by UnHerd
Thursday, 27
May 2021
Video
14:15

Is Russell Brand a conspiracy theorist?

The comedian has lent his support to a major Trumpist talking point
by UnHerd

Russell Brand is not a conservative, or a booster of the Republican Party, or a guy who has a lot of time for, say, Rudy Giuliani.

The comedian said as much when he introduced the latest guest on his podcast — journalist Glenn Greenwald — a couple of days ago. But what they discussed was one of the major Trumpist talking points of the last twelve months: did the media coordinate with Big Tech companies to censor a pre-election story about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine?

On the face of it, the story represented a major scandal. But it never became one. The Post‘s Twitter account was banned for over two weeks after the story broke. Facebook blocked users from sharing the Post‘s report.

Brand, like Greenwald, is a Left-winger who has probably read Noam Chomsky’s classic work of media criticism Manufacturing Consent more than once, and argues that this is a classic case of censorship:

We’re talking about sleaze, corruption, financial misdemeanours, and relationships between corporations, big business, and politicians — let’s face it, unless you’re bloody stupid, you know that’s going on all the time. For me, revelations that there are financial connections between energy companies in… Ukraine, energy companies in China, and the Biden family are troubling. That should be public knowledge.
- Russell Brand

In the end Brand’s position on the Hunter Biden laptop story places him firmly in the camp of the populist and conspiratorial Right. It was a cover-up. Information wasn’t allowed to circulate through the digital networks because it was inconvenient, and might have damaged Joe Biden’s ability to win last November.

I don’t think Donald Trump’s the answer, but I’m sad to realise that I can no longer even claim to believe Joe Biden or the Democratic Party might be the answer, because look at how they behave. And look at the relationships between media, social media, and that party.
- Russell Brand

Are Left-ish personalities like Brand and Greenwald becoming more Right-wing as they get older? Unlikely. Figures like Brand, who was calling for a revolution in the United Kingdom, hanging out with Owen Jones, and guest-editing the New Statesman less than 10 years ago, embody increasingly old-fashioned Left-wing values. These include moral relativism, a commitment to an abstract ideal of truth, a freewheeling critique of institutional power, and a belief in the importance of free speech.

None of these values are championed by the contemporary Left. Today it is far more interested in intellectual police work. As Ross Douthat put it the other day, the Left’s goal is “to find new rules, new hierarchies, new moral categories to govern the post-Christian, post-patriarchal, post-cis-het world.” Anything that gets in the way of these new rules — like an annoying and embarrassing story about Hunter Biden’s laptop — will be squashed.

Douthat argues that the old Left was interested in Brand-like criticisms of institutions and their hegemonic power. In America the Left no longer makes such criticisms — it is the hegemonic power.

Conservatives — and oddball almost allies like Russell Brand — find themselves condemning modern power in the terms that used to belong to the Left. Expect Russell Brand to be called a conspiracy theorist very, very soon.

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Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
1 year ago

That cover up over the Biden story was despicable… If the same thing had happened with the Trump camp the outrage would still be going on. Kudos for Russell Brand for discussing it.

Adam M
Adam M
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Despite still being largely hated by the British public and press for his previous misdeeds, in recent years Brand seems to have genuinely turned over a new leaf.
I may not always agree with him but I admire his spirit. He genuinely wants to do good in the world and is using his social media presence for this purpose.

Walter Brigham
Walter Brigham
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

It’s especially disgusting after almost 5 years of the Russian collusion lies repeated ad Infinitum by the MSM

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Well this is really quite an old discussion. Many people traditionally supporting the left, find that it can no longer be their home. The left is moving more and more woke/progressive and many traditional voters wake up one day and find themselves in bed with something they don’t subscribe to. Some go conservative, some vote smaller parties and some remain in the wilderness.
Brand doesn’t subscribe to identity politics and group think, so he would obviously take issue with some of the lunacy about – lack of freedom of speech, wholesale censorship, collusion between the progressives and big tech, lack of individualism, the usual lying and corruption and etc.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

The modern Left is for all which is degenerate, and against all which is decent. It really is that simple. They are for the criminal, against the victim – tax the hard working to pay to those who will not work – stop traditional couples forming and instead promote indiscriminate rutting and life long loneliness, are for the single mother and shiftless father, and against marriage – silence those who are traditionalist, and shout down those who try to debate them, – they make every group and race hate the others, work to destroy the family and community, divide and conquer is their method – they would tax and regulate industry and those who produce till they no longer can, – destroying education is their primary goal by turning it into re-education of their sick philosophy rather than educating – making all self loath, and loathe the nation which gave them everything. If a philosophy was designed by Satan it would be very much like the modern Left.

andrewlukecolquhoun
andrewlukecolquhoun
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

“It really is that simple. ”
I don’t want to sound facetious, but it’s probably more complex. For starters, let’s define ‘the modern Left’.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
11 months ago

Don’t confuse them with the facts. They’re happily playing with their illusions.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
11 months ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

I am just curious – What facts did you have in mind?

