I've seen the quote:

"One quick way to destroy a society is through its music." Vladimir Lenin

on (Russian?) Facebook:

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Spanish Twitter:

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and is also mentioned in the book The Authentic Musician (John Haddix, 2011):

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The source referenced there is The Marxist minstrels, a handbook on communist subversion of music (David A. Noebel, 1974),which appears to be the source for this supposed quote. This book is reviewed here, basically stating that the author is a crackpot (more or less the same conclusion is reached here). I can not access this book.

The quote is not present in Wikiquote so I'm very much inclined to discard this as an outright lie, but it'd be nice to see where this person got this from the book itself.

  • 1
    Strangely, wikiquotes pages for Lenin in various languages, provide sources for almost all "his" quotes. This one is not one of them. Sep 3, 2019 at 15:04
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    Gonna be hard to lock down because OG quote is from the book you found, which doesn't cite its sources. Interestingly enough I've also found places on the internet where the quote is attributed to John Lennon.
    – DenisS
    Sep 3, 2019 at 16:04
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    The earliest use I find in Google books is The Devil's Web: Who Is Stalking Your Children for Satan?, 1989. Sep 3, 2019 at 22:32
  • @DanielRHicks There is an earlier use in a 13 October 1982 UPI article concerning a campus speech by pastor Bob Duvall in East Lansing, Michigan to 400 students. upi.com/Archives/1982/10/13/Satan-comes-as-an-angel-of-light/…
    – DavePhD
    Sep 5, 2019 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


The 1974 source is not saying it is a quote. Instead, the 1974 source says:

It took Lenin little time to realize that music played a vital part in the cohesion of society. He also realized that one sure way to destroy an enemy society was to destroy that society's music. This is exactly what his disciples have set out to do. In his How Music Expresses Ideas, Sidney Finkelstein, the recognized cultural spokesman for the Communists in the USA [superscript 3], sets forth the program with little ambiguity. Finkelstein calls for the destruction of the barrier between classical music...

The 1974 source is not the original publication of the above.

In 1966 it was written by the same author in Rhythm, Riots, and Revolution: An Analysis of the Communist Use of Music, the Communist Master Music Plan

The above refer to the 1956 work How Music Expresses Ideas Science and Society 20 (2):160-162 by Sidney Finkelstein.

According to University of Massachusetts, which archives Sidney Finkelstein's works:

Finkelstein became active in the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA) where he served as the party's leading musical and cultural theoretician.

Going back to the original quote in the OP, the earliest source seems to be in a 13 October 1982 UPI article concerning a campus speech by pastor Bob Duvall in East Lansing, Michigan to 400 students.

  • Apparently pp12-15 of the 1966 book include various quotations from Lenin and Soviet sources. Inquiring minds can reserve a copy here archive.org/details/rhythmriotsrevol00noeb
    – Avery
    Sep 5, 2019 at 13:37
  • @Avery seems to be a waiting list for the full text openlibrary.org/books/OL5079901M/Rhythm_riots_and_revolution
    – DavePhD
    Sep 5, 2019 at 13:42
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    @Avery yes, the 1966 source says on page 12: "V. I. Lenin, father of the Bolshevik Revolution, speaking to the Third All-Russian Congress of the Young Communist League on October 2, 1920, informed them that they must "rework culture" for only by so doing could they hope to build "a proletarian (Communist) culture [superscript 1]".
    – DavePhD
    Sep 5, 2019 at 13:49
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    @Avery so Lenin didn't say anything specific to "music", just culture generally, and Sidney Finkelstein quoted Lenin and applied the concept to music.
    – DavePhD
    Sep 5, 2019 at 13:54
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    off topic at this point, but it's interesting to see that the import of the actual Lenin quote is the opposite of the anti-communist meme. Lenin did not want to "destroy" pre-communist culture at all; on the contrary, he was criticizing people who did want to destroy it
    – Avery
    Sep 5, 2019 at 15:16

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