The sixties were much more than a period in time. The attitudes toward life that developed then profoundly affected culture, society and politics, and crossed all borders. The sixties renewing impulse overwhelmed the decade, but it had been born before that time and has not stopped even today. To those years, we look back with the loyalty that all combatants feel for their earliest and most distant battle. With obstinate antagonism, some still denigrate that time - those who know that to kill history, they must first tear out its most luminous and hopeful moment. In that time, old imperial colonies fell, people previously ignored arose and their art, literature and ideas started to penetrate the opulent nations. The Third World was born and solidarity grew.
The sixties were much more than a period in time. The attitudes toward life that developed then profoundly affected culture, society and politics, and crossed all borders. The sixties renewing impulse overwhelmed the decade, but it had been born before that time and has not stopped even today.
Within the rich North, another Third World also awakened. In the United States, a century after the Civil War, black people fought for the right to be treated as persons and with them marched many white students. In Europe, young people repudiated imperialist violence and identified themselves with the condemned of the Earth. Nobody spoke yet of globalisation but, for everyone, the Earth got smaller, the whole world became closer. Finally liberated in 1959, Cuba was an inseparable part of the sixties. A revolution fully pledged to liberty, life and truth. Victory seemed possible immediately. To obtain it, people strove without rest. In mountains and cities, with stones and fists, with weapons snatched from the oppressors, and also with speeches, poems and songs. They tried to assault the sky, to overcome, in a single act, all injustice - for blacks and women, for workers and the poor, for the sick, the ignorant, and the marginalised. They believed they could win peace between nations and equality among people.
The sixties were more than anything the rebellion of the youth. Before their impetus fell dogmas and fetishes. They broke the moulds of hypocrisy and banality, they turned on the dull mediocrity of an unjust and false society that reduced human activity to merchandise. Years afterward, affirming the continuity of the movement, John Lennon described it with these words: The sixties saw a revolution among the youth ... a complete revolution in the mode of thinking. The young people took it up first, and the following generation afterwards. The Beatles were a part of the revolution. We were all in that boat in the sixties. Our generation [was] a boat that went to discover the New World. And the Beatles were the lookouts on that boat.We were a part of it.
Tumultuous was the passage from that memorable concert in 1963 when Lennon asked the people who occupied the most expensive theatre seats to rattle their jewels, to six Novembers later when he returned the Order of the British Empire in protest at the US aggression in Vietnam and the colonialist intervention in Africa. Highlights included: the refusal to perform before an exclusively white public in Florida, in 1966; the refusal to perform in apartheid South Africa; the denunciation of racism in the US when the Beatles arrived there to perform in concerts that had been boycotted by the Ku Klux Klan; Lennons calls for peace in the Middle East; his support for young people who deserted the Yankee aggressor army and his constant support to the Vietnamese resistance; his support for the struggle of the Irish people; his incessant search for new forms of expression, without ever abandoning the roots and authentic language of the people; his repudiation of the bourgeois system, its codes and merchandising mechanisms; and the creation of a corporation to combat them and defend artistic liberty.
His songs form the most complete inventory of the collective struggle of the young people for peace, revolution, popular power, the emancipation of the working class and women, the rights of indigenous peoples and racial equality.
The personal contribution of John Lennon stood out and endured beyond the dissolution of the Beatles. His songs form the most complete inventory of the collective struggle of the young people for peace, revolution, popular power, the emancipation of the working class and of women, the rights of indigenous peoples and racial equality.
Lennons songs demanded the liberation of Angela Davis and John Sinclair and other political prisoners, denounced the massacre at Attica prison and the situation in North American prisons. In interviews and public statements, Lennon openly expressed his identification with the socialist ideal. Lennon was the object of intense and obstinate persecution by the Yankee authorities. The FBI, CIA and immigration service, instigated directly by US President Richard Nixon, spied on and harassed him, and strove to expel him from the US.
These agencies still keep secret the documents proving the tenacious harassment they unleashed against Lennon. The little that they have revealed shows that in just one year, between 1971 and 1972, their spies accumulated 300 pages and a file that weighs 26 pounds.
With no other weapons than his talent and the solidarity of lots of North Americans, Lennon was forced to confront the powerful empire led by the most sordid and arrogant political machine. Lennon emerged as a paradigm of the entirely free and creative intellectual, precisely engaged with his time. Dear John, it was more than a few who said that December 1980 was the end of an era. Many among the millions who offered you 10 minutes silence and the multitude that on December 14 that year congregated in Central Park in New York to express a pain that time does not placate feared that the spirit of the sixties may die with you.
It was Yoko Ono who then advised, The message should not end. And little Sean, knew how to express the greater truth, imagined you bigger after death, because now you are everywhere. Your message could not disappear because love had, and still has, many battles to fight. You have always been among us. Now, the Cuban people offer you this bench where you can rest and this park to receive your companeros and friends.
Wasnt it a yellow submarine that surfaced that afternoon in 1966 in the port of New York and marched at the front of thousands of young people who condemned the war? How many hundreds of thousands demanded that peace be given a chance, and were in solidarity with the people of Vietnam, there in Washington on that unforgettable November 15 in 1969? On that day, didnt your art reach its highest realisation? John, I am sure that you remember the martyrs of Kent State University who wanted to follow you as working class heroes. It is known that it was your verses that were their only shield in front of the bullets of Nixon.
There were more, many more, that met to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the song Imagine in 1991, when others said that the story had already ended. All of us, you too, were happy.We saw, astonished, the faces of old comrades, confounded to be among countless young people who had not even been born when you, in Liverpool, intoned ballads of love with proletarian words and we here defied the monster.
Our boat will continue sailing. Nothing will stop it. It is driven by a wind that never dies. They will call us dreamers but we are not the only ones and our ranks will grow.We will defend the vanquished dream and struggle to make real all dreams. Neither storms nor pirates will hold us back. We will sail on until we reach the new world that we will know how to build. We will meet again, tonight, at the concert.We will go on together, always.
Visit the John Lennon tribute page at http://www.blythe.org/nytransfer-subs/alarcon-lennon.html
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