As our first year students have been getting to grip with the intricacies of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine and their various interpretations of power and the people after the French Revolution, the last week has seen modern day versions of their debates taking place, albeit in a much shorter time-frame than in Burke and Paine’s day.
The first is Russell Brand, who might be called a modern day Tom Paine (facing down Jeremy ‘Edmund Burke’ Paxman on Newsnight), and all the debate that has flowed from that. This debate was taken up by The Independent who asked us whether we would be joining the Brand revolution:
Another example is a recent op-ed in The New York Times, where former Executive Editor Bill Keller invited Glenn Greenwald to debate the future of the press in the light of the Edward Snowden revelations about the work of the NSA:
One wonders what would happen if Brand and Greenwald were to join forces, or whether the extent of the apathy that Brand is describing could be demonstrated by adding “None of the above” to the bottom of every ballot paper?