In a recent episode of his show “Stay Free,” comedian and political commentator Russell Brand delved into how crises faced by regular people, from the COVID-19 pandemic to economic turmoil to war, provide opportunities for those in power to accumulate wealth and manipulate the masses. According to Brand, corporations often profit from these crises, citing examples such as BP and Shell’s record profits, as well as Pfizer’s profits from COVID-19 vaccine sales. He argues that much of this profit is obtained from taxpayer money and believes that politicians should not be able to profit from crises either.
Mr. Brand also brought on Mattias Desmet, a psychology professor, to discuss the topic of his book “The Psychology of Totalitarianism.” Desmet explains that totalitarian societies rely on “mass formation,” where people lose their ability to critically evaluate their group and become willing to sacrifice their well-being for the sake of the group narrative. He believes that loneliness and isolation can be easily manipulated by a narrative distributed through the media, which is what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Desmet says that in a mass, people bond to an idea instead of each other, creating a sort of “mass hypnosis.”
Brand commented on Desmet’s theories, saying that he likes how they are tied to individual psyches and states like loneliness. He suggests that, unlike totalitarian societies of the past, open violence might not be necessary. Brand believes that many people are experiencing a loss of meaning, which can be exploited by those in power.
In conclusion, Brand and Desmet’s discussion highlights how crises can be used by those in power to accumulate wealth and manipulate the masses. They believe that this manipulation is achieved through the exploitation of people’s emotions and psyches and that it is a serious concern for society.