British-born comedian and actor Russell Brand spoke to and marched with veteran Occupy Wall Street supporters in lower Manhattan on Wednesday as he championed the spirit of the U.S.-based movement that injected corporate malfeasance and economic inequality into the national conversation back in 2011.
As what was a promotional event for his new book, notably titled "Revolution," turned into an impromptu march to the financial district, Brand spoke about his own status as a celebrity and the inherent contradictions presented by living within a globalized capitalist system while also seeking to challenge and transform it.
"When universal change is required, people will formulate and organize, and bring about that change. Now we are living under galling inequality, at the point of ecological crisis. People are misinformed, but the means for new communication are merging, and people are awakening." —Russell Brand"I'm in a weird position," Brand told those gathered at Zuccotti Park, "because I've written a book and the book costs money. But I'm dedicated to and devoted to change and I've already agreed, decided, and established the pattern of how the profits of this book are going to be spent creating social enterprises that are not-for-profit to represent people, and in my own small, humble way, represent a demonstrable alternative to some of the systems we currently labor under. As a person that has been famous, tasted fame, been on the inside of it — I have a very different perspective to how I was when I was a kid growing up in a normal town when the fame and the money were solutions to me. I've tasted that stuff now and I know it's not the answer. I'm very grateful to be here, to be part of this — for us all to be in this thing together."
On the central idea of his book, the need for a global revolution to upend the current corporate-dominated capitalist paradigm, Brand said, "I think it’s inevitable. When universal change is required, people will formulate and organize, and bring about that change. Now we are living under galling inequality, at the point of ecological crisis. People are misinformed, but the means for new communication are merging, and people are awakening.'
Later, when he and others marched from Zuccotti to Wall Street, Brand again spoke to the American crowd and described how the nation's founding revolution offerd plenty of evidence that such an overthrow of elite control of both the economic and political structures is well within the realm of possibility.
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"At the time that my country, the British people, ran this country under George III, they had about a one-third approval rating for [the King]," Brand said. "The last time this country was taxed by an elite group that didn't represent them, there was a revolution and they threw those people out. That is what you should do on this occasion."
During his recent days in the U.S., Brand has talked about his new book and the arguments it contains on both David Letterman on Tuesday night and Wednesday evening on MSNBC.
On the Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell: