So, did V. I. Lenin really say ‘Destroy the Family, You Destroy the Country’?

“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine.” – attributed to Abraham Lincoln, 1761.

Many very well meaning people, through a partial breakdown of critical thinking, find themselves peddling along themes quotes and ideas that they haven’t fully verified.

So what of this quote: “Destroy the Family, You Destroy the Country.” – attributed to V.I. Lenin

Did Lenin say it? Well, probably not. In fact, it’s exceedingly unlikely that he ever said anything in this wording, and a comprehensive search for the origins sustains this.

Ya know.. George Orwell wrote a very excellent essay, on Political Language and English; read it.

Please.

For the sake of argument, if there really does exist a Rothschild financed, crypto-Illuminati, Satanic Luciferian Conspiracy, against all that is good and holy, I’d wager that it’s most effective weapon would be peddling arrant tripe like the quote above; in the hope that the naive would jump on it, and pass it around the whole planet like a bad case of the Clap, only to be soundly refuted by anyone with a good copy of a quote dictionary, and a 7th grader’s Google Search skills.


The quote is popping up on Tea Party websites like hotcakes, having previously floated around in right wing John Birch influenced conspiracy literature for years. And yet no where did it ever dawn on any of the people quoting it to really try to determine the source of the quote, no they just peddle it around and around, like a cheap bar slut.

I call this lazy.

Now I’d admit, a close, nuanced reading of both Trotsky and Lenin will eventually yield up sentiments that echo some general themes compressed in the quote above. The quote evokes a Revolutionary necessity, of destroying the forms of what many Marxists saw as the bourgeois family. So the general sentiment the quote evokes – given that classical Marxism is explicitly international, aiming at World Revolution, and the eventual eradication of national and country boundaries and social forms like the nuclear family – does exist in Marxist literature.

But no where can I find any indication whatsoever that Lenin actually said what that quote attributes to him. This makes the quotation itself a lie, a political lie in essence.

In Trotsky’s case he did at times explicate a desire to see the bourgeois form of the Family eradicated. And even if not explicitly stated, anyone who has hung out in social radical or even progressive circles long enough will notice a certain unease with the form of the modern Western patriarchal and nuclear family, and a friendliness to alternative forms of the family, in a few extreme cases the classical promiscuous marriage in common as a social norm and the children raised centrally, not many folks seem to believe in this but you will come across one, now and then. It’s an old trope, going back to Plato’s republic, and not only Marxian Socialists but also Fabian Socialists have at times expressed a desire for this. As to people in such circles, in whom a vague desire to eradicate the nuclear family may be found, often it’s emotionally linked to past trauma within such family structures – so the trauma predisposes the acceptance of the theme of the necessity for radical social re engineering, in the first place.

Many Marxists in Lenin’s and Trotsky’s era did write about and advocated a strong centralization of child rearing – socializing child-rearing in common – as well as socialized common marriage in the form of free love, essentially a ‘marriage in common’ in which each woman is effectively, theoretically, married to each man if and when she desires, or he desires, sex. In essence socialized promiscuity. Which is rather close to the mating situation in many Western and Northern European societies, in which couplings are typically short lived, from a few months or a year or two, and then people move on, in some cases a few weeks or days. Funny that the pick-up artist secret society meme aims at a very similar social reality as formerly doctrinaire hard-corps Marxist free love advocates and feminists, from the 19th century. That’s just one of history’s major ironies, and I find it kind of funny actually.

So one aspect of the theme the quote expresses can be found overlapping circles from early advocates of Free Love, certain socialist circles, Theosophists, Occultists, Communists, Radical Utopians, and all manners of people once considered to be quite peculiar and queer. Since many Western societies, in fact, reflects aspects of these seemingly utopian sentiments, both in greater social commitments to collective child rearing to a greater social acceptance of, essentially, marriage in common as well as non-traditional familial forms outside of the nuclear family, this reveals that history is full of irony. That many of the social activists who organized and agitated for changes in the social matrix reflecting these radical ideals were Marxists, this is one thing.

But it does not imply that V.I. Lenin actually said what that quote attributes to him.

In trying to track down this purported quote, no where have I found that: “Destroy the family, you destroy the country” or some of the variants on this, actually truly spoken or written by Lenin. In fact the quote’s sole provenance seems to be in Right Wing conspiratorial literature, originating in the late-mid 20th century, and exploding after 2005 or so on-line

The obvious lesson to draw from this is that when Abraham Lincoln said “The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine.” he wasn’t just whistling Dixie..

_EOF

8 Comment

  1. The ideology behind the quote is not right wing conspracy. It is taken from dialogue in the Communist Manifesto, Ch. 2.

  2. Hello Will, the ideology isn’t, in this you are correct.
    It is also worth noting that Trotsky and others were intent on this, something Stalin found revolting and put a firm stop to (though a communist Stalin always was more of a nationalist and despised internationalism. The Communist International suffered greatly under Stalin).

