Normally an entertainer’s oddball political views should probably be ignored. But comedian Russell Brand’s recent anti-capitalism rant on British television is so toxic to young malleable minds that it must be answered.
Brand suggested a socialistic revolution is necessary because capitalism and Western societies are “creating an underclass. We are exploiting poor people all over the world and the genuine, legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by the political class.”
Brand, acknowledging he’s never voted in any election, says it’s because of his “absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit from the political class ...”
So his solution? Give the political class even more power, through the private-property-grabbing power of socialism – a “socialist egalitarian system based on a massive redistribution of wealth.”
The problem, other than his unique logic, is that he speaks for many today – and might end up influencing others tomorrow.
The scary thing is, he has a more-than-willing audience ready to believe the worst of free markets, private property and individual liberty: Polls show that Americans, egged on by the media, take a dim view of the corporations that provide the jobs, utilize the natural resources and churn out the products that have made life so much healthier, lengthier and comfortable than in centuries past.
First off, capitalism isn’t creating an underclass – it has gorged the upper classes and, for the first time in human history, created a middle class. As Whole Foods CEO John Mackey points out, prior to capitalism, illiteracy was about 90 percent, life expectancy was about 30 years and annual income was in the hundreds.
Contrary to the tunnel vision espoused by folks of Mr. Brand’s ilk, capitalism didn’t create an underclass – it produced something to contrast it with, which is a thriving middle class.
The same middle class that pays the freight at movie theaters and pads comedians’ pockets.
We agree with him that politicians can be self-serving and fail their constituents. But what sense does it make to suppose that giving the ruling class even more power – to oversee a “massive redistribution of wealth,” for instance – would make them any more ethical or efficient, or would leave their subjects any better off?
And if he thinks capitalism is immoral, he should really try socialism or communism. Many millions of people have. The results speak for themselves.
Or they should, anyway. The truth is, there are enough uninitiated young folks out there who just might buy the Russell Brand of snake oil that it’s now urgent that the capitalists make the case for capitalism.
“In category after category, business has lifted humanity up,” Mackey has said.
Those who understand that need to make it their business to spread the word.