John Lennon, Anarchist?

December 3rd, 2010   Submitted by Seth King

John Lennon was dead before I was even alive, so I don’t claim to know more about the man than people much older than me. I do know he was often slandered as a commie or a leftist, but those attacks were usually coming from people who needed to take a good look in the mirror. I’d say if one believes in socialism for military and police protection, or courts and roads, then they’re more communist than John Lennon.

I understand in film making, especially documentaries, that the producer can paint any sort of picture they’d like. And this movie is no exception. What we’re given here is John Lennon at his best. More accurately, we’re given John Lennon’s philosophy more so than his biography as a Beatle. This is fine by me, as we’re more often told the story of his life than we are his message.

His message, at least as portrayed in this film, seems to be consistently libertarian. And when I say “consistently libertarian,” what I really mean is that Lennon was libertarian to its natural conclusion, i.e. anarchy. Now, John Lennon never explicitly uses the term “anarchist” to describe himself. But that shouldn’t stop us from deducing that Lennon was nevertheless an anarchist philosophically.

We have to remember to put things in perspective according to their time in history. Up until recently, and arguably even so today, the word “anarchy” was spelled with four letters. Even many of the earliest anarchist philosophers scarcely used the label in their writings.

Clearly, Lennon couldn’t have defined terms such as the division of labor, marginal utility, the subjective value theory or the capture theory of economic regulation. His understanding of the system was much more intuitive. And while I personally prefer the company of studious radicals, I have to applaud those individuals who are able to recognize the state for what it really is without having had to devour dozens of books.

Were Lennon alive today there is no doubt in my mind he would still be singing songs that challenged the establishment. Since his death popular music has been almost completely devoid of anti-war populism. I’ll concede Lennon would likely align himself more with the anarcho-syndicalists, or perhaps he would consider himself a voluntaryist. But an anarchist he surely would be.

It’s been a while since we’ve had weekend watching at Daily Anarchist. Enjoy this documentary and consider forwarding it to a leftist/statist friend of yours. Perhaps they too will see that peace and statism cannot coexist with one another. It may not convince them immediately, but it will definitely sow the seed.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon from marcela fae on Vimeo.

4 Responses to “John Lennon, Anarchist?”

  1. Anarchia VirusNo Gravatar says:

    Great post. I never really knew that much about John Lennon – as an artist, philosopher, whatever – since he was before my time. But I do remember seeing an interview clip where he basically called “overpopulation” a government-manufactured myth to frighten the masses. Clearly that would put him at odds with the neo-liberal progressives of today. Still, I had no idea that his anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian views were so radical. I especially love this part (see link) of the documentary where he talks about a “newtopia.” Although he may have only been half-serious, I think he makes (in almost a satirical fashion) a salient observation regarding the nature of social systems or collectives: they are imaginary. Which is not to say good or bad, but they are abstract concepts nonetheless, having no objective physical referent (land or geographic boundaries). Therefore your “membership” to a collective or “country” is also subjectively determined. …And of course, his mention of “cosmic law” sounds unmistakably synonymous with “natural law.”

    It is difficult then to interpret his philosophy as being anything less than anarchic!

  2. augustNo Gravatar says:

    They call him (and us) anti-authoritarian? I say anti-false-athoritarian.

    Was it a coincidence that he was killed a few weeks after the GOP regained control? …Ala Omar Torrijos? murderer-Mark-Chapman-CIA-hitman-Thirty-years-theres-extraordinar y-new-theory.html

  3. assasinNo Gravatar says:

    those police were fighting guys with red and black bi sected banners

  4. armersuenderNo Gravatar says:

    Nice post. I may be stating the obvious, but I think the greatest evidence are the simple, yet effective, lyrics of “Imagine”.. Especially, the line “imagine there were no countries.” I’d say that takes him right out of ‘socialist’ territory and puts him right in the middle of anarchia! : D