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Lennonist Revolution

In 1968, the Beatles put the song “Revolution” on the reverse side of the “Hey Jude” forty-five vinyl, and in that same year it appeared on the Beatles’ so-called “White Album.” Although “Revolution” is officially a Lennon-McCartney collaboration, it was really John Lennon’s project. The song went through several changes: at one time it was dark and chaotic, but that element of the song was excised and re-packaged as “Revolution #9” and included on the album as well. What finally emerged as “Revolution” has a pop-rock feel with a dab of doo-wop.

The composition, politically moderate in tone, offers a couple of memorable lines, though the song would never be mistaken for deep thought. Lennon writes:

But when you go talking about destruction/Don’t you know that you can count me out

Lennon is keen enough to see the contradiction of those, motivated by hate, who would make the world a more loving place:

But if you want money for people with minds that hate/All I can tell is brother you have to wait

Of particular interest to those trying to make sense of the contemporary chaos in the U.S. is Lennon’s admonition:

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao/You’re not gonna make it with anyone anyhow.

Mao Zedong’s horrific Cultural Revolution (1966-76) was instigated when the Great Helmsman saw his control of the Chinese Communist Party slipping away. His ruinous brutality was too much even for committed communists. Chairman Mao never had need of a KGB or a Stasi like the Soviets or East Germans did because he became an expert in the devious art of turning a population against itself. The people were controlled by the people in a kind of pre-internet, deadly Cancel Culture. It was nihilistic Marxist class warfare at its most severe and inventive.

In the early stages of the revolution, Mao charged students to form paramilitary brigades and attack their teachers. Education came to a standstill so much so that the Chinese are today still trying to regain elements of classical Confucian pedagogy. Teachers were pitilessly attacked, and at times beaten and tortured to death by their erstwhile pupils. Thousands upon thousands committed suicide.

Books were burned and statues demolished. And then, with a virtual snap of his fingers, Mao would announce new class enemies, rotating alliances, and further purges. He was fascinated by killing, insisting that denunciations, beatings, torture, and executions be conducted publicly. No matter how shocking or ghastly, all were expected to attend.

In today’s parlance, to be silent was to be complicit.

Lennon was stung by criticism of “Revolution” by the New Left. After all, Mao was a hero to many Westerners. So over the next several years, and with the help of Yoko Ono, Lennon began to edge away from his political moderation.

In 1971 Lennon and the Ono Plastic Band released the banal single “Power to the People” in which Lennon appears to second-guess his earlier political temperance. He advises his “brothers and comrades”:

Say we want a revolution
We better get on right away
Well you get on your feet
And into the street

In the music video (produced after his tragic death), Lennon wears drab faux-military garb reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution and sports a cap evocative of the Red Guards, the vanguard of Mao’s atrocities. For the Chinese, of course, no other attire was allowed; for Lennon, it was just fashionable. Bernie Sanders adopted “Power to the People” as a campaign song. For example, at a New Hampshire rally, he makes a hyped entrance as Lennon’s pedestrian anthem rocks on.

“Imagine” is just dreamy nonsense, a pretty tune with insipid lyrics: warmed over Deweyan liberalism of the most banal kind.

Later in his career, Lennon said that “in another time” he would have been called a “philosopher.”

Notwithstanding his musical genius, however, his “thought” more often skipped across shallow waters, blown by external breezes rather than original insight. He seemed to find an anchor in Yoko Ono. It’s well known that she injected discord into the Beatles, though to find her the sole cause of the group’s historic breakup gives her too much credit. Lennon always sought to encourage and promote Yoko Ono’s own musical aspirations, if they can be called that. Her primal screeching in a piece like “Cheshire Cat” makes the post-modern compositions of John Cage and Arnold Schoenberg sound downright melodic.

In the same year that “Power to the People” was released, Lennon introduced his song “Imagine” on the album of the same name. Rolling Stone magazine called “Imagine” John Lennon’s musical gift to the world.

If so, be sure to keep the receipt.

“Imagine” is trite. Some have called it “soft nihilism,” and while that may be apt, Nietzsche likely would have choked on such pablum. Lennon claimed that it was as much Ono’s song as his own. “Imagine” is sung around the world on New Years’ Eve, where shallow romantics, true believers, and useful idiots pine for a better world and more champagne.

It’s tempting to dismiss “Imagine” as a fairy tale, but that would be a grave insult to Hans Christian Anderson. It’s just dreamy nonsense, a pretty tune with insipid lyrics: warmed over Deweyan liberalism of the most banal kind. Everything around corrupts us. Make it all go away—country, religion, private property—and we’re good. Join us! The wispy “Imagine” music video was shot at Lennon’s English dream home Tittenhurst Park. Wait!—the mansion has to go.

