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Overall was John politically good or bad?
19 August 2012
12.14pm
jackhayman
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Of all the Beatles solo and together John took political problems to heart. Some of his actions, the Bed In, The Imagine anthem, Nutopia and War is Over can be considered as positive. But the other aspects of his political ideas were poorly thought out and probably a bad thing, meeting with the Black Panthers, allegedly funding the IRA, his political nievety was sometimes clear.
So, on balance was John a positive political influence?
Comment and inform!

Was John a positive political influence?

  • Yes(64% : 14 votes)
  • No(36% : 8 votes)
Total Voters: 22

Your only very small and life can be long.
19 August 2012
9.36pm
kedame
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This is an interesting question and one I'm not sure how to answer. Overall, I believe John's actual political insights were very narrow and naive, but it's not really John's insights that people cling to…it's the idea of them. So John's actual political contributions are very small, but the contributions people perceived him to have made are rather larger, inspiring other political actions. For instance, the song Give Peace a Chance was written a long time after people had started protesting the Vietnam War, but it was sung outside the White House as a protest song. People then associate John with the end of the war, but he actually kept his nose out of it for a long time. Other people made greater contributions to end the war, but John's perceived contributions are the ones that stick in the mind.

Overall, I think his message of peace and love, even when they were ideals that he didn't wholly carry out himself, have left a positive impact. I still hate the song Imagine.

"You can manicure a cat but can you caticure a man?" John Lennon- Skywriting by Word of Mouth
19 August 2012
9.36pm
GeorgeTSimpson
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He was a positive political influence he did much for the peace

Once there was a way to get back homewards. Once there was a way to get back home; sleep pretty darling do not cry. And I will sing a lullaby
19 August 2012
10.39pm
fabfouremily
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He cared about politics and the effects that it could have and I suppose he made people more aware of what was going on in the world, which can't be a bad thing, but I'm not sure if I would go as far as saying that he was a positive political influence as I don't think anybody actually made a good decision about something because of him or something that he said.

This is a thing I don't really know a lot about though so I would love to be proved wrong.

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

20 August 2012
2.24am
Eilwynn
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I think it depends on which era of his life you're talking about.  He seems to have lost a lot of that naivete as he got older, but he was very naive as a young man first getting into politics.  Overall, I think he tried to do what he thought was best and believe the best of people, so I would agree with others on here that the ideas of his messages were more important than the messages themselves.

 

I think Imagine is an interesting song -- because I know someone else has mentioned it on here -- simply because John didn't actually believe in any of the things the verses spout.  No religion?  He went through several different religious and spiritual searches in the 70's and identified himself as a Zen Christian at the end of his life.  No possessions?  He owned several properties and had at least two walk-in closets in his New York apartment complex.  Furthermore, in a 1979 interview, he claimed he had no shame over this and that the minute you start to feel ashamed of how much you have, people try to take it from you.  No countries?  He was the only Beatle to attempt with great effort to completely emigrate from a British to a US citizenship.  Clearly he at least recognized that there are differences between countries.

 

So what's up with Imagine?  Clearly he thought that people can do better and overcome their instincts to create a good, more peaceful world.  So the chorus makes sense with what we know of him.  I don't know if the rest is ambiguous and misinterpreted, or if it was just written at a point in his life where, as I said, he was still very naive about a lot of things and easily swayed by the political ideas he heard around him.

 

Not even that makes sense, though, because the literal world of Imagine -- not an alternative interpretation of the lyrics, but if we actually take them to literally mean "we should do this" -- is a kind of socialism-related idea, and all the way back in the late 60's John was making cracks in his songs about Mao Zedong…  a-hard-days-night-george-4

 

Hm.  Sorry, I kind of ranted there.  I am fascinated by John Lennon's politics. 

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love." - Dr. Seuss
20 August 2012
2.55am
kedame
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Eilwynn said
I think it depends on which era of his life you're talking about.  He seems to have lost a lot of that naivete as he got older, but he was very naive as a young man first getting into politics.  Overall, I think he tried to do what he thought was best and believe the best of people, so I would agree with others on here that the ideas of his messages were more important than the messages themselves.

