In a lengthy blog post on his website, the Get Him to the Greek star mused about the riots that erupted following a peaceful protest of a police shooting, calling it a “sad and frightening” situation made more personal by the fact that he’s lived in the areas beseieged by the violence.
“Whilst I could never claim to be from the demographic most obviously affected I feel guilty that I’m not there now,” said Brand.
The 36-year-old funnyman added, however, that he can’t get on the bandwagon and agree with the majority of Britains who blame the looting, glass-breaking, vandalism, robberies and disorder on the nihilism of the country’s “disconnected” youth.
“I feel proud to be English, proud to be a Londoner (alright an Essex boy) never more so than since being in exile and I naturally began to wonder what would make young people destroy their communities,” he wrote. “But I can’t, from my ivory tower in the Hollywood Hills, compete with the understandable yet futile rhetoric, describing the rioters as mindless.”
Partly, that’s because Brand copped to being arrested himself once in the early Aughties for causing criminal damage during an anti-capitalist protest, and even admitted that he “enjoyed” when they “become chaotic,” though as intriguing as it was, the “anarchist ‘Black-Block'” actions were “never his cup of tea.”
“I found those protests exciting, yes because I was young and a bit of a twerp but also, I suppose, because there was a void in me,” he opined. “A lack of direction, a sense that I was not invested in the dominant culture, that Government existed not to look after the interests of the people it was elected to represent but the big businesses that they were in bed with.”
The comedian then got to the heart of the matter in his view: how the disaffected have no stake in the wider society because politicians put profit and corporate interests over people.
“If we don’t want our young people to tear apart our communities then don’t let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together,” he remarked.
After quoting Ghandi’s famous line, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Brand suggested the solution was not political so much as spiritual.
“If we want to live in a society where people feel included, we must include them, where they feel represented, we must represent them and where they feel love and compassion for their communities then we, the members of that community, must find love and compassion for them,” he said.