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We Asked A Leading Political Theorist To Analyse Russell Brand's Manifesto And He Wasn't Impressed

"I’m sure Mr Brand’s heart is in the right place, but I’m now less confident about his head," the chair of political theory at the London School of Economics told BuzzFeed News.

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Russell Brand is getting both flak and praise for his new political manifesto, Revolution. BuzzFeed News had no idea who was right, so we asked someone who knows his stuff.

Here are the thoughts of Professor Chandran Kukathas, the chair of political theory at the London School of Economics, who said he is "very sympathetic to anarchists" but is "sorry to say Brand's manifesto as it's been reported is utterly incoherent".

Brand on General Motors: Stop exporting cars as "other countries have their own fucking cars".

Gus Ruelas / Reuters

Professor Kukathas: "It's hard to see how one could come up with a sillier thought. A 30-second search on Wikipedia will tell you that fewer than 50 countries make cars – including Zimbabwe, which made fewer than 1,000 cars last year."

Brand on the financial industry: "If my vacuum cleaner went nuts and forced me to live in economic slavery, I wouldn't roll my eyes and say 'Oh well' and humbly do its bidding. I'd turn it off and fuck it out the window."

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Professor Kukathas: "Is the financial industry really like a vacuum cleaner? How does one turn it off? Or throw it out the window? Sure, this industry may need reforming – perhaps radically so. Does the manifesto have anything useful to say about how or in what ways?"


Brand on the nation state: "It may have served its purpose and have to be dissolved, it's not a big deal."

Phil Noble / Reuters

Professor Kukathas: "I have no idea what he means here. How is this to be done?"

Brand on debt: "Cancelling personal debt would stimulate the economy more than any 'too big to fail' bank quantitative easing."

Gus Ruelas / Reuters / Reuters

Professor Kukathas: "Mr Brand is quite confused when he refers to '"too big to fail" bank quantitative easing'. Quantitative easing is neither necessary nor sufficient for stopping a bank or any other corporation from failing.

"Second, cancelling personal debt is very good for debtors and very bad for creditors. I would love my mortgage debt to be cancelled, I would then have plenty more money. But those people who deposited their money in the bank from which I borrowed would have less or nothing. I really fail to see why this would stimulate the economy."

Brand on the economy: "The economy is just a metaphorical device. It's not real, that's why it's got the word 'con' in it."

Olivia Harris / Reuters

Professor Kukathas: "There is some truth in this. That's why Mr Brand should not have talked about stimulating it."

Brand on corporations: "There's loads of corporations all over the world, exploiting with impunity. If they don't pay tax, we'll reclaim their assets and give them to the people who work there to run."

Chuck Myers / MCT

Professor Kukathas: "What does he mean? Most corporations are owned by shareholders, who range from individual investors who own a few shares to pension funds who own tens of thousands of shares and rely on the returns to pay pensions. If you take the assets away from them ... you will deprive millions of their income, and perhaps their livelihood."

Brand on revolution: "The spiritual Revolution, the Revolution we are about to realise, will be fast because the organisms are in place."

Danny Martindale / WireImage

Professor Kukathas: "If the revolution advocated is a spiritual transformation, what is one to make of the authoritarian element of the manifesto? It sounds like the new society is going to have an awful lot of confiscating, and forbidding – stopping people from exporting, or fracking, or building up capital.

"I'm sure Mr Brand's heart is in the right place. I'm now less confident about his head. It looks to me that he has not produced anything more than an entertainment. That is a pity, because artists can do more than entertain if they are genuinely thoughtful."

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at

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