Matthew Cookson

Radical Beatle

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Review of 'The US vs John Lennon', Directors: David Leaf and John Scheinfeld

This new documentary uncovers the revolutionary politics at the heart of John Lennon's music and life in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The film uses interviews with Yoko Ono, Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Ron Kovic, Angela Davis and Bobby Seale to show how Lennon's politics were intimately connected to the rise of the anti-war movement against what the US was doing in Vietnam.

Power to the People

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Matthew Cookson uncovers John Lennon's radical past 25 years after his death.

John Lennon was murdered in New York 25 years ago. This year has seen a slew of articles about the former Beatle's life. One key aspect that few of the media remembrances touch upon is Lennon's radical politics, but these were integral to his music, particularly in the later Beatles years and after.

Quaking the Elite

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Review of 'Streetfighting Years', Tariq Ali, Verso £12.99

Don't let the praise on the back of this book from Christopher Hitchens - whose name has become synonymous with the word 'turncoat' - put you off reading it. Tariq Ali was one of the most prominent figures of the movement against the US's ferocious war on the Vietnamese people. He, unlike Hitchens, has continued to campaign against the violence that imperialism inflicts upon the world, as an interesting new introduction covering Iraq, the deaths of Paul Foot and Edward Said, and the 'Bolivarian revolution' of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela shows.

Utopia: Dreams and Nightmares

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Steve Smith's otherwise interesting article on dystopia in film (September SR) was ruined by his casual definition of dystopia.

The use of dystopia has a very specific place within art--to comment on modern society in an entirely different context.

Artists extrapolate the worst aspects of their present day society to create a future totalitarian state, such as in George Orwell's '1984', Yevgeny Zamyatin's 'We' or the film 'The Matrix', where things cannot get much worse. The likelihood of even challenging the system is seen as remote, and beating it almost impossible.

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