    In England many non-Marxian Socialists also were fairly keen on the idea of abolishing the family unit in favor of collective child rearing in State dorms, there were a few major public debates on this, Bertrand Russel notoriously held this view for a while but later backed away from it. There are many other examples.

    But the quote itself is a lie, or at least so far has been impossible to source by myself and many, many, others looking into it.

    That’s a danger, peddling false quote attributions – EVEN if the ideological or philosophic content is congruent with the positions of those attributed with the quote, simply discredits the one passing the quote along and causes his or her audience to view them with increased incredulity.

  3. Hey thanks for posting,

    I don’t disagree with you in that a good deal of history itself is comprised of conspiracy, and no one with an ounce of sense denies that real conspiracies exist, the problem lies in verification of facts and source materials.

    A couple hundred years ago a lot of history books were fairly up front about intrigue and plotting as real aspects of historical change, I find it interesting that an intellectual acceptance of intrigue and conspiracy was once so common place in Anglo-American letters, but at a certain point became taboo. There is something interesting there.

    I also do not deny what people on the Right would note, in that early – mid 20th century Communism and some strains of Socialism acted in a directly conspiratorial way. Recently it’s becoming clear that the soviets also in the 80”s acted in a rather conspiratorial way in networking with – for example – members of Europe’s soft left in pushing for and steering aspects of what eventually became the EU. Another verifiable example is the entire history of the British Fabian Socialists, for example, which is fairly steeped in intrigue.

    People on the Left would also note the conspiratorial aspects – today – of neo-Liberalism and “economic hit-men’, or the British Cliveden set in the late 1930’s, there is certainly a conspiratorial aspect to much of what’s going on between the Bank of International Settlements, The World Bank, and Austerity regimes in Europe (as well as the World Bank’s role in North America) – aspects of Globalist neo-Liberal world finance set off conspiracy alarms on both the Right and Left wing, and for good reason.

    A good deal of intrigue and machinations underly some of the financial and economic and, I suspect, cultural changes going on in Australia – which certainly seems to be all but sold, piece by piece, to Chinese interests for example – and similar economic and cultural shifts in the UK over the last couple of decades.

    Those are just a few examples, many others could be found and well documented with some effort, without doubt someone is going to cry “conspiracy nut-job” but a careful researcher could find real connexions and ties that evidence all sorts of covert behind closed doors (or sometimes open doors) abuses of power.

    The problem comes from a lot of badly sourced citation and quote material floating around that makes sloppy accusations that only succeed in marginalizing, in public eyes, what ought to be looked at very clearly. So again the problem is verification of information. Sound-bite damning quotes litter Conspiratorial literature, in particular stuff coming from the Right, that encapsulate specific intents and motivations and policy lines, but many of these quotes turn out to be forged or utterly unverifiable thus lacking basis or roots.

    A good example is that quip people through on FD Roosevelt, to the effect that ‘Nothing happens in politics by accident, if it happened you can bet it was planned that way’ – or something similar to that.

    Roosevelt said nothing of the sort that’s known to history, Joe Kennedy though, JFK’s Dad, once said something a bit similar – when you look at the broader context you will note that he was also talking of his own political maneuvers during his son’s campaign.

    Then there is selective pruning of real attributable quotes to make them look more evil and remove the context. I come across this stuff all the time when i read “conspiracy theory” literature and it annoys me to no end.

  4. So Lenin was a great statist who just liked power and control over others and not freedom of people to make choices.
    You could take many of lenin quotes and Obama would say the same things
    “A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser.”

  5. Jack, thanks for commenting.

    I think that it would be very accurate to say that Lenin was a great statist who liked power and control over others, I think history documents this very well. I think that Stalin was more of a Statist, objectively speaking, and one in more of a nationalist sense than Lenin. Lenin’s commitments were less to a Bolshivick state in Russia and more to a general global revolutionary State in general, of which the Soviet Union was simply one incipient piece. His primary interests always were the extension of the Bolshivick state model world wide, though on a necessary and tactical scale – and for sheer survival – at a certain point the consolidation of the Soviet State ended up being his primary day to day priority.

    Stalin’s commitments were far more narrow and focused, on a more national Statism, and a far more centralized one than Lenin’s. In both cases the men were essentially Totalitarian Statists who sought immense amounts of power and controlled.

    Whether or not Obama, or any other president, is the same is something people could debate all day long. Objectively every president since Nixon and Ford have massively increased the centralized powers of the State, and in particular their own executive powers, and it would be fair to say from Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama each president has been more of a statist in turn. Everyone likes to pick on poor Dick Nixon, but in reality by any objective criteria – in terms of demonstrable actions – he was probably one of the least power grabbing and centralizing Presidents in modern history.

    Which is rather ghastly actually.

