In this week's New Statesman: Russell Brand guest edit

A preview of the issue, which includes contributions from Gary Lineker, David Lynch, Naomi Klein, Rupert Everett, Amanda Palmer and Alec Baldwin, as well as an essay by Russell Brand.

THE REVOLUTION ISSUE

GUEST EDITED BY RUSSELL BRAND

OUT NOW

FEATURING

AN ESSAY BY RUSSELL BRAND: BEFORE WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD, WE NEED TO CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK

Buy the magazine now at newstatesman.com/subscribe or on iPad/iPhone via the App Store

PLUS

DAVID LYNCH RUPERT EVERETT NOEL GALLAGHER

AMANDA PALMER NAOMI KLEIN ALEC BALDWIN

DAVID SHRIGLEY GRAHAM HANCOCK GARY LINEKER

AI WEIWEI JUDD APATOW NOAM CHOMSKY OLIVER STONE

DEEPAK CHOPRA EVGENY LEBEDEV MARTHA LANE FOX

DAVID DeGRAW MOLLY CRABAPPLE HOWARD MARKS

FRANCESCA MARTINEZ DIABLO CODY

WITH EXCLUSIVE COVER ARTWORK BY SHEPARD FAIREY AND A NEW MR GEE POEM: “360° OF SEPARATION”

Russell Brand introduces his issue in a video for the New Statesman:

TOP 10 STORIES FROM THE ISSUE:

  • In a 4,500-word tour de force Russell Brand argues that while “most people do not give a f*** about politics”, they do have revolution within them
  • Naomi Klein on revolutionary science and climate change activism
  • Rupert Everett on the revolution in gay rights from the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde to gay marriage
  • Performer Amanda Palmer on crowd-funding and the revolution in artist-audience relationships
  • Gary Lineker deplores pushy parents on the touchline and calls for a revolution in the teaching of school sport
  • Noel Gallagher writes about the politicians he hates
  • Alec Baldwin on Edward Snowden, and why Americans are tired of being lied to
  • David Lynch on transcendental meditation and inner revolution
  • Activist David DeGraw calls for a do-it-yourself revolution; “modern-day shaman” Daniel Pinchbeck urges humanity to cast off its “mind forged manacles”; and best-selling author Graham Hancock hopes for a revolution in consciousness
  • Judd Apatow, Oliver Stone, Howard Marks, Martha Lane Fox and many more tell Brand what revolution means to them

COVER STORY: RUSSELL BRAND’S REVOLUTION

In an extended essay to introduce his Revolution-themed guest-edit, Russell Brand argues we need to change the way we think before we can change the world.

Brand on the British and revolution:

“We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir.”

Brand on politics:

“When people talk about politics within the existing Westminster framework I feel a dull thud in my stomach and my eyes involuntarily glaze. Like when I’m conversing and the subject changes from me and moves on to another topic. I try to remain engaged but behind my eyes I am adrift in immediate nostalgia; “How happy I was earlier in this chat,” I instantly think. I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”

On hypocrisy:

“First, though, I should qualify my right to even pontificate on such a topic and in so doing untangle another of revolution’s inherent problems. Hypocrisy. How dare I, from my velvet chaise longue, in my Hollywood home like Kubla Khan, drag my limbs from my harem to moan about the system? A system that has posited me on a lilo made of thighs in an ocean filled with honey and foie gras’d my Essex arse with undue praise and money.”

On the left’s over-seriousness:

“I felt pretty embarrassed that my involvement [in a protest] was being questioned, in a manner which is all too common on the left. It’s been said that “the right seeks converts and the left seeks traitors”. This moral superiority that is peculiar to the left is a great impediment to momentum. It is also a right drag when you’re trying to enjoy a riot.”

“Perhaps this is why there is currently no genuinely popular left-wing movement to counter Ukip, the EDL and the Tea Party; for an ideology that is defined by inclusiveness,

socialism has become in practice quite exclusive. Plus a bit too serious, too much up its own fundament and not enough fun. The same could be said of the growing New Age spiritual movement, which could be a natural accompaniment to social progression. I’m a bit of a tree-hugging, Hindu-tattooed, veggie meditator myself but first and foremost I want to have a f***ing laugh."

On political apathy:

“Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels. The formation of the NHS, holiday pay, sick pay, the weekend – achievements of peaceful trade union action were not achieved in the lifetime of the directionless London rioters. They are uninformed of the left’s great legacy as it is dismantled around them.”

On dealing with serious issues with humour:

“Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they’re boring and can’t compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto. Social movements needn’t lack razzmatazz. The right has all the advantages, just as the devil has all the best tunes.”