Last edited 11 months ago by Terry Needham
zac chang
zac chang
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Most people I know with a left wing leaning simply want a fairer society that works properly a bit like those Scandinavian ones, and would see your hate filed tirade as the rantings of a radicalised extremist

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
11 months ago
Reply to  zac chang

Whenever I read comments such as yours I am reminded of the injunction to “…first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”.

Peter Williams
Peter Williams
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I think you’re spot on. Why do you think the red wall crumbled last year.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
1 year ago

Left, right, maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he just cares about doing his own thinking.
Neither left nor right are particularly comfortable with people doing their own thinking, it seems to me. If people are encouraged to do their own thinking you cannot be sure you have them, and that means not only that they might not automatically believe what you tell them, it means they might actually vote for the other guy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kremlington Swan
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago

On the contrary, conservatives and republicans were very comfortable with people doing their own thinking about Hunter Biden. That’s why trying to bury the story was criticized by conservatives and republicans. Libs and democrats were just fine with the story being squelched precisely because they did not want people to have the information to make up their own minds on the issue.

Last edited 1 year ago by Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago

Brand has always seemed to be a big goofball in my view. But I guess it’s true. Often a conservative is just a liberal mugged by reality. With this small bit of sanity, Brand shows that even the wackiest lib can sometimes see reality clearly.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

To express concern regarding the corruption of the Bidens – which extends to brothers and sisters and their spouses etc – is both a Left and Right wing position. Had the American people been allowed to know even 10% of the truth about the Bidens, Trump would have romped home.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
11 months ago

Russell Brand has won my respect for not playing the games of dogmatic tribalism. His interview with Jordan Peterson was refreshingly respectful, he’s interviewed Candace Owens too and challenged her with intellectual curiosity and humanity, rather than looking for a gotcha. It’s sad that this kind of discussion used to be normal but is now sent straight to the bucket of ‘far right’ or ‘conspiracy theorist’ because (and surely this is in no doubt) our media is overwhelmingly dominated by far left Marxist identity politics obsessed graduates from the metropolitan middle class. Brand’s working class background and natural scepticism, alongside his unabashed idealism, serve him well.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
1 year ago

In a vaguely related vein, Facebook has apparently now decided that they will no longer censor posts suggesting that vivid came from a Chinese lab. Something that was verboten when Trump said it is now fine because Biden says it. I’m waiting for the mental gymnastics required when Biden says he wants to build a big wall…

dean edge
dean edge
11 months ago

Far worse in my opinion is the “Russiagate” story which at the very least exposes substantial wrongdoing involving the states secret intelligence bureacracies being used first to attempt to discredit; then to mire Trump’s presidency in the wholly bogus Mueller Probe. It had very serious political consequences and all the bad actors got away scott free whilst many innocent (at least of the serious crimes they were smeared with) people had their lives destroyed.

So successful has been the gaslighting of the general public that even to raise some of the more obvious and alarming aspects of the story is to be immediately labelled as a far right conspiracy theorist. It is very alarming that even relatively sound publications like the Spectator simply wont cover it; and one of its inescapable conclusions is that American democracy and especially its corporate media is mortally sick.

Walter Brigham
Walter Brigham
11 months ago
Reply to  dean edge

Spot on

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago

By what twisted logic does “Brand’s position on the Hunter Biden laptop story” place “him firmly in the camp of the populist and conspiratorial Right”? To believe that, I think it necessary to assume two things:
1) the US Democratic Party is politically left, and
2) any opposition to or criticism of that party is politically of the right.
Neither of which seem at all justified, and Chomsky, who is mentioned, would be the first to agree. You don’t have to be a right-wing conspiracist to believe Facebook and Twitter were anti-Trump and censored ideas unfavourable to his electoral opponents.

dean edge
dean edge
11 months ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Its called Gaslighting.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
11 months ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Again, it’s not nice to confuse them with the facts.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

Being based in the UK it just strikes me as being weird people are discussing Russell Brand seriously. Fair play to him, found his niche.

Mud Hopper
Mud Hopper
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Brand has always struck me as an utter tw*t.

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
1 year ago
Reply to  Mud Hopper

Regardless of how he always struck you in the past, do you think he’s right here? I’ve never heard the answer to Maynard Keynes’ famous question, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?” I feel Unherd may the right place to find a contrary view.

George Stone
George Stone
11 months ago
Reply to  Mud Hopper

don’t sling mud hopper!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

A stopped clock telling the right time.

Helen Moorhouse
Helen Moorhouse
11 months ago

I find it interesting that no one has put their name to this article and it carefully distances itself from the views which Brand is expressing. This is a topic which destroys livelihoods. Brand is right.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
1 year ago

This whole left wing/right wing thing is growing increasingly dangerous and toxic. Brand is interested in uncovering the truth and commenting without becoming mired in either side. I wish more journalists did the same.
 “to find new rules, new hierarchies, new moral categories to govern the post-Christian, post-patriarchal, post-cis-het world.”
Of course these brave and pioneering ‘leftists’ (rather more fascist but that’s my opinion) only dare to apply this goal to the west rather than the middle east or Asia which is monolithically patriarchal and ultra conservative.

