The Revolution: One’s View of the Tactics Used During Protest
The United States involvement in the Vietnam War can be viewed in multiple ways. One of the many ways that it was viewed was through anger, and this can be shown by how radical some acted in response to the war. Many people did back these protests, particularly young college students.One of these responses was through These protests, and they were conducted in a multitude of ways. , and oOne of these ways included song that often expressed how people felt about the thing that is being protested, or the protest themselves.
The rock band group, The Beatles, wrote a song that expressed their views on the current states of the anti-war protests. Their song “Revolution” debates on the tactics that were used during the protests, as they were more stern and violent. The lead singer of The Beatles, John Lennon, was did not like using violence or radical acts when it came to the protest. If it did include violence or radical actions, he did not want any part in it.
This is shown in the song, “Revolution” when Lennon (1968) states how that while he knows that a change does need to be made, if it includes any destruction then he does not want anything to do with it.
In order to understand why John Lennon made this song there needs to be an understanding of what the culture was like then. As stated by DeBenedetti (1983) on October 21 and 22 in 1967, there was approximately 100,000 Americans that gathered in Washington D.C to rally for the anti-Vietnam War movement.
This had been one of the largest anti-war protests to be held in a nation’s capital that was also at war (DeBenedetti, 1983). This is not to say that there were not events that have took place leading up to this movement, and war in general. In fact, Harrison (1993) acknowledges that leading up to this rally, U.S citizens have had endured both world wars, and the Great Depression. With that being said, entering a war that we did not need any part in would cause some anger in citizens. 30,000 of those 100,000 total protesters gathered in the North Parking Lot of the Pentagon, where they were met with 3,000 U.S troops and marshals who had been ordered to protect the Pentagon from the protesters, and the two groups clashed with each other and resulted in 47 injuries and 683 arrests (DeBenedetti, 1983). This ended up causing more aggressive and radical protesting amongst the protesters, which could have been the inspiration for John Lennon’s “Revolution”, as throughout the song Lennon talks about taking a less radical route to the protests. Lennon (1968) states in verse two that while he is willing to work towards making the world a better place, he does not believe that giving money to those that will continue the cycle of hate is the solution.
Leading up to the release of “Revolution” and the protests in general, the United States has been through a lot. To begin with, Harrison (1993) states that the United States had already endured both world wars, the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Cold War with Russia, and the Great Depression. America had been hit by major events, and as a result her inhabitants have had to endure these tragedies. As a result of this, DeBenedett (1983) states that a protest took place at the nation’s capital, and that some even decided to storm the north parking lot of the Pentagon. While the Pentagon was protected, the protesters insisted more aggressively that they would determine to upset the war policies that the President put into place, and that the functioning of the United States military machine itself if need be (DeBenedetti, 1983). DeBenedetti (1983) acknowledges that the protesters promised to escalate the protesting from dissent to a full resistance. This is something that these protesters really want to come true and are willing to use force if needed. John Lennon sees this protest, and the methods that are being used, and decides to make a song about it.
As a result, “Revolution” is released on The Beatles single, “Hey Jude” as the B-side track in 1968. The main purpose of this song was to describe the current state of these protests. These are much more violent protests that are happening, and while it is for a good cause that does not mean that violence is the way to make this solution happen. John is suggesting that the protesters should take a less radical route. As stated by Zunes and Laird (2010) the protests did end up lead to the signing of a peace treaty and the withdrawing of United States from Vietnam. By 1971, the protest had eased down in terms of violence, even though there was a small majority that still did continue increasingly violent acts (Zunes and Laird, 2010).
We can use the cultural diamond to help use define the impact this song had on the society it was made in. As stated by Griswold (2013), the cultural diamond is used to encourage a fuller understanding of any cultural object’s relationship with its society. The cultural object is a socially meaningful expression that is visual, audible, or tangible. It also needs to be able to be articulated (Griswold, 2013). Griswold (2013) describes the cultural diamond as having four ppoints thatconnect to each other, those being the creators, cultural objects, recipients, and the social world in which they all co-exist.
The Beatles “Revolution” is the cultural object. John Lennon and the rest of The Beatles the creators, the people who enjoy rock and The Beatles the recipients, and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement the social world in which all three of these elements co-exist in. The interaction between the social world and the recipients, that being the protesters protesting Anti-Vietnam War Movement, caused the creator to create the cultural object, and that would be John Lennon seeing the rising violence and radical action that is occurring with these protests and he decides to make “Revolution” to state how he feels about the matter. Then, this newly made cultural object effects both the social world and the recipients of it. It does this by stating that while a change is desperately needed, going at achieving this change aggressively is not the way to go about it and instead to go about it in a more peaceful sense.
All in all, “Revolution” does seem like it was fueled by the tactics used during the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. Based off the lyrics we hear in the song; it can be assumed that Lennon does prefer a less destructive and radical route when it comes to protesting and that he is not afraid to state what he believes. While it does not really seem like that is the case, it is likely that “Revolution” did have an impact on the way the protesters did protest against the Vietnam-War, by showing them that violence and radical action wasn’t the full answer to this movement.
- DeBenedetti, C. (1983). A CIA Analysis of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement: October 1967. Peace & Change, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0130.1983.tb00483.x
- Griswold, W. (2013). Cultures and Societies in a Changing World (Vol. 4th ed). Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications, Inc. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.libdb.ppcc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=474227&site=eds-live
- Harrison, B. T. (1993). Roots of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 16(2), 99. https://doi-org.libdb.ppcc.edu/10.1080/10576109308435923
- McCarthney, P. & Lennon, J. (1968). Revolution [Recorded by John Lennon] On Hey Jude [CD]. London, England: Apple
- Zunes, S, PhD. & Laird, J. (2010). The US Anti-Vietnam War Movement (1964-1973). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/us-anti-vietnam-war-movement-1964-1973/