Is Russell Brand lost in revolutionary rabbit holes?

Russell Brand recently appeared on the BBC's Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman and launched into a fiery tirade against the UK's democratic system. His call for revolution hit a chord in the UK, sparking diverse reactions in the social enterprise space.
But what really lurks in the rabbit holes of revolutionary utopia asks Pathik Pathak Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Southampton, as he offers up insights from within the social enterprise movement in a letter to Russell Brand. 
Dear Russell… 
I respect your right to pontificate on the dismal state of parliamentary democracy. You’re not alone in your anger. 
Like you, I scowl at the belief that parliament is capable of anything other than perpetuating the destruction of the environment and the exploitation of the vulnerable. Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results; electing the same kinds of people from the same kinds of backgrounds and expecting wholesale change is tantamount to the same kind of madness. 
Unlike you, I don’t believe the answer lies in revolution because I don’t put my faith in systems or ideologies. In your interview with Paxman you skated over the idea of what your revolution would bring but offered us the delightful promise of a “socialist corporatist state” officiated by “admin bods”, presumably because politicians are too venal. Revolutionary talk such as yours generates a lot of heat but precious little light. It’s easy to ignite an incendiary fuse, but much harder to ditch the romanticism of revolution for something real and achievable. 
Perhaps your preoccupation with overhauling government has blinded you to the opportunities to disrupt dysfunctional systems from within. Disruptive entrepreneurs are all around us, challenging the prevailing orthodoxies which dictate that cataract surgery is beyond the poor, that primary education needs expensive infrastructure, or that the homeless and ex-offenders are destined to be parasites on society’s margins.
Revolution implies that radical change can only happen through an explosive reaction which obliterates inequitable social arrangements and gives birth to shiny new egalitarian ones. The Left often chooses to dismiss social entrepreneurship as tinkering at the margins; rejecting the possibility that anything radical could ever emerge from a practice so complicit with dominant frameworks of capitalism or business.  
Disruptive entrepreneurship shows us that something else is possible: systems can be imploded from within, small chinks in the general gloom can be generative catalysts for something more universal, and innovation by innovation we can remake the world to serve those who most deserve it, not those who inherit wealth or privilege.  Disruptive entrepreneurs have created business models which started life on the peripheries of the global economy but which are gradually, incrementally, transforming economic systems.
Tub-thumping for revolution will always ring louder than the whisper of disruptive entrepreneurship, but you’d be surprised by the power of example. Show people something that works, and the desire to replicate and improve it is strong. The global reach of the Occupy movement is no doubt impressive, but so are the peer networks of disruptive entrepreneurs. We are getting organized in ways unimaginable years ago, leveraging digital technologies and drawing in more and more marginalized groups as stakeholders in the challenge of systemic disruption. 
You make the point that we need an economic, cultural and cognitive shift to achieve revolution, but that won’t happen through civil disobedience or mass occupation alone. We need disruptive innovations to shift the axis of our behaviour and destabilize the economic order by offering us alternative models of production, consumption, exchange and investment. 
The bankruptcy of our political paradigm is unquestionable. The need for urgent action is unavoidable. That doesn’t mean we should grope for a messianic manifesto at the expense of effective problem-solving in the here and now. Instead of enticing our disenfranchised youth down the rabbit holes of revolutionary utopia – whatever you imagine that will look like – let’s instead encourage them to disrupt systemic failures one venture at a time. 
You’re right to say that we don’t have luxury of tradition. We also don’t have the luxury of idle chatter about revolution. 
You can watch the interview here.


Really Betraying a Revolution

I'm reminded of the title of an article by my colleague, on the ground during Ukraine's Orange revoltion. In the crosshair was a man who he described as an economic hit man, a man who had described the Tymoshenko adminstration of state capitalism. She'd done what Ed Miliband says he's going to do and capped fuel prices. BP and the Kremlin had joined forces to undermine evolving democracy which threatened profit margins..

This Orange revoluition was an uprising against corruption and greed. Today we see similar developments in Bulgaria 

Just months earlier with a business plan for social enterprise in the UK, he'd drawn attention to the risk of increasing poverty:

'While the vast majority of people in poverty suffer quietly and with little protest, it is not safe to assume that everyone will react the same way. When in defence of family and friends, it is completely predictable that it should be only a matter of time until uprisings become sufficient to imperil an entire nation or region of the world. People with nothing have nothing to lose. Poverty was therefore deemed not only a moral catastrophe but also a time bomb waiting to explode.'

We became disruptors with our revelations about 'Death Camps, for Children' and this led on to a formal proposal for social enterprise development. The primary objective was to place all institutionalised chidren in loving family homes.

In February 2008, our 'Genesis' letter would call on USAID and the US Council on Foreign Relations to support the inclusion of social enterprise in international development policy and draw their attention to the extent of corruption and the risks we were taking, it ended:

"We are grossly underfunded in favor of missiles, bombs, and ordnance, which is about 100% backwards. Now, with even the US Pentagon stating that they’ve learned their lesson in Iraq and realize (so says top US general in Iraq ten days or so ago) that winning hearts and minds is the best option, I and others shall continue to think positive and look for aid budgets and funding spigots to be opened much more for people and NGOs in silos, foxholes and trenches, insisting on better than ordnance, and who understand things and how to fix them. We can do that. We can even do it cost-effectively and with far better efficiency than the ordnance route. Welcome to our brave new world. Except it’s not so new: learn to love and respect each other first, especially the weakest, most defenseless, most voiceless among us, then figure out the rest. There aren’t other more important things to do first. This message has been around for at least two thousand years. How difficult is it for us to understand?"

If social enterprise has a role in revolutions, we speak from experience knowing that it can't be done from lectern. 

'We are all Spartacus', is my view of how we might tackle the oppression of poverty.