The Beatles: ‘You Say You Want a Revolution’

Mikhail Safonov argues that the Beatles did more for the break up of totalitarianism in the USSR than Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov.

During a chess competition between Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov in the 1980s, the two grandmasters were each asked to name their favourite composer. The orthodox Communist Karpov replied: ‘Alexander Pakhmutov, Laureate of the Lenin Komsomol Award’. The freethinking Georgian Kasparov, though, answered, ‘John Lennon’.

No-one would claim that Kasparov won the world chess championship simply because he was a Beatles fan. However, Kasparov has won the sympathies of people far beyond the game of chess, and his musical preference reflects his particular character – one that was not afraid to declare out loud the name of a person who could never, ever have become Laureate of the Lenin Komsomol Award.

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