people.

Brand is right that our current system is broken. I reject his proposed alternative, and his proposed means for establishing it. They've both been tried before, and have only ever ended in mass starvation and/or a giant pile of corpses.