The Beatles: What John Lennon Never Quite Managed to ‘Imagine’! (17.4.2023) 

John Lennon – Revolutionary or Stooge?

The Beatles used musical notes in much the same way as Marx and Engels employed Revolutionary language (as in the meaningful use of words and letters). Of course, the music itself is the accumulative effort held together by the spark of genius that existed in all four men. This was their particular gift of creativity. However, many are of the opinion that this ‘gift’ was channelled, focused and ultimately structured by the record producer – George Martin. This may well be the case, as none of The Beatles sounded quite like their 1960s incarnations when they embarked upon their solo careers in the 1970s – post-George Martin. Furthermore, if the field is broadened, there may well have been many other working-class youths who possessed untapped talent – but were simply not ‘selected’ to be brought on by the Bourgeois Establishment. This is because of a strict ‘exclusivity’ operating within the predatory capitalist system which ensures that only the chosen few will be enriched by the Establishment and serve as role models for everyone else. Meanwhile, those who are privileged by the Bourgeois Establishment are presented to themselves (and others) as being the recipients of quasi-religious like statuses! The Judeo-Christian message in the secular world – which sees altruistic morality replaced with monetary accumulation. 

As The Beatles were all multimillionaires – their relationship with material reality was transformed considerably! The buying power they now possessed allowed them to ‘transform’ society for themselves – and those people who immediately surrounded them (but not society itself – that stayed exactly the same). Each individual could literally ‘buy’ their way out of all the traps of poverty, injustice and deficiency that capitalist society inflicts upon the ordinary people, and this process generated a false sense of ‘non-attachment’ from the realities of material existence in the conventional world. As the wealth of The Beatles increased – so did the message inherent in their music become ever more ‘transcendental’ in nature! This an illusion similar to religious detachment (such as those attitudes cultivated in a monastic environment) – which in this instance is not caused by voluntary poverty and sustained fasting – but rather the exact opposite! Although the end product seems ‘religious’ – where capitalist excess is concerned – the outcome is only a facsimile generated by an over-abundance of food, housing, clothing, medical care and general comfort! Why would The Beatles lend their name to the overthrow of a capitalist system that was a) empowering them, and b) empowering them even further? Indeed, this attitude of colluding with capital even permeates the attitudes of Beatles biographers – such as ‘Bill Flanagan’. 

What was created was a fundamental contradiction between the Revolutionary nature of The Beatles’ music and the conservative attitudes of the four men that comprised The Beatles. There was a rupture at the heart of The Beatles music between the ‘freeing’ nature of the songs themselves, and four individuals that comprised The Beatles who were enjoying ‘not being free’, and all the benefits and riches the capitalist system had to offer! Where the Hippy movement emphasised a selfless ‘sharing’ – The Beatles were too busy aligning themselves (at least outwardly) with this message – whilst their Accountants maximised their income and minimised their outgoings! This is why the greedy George Harrison (AUM) was motivated to pen a track (Tax Man) that complained about the necessity of the four wealthy men having to pay their fair share of taxes – and all the other Beatles quite happily drummed, strummed and sang along with it – with not a single one protesting! This explains why John Lennon espoused uneducated drivel when interviewed about ‘Revolution’ – simply because it was not in his best interests to overthrow the very system that sustained his opulent lifestyle!  

Whilst The Beatles allowed their thought patterns to conform with the auspices of predatory capitalism (thereby accommodating each and every one of its contradictions and injustices) absolutely NOTHING changed in the outer world! Nothing changed for the millions of ordinary people living under the jackboot of predatory capitalism at home – or the racism of imperialism and neo-imperialism abroad! Perhaps this failure is the greatest fallacy of The Beatles – the failure of the four men that comprised the group to come to the aid of the millions of ordinary people who had spent their money on Beatles records and quite literally ‘made’ The Beatles Rich! If the supposedly most ‘spiritual’ member of the group could not be morally compelled to pay his taxes – why would the most talented songwriter of the group, feel compelled to support a Revolution that was not in his best (financial) interests? Being a millionaire allows an individual to interface with the mechanism of predatory capitalism in a manner that is thoroughly empowering from beginning to end. Capitalist society grants you respect a priori – and where it does not – respect (and compliance) can be purchased. The continuous suffering that defines the life of ordinary people is either greatly reduced or rendered to zero. Although the Bourgeois State inflicts untold levels of physical, psychological and emotional ‘violence’ onto the minds and bodies of those it oppresses – the likes of John Lennon (who only experienced the cottonwool life of plenty) – sees no reason to ‘fight back’ against this oppression – or even exercise a certain level of righteous self-defence!  

The difference is that whereas Marx and Engels stood by the message inherent within their Revolutionary work – The Beatles steadfastly ‘stood apart’ from the Revolutionary message that is at the heart of their music! The capitalist system brought them off – but that is the nature of the music business and the entire point of all its machinations! The music industry generates very good capitalists but generally very poor Revolutionaries! It is as if the music itself, that is the collaborative effort, transcended the individuality of the four men who comprised The Beatles – and the general (limiting) attitudes of EMI! The interesting point is that The Beatles music remains dialectically forceful despite Paul McCartney’s Knighthood and all the other nonsense the Bourgeois State has draped around the historical image of The Beatles! Whether The Beatles like it or not, the music they produced in search of profit possesses a quality that ‘pierces’ through the very same ‘search for profit’! The music is itself a form of Revolutionary ‘force’ that John Lennon never quite managed to comprehend. Imagine that!