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Russell Brand “exemplifies” the problems of our culture

Brand in 2014. Dan Kitwood/Getty

“I think I’m worse than normal people,” said Russell Brand in October 2014. At the time, says Will Lloyd in The Times, the comedian was “selling himself as a revolutionary”, advocating in vague terms for eradicating the nation state and overturning “corporate tyranny, ecological irresponsibility and economic inequality”. Soon after, he ranked fourth in Prospect magazine’s list of the “world’s 50 most influential thinkers”, ahead of German philosopher Jürgen Habermas and Indian author Arundhati Roy. By May 2015, Ed Miliband was seeking his endorsement in that year’s general election. Joined onstage by leftie columnist Owen Jones, Brand mostly discussed himself: “I want attention. I want women. I want drugs. I want food. I want, I want, I want. I exemplify the problems of our culture… I’m a viciously authoritative, controlling man.”

Today, Brand hawks his anti-establishment shtick directly to more than six million YouTube subscribers. His online cheerleaders include Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk and Laurence Fox. In his video denying the allegations, he asked: “Is there another agenda at play?” This is classic Brand. You either question everything or you are on the side of the “bankers, the big pharmaceutical companies, the warmongers”. But the 48-year-old is right about one thing. “He really does exemplify the problems of our culture.” On the same day he was accused, polling found that a third of British adults “regard the system as broken and are highly suspicious of those they hold responsible”. A similar poll in January found that 38% of the population agrees the world is “controlled by a secretive elite”. There has always been a credulous market for “nonsense solutions to non-existent problems”. What’s incredible is how large it has become, and how many are willing to lose themselves in it. “This is Russell Brand’s Britain.”