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[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV contriibutor, Barry Gordon]
John Lennon was one of the most remarkable people to grace the planet in the last 100 years. December 8th was the 32nd anniversary of his murder at the hands of a nutter who simply wanted 15 minutes of fame (others say it was a nutter mind-controlled by the CIA). Whatever the truth is, I am as sad now as I was on the day it actually happened.
There are only three occasions in my life when I remember exactly where I was and the exact minutiae of my surroundings - the day John F. Kennedy was murdered (November 22, 1963), the day John Lennon was murdered and of course, 9/11.
In the '60s it seemed that every single day was electric with excitement and big and shocking and important news. I was 12 in 1963. The Beatles hit that year and they hit hard and big and everything changed with their arrival. Then came the British Invasion with all the other glorious Brit bands. There was a plethora, a cornucopia, an incredible burst of abundance of music in those days from both sides of the pond. It was like the musical version of the Cambrian Explosion. The depth and breadth and height and volume and sheer numbers and varying styles of fantastically creative music of those days is unimaginable these days. Most of the ads on Canadian TV these days are playing songs that I still know word for word from the '60s and '70s, that's how enduring those songs are.
Those halcyon days would soon to turn to upheaval and chaos. In 1965 under Johnson, unmarried American men and those not in school were forced (drafted) to go and murder people in a country they had never heard of, nor cared about - Vietnam. It was done by lottery - obviously not any lottery you'd ever want to win. The Soviet Union had dropped the Iron Curtain and had become the de facto boogie-man to the West. The "Cold War", as designed by the “New American Century” was on. The Vietnam War (the north was communist, the south was a different variant of communism called democratic) became the USSA's way of having a war with the Soviet Union without actually fighting them mano a mano.
The protests against the war and the draft were massive and ongoing and country-wide in the US. In parallel, the protests against the straight, suffocating, buttoned-down ways of the fifties and of our parents' way of life were playing out in living rooms across the continent. Men were to stay in their stifling place, women in theirs. Grow your hair below the top of your ears and you were labeled a hippie by the older folks, but no one gave a phuck! Guys just grew their hair longer! It was almost a badge of honour to be kicked out of the house by your father. Showed you had scruples. Fight in Vietnam? Phuck that! Stay in school? Phuck that. We had the LSD guru Timothy Leary encouraging everyone to "tune in, turn on and drop out" and millions did exactly that. Or they stayed in school. The point was: Do what you want as long as you're not hurting anyone. We wanted to do what we wanted to do and no one was going to tell us any different. We rejected the limits our parents and society put on us and the boxes they wanted us to live in.
Most young people were very political, were "anti-establishment", anti-war, wanted the government out of their lives entirely, knew their rights (the American Constitution was still fairly intact then) and loudly stood up for them. "Don't trust anyone over 30" was the phrase of the day. The press was truly the watchdog of the government. The cops were the enemy and were aptly called "pigs". "The man" was anyone who tried to tell you what to do and how to live, i.e. those in power who wanted the status quo to endure. The ACLU routinely filed law suits charging the government with violating someone's constitutional rights and regularly won. Individual rights was the order of the day. Flowers and all manner of soft highs were partaken regularly and normally and daily. The attitude then was the government had no right to tell you you could not explore your consciousness in any way you saw fit.
Every campus had a "Students for a Democratic Society" (SDS) which, while it was a leftist organization, vocally, loudly and openly criticized the US political system for failing to achieve international peace, critiqued Cold War foreign policy, the threat of nuclear war, and the arms race (the building up of nuclear arsenals). In domestic matters, it criticized racial discrimination, economic inequality, and trade unions equally as much as it criticized big business and political parties. Even though it was leftist, no entity escaped the SDS' scathing criticism. Political activists routinely went "underground" to escape the all-seeing eye of the FBI and to run their organizations clandestinely. Freedom of speech was huge and was defended vociferously. The right to assemble (without permit as is required these days) was another biggie.
Heroes of the day, people striving to make a real change in America, were murdered in very short and shocking order (John F. Kennedy in 1963, Medgar Evers in 1963, the three civil rights activists from New York who went to Mississippi to support the Civil Rights movement murdered by the KKK in 1964, Malcolm X in 1965, Martin Luther King in 1968, Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, et cetera, et cetera.)
(While JFK had his flaws, being a statist, he did sign Executive Order 1110 causing the US Treasury to print US Treasury Notes. That action alone, although there were several other actions of his that greatly angered other powerful US organizations, was enough to ensure his death sentence.)
It was only 1965 and African Americans could not vote and in the South. They could not use the same washrooms, drinking fountains, waiting rooms, schools, churches, restaurants and shops as white people. Forget them going to university and working in anything other than menial jobs. Back in those days, no one knew your vote didn't count at all, and it was therefore unimaginable to young people that blacks couldn't vote. It flew in the face of America being the land of equal opportunity for all. People believed then your vote mattered and made a difference.
Therefore, the Civil Rights movement was another huge, simultaneous, nation-wide struggle which added to the intense climate created by the Vietnam War protests and young people revolting against their parents' values. The Black Panther Party was the extreme end of the Civil Rights movement which promoted peaceful change.