 

I think Imagine is an interesting song -- because I know someone else has mentioned it on here -- simply because John didn't actually believe in any of the things the verses spout.  No religion?  He went through several different religious and spiritual searches in the 70's and identified himself as a Zen Christian at the end of his life.  No possessions?  He owned several properties and had at least two walk-in closets in his New York apartment complex.  Furthermore, in a 1979 interview, he claimed he had no shame over this and that the minute you start to feel ashamed of how much you have, people try to take it from you.  No countries?  He was the only Beatle to attempt with great effort to completely emigrate from a British to a US citizenship.  Clearly he at least recognized that there are differences between countries.

 

So what's up with Imagine?  Clearly he thought that people can do better and overcome their instincts to create a good, more peaceful world.  So the chorus makes sense with what we know of him.  I don't know if the rest is ambiguous and misinterpreted, or if it was just written at a point in his life where, as I said, he was still very naive about a lot of things and easily swayed by the political ideas he heard around him.

 

Not even that makes sense, though, because the literal world of Imagine -- not an alternative interpretation of the lyrics, but if we actually take them to literally mean "we should do this" -- is a kind of socialism-related idea, and all the way back in the late 60's John was making cracks in his songs about Mao Zedong…  a-hard-days-night-george-4

 

Hm.  Sorry, I kind of ranted there.  I am fascinated by John Lennon's politics. 

Excellent discourse. These are things that have always bugged me about the Imagine Peace John. He's a creation…not the actual John. I get very frustrated over his manufactured image today. It makes him so one dimensional…and he wasn't at all.

"You can manicure a cat but can you caticure a man?" John Lennon- Skywriting by Word of Mouth
20 August 2012
8.16am
Eilwynn
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I did a blog post on it here if anyone's interested.  An optional alternative interpretation of Imagine, if you will:

http://aimlessthinkgirl.wordpr…..ng-utopia/

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love." - Dr. Seuss
20 August 2012
8.53am
jackhayman
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Interesting point Eilwynn, I think John slipped into the usual trap with the 'no possessions' socialist ideology, I think it's easy to say when you have a million in the bank. I do the same, I try to be this hippy dippy minimalist, but I still salivate over any product made by a certain fruit based technology company. I think John wanted people to be free from authority more than anything, freedom from God, freedom from politics, freedom from big business. As said by Christopher Hitchens, any religion is a celestial North Korea. Songs like imagine are expressing this in a tangible way.
two-virgins

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20 August 2012
11.49am
Eilwynn
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Yeah, I see what you're saying.  Again, as with most things concerning John's politics: more about the idea than the literal meaning.  Very abstracted.

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love." - Dr. Seuss
20 August 2012
12.08pm
meanmistermustard
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Bit of both for me. Yoko and his idea to spread the idea of peace was very good as its what needs to be heard, we need more peace -"make love not war" right? Totally buy into that. Not sure about all the stunts tho but then how else would they have gotten the message out. And Give Peace A Chance is the Peace Anthem regardless of when it was written, it still has a good relevant message to me anyway,

 

As for Imagine, sorry but Yoko and her crusade to shove it down our throats at every point has ruined it for me. Imagine no possessions and what better way to say to say imagine no possessions in the form of a toothbrush, harmonica, icecream, number plate, toasting fork protector, frogleg heater, automatic cucumber holder/peeler, air removal mask…

A childish rant yes but it so bugs me to levels such as these, totally agree with kedame's reply to Eilwynn post above:

 

Excellent discourse. These are things that have always bugged me about the Imagine Peace John. He's a creation…not the actual John. I get very frustrated over his manufactured image today. It makes him so one dimensional…and he wasn't at all.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
20 August 2012
1.59pm
Ben Ramon
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In my opinion, John's "love and peace" motive was far more convincing and realistic when approached from the spiritual and poetic side of 1967 than from the militant political side of '69-'72 or so. John's grounding in realistic, official political matters was not very stable, rather naive at times, and I think it was dangerous for him to throw his weight around in that area so much when someone of his cultural stature could have had devastating consequences. However, the John of 1967 knew where it was at because his approach to love and peace and movement for change was something that he understood, and did very well: the abstract concept, the lyric that is difficult to grasp on a literal level but inspires and moves nonetheless. It was when he started to take a brash, blunt approach to radical movements (as on the Sometimes in New York City album) that it went pear-shaped.

