While watching American Idol last night, I was struck by the last song, and especially by the judge’s reactions. David Archuleta, who I believe is Mormon, sang John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Paula Abdul mentioned how touching not only the song was, but touted his performance as one of the most touching she’d ever heard. Randy Jackson asked why he didn’t sing the first verse, to which the teenage crooner replied that he really liked the third verse because it had a great message.
What is that message? Let’s review the lyrics:
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
And then of course the chorus:
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Now I’m chalking up David Archuleta’s feelings to teenage ignorance. Yes, the third verse means what it says it means: John Lennon is singing for the abolition of private property (no possessions). This is one of the bedrock principles of socialism, and the anti-thesis of a capitalist free market, the source of our wealth.
The song indicates that with the abolition of private property, replaced by some sort of communal ownership (or perhaps the abolition of ownership), that there will be “no need for greed or hunger,” and “a brotherhood of man” will result. (Of course, with no private property, there’d be no market economy, hence no market for superstardom in America, and therefore no American Idol; but that is another story.) Let’s examine these claims historically.
Central economic planning under Soviet Russia and the associated poor resource management led to a pattern of famines and droughts. Similar problems resulted in China under the Great Leap Forward. These famines resulted in what is estimated as the losses of tens of millions of lives. Communist North Korea has had similar problems. No need for hunger, eh? I suppose the dead no longer hunger.
What about “a brotherhood of man?” Let us examine the 20th Century Communist examples. Under Stalin, when one considers the deaths from the prison camps and forced relocations, the USSR lost between 4 and 40 million individuals (I am not including the tens of millions dead from World War II). Under Mao, 20 million deaths (that’s the official statistic) were attributed to famines from the Great Leap Forward; other estimates range as high as 72 million. The Cultural Revolution, started in 1966, was responsible for hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths. The Khmer Rouge regime was responsible for 1.5 million deaths in Cambodia, or roughly 20% of the population. Scanning history, it is hard to find genocide on this large of a scale. Perhaps this brotherhood is one of the dead.
Apparently, neither David Archuleta nor Paula Abdul were considering any of this. (Honestly, I’m not sure what John Lennon was thinking, either.) Aside from the apparently gross misconception of the song’s meaning, the display last night showed something else: emotion. Perhaps even a touch of spirituality. It is very odd that a song about the glorious blessings of communism would evoke such strong feelings. Such high praise and powerful emotion associated with a song about the destruction of Western Society, the elimination of religion, and a whole-hearted hedonistic embrace (“Living for today” as the unsung first verse says) without mention of family or consequences is indeed a sad commentary on us as a people. It is almost as if this ignorant hedonism coupled with a self-destructively dangerous ideology is displacing that which should be of greatest value: our family, our freedoms, and our religion. The mere presence of this song I find troubling. But its whole-hearted embrace by the masses (that’s the “proles” to you Trotskyites) is far more troubling.