Combat Paxman’s propaganda revealed: How Russell Brand inadvertently provoked a confession from the combative vicar-like BBC broadcaster
7 November 2013
Cracks in Combat Paxman’s propaganda model
Since the BBC’s famously combative Newsnight host, Jeremy Paxman, interviewed the famously womanizing comedian Russell Brand, in which Paxman grilled Brand for not being “arsed to vote”, the senior broadcaster has admitted he did not vote in a recent election.[i] Paxman, who implicitly cast Brand as the ruling classes’ opponent, occupies a ranked spot in the British Empire’s first division of media propaganda models.
The Combat Paxman propaganda model interviewed Brand following the comedian’s guest-editing role of the Revolution Issue for the British political magazine, the New Statesman.[ii] The television interview, broadcast on October 23 2013, immediately went viral on YouTube, and has reached over 10 million views in two weeks.
Early on in the interview, Combat Paxman asked Brand if it was true that he didn’t vote and when he wasn’t satisfied with the comedian’s answers, the BBC host interrupted Brand to ask, “How do you imagine people get power?” When Brand replied that power was derived from hierarchical systems passed down through the generations, Combat Paxman interrupted the comedian like a vicar challenging a heathen, saying as he pointed his index finger accusingly, “They get power by being voted in. You can’t even be arsed to vote.”
At this point in the interview, Russell Brand morphed into angry Terrier Russell. The comedian continued, explaining that his non-voting stance was not “out of apathy”, but rather that he has observed an entrenched political apathy from political elites toward the majority of people.
Terrier Russell stated that political elites were serving the interests of the wealthy and that such a political alignment exacerbated the crises they were causing. According to Terrier Russell, the political elites and the super-rich were: threatening the planet’s ecological health, inflicting misery on a mass underclass in Britain and America, and were exploiting the poverty stricken around the world. Thus, Terrier Russell argued that a revolution was the only way to positively change the world.
In an article that appeared in the Radio Times, Combat Paxman described the Westminster parliament as a “green-bench pantomine”, referring to the green leather seats that members are elected to occupy.[iii]
In the Radio Times article Combat Paxman stated: “Russell Brand has never voted, because he finds the process irrelevant. I can understand that: the whole green-bench pantomime in Westminster looks a remote and self-important echo chamber. But it is all we have. In one recent election, I decided not to vote, because I thought the choice so unappetising.”
It is therefore hilarious to learn that the curious family name of the BBC’s Combat Paxman propaganda model comes from a propagandist effort of one of his ancestors. A BBC genealogy series, Who Do You Think You Are?, found that Paxman was descended from a 14th century politician, Roger Packsman, who changed his name to Paxman to gain favour with his constituency.[iv] Since pax means peace in Latin, his ancestor was on one level claiming to be a ‘man of peace’, at a time when European oligarchic families were feuding over land, castles and the power to rule over as many hapless people as possible.
But, the word pax also refers to a period of ‘universal peace’ due to the dominance of one state power, such as a Pax Romana in the time of the Roman Empire. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Paxman’s ancestor was not trying to forge a peace through redistribution of lands gained through violence, among the common folk who had no voting rights.
It was this documentary that Terrier Russell referred to in his interview with Combat Paxman, wherein the BBC used a scene of Combat Paxman crying when he learned that his poverty-stricken great-grandmother lost her welfare eligibility because she had a child out of wedlock. Terrier Russell tersely reminded Combat Paxman that he had cried because he knew it was unfair and that she, like millions now, was bearing the brunt of the upper classes’ indifference, greed and selfishness.
Terrier Russell argued at the end of his interview (as he did in his New Statesman editorial), that it was necessary to engage this emotional sense of injustice in order to mobilize people to revolt.
The revolution that science predicts is already underway, but not televised
Pertinently, the New Statesman’s ‘Revolution Issue’ featured a piece from journalist Naomi Klein, titled “How science is telling us to revolt”.[v] Some scientists argue the impasse to address ecological collapse over the last two decades is evidence that a counterforce of mass revolt is the only way to avoid humanity’s extinction. This, evidentially, is what populations have done when their very survival is threatened.