The shock of having all of these larger-than-life people and true heroes murdered in such short order tore up American society and caused a bigger rift between the generations. It showed how truly ruthless The Powers That Be (TPTB) was although no one knew then that they were the likely sponsors of all the "lone gunmen". There seemed to be an older, all-invasive, invisible hand determined to keep things exactly the way they were and we hated it. It all obviously spilled over into Canada. Thousands of American draft dodgers fled to safety in Canada.
Add to all of that the murder during 13 seconds of shooting by the National Guard in Ohio on May 4, 1970, of four Kent State University students who were marching on campus in a peaceful protest against the war. Nine others were wounded, one paralyzed for life. We were constantly being bombarded and our hearts ripped out by the death of someone trying to make a difference.
Protest songs became huge hits. Here's just a few - Neil Young: "Four Dead in Ohio" and "Oh Alabama", Joni Mitchell: "Woodstock", Sam Cook: "A Change is Gonna Come", Phil Ochs: "I Ain't Marchin' Any More", County Joe and the Fish: "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die", Bob Dylan: "Masters of War", "Blowin' in the Wind", "Times They are a Changin'", Donovan: "Universal Soldier", Edwin Star: "War!", John Lennon: "Give Peace a Chance", The Byrds: "Turn Turn Turn", Barry McGuire "Eve of Destruction", The Rascals "People Got to Be Free", The Five Man Electrical Band "Signs", to name a few. (What do we have today in these most dangerous of times? "We are never, ever, ever getting baaaaaack together" by Taylor Swift!)
Life was in total upheaval. Political discussions and arguments were daily affairs. First Johnson, then Nixon escalated the Vietnam war effort. Nixon was later busted by The Washington Post for allegedly giving his blessings to having the Democratic National Party headquarters in the Watergate Building in Washington, D.C. burgled for election intelligence and was driven from office of Chief Murderer, only to be later given the plum job of "opening up" China by the powers that be (TPTB) (where the pipe was laid for the mass exodus of western manufacturing to China). Daniel Ellsburg leaked the Pentagon Papers and became another hero. The FBI then burgled his psychiatrist's office looking for dirt on him. Millions couldn't wait to see what big story The Washington Post would break next. Nixon later told the British interviewer David Frost that when the President breaks a law, he's not really breaking a law because it's the President doing it! You can't make this stuff up.
This went on for ten years (1965 to 1975) with the communists (Vietcong) winning the Vietnam War when they invaded Saigon on April 30, 1975, and had the Americans literally scrambling to evacuate their asses – chaotically flying out helicopter loads full of panicked people from the roof of the US Embassy and leaving behind American soldiers in captivity. Very few young people these days know bupkes about Vietnam and that the Vietnam War took 60,000 American soldiers' lives who were forced under threat of jail by their government to be there.
Unlike today, in the '60s and '70s people were not asleep, they were very political. They knew their government had sinister covert agendas, they did not cow down - au contraire - they stood up confidently and strongly for the injustices they saw around them. There was an absolute uproar when the Warren Commission's report on JFK's murder came out — it was such obvious bullshit — but no such outcry occurred when the government came out with its report on 9/11. I'm not saying it was a perfect time — the nanny state took hold in the '60s — but it sure was a time of awareness, total mistrust of government and outward and visible and massive action.
What I've described so far is just a tiny flavor of what is was like as a young person living in the '60s and 70's. And among all of that upheaval and death was John Lennon. He was so loved. I doubt that any musician came even close to being as beloved as John Lennon, not only for his music and art, but for his attitude. The way he spoke, the way he reasoned against war and government. The way he never backed down and never stopped speaking his mind. He was so crystal clear and so lovely and so human and so right.
TPTB knew he promoted peace ("War is Over" was one of his slogans, "Give Peace a Chance" was literally a hymn then) and that millions hung on his every word. TPTB didn't want him in America continuing to rabble-rouse against war. Because of a pot bust in England, John was forced to fight the US government for years in order to be able to live legally in the US and eventually won his case the day before his 35th birthday, October 8th, 1975. Imagine, fighting the President of the United States (Richard Nixon was personally out to get John Lennon) and the might of the INA when you're in your early 30s!
John often talked about how in the olden days, people just went around, traveled wherever they wanted and needed to go (passports didn’t exist until World War I), and there was no need for borders, visas, green cards and Immigration Boards, much like TDV is pointing out now. He would be cheering TDV on happily and excitedly were he alive today. He invented a conceptual country called "Nutopia" and held a press conference to introduce it. It's brilliant.
So just after the anniversary of John's death and on what would have been his 72nd birthday, I genuinely mourn his passing still and mourn what he could have accomplished had he lived. But I am so grateful for the likes of the people at TDV who have taken the torch and are being brave and loudly vocal about how dangerous all government and central banks are.
Barry Gordon is a freedom lover currently living in Canada. Barry is a TDV subscriber and a liberty activist who wishes to keep his details private.