In our present distress a handful of pampered celebrities, in a spasm of noblesse oblige, have assembled on the internet to serenade the peasants with a puerile rendition of “Imagine.”  The mega-stars were gathered together by Gal Gadot of Wonder Woman fame, who introduces the video explaining that on this, her sixth day of self-quarantine, she is feeling “philosophical”—a sure sign of the adverse effects of confinement. The best that can be said is that the star-studded “Imagine” cover has not been well-received, except as a heaven-sent occasion for fresh satire.

One of the best pieces the risible mélange has provoked is a relentlessly sardonic commentary by pop music critic Jon Caramanica of the New York Times entitled “This ‘Imagine’ Cover is no Heaven.” Caramanica writes, “In this clusterclump of hyperfamous people with five seconds’ too much time on their hands . . . ‘Imagine’ may have met its match. By the end, it has been pummeled and stabbed, disaggregated, stripped for parts and left for trash collection by the side of the highway.”

Good sense and humor may just get us through these taxing times.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on September 25, 2020 at 08:29:01 am

No one has ever so perfectly put into words what I feel every time I can't avoid hearing, "Imagine."

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Image of Albert Alioto
Albert Alioto
on September 25, 2020 at 11:21:41 am

How bloody apt!
Imagine, a bunch of nitwits, whose profession is illusion, imaging themselves to have, indeed to warrant influence upon the citizenry.
Gee, one would almost think that an actress portraying a legal clerk on environmental matters would be called before the Congress to testify on such matters.
Oh, sh*t! That did happen.

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Image of gabe
gabe
on September 30, 2020 at 14:34:22 pm

Brilliant response Gabe!

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Image of Anne
Anne
on September 25, 2020 at 11:39:58 am

Thank God, there are a multitude of young persons who can Imagine that it is possible to have both Liberty and a Happy Death.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/amy-coney-barrett-faith-country-maggie-garnett

Heaven Exists, even if it is not part of the heart’s desire for those who desire to revolt against God, and to live only for today. Pray that their hearts are no longer hardened.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgPRI6-8Efw

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Image of Nancy
Nancy
on September 25, 2020 at 13:00:56 pm

“When might it be evident that the Left has gone too far?”

“When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”
-Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address 2012

Imagine that while doctors, nurses, medical personnel and first responders worked to the point of exhaustion to save the lives of the most vulnerable, their efforts were simultaneously being undermined by a revolutionary atheistic materialist overpopulation alarmist globalism that promotes the destruction of a beloved son and daughter residing in their mother’s womb, euthanasia, and the breakdown of the family, because they do not desire that we have Liberty or a happy Death during a pandemic that proves to be fatal to the very population that the atheist materialist over population alarmist globalists consider to be a burden and not a Blessing. Is anyone surprised that their strategy is to try to continue to isolate and contain a whole Nation who are healthy, rather than isolate and protect the elderly, infirm, and those susceptible to infections due to compromised immune systems?

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Image of N.D.
N.D.
on September 25, 2020 at 14:36:59 pm

A prophetic album cover? https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ce/aa/df/ceaadf71eca15fb81d8721bdc00d3f44.jpg

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Image of RAM
RAM
on September 25, 2020 at 18:40:18 pm

People misunderstand the song "Revolution." It's actually an ode to the Ferris Wheel at the Paris World's Fair in 1900. It was famous for being 100 meters tall--but also really slow, because it stopped each time a car arrived at the bottom for people to unload and reload. With each ticket, you only got to go around once. That's why, when people would seek to purchase a ticket, the person in the booth would sing, "You say you want a REVOLUTION...?"

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nobody.really
on September 26, 2020 at 11:34:10 am

Ha! I thought so.
NOW, the song makes perfect sense and ought no longer to be considered overrated mishmash!

Now, IS "She Loves You, Yeah, yeah, yeah" really about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's feelings for the Supreme Court?

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Image of gabe
gabe
on September 26, 2020 at 14:05:25 pm

When the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church officially protested Leninist desecration of the holy relics of the Church's ancestors, the Bolsheviks replied, "We don't give a shit about ancestors; all we care about are descendants." The modern descendants of 1968's Lennonists are the Leninists of 2020. They do not Imagine but rather Reimagine society. It's so much more conducive to Revolution.

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paladin
on September 27, 2020 at 13:43:41 pm

“All we care about are descendants.”
If it were true that the atheist materialist over population alarmist globalist cared about their descendants, they would not be promoting the destruction of the most vulnerable beloved sons and daughters residing in their mother’s womb. You are right to suggest that “Imagine”, which was approved by The Olympic Committee for the 2012 Olympics, is a reflection of the Communist Manifesto, which, obviously, is anti Christ, and thus anti God. The Communist virus that is most fatal to the most vulnerable, will end up devouring everyone it comes in contact with, unless we, The People, return to our Founding Judeo-Christian Principles by Rendering onto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage.

If we no longer love The Constitution, because it is “loyal to God”, then woe to us, for we have chosen a destination devoid of The Hope Of Heaven.

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Image of Nancy
Nancy
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