Comedian and activist Russell Brand has now been voted the fourth most influential global thinker in Prospect, a leading current affairs magazine.
Update: Russell Brand responds to his designation as the fourth most influential thinker in the world.
Here’s what happened. First, the editorial team on the magazine compiled a top 50 list of names, choosing individuals for their leadership in their individual fields and how they engaged communities, dealing with critical issues in original and new ways. Once the list was put together, readers were then invited to cast their vote to tie things down to a top 10.
As reported in the Guardian, Brand joins a lofty group by being selected number four, as can be seen from those both preceding and following him in the top 10.
Russell Brand voted the world’s fourth most important thinker http://t.co/CtMoWOjNVK
— Enoch Jeremiah (@EnochJeremiah7) March 26, 2015
Number one on the list is French economist Thomas Piketty, who is the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty was followed by the left-wing Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis. Just beating Brand is Canadian author and economist and environmental activist Naomi Klein at number three.
Russell Brand made it to the list after becoming involved in various activist projects, but mainly for the publication of his latest book, Revolution, in 2014. The book thrust Brand into the spotlight and made him one of the U.K.’s most controversial figures.
Brand’s book calls for the eradication of the “nation state,” redistribution of wealth and an end to “corporate tyranny, ecological irresponsibility and economic inequality.” Some have criticized the book as having no substance, while others have praised it for drawing attention to important stories of the day.
He has been involved in Occupy protest marches in London and has assisted a group of single mothers in the fight against having their homes taken from them by a U.S. company at New Era Estate in Hackney.
Brand has been interviewed on U.S. television channels, including MSNBC, where he put several anchors firmly in their place when in the country on his comedy tour The Messiah Complex.
Brand also runs a YouTube channel called The Trews where he gives what he calls a truer side to the latest news of the day. The channel has attracted more than one million subscribers and plenty of trolls around the comments sections.
While many people criticize Brand for his handling of the news, saying comedy shouldn’t be a part of it, he certainly makes his voice heard and gets it across in a way that makes people listen.
Once the likes of Bertrand Russell was considered to be a great thinker; now, it’s self-publicist Russell Brand.
— A Man in Black (@69MiB) March 26, 2015
Prospect editor Bronwen Maddox was interviewed about Russell Brand and explained that it was the readers, not the magazine, that put him at number four.
“This was voted for entirely by readers and does not represent Prospect’s views. Russell Brand has made an important contribution to conversation and ideas over the past year.”
“We have an initial list of 50 people for readers to vote from and, given the platform Brand has been given on the BBC and the Guardian, we felt he should be included. It is a list that is very dependent on events over the past year, so it is not surprising, with the recent release of Revolution and all the conversation around it that Brand appears on this list.”
As reported by The Week, Prospect, in fact, gave Brand’s book Revolution a negative review, speaking of his “constant changes of tone from whimsical memoir to somber pseudo-philosophic discourse.” Their reviewer said this was “unpleasantly jarring” and “gratingly predictable.”
Following the release of his book, Brand is using a portion of the profits to fund a café on the New Era estate, called Trew Era café, which he helped to retain for its current tenants. The project will serve to raise funds for other local community projects.
The following is the full top 10 list of influential global thinkers as voted for by Prospect readers:
- Thomas Piketty, French economist
- Yanis Varoufakis, Greek finance minister
- Naomi Klein, Canadian author
- Russell Brand, UK comedian and campaigner
- Paul Krugman, US economist
- Arundhati Roy, Indian writer and activist
- Jurgen Habermas, German philosopher
- Daniel Kahneman, US-Israeli psychologist
- John Gray, UK philosopher
- Atul Gawande, US surgeon and writer
Love him, or leave him, this is lofty company indeed for a comedian turned revolutionist/activist, which will no doubt open up a larger audience to what Russell Brand has to say.
In other news on Russell Brand, the Inquisitr recently reported that Brand was too uncomfortable to watch the documentary Brand: A Second Coming which revolves around his life and former marriage to singer Katy Perry.
[Images: Dan Kitwood and Alex Huckle / Getty Images]