This is the end

Russell Brand’s interview on Newsnight has had almost 6.5 million views on Youtube already, a clear sign that his call to revolution is resonating strongly with many, many people and underlining his own statement that the time for change is now, because a growing number of us are ready for a paradigm shift – fed up with the current state of affairs in the world, looking for alternatives and indeed finding them in the global community created by the internet and social media.

Mr. Brand is right to fight the assumption that not voting is a token of apathy. The reasons he mentions for not participating in the democratic process are the same reasons why I no longer vote: the system is faulty and its dysfunction is an inherent part of our political democracy. Change is constant, but we only move back and forth without making any actual progress. The problems we have to deal with – and that would arguably be the government’s job to arrange (ensuring safety, security and stability) – have only grown and show no signs of permanently going away. The underclass (steadily growing in numbers) struggles to stay afloat, while the elites are so interwoven with each other that they are not simply serviced by the system – they are the system. They have yet to face any significant threat to their position of privilege and power, but these days we finally have the tools to look for and find the “alternatives that might be of service to humanity” that Brand mentions at the beginning of the interview. And we may well become that threat ourselves.

When Brand postulates that the system only serves the elites (whether political or corporate), Jeremy Paxman’s disbelief about someone feeling that way is a tell-tale sign of how deeply the system is embedded in our reality. Not to mention it is bewilderingly naive. This brings us to the one of the biggest clashes between those stuck in the old paradigm and those looking for a new one: the former are pushing the latter to present a concrete alternative, which is precisely what the latter cannot offer (yet). Although Paxman’s questions are understandable, Brand is right to deny him (“Don’t ask me to devise a global utopian system”). It’s easy to disqualify people from entering into a discussion until they have an all-encompassing solution figured out, but that should not deter us. We may not have the answers yet, but uncovering the flaws of the current system is a good place to start. Tearing down the system means rattling at the foundations of our very society and civilization. Of course that’s scary, but we cannot wait until we have designed our Utopia including the infinite number of contingencies that have to be taken into account.

The current paradigm suggests that liberal democracy is the ultimate form of government (as put forward by Francis Fukuyama in The End of History and the Last Man (1992)). But it’s not. It’s a facade: the players change, but the game stays the same. Liberal democracy revolves around compromises which leave everyone unhappy, and the superficial appeasement of the population while the elite are the only ones who actually benefit. We can sit back and take it, or we can take the power back and do something about it. We can start by deciding that this system is what we don’t want, and build from there.

So what, as Jeremy Paxman put it, is “the scheme”? I don’t believe in the “heavy redistribution of wealth” mentioned by Brand. Paxman’s questions (who would govern? Where would they get their power?) suggest that any other system will ultimately run into the same problems, and I agree. That’s why I believe our end-goal should be the absence of systems. After all, institutions need elites to run them, and that’s why we should strive to end our dependence on institutions altogether. The ultimate form of government is the absolute autonomy of the individual. For now, that seems unrealistic and utopian, because it depends on every single one of us having good intentions and being willing to contribute to the wellbeing of the community. We may be far removed from that, but the current political and economical system only takes us further down this dead-end road.

It’s time to focus on what binds us, not what sets us apart. If we know what we do not want, let’s start there. We may not have the answers yet, but let’s at least start asking questions.

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9 thoughts on “This is the end

  1. Peter,
    Nice to meet you. I’m from USA / Michigan. Perhaps it was an unintentional misprint but that your intention was to title the post “This Is The Beginning”? My guess is that you appreciated the Brand interview. He seems to be a person who has spent a certain amount of time reading spiritual/philosophical texts and it was a breath of fresh air to see someone speaking about larger ideas. Perhaps spiritual views will enter the discussions surrounding the ways in which life on Earth has been taking place through the centuries, and marks a new beginning of sorts.
    Thank you. Will peruse your writings.
    Jerry

    1. Hi Jerry,
      Thanks for your comment! It wasn’t a typo or anything, but I know what you mean and I wasn’t really sure what to call this blog. “This is the end” alludes to what Russell Brand says towards the end of the interview, referencing the current system, but I guess I should have made that clear. I considered the juxtaposition “the end” vs. “the beginning” but I couldn’t make it catchy enough for a title so I simply settled for this. Lesson learned 🙂

      Thanks for following, I’ll be sure to read some of your work as well. Kindly,
      Peter

      1. Peter,
        Just joshin’ on the title thing. WordPress is a good platform for writers and offers an opportunity to communicate in good ways. I would like to eventually get into producing documentary films as the visual aspect adds power to communication, The cost of entry is relatively low as one can get high quality video with Canon EOS cameras (cost <$1,000). Until then there are advantages to writing, a form of "telepathic" communication which, because a person remains somewhat anonymous, allows for more freedom of expression. I find myself forgetting at times that communicating with men and women around the world is a really great thing. You're in the Netherlands and I am in USA-sharing ideas and thoughts. It is truly something special.
        Thanks,
        Jerry

      2. Absolutely, that’s a great thing – and a huge catalyst in spreading ideas which used to be easy to keep “underground”. Good luck when you’re branching out into different types of media; it’s the beauty of technology that we not only have a world of knowledge at our fingertips, but a wide of array of possible platforms as well. I have no doubt that this truly is the beginning (of the end, if you will ;-))

  2. Peter,
    Netherlands has a king and queen if I’m not mistaken. Royalty seems like an archaic concept and I was curious how the people of the Netherlands feel generally about royalty. In some regions it is dangerous to criticize monarchy (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia) so if you decide not to reply on this query it would be totally understandable.
    Thanks,
    Jerry

    1. Ah no, that’s no problem here thankfully. The concept of monarchy is so hopelessly outdated, it never ceases to amaze me that it perseveres the way it does. Don’t know if you’ve come across my blogs about monarchy, but those would about sum up my feelings on the subject.

      In The Netherlands, a steady 75-ish% of the people seem to favor the royal family. I think it’s one of those things that most people prefer not to question – it’s “a quaint tradition and a day off” and apparently that makes all the scandals and the fundamental injustice of it OK for the majority of people.

      1. Will read your articles. I am always interested in identifying good sources of information. Can you recommend a few top-notch websites (it doesn’t matter what country, as long as written in English) that provide the most important information on Earth? Who are your go-to journalists? Thanks.

      2. Mmm, that’s hard to say tbh. I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to my sources. It’s often news items from the mainstream media which trigger me, but it can also be the entertainment industry that gets me thinking. I find that what works best for me is to read as much as I can and then balance everything out. I am open to any and all sources – from philosophy and spirituality to comedy, music and to current affairs, but I apply critical thought to all of them. Sorry I can’t really be of help there.

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