On spiritual revolution:

“For me the solution has to be primarily spiritual and secondarily political. This, too, is difficult terrain when the natural tribal leaders of the left are atheists, when Marxism is inveterately godless. When the lumbering monotheistic faiths have given us millennia of grief for a handful of prayers and some sparkly rituals. By spiritual I mean the acknowledgement that our connection to one another and the planet must be prioritised. Buckminster Fuller outlines what ought be our collective objectives succinctly: “to make the world work for 100 per cent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous co-operation without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone”. This maxim is the very essence of “easier said than done” as it implies the dismantling of our entire socio-economic machinery. By teatime.”

Read Russell Brand’s essay in full in his issue and online here

THE NS ESSAY: NAOMI KLEIN

“SCIENCE SAYS: REVOLT!”

The Shock Doctrine and No Logo author Naomi Klein reports on the revolution taking place in the science world as climate change researchers, increasingly alarmed by their discoveries, decide activism is the only option:

“In order to appear reasonable within neoliberal economic circles, scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research. . . But the truth is getting out anyway. The fact that the business-as-usual pursuit of profits and growth is destabilising life on earth is no longer something we need to read about in scientific journals. The early signs are unfolding before our eyes. And increasing numbers of us are responding accordingly: blockading fracking activity in Balcombe; interfering with Arctic drilling preparations in Russian waters (at tremendous personal cost); taking tar sands operators to court for violating indigenous sovereignty; and countless other acts of resistance large and small. . . It’s not a revolution, but it’s a start. And it might just buy us enough time to figure out a way to live on this planet that is distinctly less f**ked.”

**Read Naomi Klein’s essay in full in the issue and online from Tuesday 29 October 10:00 GMT **

 

RUPERT EVERETT: GAY RIGHTS FROM OSCAR WILDE TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

In an essay addressed to his friend Russell Brand, the actor Rupert Everett, who recently played Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss, traces the history of gay rights in Britain from the playwright’s infamous imprisonment in 1895 to this year’s same-sex marriage bill - via his own experiences of the underground gay scene in London in the 1970s and 1980s.

On playing Wilde in The Judas Kiss on the day the same-sex marriage bill was passed:

“The energy in the auditorium was intense. It felt – and I was not on drugs – as if the universe had briefly stopped in its tracks to watch. As I ran on for my first scene as Oscar, into the arms of Lord Alfred Douglas (played by Freddie Fox), I felt like the crest of a wave crashing on to the stage with all the blinding tragedy of gay history in my wake – the drownings, the burials alive, the hangings, the pillorying – all the tortures invented by man in the name of God. The applause was euphoric at the end of the show, as much for the day itself as for the performance. Finally, homosexual relationships were fully and equally accepted in law. We have come a long way. As Oscar predicted, the road to freedom has been long and smeared with the blood of martyrs, and the fight’s not over yet.”

On gay rights today:

“Today the world has gone full circle. Gay people seem to be doing all the decent things the straights used to do – getting married, having babies and recycling. I feel like an old grandmother, sitting in my rocking chair, writing to you, dear Russell, during a break from my knitting. The past is all twinkling lights in the woods on a snowy night. Was it revolution? Or were we just crashing up and down on a much deeper wave, as history ploughed on regardless? Did everything change in ’67 with the new law? Was Stonewall the defining moment? Were we as free as we felt in the Seventies? Are we as free as we think we are now?”

Read Rupert Everett’s personal story in full in the issue and online on Monday 28 October

 

GARY LINEKER: “WE NEED A PARENTAL REVOLUTION”

Gary Lineker argues in a column for his friend’s guest-edit that pushy parents screaming abuse from the sidelines are killing their kids’ love of football - and ultimately destroying England’s professional chances.

“It’s obvious, then, why we have a long-ball culture: the big lads who can kick it furthest are the ones that stand out. What chance for the diminutive yet gifted midfielder? No chance of him developing his tiki-taka football. The only way to get to the other end of the pitch is to belt it and then belt it again. This madness is only exacerbated by the maniacal parents on the touchline spouting nonsense at their children. The competitive nature of most mums and dads is astounding. The fear they instil in our promising but sensitive Johnny is utterly depressing. We need a parental cultural revolution. If we could just get them to shut the f*** up and let their children enjoy themselves, you would be staggered at the difference it would make.”

