Saturday, September 14, 2013

Russell Brand on governance as theatre and why MNCs get all the tax breaks

Russell Brand got invited to the GQ awards, made a joke about Hugo Boss' history serving Nazi troops, and then got ejected. I would never have heard or cared about this except that then Russell Brand decided to write about the experience in the Guardian, and his comments ended up as an indictment of the relationship between elites and government with a nod to the problem of multinational influence on tax policy. Excerpts:
We witness that there is a relationship between government, media and industry that is evident even at this most spurious and superficial level. These three institutions support one another. We know that however cool a media outlet may purport to be, their primary loyalty is to their corporate backers. We know also that you cannot criticise the corporate backers openly without censorship and subsequent manipulation of this information.
Now I'm aware that this was really no big deal; I'm not saying I'm an estuary Che Guevara, it was a daft joke, by a daft comic at a daft event. It makes me wonder though how the relationships and power dynamics I witnessed on this relatively inconsequential context are replicated on a more significant scale. 
For example, if you can't criticise Hugo Boss at the GQ awards because they own the event do you think it is significant that energy companies donate to the Tory party? Will that affect government policy? Will the relationships that "politician of the year" Boris Johnson has with City bankers – he took many more meetings with them than public servants in his first term as mayor – influence the way he runs our capital? 
Is it any wonder that Amazon, Vodafone and Starbucks avoid paying tax when they enjoy such cosy relationships with members of our government? 
Ought we be concerned that our rights to protest are being continually eroded under the guise of enhancing our safety? Is there a relationship between proposed fracking in the UK, new laws that prohibit protest and the relationships between energy companies and our government? 
From the shallows of celebrity comings and goings, an all-too rare glimpse of perspective on the society we have built for ourselves.

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