Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day -- Remembering Marx and Lennon

Memo to Karl Rove
Dear Karl: I understand you're a neocon, or so you call yourself. I was wondering if you're familiar with Groucho Marx's famous message to the Friar's Club? He sent them a wire saying "Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member." Just asking. He also said, "I never forget a face, but in your case I'd be glad to make an exception." Yours Sincerely...

Groucho Marx was a well-disguised subversive and anti-authoritarian, as is anybody who mocks and ridicules the powerful, the pompous, and the proud. On receiving a copy of Richard Nixon's book "Six Crises" from the man himself he wrote back, "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it." Actually, that's not true. He wrote that to his friend S.J. Perelman regarding the latter's book, "Dawn Ginsbergh's Revenge" (1929), but I enjoy indulging in political fantasy. It's a form of revolutionary idealism, and as Jawaharlal Nehru once said, "Today's idealist is tomorrow's realist."

Which brings us to John Lennon and his song "Imagine," the perfect song for this May Day, 2007. It's been sung by tons of people, many of whom have no idea what the song is actually saying, since its lyrics seem harmless at first glance, are set to a very pretty tune, and are frequently mistaken for an inane bit of liberal, bleeding-heart fluff, sort of like "Puff the Magic Dragon."

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do;
Nothing to kill or die for...

This is the most radical sort of anarchism expressing itself in the sweetest, simplest, way. But it's up to us who have seen this world descend into the nightmare of perpetual war to do away with the fiction of "sovereignty," and to move on to a world where no country, such as England, or Rome, or the United States, is able to suffer under the delusion that she owns the world, and inflict enormous suffering on the the rest of humankind as a result of it.

Will there ever be a world where all people have the right to live with basic human dignity, without being threatened with bombs and death for being in the wrong country? You have to imagine it first for it to ever happen.

...And no religion too...

Lennon recognized that even worse threats to world peace and understanding than nationalist fanatics are the furious agents of the divine will, medieval relics like Pat Robertson and the Taliban mullahs, who invoke God's authority to justify their murderous rage against against the human race.

When God handed down the rules and laws to Moses on Sinai, an idea the Jews acquired from the earlier examples they saw in Mesopotamia and Egypt, people lived in preponderantly rural societies where 90 percent of the population were illiterate peasants or herdsman. They needed to be tended, shepherded, led.

It's a different world now. We all read, we all think, we all have hopes, aspirations, and dreams, especially the dream of peace for our families and loved ones. We no longer need the Daddy God and his agents of repression to tell us right from wrong. And there's no longer any profit in our hating each other because of lines that politicians drew on maps.

Lennon was not the first who had the right idea. "Man will never be free," said the pre-revolutionary encyclopedia editor Denis Diderot, "until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest," (a quote often misattributed to Voltaire).

That was another world, however. Humans living in this one won't be free until the last nationalistic war machine is monkey wrenched, capped, and disabled, the last nuclear bomb buried and the recipe forgotten, and the last medieval fanatic who makes a career of stoking the fires under those machines locked up for his or her (and our) own good.

You might say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

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