A month ago I posted on political change and what John Lennon would do were he still with us. In response a friend (Craig Rosen) sent me a fascinating interview between Lennon and Yoko Ono and well-known British radicals Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn, which ran in an Trotskyist sheet called (believe it or don’t) The Red Mole back in the early 1970’s. It’s posted on the Counterpunch site.
As is so often the case with Lennon, the interview is fascinating on about seventeen different levels, and still very much worth reading, twenty-five years later. (Just to cite one example: Lennon believed that the first big step for himself and the Beatles, to break out of the societal role they were assigned, came out of their "Liverpoolness"–refusing to change their accent to go on the BBC. Not what you might expect, is it?)
But here’s the crucial item, I think, for people who care about the planet. In the midst of an interview thick with references to the saintly Workers, oppression, the capitalist game, and other such weary Marxisms, Lennon abruptly quotes writer Richard Neville, who compared Wilson (of the Labor Party) and Heath (of the Conservative Party). As Lennon put it:
Like Richard Neville said, there may be only an inch of difference between Wilson and Heath but it’s in that inch that we live….
Back in 2000, people who knew me often assumed that because the environment matters to me, that I would vote for Ralph Nader. I found the assumption insulting. I know Ralph Nader wasn’t going anywhere, and didn’t trust him for a minute; I wanted to preserve that inch’s difference, where millions of us live, between the Democrats and the Republicans.
I’m going to be blunt: Six years later, is there any doubt about the wisdom of that choice?
(But in the next breath, I must admit that if Lennon were still with us, he would not settle for the Democrats, and likely would call for us all to live in cities…or something equally challening.)