The following is my answer to our International Relations midterm assignment.
After being assasinated, John Lennon meets Karl Marx, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke & a constructivist (Caroline) in his afterlife in Tokyo. They discuss Lennon’s songs Imagine & Revolution.
My main difficulty was to squeeze everything into the 1200 word cap. :-)
Prof. ANNO Tadashi
Sophia University, Faculty of Liberal Arts
205 – Intro. International Relations
“Where am I? It’s all so blurry.”
John Lennon still felt the adrenaline rushing through his veins, he still heard the shouting and crying that surrounded him just seconds ago. And now: Utter silence. Where was Yoko? She must be somewhere right in front of him? Now, the only face he saw was one grumpy old fellow right in front of him.
“John! I’m glad you made it! I’m Mr. Hobbes.”
Was it really that Thomas Hobbes? This must be afterlife then? What a bitter sense of irony Hobbes has, John thought as he slowly looked around. To his left, he discovered another man: “You must be Karl Marx then?”
Marx: “Indeed. See Mr. Locke, I knew he would identify me first as the most important theorist at this table.”
Locke: “Believe me, Mr. Marx, there’s not much interest in your theories anymore. You’re just the only one who insists on wearing a red Yukata.”
“It will take some time to get used to their strange type of humor of each others impact on history” a soft female voice noted. “I am Caroline. And yes, this is afterlife. I don’t know why it took you so long to get here. But never mind, a small visit in the purgatory never hurt anyone. This is Tokyo, you arrived in the year 2013. Welcome to our small circle of friends, where we discuss recent topics of international relevance.”
Marx: „John, thank you for your great song Imagine. I could not have put my own thoughts into words any better than this. You beautifully describe that people should join us to create one socialist world where we all can overcome the burden of possessions, religion and nationalism.”
Locke: “Do you recall what John did with this song? He put it on records – and sold it. For money.”
Marx: “Please stay on topic Mr. Locke. The proletariat never wanted or started war, but always had to fight it. Possession leads to greed, religion and nationalism teaches ideologies of a ‘them against us’, it artificially creates reasons for conflicts. The success of this song proves that even in western countries, where socialism is a negatively connoted label, the majority of people agree with the general mindset.”
Hobbes: “Oh please, Mr. Marx. The world lives as one is an idyllic utopia. And John selling records is just fine, he just played his part in society, people need to be entertained, they need a break from the brutal truth out there. Absence of religion and state was true at some point in early history. Let’s not forget to draw the full picture of your ‘primitive communism’ here: Murder, rape, no justice, no mercy. Sheer anarchy. The human nature will not just live happily ever after, it needs to have one power which creates some uniformity for them. Individuals can only properly exist if they obey to their sovereign leviathan that functions for them, they need to surrender their own powers in order to find a new, freedom inside this structure. This sounds negative, but it is not. Everyone at this very table enjoyed a relatively good live just because we were enabled to develop into real individuals – and you can only be enabled this way if you give away power in the first place. It is either ‘you against me’, or ‘them against us’. Out of those two, I will always prefer that latter.
The reality of 1971 does not lie in beautiful songs, it lies in the trenches of the Vietnam War. It lies in the reality of a sometimes necessary evil, in the nature of state to fight for power.”
Locke: “You suggest that the Vietnam War was a necessary evil for the good of the US leviathan? There was no rogue-state, no threat against the US. It was the result of a black-and-white thinking. You are forgetting about the most important entity: The value of every individual inside a state. People in the US disagreed with their countries actions. They, sometimes radically, expressed their opinion. And, after some struggle, the state allowed those opinions to become a part of the policy making.
Have a look at the song Revolution, it promotes moderate, open-minded, respectful progress to form a likewise open-minded and respectful modern state. The song offers a framework to political participation. A healthy society with civil liberties and a strong state do not exclude each other. It is the opposite: Those ‘healthy leviathans’ can live next to each other in peace and prosperity, democracies and other democracies get along very well, cultural and economic ties are no treaties, they do last, because the people inside the society have no interest in fighting each other. Individuals do count, because they are what in the end forms the state that surrounds them. Then – it’s actually gonna be allright.”
Carloine: “Leviathans, classes, natures of state. I think all of you are stuck with your symbols, theories and egos. I think you all need to accept that the world is no place of right and wrong. Everything changes all the time. The second you published your theory, it might have already changed the agents you were talking about. The world and the relations between states are constructs, shaped by the people thinking and constructing them every day. So John’s songs might have the biggest impact on peace at this table after all: Because they challenge an international audience to imagine, to be aware of our own position, to be agile enough to change it. If all states can become more open minded as their citizens become more agile, they will realize that their own position and perception is constructed and alternate interpretations can always be perfectly valid. From this, we can all only benefit.”
Later that night, as Marx tried to intone The International and Locke and Hobbes are both outraged arguing against it, Caroline just shook her head over all the ignorance.
John, perhaps numbed by the Sake that was served all night long, began to daydream. So even in this world, where people clearly don’t have to fear death or loss anymore, they still argue, manipulate and fight over pretty much everything. Some things will never change, Lennon sighed. Enough for today he thought, and slowly rose from the Kotatsu, with his chest still hurting from the bullets he once cought. Hobbes told him this is the one pain that will last even in afterlife, as a vivid reminder on how fragile and valuable life was.
Everything here reminded him of Yoko. He missed her powerful nature and the drive she always radiated. Maybe it was this drive what brought John to this evening’s conclusion. Hobbes asked him earlier: Which side do you agree with? Now he knew: None. All theories were just transient shadows, maybe with a right to exist, maybe with good intentions and an impact for a more peaceful world. He walked down the hallway, with his very own thoughts, his very own impressions of what life and peace was, humming the first notes of what people later would consider: The best song he ever wrote. If only that wisdom could have made it into the real world somehow.