Should 'Imagine' be China's new national anthem?
No more fitting song could have been chosen for the 2022 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony than John Lennon's "Imagine." This head-in-the-clouds hippie's laundry list of items necessary for a utopia actually doubles quite well as a communist dictator's manifesto.
Let's start with the famous first line — "imagine there's no heaven / It's easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us, only sky." In the communist ideology, there can be no heaven because the system must create a heaven on earth. Thus, the "opiate of the masses" should be replaced with material wealth (which is the sum of happiness and well-being) for all. A materialist will argue that belief in an afterlife not only is wrong, but inhibits the improvement of life on earth by placing the importance in this life below that of the next. The historian will argue that all attempts to make a heaven on earth through political systems have created something more akin to hell.
The next bit of the song is a curious one coming from a well traveled individual who presumably had a deep appreciation for cultures other than his own — "imagine there's no countries / it isn't hard to do / Nothing to kill or die for." You would think that a man who was married to a Japanese woman would in fact have a hard time imagining that the land mass called "Japan" and the land mass called "America" were one and the same culturally and politically. Perhaps this line was simply wishful thinking, written during Lennon's years-long struggle to get a green card that would allow him to move freely in and out of the country and ensure that he wouldn't be deported. Today's globalist held up at customs likely feels the same.
During the opening ceremony, these lines especially read as the conquering dictator's dream — "if only there could be no separate countries, just one world to rule over," thinks the one who wants to conquer the world and replace all cultures with his own. Meanwhile, this part of the song probably evokes dread from the Taiwanese.
And that infamous next line "and no religion too," is also the dream of every Marxist. Freed from belief in a higher power and traditional morality, the world is able to fully embrace belief in the state as the highest power and its rules as the true morality.
Beyond the communist dictator's dream, this song may also be the dream of a nihilist, since it essentially asks us to imagine if nothing mattered. While war is terrible, it also implies that there is something to die for — our country, our loved ones, and our freedom. Even imagining a world without possessions is nihilistic in nature, not altruistic. What about your family heirlooms, your books, your land? To quote Gerald O'Hara, "[land] is the only thing worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts."
As an abbreviated version of all of this ran through my head during the song, the end was jarring: "you may say I'm a dreamer / But I'm not the only one / I hope someday you'll join us / And the world will live as one." The only way I'd say he's a dreamer is if his dream is a nightmare, and I definitely do not wish to "live as one" with those who commit serious human right violations.
In our time of obsession with diversity and individual freedom, we are not at all protected against the movement towards homogenization and totalitarianism. If anything, the focus on the self — exemplified by the portrayal of athletes as almost super-humans competing first for themselves and only second for their countries — will lead to the world imagined for John Lennon by first creating isolation from one another, inevitable discord and chaos, and then one violently unifying revolution.