“Imagine” the Utopian Dream That Became a Dystopian Nightmare

By Elena Chin

In the lyrics from his 1970’s song “Imagine,” one of many popular songs inspired by the Vietnam War protests, former Beatle John Lennon encouraged his listeners to imagine a world with no heaven, no hell, no religion, and no country. He envisioned an ideal world with “no possessions,” “no greed or hunger,”  “nothing to kill or die for,” just global peace and harmony.  

“Imagine” was promoted as a masterpiece. The song’s popularity transcended the Vietnam War Era and became known worldwide as “an anthem for troubled times.” In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number three in its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Lennon described the song as “an ad campaign for peace.”  However, Geoffrey Giuliano author of “Lennon in America” quoted Lennon saying “Imagine” was “anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, and anti-capitalistic but because it is sugarcoated it is accepted.” Lennon went on to say, “Now I understand what you have to do. Put your political message across with a little honey.”

Not everyone revered Lennon’s work. The “ant-religious, anti-American, and communist overtones” of “Imagine” sparked controversy among people who believed his music had subversive potential.  Lennon himself admitted, “Imagine…is virtually the Communist Manifesto” but added, “I’m not particularly a Communist and I do not belong to any movement.” (Womack, 2023) He was also criticized for his naivety, his disdain for capitalism, and for promoting a world without possessions while living a life of luxury. Whether “Imagine” was a “hymn for peace” or a call to dismantle the existing social order is debatable, but the lasting influence the song had on culture is indisputable.

In this case, the idea that politics is downstream from culture bears scrutiny. More than five decades later, those in power are still trying to create the perfect world of Lennon’s imagination. Their ideology is flawed; America is in decline; it is not your imagination. Anyone who believes otherwise is living in a fool’s paradise. Imagining a world with “no countries” … “isn’t hard to do” in light of the  crisis at the border:  imagining a world with “no possessions” … “isn’t hard to do” with crippling inflation and rising energy costs making it increasingly difficult to make ends meet; imagining “no religion” … “isn’t had to do” considering the growing number of Americans who identify as “non-religious,” the breakdown of the family, and the moral depravity we are seeing. We’ve “re-imagined” education, yet our literacy rate is at all time low, with nearly fifty percent of Americans reading below a sixth-grade level. Crime rates are soaring as rogue prosecutors and district attorneys release violent recidivist criminals back into the streets in the name of “social justice” and a “re-imagined” criminal justice system.

It is true that imagination plays an important role in childhood. Anything is possible in the realm of a child’s imagination.  Adult minds however, should be grounded in reality. It is about time we bring common sense back into decision making and heed the words of Greg Gutfeld:

“What begins as a Utopian vision always – always ends in bloodshed. Because you have to force a utopia on a free people.  Free people want to pursue their own happiness, but a one-size-fits-all approach requires herding the free, against their will, into the state’s idea of what’s right. Then it’s not utopia.”

Elena Chin is the Mom’s for Liberty Queens County Chapter Chair. Email Elena at moms4libertyqueensny@gmail.com

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