*Hundal says that while capitalism has many faults, it brings people materials that they want. Trying to reinforce a point made by Evan Davis to Brand on the Newsnight interview, Hundal asks:
If you want to replace the current system of capitalism with something else, who is going to make your jeans, iPhones and run Twitter?
I ask Hundal: does he know who makes our iPhones and clothes at the minute? Of course he does. It is those who work 35 hour shifts at a time, launching themselves from rooftop buildings in an attempt to escape the managerial whip. It is those who live in the hidden chambers of capitalism, screaming within the darkness of hellish caves from which the products and luxuries of what we call ‘freedom’ are brewed in bonfires of slavery.
There is also a rather eery linearity to Hundal’s point about capitalism being a means of satiating people’s desires. Sure, people might want iPhones or Nike t-shirts, but why? Has Hundal never considered why firms such as Nike and Apple spend so much money on advertising, on trying to stomp up a demand for their produce? There are plenty of economists who talk about this, J. K. Galbraith being one of them, of how within a capitalist system, models of production become self-fulfilling and self-replicating: firms become reliant on their own comercialisation endeavours to help pay for the costs of production.
And one of Russell Brand’s – and Galbraith’s – points is that this style of production leads to a colossal excess and wastage of economic resources in terms of value. Why is so much money spent on producing and purchasing McDonalds and Coca-Cola at times when unemployment and poverty are hideously high?
A system that entangles misery with freedom in this way, directed not by a set of humane values yet by profit, is what Brand is railing against – and Hundal’s analysis does nothing to assail this.
The question then, is this: just who is the anti-intellectual here? The pseudo-activists, the paid-for writers who demean everything Brand says with shouts of ‘PARKLIFE’ and ‘lazy’? Or the celebrity who is trying to use a position of extreme privilege to strike politics into public conversation, away from the boorish twitter-feeds and self-indulgent CiF columns of people like Hundal: whose speech at the GQ awards last year alone was a better exposure of socialist-critique in the mainstream than anything offered up by the Labour Party for the last 20 years?- and who is trying to shed light on political movements and economic structures which offer an alternative to the decaying endeavours of the british parliament?