    By this criteria Obama is certainly a Statist, more so than his predecessor who was more so than his predecessor in turn, and so on. And by this criteria Obama certainly has consolidated more power and control in the White House, by some small measure exceeding Bush II. Objectively though it would be a huge exaggeration and stretch to say that one could take many Lenin quotes and that Obama would “say the same things.”

    One is either looking at actual actions or conflating those actions with political rhetoric – when you actually read Obama’s speeches, and I do, because I enjoy de-constructing political rhetoric as a hobby, and when you actually read Lenin’s speeches and writings – and I do – then one notices very few similarities between what the two men have said. Sure you can dredge up a superficial similarity here or there but it really begs the question.

    I think that these sort of things are things that people say when they really mean to say “Obama thinks like/believes like Lenin” which may or may not be true, it’s an interesting thing to debate and there may or may not be some merit in this – but instead they say “Obama speaks like/says the same things as Lenin” which when you objectively compare their words together in context is simply hyperbole, beyond the basic superficial similarities that all political speech that is left of center shares, worldwide.

    I have a volume of Lenin’s collected works, I can assure you that a comparison with the corpus of Obama’s speeches would yield fewer similarities than this statement alleges.

    Now whether both men THINK in similar ways, or have similar BELIEFS or PRIORITIES, commitments, worldviews, and/or ideological concerns is a totally different – and far more interesting question. I have my own private conclusions, but am not going to weigh in on THAT question in public, but it’s a valid one and an interesting one and I encourage people to ask it in a serious, non knee-jerk sort of way.

    But to say that Obama and Lenin say the same things is not factually correct, one could perhaps I’d wager find a few more similarities between FDR’s speech and Lenin (and it would still be begging the question)

    People need to separate ideology, what people actually say, what they mean by what they say, and what they do. Whether President Obama is or is not some sort of Socialist or European style Social Democrat, or even soft Communist, in American Democratic drag is one question, whether the actual substance tone and wording of what Obama and Lenin said and wrote are the same, or very similar, is another question.

    I hope I didn’t beat the bush there.

  6. I agree that not all conspiracies are nutjobs, on the contrary – as I see it political history is mostly conspiracy anyway, this used to be commonly recognized until the 20th century for some silly reason or another, and even still mostly Anglo-American. One can still see a few serious European historians and political scientists, or at least until a few years ago, openly make allusions of intrigue or conspiratorial action. Even leftist academicians.

    One can see all sorts of asides, nudge-nudge wink wink, allusions in French Italian and Spaniard serious writers up until the early 20th century, and British ones you can often find making conspiratorial allusions or accusations in early 19th century works.

    I’m a bookworm, I find near orgasmic pleasure in breathing book dust in old private and public libraries. That said, a huge amount of interesting reading has been pouring into the Google Books project giving a very lively view of how people in the past reacted to, and wrote about, political conspiracy.

    The rash of conspiracy theory books written by very responsible journalists in the USA in the immediate aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination is interesting reading as well.

    Conspiracy and intrigue exists, I have no doubt of it, but it is necessary to approach those things seriously and with real restraint

  7. Obsydian, that reply was directed at your comments .
    On the side, Allen’s None Dare Call It Conspiracy has been subject to many attempts to debunk it and there is stuff floating around in it that’s impossible to source..

    I guess part of my frustration, people may notice that certain things occur or exist and are real, but the nature of any clandestine or covert action, political or otherwise, is that it leaves few traces if any by necessity.

    When people start writing about what they do hear of or is whispered to them or what they become aware of, instead of occupying some restraint they seem to panic. In writing about it they often do not pull themselves and their biases back, look at t for what it is and is not, confuse insinuation and rumor with solid fact, pass along scandal that’s unattested and un-cited.

    Authors will pass along paraphrases as actual quotes, not bother follow-ing up on them, or in some casesjust almost seem to make up quotes that reflect their subject’s views and actions, and attribute those quotes to them – but the quotes are made up. Sure Trotsky/Stalin/Bertrand Russell/HG Wells/Mary Poppins/Bugs Bunny may have done XYZ

    They may have said XYZ that is similar.
    They may believe or intend or seek XYZ

    But if they didn’t literally say “XYZ” then its irresponsible to attribute it to them. I mean, everyone knows Bugs Bunny is a leftie Commie Pinko aggitator who wants to destroy the nuclear family and secretly gets checks from George Soros with the express purpose of weakening Western morale by putting floride in the water, which reacts in a specific way in the brain while watching bugs bunny cartoons making one very succeptible to mind control etc. etc…

    But if Bugs bunny didn’t literally say “What’s up doc, howsabout that floride in the water, it makes all the kiddies inta Pinkos you know..”

    Then attributing that quote to him, or a variant of it to him, becomes intellectually dishonest and irresponsible.

    That’s my point, I guess.

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