"Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too."
THE RADICAL politics of John Lennon are often ignored, or only briefly mentioned, in mainstream commentaries about him.
Lennon fully emerged as a political activist largely as a result of the Vietnam War and began to direct his attention to the question of political change.
He outlined some of his thoughts in an interview with Red Mole, a magazine published by the British section of the Fourth International.
"I’ve always been politically minded, you know, and against the status quo. It’s pretty basic when you’re brought up, like I was, to hate and fear the police as a natural enemy and to despise the army as something that takes everybody away and leaves them dead somewhere."
The song 'Revolution' is often used as evidence of Lennon's anti-revolutionary politics because in the single version he sings 'You can count me out'. But as he explained to Red Mole:
"There were two versions of that song but the underground left only picked up on the one that said ‘count me out’. The original version which ends up on the album said ‘count me in’ too; I put in both because I wasn’t sure at the time."
But it is 'Imagine’ that perhaps encapsulates Lennon's political vision.
It featured on the 1971 album Imagine and went to number one three times in Britain. In 1975 it was released as a single and went to number one. It hit the top spot again after Lennon's murder in 1989 and was the Christmas number one of 1999, after it had been voted Britain's s favourite song lyric and second favourite all-time song.
The original idea for the song came from Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono. He later admitted that "in those days I was more selfish, more macho and omitted to mention her contribution."
The origin of 'Imagine' can be found in Grapefruit, a book of Ono's poetry which was published in 1964. One poem in particular, 'Cloud Piece", contains phrases like "Imagine the sky crying" and "Imagine you're a cloud." Lennon, in fact, had the lyrics of "Cloud Piece" printed on the back of the Imagine album upon its release.
In the song Lennon calls for a world without countries, war, religion, or private property.
The video is based on a comic strip by Mexican-born artist Pablo Stanley, who began writing comics in 2012.
The character called "Milk" is Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in the United States in 1977. Milk was assassinated in 1978, just 11 months after taking office.
The woman named Anna is Russian journalist, writer, and human rights activist named Anna Politkovskaya. She reported about the Chechen conflict and published several books critical of the Russian government. In 2006, Politkovskaya was shot and killed in her apartment complex. Her murder remains unsolved.