Russell vs Jo: The Battle of the Open Letter

By Jack Peat, Editor of The London Economic 

The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.” 
― Karl Marx

If there was ever an example of 21st century Marxism, the open letter fiasco between Russell Brand and Jo ‘the disgruntled RBS worker’ would be it.

Brand’s people’s revolution has been widely rejected by the very people he’s looking to represent. The reason why lies somewhere between the media oligarchs, the fat cats and politicians that form the ‘ruling class’ who exert a scary amount of control over the population. 20 people who talk to 20 people who talk to 20 people. That’s our democracy, and we’re wilfully subscribed to it.

It’s OK, for example, that The Daily Express funds UKIP, that The London Evening Standard wholeheartedly backed Boris Johnson in the Mayoral elections and that The Sun decides whoever wins the General Elections, even though the media is run by big business who have politicians in their back pocket as a result. “The English have all the material requisites for the revolution,” Marx said. “What they lack is the spirit of generalization and revolutionary ardour.” Or in this case, the appetite.

The open letter saga started with a take-away box of steaming hot paella from Fernando’s in Devonshire Row. Jo, the disgruntled RBS worker, had acquired said paella and stood outside the bank’s office watching it go cold as security shut down the building thanks to a “futile publicity stunt” by a “multimillionaire” looking to score some reLOVEution points by banker bashing. The letter referenced Brand’s hypocrisy in this regard, the appearances on BBC, regressive taxes and been privy to Hollywood’s burning of the books as cases in point.

Then there’s the nature of the RBS bailout. “The plan was never to bail out a bank so that it could then go bust anyway,” Jo writes. “The idea was to buy the bank with public money, wait until it became profitable again, then resell it, as Alastair Darling clearly explained at the time. And that is still the plan, and it does appear to be on course. Not only that, but it looks as if the government will eventually sell RBS for more than they bought it for. In other words, the taxpayer will make a profit on this deal. Of all the profligate pissing away of public money that goes on in this country, the only instance where the public are actually going to get their money back seems an odd target for your ire.”

Along with accusations of bullying and further notes on the inconvenience of such futile protests Jo’s open letter certainly made for interesting reading and soon garnered the attention of the national media (so much attention, in fact, that Jo personally requested we take his letter down from this lowly site). But Brand’s response highlighted the major flaw in Jo’s letter and indeed the general public’s reticence to support issues that relate directly to them.

The RBS lockdown is part of documentary being made in conjunction with filmmaker Michael Winterbottom about how the economic crises caused by the banking industry (RBS were found guilty of rigging Libor and the foreign exchange) has led to an economic attack on the most vulnerable people in society. The film will highlight how £80 billion of austerity cuts were made, punishing society’s most vulnerable during the same period that bankers awarded themselves £81 billion in bonuses, which includes RBS bosses, who have shelled out £4 billion in bonuses since the crash.

So the questions Brand was looking to ask are things like, ‘are bankers more deserving of our money than Britain’s disabled?’ Or, ‘is it fair that Britain’s students who are now charged to learn?’ And it’s not just to RBS, but also to Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays. Here’s a little excerpt from Brand’s response:

“Now I’ll be the first to admit your lunch has been an unwitting casualty in this well-intentioned quest but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask new RBS boss Ross McEwan if he thinks it’s right that he got a £3.2m “golden hello” when the RBS is sellotaped together with money that comes from everyone else’s taxes. I wonder what he would’ve said? Or whether it’s right that Fred “the shred” (he shredded evidence of impropriety) Goodwin gets to keep his £320k a year pension while disabled people have had their independent living fund scrapped.”

Brand may abstain from the political arena, but at least he’s bringing to light the issues that really matter. I’d wager that the interests of the public will be represented more in one documentary than in a year’s worth of Murdoch’s media. But people don’t want to hear it, they don’t care. As long as their paella’s hot, the ruling class can get up to what they like.

Karl Marx eat your heart out.

1 Response

  1. When the Right take umbridge with something they don’t care how the message is conveyed, whether through the dopey Boris Johnson, some screaming tabloid or a faux-civilised Cameron. But it seems that everytime the Left takes issue with something, they spend more time agruing amongst themselves over small details of the issue and how it should be conveyed. Brand is a bit of a tit, but he’s also one of the few people trying to spread awareness about important social issues and in an environment where the vast majority of news and entertainment outlets pander or are run by special interests, he should be applauded. Our complaint shouldn’t be that we don’t like how Brand is spreading the message, but rather “Why is he the only one doing so in large public forums?”

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