Comedian Russell Brand has been voted the world’s fourth most important thinker by readers of intellectual magazine Prospect.

After making his name as an edgy and rule-breaking comic, Brand has become a vocal proponent of the anti-capitalist message with his Revolution book, YouTube channel The Trews and appearances on Newsnight and Question Time.

But his inclusion on a list topped by French economist Thomas Piketty and including Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman and German philosopher Jurgen Habermas is certain to raise some eyebrows.

French economist Thomas Piketty was number one on the list (Janerik Henriksson/AP)

French economist Thomas Piketty was number one on the list (Janerik Henriksson/AP)


Unveiling its list of world thinkers in its latest edition, the magazine described Brand as ‘the spiritual leader of Britain’s disaffected anti-capitalist youth’, adding: “Dismissed by his opponents as a clownish opportunist, he is nevertheless the most charismatic figure on Britain’s populist left.”

Piketty, who took top place in the list of ‘world thinkers’ after his Capital In The 21st Century became a surprise best-seller, was described as having an ‘extraordinary’ impact outside the world of professional economists, with his message that capitalist societies have an in-built tendency to produce inequality favouring the top 1%.

Also on the list was British philosopher John Gray, the former Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, who was described as ‘the West’s pre-eminent oracle of catastrophe’.


Prospect said it was ‘striking’ that several of its top 10 thinkers – including Piketty, Brand, Krugman and Varoufakis, a member of the radical Syriza government, as well as US author Naomi Klein – were “broadly speaking on the political left”.

Prospect magazine’s full top 10 world thinkers:

1. Thomas Piketty, French economist.

2. Yanis Varoufakis, Greek finance minister.

3. Naomi Klein, US author.

4. Russell Brand, UK comedian and campaigner.

5. Paul Krugman, US economist.

6. Arundhati Roy, Indian writer and activist.

7. Jurgen Habermas, German philosopher.

8. Daniel Kahneman, US-Israeli psychologist.

9. John Gray, UK philosopher.

10. Atul Gawande, US surgeon and writer.