by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 9
February 2022
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13:30

Is Russell Brand the British Joe Rogan?

The British comedian is politically difficult to box — and that's why he has enemies
by Peter Franklin
Screengrab of Joe Rogan’s interview with Russell Brand. Credit: JRE

The Joe Rogan row just won’t go away. Instead, it keeps mutating into new forms. The latest iteration features Russell Brand. That’s because of his appearance on a list of Joe Rogan interviewees — tweeted out by a prominent Rogan critic called Matthew Sheffield.

To be precise, there are two lists, one entitled “Left” and the other “Right”. The Left list has 36 names on it and the Right list has 138. “Right-wingers overwhelmingly are his favourites” is Sheffield’s conclusion. 

Some of Sheffield’s categorisations have met with controversy. For instance, is Sam Harris a Right-winger? Or Bari Weiss? Or Bret Weinstein? Aren’t these all liberals, who happen to have fallen out with (or been cancelled by) other liberals over various issues? And what is Tulsi Gabbard doing there — the anti-war Democrat who ran for President in 2020?

But for British readers, the strangest inclusion is Russell Brand. Could this be the same Russell Brand who backed Ed Miliband in 2015 (thus inspiring the classic Owen Jones column “Russell Brand has endorsed Labour – and the Tories should be worried”)? Would this also be the Russell Brand who endorsed Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 — describing him as a “strong and stable leader”? And is this the Russell Brand who threatened to kiss Peter Hitchens on the lips during a Newsnight debate on drug addiction? Yes it is.

Brand provides a further explanation of why he’s not, in fact, a Right-winger here. But it’s hardly needed — it’s obvious he’s a man of the Left. However, his Leftism is unconventional and always has been, veering towards the anarchistic tendency rather than the statist mainstream. 

His anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment streak has become more pronounced recently. And it’s not “conservative” institutional targets — like big business — that he’s setting himself up against. For instance, he’s hostile to the idea of vaccine mandates (though he’s not an anti-vaxxer). He also makes fun of the mainstream media. As a result, he’s winning fans across the political spectrum — as have other unambiguous, but unconventional, Leftists like Glenn Greenwald. 

I’ve always wondered how the Millennial generation (people born between 1981 and 1995) might develop politically as they get older. The idea that they’d suddenly become dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries upon hitting middle age was never likely. But a more conventional scenario — that they’ll settle down into establishment liberalism — also need to be questioned. 

The likes of Joe Rogan and Russell Brand provide an alternative model of political evolution — and one that spells trouble for the increasingly censorious institutional Left. 

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Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
3 months ago

Peter Boghossian – the atheist philosopher – also makes the list of “right wing” guests on the Joe Rogan podcast. This is Humpty Dumpty / Alice in Wonderland stuff, as in “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”

George Glashan
George Glashan
3 months ago

I hope Joe gets on the CEO of Spotify to ask why 100+ episodes of the show have vanished, that’s quite a feat that he managed to be so racist, for so long, in plain sight and despite getting 100’s of millions of views nobody had noticed until his MSM competitors co-ordinated to tell everyone. Do we need a #FreeBritneyJoe to get him out of his contract and start his own podcast platform?

Last edited 3 months ago by George Glashan
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
3 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Rumble just offered him $100 million for four years and with the promise of no censorship.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yes Dave Rubin instigated. Will be interesting to see how Rogan responds. Fact is that Spotify is going down a slippery slope by kowtowing to every arbitrary person. And yes, Neil Young has now become arbitrary… liked his music though back in the day… hate his new politics. Joni Mitchell… nah. The other woman with a name like Idris Elba? No. Brene Brown. No squared. Soon it will be pile on.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
3 months ago

Rather than its accuracy, or lack thereof, the simple fact that this list exists and could be used as an argument towards the cancellation of JR (or anybody) is chilling.
“I don’t share your ideas/opinions, therefore they’re wrong, and you should not be able to present them on any platform, commercial or other.”
This is the stuff of true authoritarian societies.

George Glashan
George Glashan
3 months ago

Matthew Sheffield mislabelled his lists, surely it should have been Right and Wrong (Left) guests.

Last edited 3 months ago by George Glashan
George Glashan
George Glashan
3 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

wee addendum to above, Matthew Sheffield projection of Joe Rogan as right wing, is actually what these scandals are trying to achieve, they are trying to make it so that no left leaning guest will want to go on JRE and so fulfil their prophesy of Joe being a right wing as that’ll be the only guest he can get. Then the JRE will just fit in to the partisan news industry that both Rep / Dems have been cultivating for decades.

Paul Scannell
Paul Scannell
3 months ago

Steve Pinker’s book ‘Enlightenment Now’ is the most compelling case for liberal optimism I’ve had the fortune to find. Sheffield is a blinkered idiot.

Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
3 months ago

“Is Russell Brand the British Joe Rogan?”

One is a preening narcissist, the other cooks elk on his barbecue. So, no.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 months ago
Reply to  Lord Rochester

Have you watched the Russell Brand podcast? It is excellent. He is intelligent, interesting and funny. He is also on a personal spiritual journey – not that that is germane, but it is a thing. I am a convert.

Ian Moore
Ian Moore
3 months ago

Have to admit I was never a fan of Brand, but after being diverted to his podcast a few times I found myself warming to him. I’m definitely a convert too. Despite being a long way to the left of the vast majority of British politicians he has valid points, makes them well and genuinely listens to/consider alternative opinions.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 months ago

I’m not sure I can take seriously someone who uses a vocabulary far greater than the number of words he actually understands.

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago

Is there a problem with the video?

James Joyce
James Joyce
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

No, except you can’t play it….

John
John
3 months ago

“If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain.”

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  John

The problem with that statement is that all the things that generally turned people more conservative as they got older in the past such as secure employment, a family home etc. are becoming out of reach for increasing numbers of youngsters, as can be seen by the falling homeownership rates and rise in the gig economy for those age groups. If conservative parties want to remain an electoral force in the future they need to find ways to reverse these trends, otherwise rampant inequality will lead to people drifting towards the economic left. It’s hard to sell the virtues of capitalism to a generation locked out of owning capital

chhd lsscc
chhd lsscc
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

No families are being formed until mid 30’s. You can’t even understand the big issues until you have created a real life for yourself. Young people waste so much of their productive lives looking for the “right one”.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  chhd lsscc

If they had kids any younger most would leave themselves destitute. My parents and grandparents all managed to have kids young, buy a family home, raise families of 6 & 7 and have comfortable existence all on the dads bog standard wage. Try doing that these days

Last edited 3 months ago by Billy Bob
Ian Moore
Ian Moore
3 months ago

Political hatchet job aside the reason the mainstream “left” doesn’t think Brand is a lefty is because they have no idea what it means, or at least meant, to be an actual lefty. None of the current mainstream are, or have any idea how, to be representative of proper left wing politics. They are fascists.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
3 months ago

I’ve always wondered how the Millennial generation (people born between 1981 and 1995) might develop politically as they get older.

I think the best guidance of what will become of the millenials is to look at the last what happened to the last free-wheeling generation of the 60s. Yes, it’s the boomers.