Society in John Lennon's "Imagine": Utopia or Dystopia

John Lennon’s “Imagine” was a depiction of what he considered to be a utopia:

But if analyzed closely it sounds quite dystopian in a way.

This means that there being no afterlife and that people will die in one life on this Earth. It will mean for many people that life is pointless and encourage them to engage in hedonism or suicide.

This would mean furthermore that humans would have no great purpose for the future either of a religious or secular nature encouraging trends I mentioned above.

Further emphasizes that in this society life would be meaningless. If you don’t have something you’re willing to be a martyr for than you lose a certain drive in life, a certain will.

Considering this society would be communal at best, even the enterprising drive will be suppressed.

In conclusion life in such a society will be pretty much pointless without any greater purpose for humans to live for. Most likely humans will largely abandon themselves to hedonism or kill themselves. It would also be highly vulnerable to extraterrestrial invasion since presumably in this society military would be abolished.

Being facetious?

Let’s be blunt: his dreamland would be a world where life was pointless, everyone was miserably poor, and there would be no reason to care about anyone, at least not outside your own tiny tribe.

Do you have any idea how stupid this is? If this life is all I have, the only possible way for me to be happy, you’re arguing that would lead me to want to kill myself?

It’s the exact opposite more likely? Trying to live as long as possible and do as many things now before it’s too late?

If it’s last call, you order another drink, you don’t go home because they’re not going to serve you in 20 minutes.

After all the years since that song was written, it sure sounds overly naive and simplistic. Nice melody though.

I thought we weren’t supposed to quote entire songs on the SDMB?

I always thought it was awesome that he wrote a song opening with “Imagine there’s no heaven” and had it be a song so optimistic and hopeful it had to preemptively stave off accusations of pie-eyed idealism.

Aside from “Imagine there’s no heaven,” the whole things jibes precisely with the teachings of Jesus. He said to abandon possessions, wealth, live in poverty, live life in peace, be passive in the face if hostility, that everyone was his “family.” All that naive, utopian shit. Those who trash Lennon’s idealism would also have to trash the vision of Jesus.

The OP’s thesis that people who don’t believe in an afterlife will naturally turn to hedonism (like there’s anything wrong with hedonism) and/or despair is total nonsense as demonstrated by the fact that millions of atheists right now do not turn to either.

Anyway, the song is not a call to action, but a call to dream.

I find the ideas presented in the song loathsome, and would not want to live in such a world. No countries, no religion, no possessions…basically, everyone is the same, eliminating all need for conflict.

I’m not a fan of conflict, but a world with no diversity would be amazingly boring. I kind of picture a gray landscape, where everyone is wearing those Chairman Mao jumpsuit things.

Basically, I hate this song. A lot.

Not abolished, just not necessary. This is a hilariously silly objection, though. Any extraterrestrial entity capable of interstellar travel is not going to be anyone we are a technological match for in any case. We’d be doing the equivalent of throwing spears at jets.

The song doesn’t say that at all.

Is that such a bad thing? I would love to live in a world where everyone just minded their own business, and we could just tend to each of our individual gardens.

That said, I find the no possessions problematic, because to live in such a civilized world some form of property rights, however you construe it, is absolutely necessary.

Incidentally, the song is not about abolishing any of those things, it’s a daydream about a world where humans have simply outgrown them.

It may still be naive, but like I said, it’s the exact same naive vision that Jesus preached. The only difference is that instead of no religion, Jesus dreamed of a world with only one religion – Judaism.

Only to someone who feels they are more comfortable living a hierarchical, authoritarian society.

Nonsense, atheists are no more likely to indulge in empty hedonism, or to be suicidal, than anybody else. Just because you may be scared of what you imagine you might become if you lost your religion, it does not follow that other people (or even you) actually would become like that, and the evidence says that they would not.

At this point, I think you are taking the line too literally. In context, “living for today” means living for what happens and will happen to oneself and other people on Earth, while they are alive, rather than living for what might happen in some hypothetical afterlife.

Bull. You can have plenty of purpose in life without being willing to die for your country (which is, as the context again makes clear, what he is really talking about), or, indeed, anything else.

John clearly considered that a communal society would indeed be the best form of society, and he is far from alone in that. Indeed, pretty much all utopias that anyone (except, maybe Ayn Rand) has ever imagined have been communal.

If you mean the drive to make yourself more wealthy than others, then good riddance. If you mean the drive to achieve things, and to further human progress, then why should it be suppressed? Most people who achieve great things, artists, scientists, thinkers - heck, even great generals and politicians, and even, I dare say, many of the greatest industrialists - are not primarily driven by the urge to get rich or accumulate possessions.

I do rather tend to agree with you that the “no possessions” bit isn’t going to work, though, not because it will suppress “enterprise,” but because people do very much like to have control of their own stuff.

Nonsense, for the reasons already given.

Ah! The Beatles were aliens. This explains everything! :stuck_out_tongue:

Good point. Have some… Tequila!

That sounds horribly, unutterably dreary . . . and still a heck of a lot better than what we’ve got now.

What is it with some religionists? Do you really believe that I, an atheist, am an untrustworthy s.o.b. that would kill you in a back alley for your pocket change, then go kill myself because I have nothing to live for?

Incidentally, if the main motivating factors in how you live your life are to get to heaven (which you expect to be very nice) and to avoid being sent to hell (which you expect to be very nasty) then you are a hedonist - just one who can handle delayed gratification.

I find the words of Jimmy Buffet eerily prescient

Nibblin on sponge cake
Watchin the sun bake
All of those tourists covered with oil

We shouldn’t worry about about extraterrestrial invasions, but rather the effects of the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast tourist industry.

Ding ding ding!

Human nature is as human nature does, and in-group and out-group is part of the nature of the beast. Always has been and always will be, no matter what granfalloons we need to create, even if they be whether you eat toast butter side up or down.

Still, as much harm as all the silly -isms cause, I’d still want to have them around. Food’s better for having the different religions and countries and ethnicities. Music too. The answer to conflicting ideas isn’t to imagine no differences; the answer is to imagine a world which agrees with some basic universal precepts that allow the differences to coexist and to intermingle, cross fertilize even.

Unfortunately also a pretty naive idea …