Who Else Hates Music Besides Muslims?

“Who else but Muslims could hate music?” asks Brenda Walker

Well, here`s someone:  the Chinese philosopher Shang Yang, floruit 360-338 B.C.

From J.J.L. Duyvendak`s translation of The Book of Lord Shang, I.iv:

If in a country there are the following ten evils: rites, music, odes, history, virtue, moral culture, filial piety, brotherly duty, integrity and sophistry, the ruler cannot make the people fight and dismemberment is inevitable; and this brings extinction in its train. If the country has not these ten things and the ruler can make the people fight, he will be so prosperous that he will attain supremacy. A country where the virtuous govern the wicked, will suffer from disorder, so that it will be dismembered; but a country where the wicked govern the virtuous, will be orderly, so that it will become strong.

Shang Yang was no inconsequential oddball, either.  His philosophy of statecraft was the basis of what later became known as Legalism.  

The state of Qin reorganized itself on Legalist principles and in 221 B.C., under its ruler Ying Zheng, conquered all the other petty states of the Chinese culture area.  

Ying Zheng gave himself the title “First Emperor” and established totalitarian rule over a centralized megastate.  Mao Tse-tung admired him, and so can fairly be counted among disciples of Shang Yang.

Mao did not ban music.  During his Great Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, however, only a few banal propagandistic works were allowed to be performed in public.

The intersection of music and totalitarianism is an area full of historical curiosities.  One of the more memorable explorations of that area, in my experience, has been David Pownall`s play Master Class (not to be confused with Terrence McNally`s entirely different play of the same name).