Read Gary Lineker’s column in full in the issue and online here

 

AMANDA PALMER: ARTISTS SHOULD BE DRINKING WITH FANS NOT CULTIVATING MYSTIQUE

The American performer and scourge of the Daily Mail, Amanda Palmer, describes how the movement towards crowd-sourcing artistic projects is bringing about a revolution in the complex artist-audience relationship.

“The artists most fit to survive today no longer equate mystique with artistic credibility. They’re not shaking their cups for scraps; they’re busy drinking with their fans, like the old-school travelling musicians.”

“The ‘shameless’ connection that exists between new-school crowd-funding artists and our fans lies within the wider context of social media, which has led to an increasing level of intimacy. Once you’ve been in a relationship for years (hopefully), shame disintegrates. There’s a difference between asking a stranger for a handout, a friend for a favour, or a customer for a down payment. Crowdfunding artists are generally working in the third category, in the spirit of the second. It’s the blurry line between the two latter categories that makes crowd-funding difficult to explain.”

Read Amanda Palmer in full in the issue and online from 12:00 GMT on Friday 25 October

 

DAVID LYNCH: HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH

Film director David Lynch shares the secrets of transcendental meditation:

“Revolutions are usually associated with violence or force. Transcendental Meditation leads to a beautiful, peaceful revolution. A change from suffering and negativity to happiness and a life more and more free of any problems. The secret has always been within. We just need a technique that works to get us there to unfold a most beautiful future.”

Read David Lynch in full in the issue and online from 14:00 GMT on Friday 25 October

 

ALEC BALDWIN: AMERICANS HAVE BEEN LIED TO

In an impassioned and angry piece, the actor Alec Baldwin considers 50 years of US intelligence and concludes enough is enough.

“The reality that the government is spying on Americans on a wholesale level, seemingly indiscriminately, doesn’t really come as a surprise to many, given the assumed imperatives of the post-9/11 security state. People seem more stricken by the fact that Barack Obama, who once vowed to close Guantanamo, has adopted CIA-NSA policies regarding domestic spying, as well as by government attempts to silence, even hunt down, the press. Americans, in terms of their enthusiasm for defending their beloved democratic principles in the face of an ever more muscular assault on those principles by the state in the name of national security, are exhausted.”

Read Alec Baldwin’s piece in full in the issue and online from 16:00 GMT on Thursday 24 October

 

WHAT DOES REVOLUTION MEAN TO YOU?

Russell Brand asks thinkers, artists and dissidents including Judd Apatow, Ai Weiwei, Oliver Stone, and Peter Kuznick what Revolution means to them.

Judd Apatow, film-maker:

“Comedy itself is revolutionary. When done well, it challenges stale ideas, opens minds and brings delight.”

Ai Weiwei, artist and dissident:

“The revolution is a bridge that connects the past and the future. It is necessary, unpredictable and inevitable.”

Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, film-makers:

“A world in which the richest 300 people have more wealth than the poorest three billion, in which the US maintains perhaps 700 overseas military bases and spends almost as much on military and intelligence as the rest of the world combined, and in which greed and the lust for power are privileged over creativity, kindness, and generosity, is a world gone astray – one that demands revolutionary transformation of the deepest and most profound sort.”

Read Martha Lane Fox, Noam Chomsky, Deepak Chopra, Evgeny Lebedev and Molly Crabapple on Revolution in the issue

PLUS

The NS’s Michael Prodger interviews Turner-nominated artist David Shrigley

Screenwriter and producer Diablo Cody on the existence of alien life

Will Self on why he’d “walk a c**ty mile” to avoid Jamie Oliver’s Diner

David Grylls reviews the second volume of Mark Twain’s cantankerous autobiography

The Russell Brand issue (dated 25-31 October, cover price £3.50) will be on sale in London on Thursday 24 October and in the rest of the country from Friday 25 October. International buyers can obtain copies through our website: www.newstatesman.com/russellbrand

The New Statesman app is a full, bespoke representation of the award-winning politics and culture magazine for iPad, iPhone and iPod users. It is available to download now from the app store and comes with a free copy of the magazine’s acclaimed Centenary issue. Digital subscriptions can be taken out through Apple (annual at £79.99, monthly £7.99, single issue £2.99).

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Arsène Wenger: how can an intelligent manager preside over such a hollowed-out team?

The Arsenal manager faces a frustrating legacy.

Sport is obviously not all about winning, but it is about justified hope. That ­distinction has provided, until recently, a serious defence of Arsène Wenger’s Act II – the losing part. Arsenal haven’t won anything big for 13 years. But they have been close enough (and this is a personal view) to sustain the experience of investing emotionally in the story. Hope turning to disappointment is fine. It’s when the hope goes, that’s the problem.