Last edited 1 year ago by Glyn Reed
Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
1 year ago

I count myself as Old Left and agree with the views attributed to Brand here, except I am certainly not a moral relativist.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
11 months ago

It’s a terrible pity that anyone questioning the media response to Trump is thereby ‘placed firmly in the populist and conspiratorial right’. Trump, like most of us, got some things wrong, and some things right. The media, in deciding that anything Trump said was automatically too awful to contemplate, disgraced themselves.
They lost their sense of perspective.
They forgot that ad hominem thinking is literally a fallacy.
They tossed even the pretense of even-handedness out the window.
And worst of all, in a legal environment that guaranteed free speech, the media colluded to censor themselves.
I’m not even sure that Left is a valid category anymore in any case, but Brand seems to be calling it how he sees it, so how about listening to what he says, not describing him as ‘a left-winger who has probably read Noam Chomsky’. I’ve read Manufacturing Consent and it was and is a bloody good book and at the time of its publication an eye-opener.
I’m sure Russell Brand talks crap some of the time, don’t we all, but of all places I would wish Unherd didn’t stoop to the pigeon-holing and name-calling that blights discussion elsewhere.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
1 year ago

Brand, like Greenwald, is a Left-winger who has probably read Noam Chomsky’s classic work of media criticism Manufacturing Consent more than once

You think so? I think it’s more likely that he just reads short articles by people who have read and understood it. and just sort of absorbs the jargon and the basic stance.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
1 year ago

Chomsky’s turned out to be a serious disappointment. “Capitalism is evil. Pay me $20,000 a lecture to find out why”.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
11 months ago

“In the end Brand’s position on the Hunter Biden laptop story places him firmly in the camp of the populist and conspiratorial Right.”
Is anyone else tired of the left/right narrative? He says he is apolitical.
Brand’s questioning puts him on side with those who look at the evidence and observe the facts of the matter instead of fanciful guessing or citing of accepted ‘authorities’ such as Twitter, FB, BBC, Guardian and the NYT and not doing their own homework.
Brand is using his critical faculties instead of following the herd of the so-called left as to what is correct think. Isn’t that what the enlightenment was all about?

Last edited 11 months ago by Glyn Reed
Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
1 year ago

I think it’s a case of a cross between, good intentions, intelligence and lack of knwoledge.

Jorge Toer
Jorge Toer
11 months ago

They have time to discuss abaut abused power&corrupted media&politician’s&what happen at home with Boris&Jeremy??
U.S.A is rotten,,so???

Clive Flowers
Clive Flowers
11 months ago

Suggest you watch Glenn Greenwald’s (excellent) conversation with Freddie Sayers readily available on Lockdown TV. RB isn’t a conspiracy theorist he’s listening and taking heed from a respected journalist. Watch Greenwald / Freddie Sayers – then make your mind up

Trishia A
Trishia A
11 months ago

Wow, what a ridiculous article? If one strays from Democrat narrative even momentarily they’ve gone to the other side??? Eye roll!

N Millington
N Millington
11 months ago

This was the laptop that the old lush Ghouliani swore had gone to a friendly Republican laptop store, which definitely existed but almost certainly had no backups of any of the data, right?
…yeah. No.

Fam Barr
Fam Barr
3 months ago

Russell stop being herded into left and right and create something for us – a new political system. You have our support – we just need someone who has a voice, a following, is spiritual and gives a crap about society to start us off.

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
1 year ago

I can only speak for myself but I’m not remotely interested in what Mr Brand’s views and opinions are, political or otherwise.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

Nor am I, in the sense that he’s just another celebrity know-nothing. On the other hand, his podcast is watched by perhaps a million people, so if he starts to wake up to certain facts, albeit some years after the rest of us, he does have the power to wake up quite a lot of other people.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
11 months ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Greenwald isn’t exactly a celebrity know-nothing, and he’s been banging on about Biden’s laptop and the mainstream media’s refusal to discuss it for ages.

chris carr
chris carr
1 year ago

So Brand has launched yet another tirade of abuse at yet another person. Well shock horror, hold the front page.
Or, preferably, focus on the real story.

Last edited 1 year ago by chris carr
mike otter
mike otter
1 year ago

I don’t doubt that Greenwald and Brand would happily accept the largesse the Biden Family have leveraged via politics and Brand would probably covet Hunter Biden’s stash. So their sour grapes posturing has more to do with envy than ethics. All leftists support censorship, high tax and even violence against their opponents and only complain if these things are directed at themselves. Greenwald was quick to hand over his laptop when threatened by the cops and i’d advise dealers to be very careful if supplying Brand with narcotics. Some people have “snitch” sticking out all over them!

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
11 months ago
Reply to  mike otter

Greenwald was quick to hand over his laptop
I don’t remember that. Which laptop, when?