However, given that since 3600 B.C. there have been over 14,500 major wars, which have abruptly ended the lives of nearly four billion people, the record shows that for the most part, people have been conned into dying so that rulers may continue to rule, whether they are aspirants or incumbents.[vi] It is, therefore, going to be a formidable task to get people to revolt peacefully, just as it will be an incredible challenge to minimize the inevitable violence ordered by oligarchs in control of private armies and nation state elites.
When we consider that capitalism is primarily a private political power system, wherein dominant capitalist groups use their vast financial claims to wealth to maximize their ‘accumulation of power’, it becomes clear that democracy is merely an administrative system for the super-rich, as Russell Brand argued. Indeed, Brand’s view on democracy concurs with the argument presented by two political economists Johnathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler in their book Capital as Power. Nitzan and Bichler state that the super-rich regard both the public and private sectors as two divisions of their system, capitalism.
We can see why the propaganda models who work in the Global Media Complex fail to do the deep research required to produce excellent journalism, which is not to be confused what the kind that is often honoured with media awards. When it is recalled that a muck-raking journalist of an earlier era, Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”, then we can see that propaganda models, like Combat Paxman, do routinely practice willful ignorance.[vii]
It is no surprise, then, that so many newspaper articles that dismissed the comedian’s public-spirited attempt to stimulate serious discussion on how democracy is being abused to serve the narrow interests of the wealthy, also failed to mention Naomi Klein’s excellent feature article.
Is it not, therefore, the superficial media who are being childish? After-all, the news media are meant to hold those with power accountable? If the news media took Brand’s initiative seriously, they could even conduct serious and sustained investigations into why exactly this political alignment between political elites and the super-rich occurred and what it means for democracy.[viii] The news media could even investigate theories, models and projects that are re-building societies at grassroots levels, such as can be found on the Global Transition Map.[ix] In other words, the news media could, if they were open-minded, investigate the revolution that is already happening.
Otherwise, why should we consume their news if they can’t be arsed defending open, free societies from the sustained abuses of power by the incumbent, criminal transnational capitalist class?
By day, Snoopman works undercover as an ordinary mortal, editing news at a television station. By night, Snoopman researches the wicked deeds of the economically, politically, militarily and religiously powerful, and does everything at Snoopman News. (See Snoopman News for sourced references)
[i] Neetzan Zimmerman. (2013, October 24). Russell Brand May Have Started a Revolution Last Night. Gawker. Retrieved from
[ii] Russell Brand on revolution. (2013 October 24). “We no longer have the luxury of tradition”. The Revolution Issue. New Statesman. Retrieved from http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/10/russell-brand-on-revolution
[iii] Radio Times. (2013, November 4). Jeremy Paxman: I understand why Russell Brand doesn’t vote. Retrieved from http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-11-04/jeremy-paxman-i-understand-why-russell-brand-doesnt-vote; BBC Jeremy Paxman: Like Russell Brand, I didn’t vote. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24818743
[iv] “Who Do You Think You Are? (2006, January 11). With Jeremy Paxman”. BBC. BBC Two. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/familyhistory/get_started/wdytya_s2_celeb_gallery_01.shtml
[v] Naomi Klein. (2013, October 24). How science is telling us to revolt. The Revolution Issue. New Statesman. Retrieved from http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt
[vi] The Final Stretch. (1999, April). Creating Peace and Reconciliation. The New Internationalist. No. 311. p. 18-19. Any conflict with more than 1000 deaths is generally counted as a war. See also: Peace Pledge Union. http://www.ppu.org.uk/learn/infodocs/st_war_peace.html
[vii] Upton Sinclair (1935). I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/23510.Upton_Sinclair
[viii] Snoopman. (2013, August 31). A Poorly Understood ‘Bargain’: How Democracy and the 60s Movements became Orphans in the ‘Free Market’ Era. Snoopman News. Retrieved from https://snoopman.wordpress.com/category/democracy-counter-movements/