Defeat takes many forms. In both 2010 and 2011, Arsenal lost over two legs to Barcelona in the Champions League. Yet these were rich and rewarding sporting experiences. In the two London fixtures of those ties, Arsenal drew 2-2 and won 2-1 against the most dazzling team in the world. Those nights reinvigorated my pride in sport. The Emirates Stadium had the best show in town. Defeat, when it arrived in Barcelona, was softened by gratitude. We’d been entertained, more than entertained.

Arsenal’s 5-1 surrender to Bayern Munich on 15 February was very different. In this capitulation by instalments, the fascination was macabre rather than dramatic. Having long given up on discerning signs of life, we began the post-mortem mid-match. As we pored over the entrails, the curiosity lay in the extent of the malady that had brought down the body. The same question, over and over: how could such an intelligent, deep-thinking manager preside over a hollowed-out team? How could failings so obvious to outsiders, the absence of steel and resilience, evade the judgement of the boss?

There is a saying in rugby union that forwards (the hard men) determine who wins, and the backs (the glamour boys) decide by how much. Here is a footballing equivalent: midfielders define matches, attacking players adorn them and defenders get the blame. Yet Arsenal’s players as good as vacated the midfield. It is hard to judge how well Bayern’s playmakers performed because they were operating in a vacuum; it looked like a morale-boosting training-ground drill, free from the annoying presence of opponents.

I have always been suspicious of the ­default English critique which posits that mentally fragile teams can be turned around by licensed on-field violence – a good kicking, basically. Sporting “character” takes many forms; physical assertiveness is only one dimension.

Still, it remains baffling, Wenger’s blind spot. He indulges artistry, especially the mercurial Mesut Özil, beyond the point where it serves the player. Yet he won’t protect the magicians by surrounding them with effective but down-to-earth talents. It has become a diet of collapsing soufflés.

What held back Wenger from buying the linchpin midfielder he has lacked for many years? Money is only part of the explanation. All added up, Arsenal do spend: their collective wage bill is the fourth-highest in the League. But Wenger has always been reluctant to lavish cash on a single star player, let alone a steely one. Rather two nice players than one great one.

The power of habit has become debilitating. Like a wealthy but conservative shopper who keeps going back to the same clothes shop, Wenger habituates the same strata of the transfer market. When he can’t get what he needs, he’s happy to come back home with something he’s already got, ­usually an elegant midfielder, tidy passer, gets bounced in big games, prone to going missing. Another button-down blue shirt for a drawer that is well stuffed.

It is almost universally accepted that, as a business, Arsenal are England’s leading club. Where their rivals rely on bailouts from oligarchs or highly leveraged debt, Arsenal took tough choices early and now appear financially secure – helped by their manager’s ability to engineer qualification for the Champions League every season while avoiding excessive transfer costs. Does that count for anything?

After the financial crisis, I had a revealing conversation with the owner of a private bank that had sailed through the turmoil. Being cautious and Swiss, he explained, he had always kept more capital reserves than the norm. As a result, the bank had made less money in boom years. “If I’d been a normal chief executive, I’d have been fired by the board,” he said. Instead, when the economic winds turned, he was much better placed than more bullish rivals. As a competitive strategy, his winning hand was only laid bare by the arrival of harder times.

In football, however, the crash never came. We all wrote that football’s insane spending couldn’t go on but the pace has only quickened. Even the Premier League’s bosses confessed to being surprised by the last extravagant round of television deals – the cash that eventually flows into the hands of managers and then the pockets of players and their agents.

By refusing to splash out on the players he needed, whatever the cost, Wenger was hedged for a downturn that never arrived.

What an irony it would be if football’s bust comes after he has departed. Imagine the scenario. The oligarchs move on, finding fresh ways of achieving fame, respectability and the protection achieved by entering the English establishment. The clubs loaded with debt are forced to cut their spending. Arsenal, benefiting from their solid business model, sail into an outright lead, mopping up star talent and trophies all round.

It’s often said that Wenger – early to invest in data analytics and worldwide scouts; a pioneer of player fitness and lifestyle – was overtaken by imitators. There is a second dimension to the question of time and circumstance. He helped to create and build Arsenal’s off-field robustness, even though football’s crazy economics haven’t yet proved its underlying value.

If the wind turns, Arsène Wenger may face a frustrating legacy: yesterday’s man and yet twice ahead of his time. 

Ed Smith is a journalist and author, most recently of Luck. He is a former professional cricketer and played for both Middlesex and England.

This article first appeared in the 24 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The world after Brexit