It is said that the life cycle of an empire is around two hundred years. The Greek, The Roman and The Ottoman empires, respectively, all loosely adhere to this notion. It is also said that as empires begin to fall, there is heightened military spending and activity, monitoring and suppression of the empires own subjects, restriction of the press, and many other tell-tale signs. If, with plausibility, we consider the modern exploits of the U.S. and Britain as an extension of the British Empire, then we are reaching the end of what is roughly a two hundred year cycle and the end of an empire. With this comes the call for revolution, as the empire’s subjects sense an opportunity to break free from subjugation, with hopes of a ‘better tomorrow’.
It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to view our current state as something along these lines. Edward Snowden, Glen Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, Julian Assange and Wikileaks, Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist Movement, and many other now famous names have all helped to shed light on the systemic corruption, hypocrisy, inequality, committed atrocities and general malfeasance of the world’s ‘democracy’ spreaders; the hyper-militarised, trans-Atlantic conglomerate, The United States of Britain and America.
But, regardless of the unnecessarily spiteful burks laying in wait, Brand has done a sterling job in bringing the complicated ideas of peaceful revolution to a wider audience, and this should be applauded. With these things in mind, is Russell ‘Rusty Rockets’ Brand the pseudo-messiah required for a revolution of this, or any, nature? Should we follow his anti-capitalist, non-voting agenda? Or is he merely the self-appointed voice of a reasonlessly anarchic portion of our generation?
In the early days of The Trews, Brand often referred to the human person, described as ‘one of the greatest thinkers of the age’ by the Dalai Lama no less; Jiddu Krishnamurti. If it’s an unchallengeable revolution that you’re looking for, then the teachings of Krishnamurti would be a good place to start. ‘So it is up to you,’ he says in his transcribed book, Freedom From the Known, ‘there is no leader, there is no teacher, there is nobody to tell you what to do. You are alone in this mad brutal world.’ His words may appear bleak at a glance but, at a deeper level, they are anything but bleak. Ultimately, Krishnamurti’s ‘theory’ is that true freedom is not political or ideological, but transcendental; that is transcendence to a place in the mind which is beyond knowledge. To find true freedom, in Krishnamurti’s view, one must unburden oneself from notions of identity, tradition and segregational ideas such as political or religious allegiances; one must let go of everything they think they know, and find a place beyond ‘knowing’. It is heavy stuff, but listening to Krishnamurti is like hearing the sound of the other side of our constructed reality.
Such teachings – the search for unbridled freedom and peace and love – are in stark contrast to what we are taught growing up in the western world, or in Britain at least. Study hard, get the grades, pass the tests, get a secure job, settle down, fit in, retire fifty years later and then quietly wait to die. This forcibly taught notion of ‘how to successfully live a life’ is manufactured to serve societal needs, and produce subdued, obedient subjects of the state; it does not serve to provide individuals with fulfilment in their only attempt at living. We are raised into subjugation, and this makes manipulating masses of people easy; this is how bankers get away with destroying an already abstract entity like ‘the economy’, and politicians get away with saying ‘great’ things while being absolutely ineffective at making a difference, and why there is still a monarchy at the same times as millions of homeless people, etc etc etc. If there is one thing we can learn from the Existentialists of early twentieth century, it is that life – at its most fundamental point – is completely meaningless. This notion allows infinite room for giving life one’s own meaning, bypassing the meaning which has already been generated by the continuation of social structures. Perhaps the ultimate revolution – as in ‘any fundamental change or reversal of condition’ – is not a societal one, but purely individual; the acceptance that life is ultimately meaningless and, as such, nothing matters enough to not be nice.
If everybody – or at least everyone of the so-called ‘99%’ – came to this conclusion, the governing structures we all so obediently adhere to would cease to have any conceivable relevance; food would become free on a necessity basis, as food manufacturers would reject ‘money’ as a concept, and as a result wealth would evaporate, leaving only a bunch of happy people getting by with the essentials for living an ultimately meaningless existence. Technology would sort out all the difficult, manually laborious stuff and everyone could chill out and focus on writing novels and painting and walking nowhere in particular, just for the sake of it.
As the title of this piece may suggest, there was an initial question: ‘Should a revolution be ‘Branded’?’ This awesomely clever play on words, what I did all by myself, has two answers – both, from my subjective position, are ‘no’. ‘Branding’ something with a title alludes to a collective movement of people – the Bolshevik, the Industrial, the French – and collective movements of people, under the sub-branding of ‘revolution’, have never replaced that which they were revolting against with something steadfast or ideal. As I mentioned, perhaps the most effective form of revolution is an individual one, which renders mass-movements in their traditional guise as irrelevant. And as for having the revolution ‘Branded’, as in having Russell Brand at the helm, I would just say it makes watching this particular ‘revolution’ – whatever it may be – more entertaining.