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22 May 2013
2.30am
Expert Textpert
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I think he was a positive political influence.  We need more people like him who are willing to stand up for what they believe, and who have the money and the ability to challenge the status quo in a way that can be heard.

"This Beatles talk bores me to death." --John Lennon

22 May 2013
2.53am
unknown
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Expert Textpert said
I think he was a positive political influence.  We need more people like him who are willing to stand up for what they believe, and who have the money and the ability to challenge the status quo in a way that can be heard.

Isn't that what Bono's doing?

I don't think John was any influence on anybody other than fans. Some of the things he was doing for peace were a little out there, and I would think most people dismissed all that as him being crazy. His politics were positive, since he was all for peace and love, but, I don't think he was much of an influence. I doubt any politicians (or the majority of everybody else) were changing their minds on things because of him. 

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22 May 2013
2.58am
Expert Textpert
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unknown said

Expert Textpert said
I think he was a positive political influence.  We need more people like him who are willing to stand up for what they believe, and who have the money and the ability to challenge the status quo in a way that can be heard.

Isn't that what Bono's doing?

I don't think John was any influence on anybody other than fans. Some of the things he was doing for peace were a little out there, and I would think most people dismissed all that as him being crazy. His politics were positive, since he was all for peace and love, but, I don't think he was much of an influence. I doubt any politicians (or the majority of everybody else) were changing their minds on things because of him. 

Bono seems too status quo, I guess, and a bit too self-important.  John was a clown.  Also, his ideas were revolutionary. I can get behind ideas like John's that are far out, that are idealistic, that cause us to widen the horizons of our consciousness.  I don't see Bono doing that.

I think society has gone down the wrong track, and we need more people like John to shake things up.  We live in a society that is run by Big Brother.

"This Beatles talk bores me to death." --John Lennon

22 May 2013
3.02am
unknown
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The Bono thing was a joke. Did John really shake up society? What revolutionary ideas did he have?

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22 May 2013
3.10am
Expert Textpert
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unknown said
The Bono thing was a joke. Did John really shake up society? What revolutionary ideas did he have?

To me, it's revolutionary to imagine peace…because I don't think anyone actually did it.  No one took it seriously.  War is over, IF YOU WANT IT.  Seriously, think about that one, and think about how easy it would actually be to stop war if everyone just decided they wanted peace.

You can argue that it won't happen, but what's important is the strength of the idea, and the possibility.

Also, I think it's admirable that John and others talked about revolution.  People don't talk about changing the world anymore.  Everyone seems complacent.

"This Beatles talk bores me to death." --John Lennon

22 May 2013
4.39am
unknown
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Yeah, I always liked "War is over, if you want it." It's true, and it is pretty clever. I still don't think he shook up society with all his political shenanigans, though. 

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22 May 2013
5.40am
Fernando_Gongora
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kedame said
 I still hate the song Imagine.

Say what?!! paul-mccartney

22 May 2013
12.54pm
fabfouremily
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John had some very good ideas about how he thought the world should be, and I agree with most of them. It was revolutionary at the time because no one else dared speak up, and he did. It seems to me that he was misinterpreted as a bit of a nutty guy after all the drugs in the 60s though so I don't think he had any real impact on politicians at the time. Normal people that followed his music and the whole scene at the time, yes, at least, more so. I don't know how different the world would be had John not had been as outspoken as he was sometimes. A little different, perhaps.

In the end, it takes a lot of people to get behind and idea and really push it forward. John didn't have that many people with him, not enough to really change the world. For that you'll need a great deal of people, unfortunately.

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

22 May 2013
8.17pm
Ben Ramon
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unknown said
Yeah, I always liked "War is over, if you want it." It's true, and it is pretty clever. I still don't think he shook up society with all his political shenanigans, though. 

There's a reason the Nixon government didn't allow John to leave the US. It's always seemed to me that as an ex-Beatle and maybe THE most significant voice in the counterculture of the time, he wielded great amounts of influence. For all the people condemning and laughing at his peace efforts, there were plenty who were on his side – remember that vast crowd of students marching through New York singing Give Peace a Chance with John at their helm with a loudspeaker?

 

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