In 1927 Bertrand Russell delivered a lecture "Why I am not A Christian", was later published as a pamphlet, these days it is part of his collection of essays, one reason for this perhaps is that the work is tiny. In Philip Roth's 2008 novel, Indignation, he quotes Bertrand Russell, directly from the Russell lecture, so it would seem: "Do you think that, if you were granted omnipotence and omniscience and millions of years in which to perfect your world, you could produce nothing better than the Ku Klux Klan or the Fascists?"
I read the lecture many years ago and the quote above does not seem entirely correct. Sure enough, the Russell lecture in a collection of his essays repeated the quote above. The original speech however had something missing, it had been 'edited', or rather censored in the true Orwellian sense. The original lecture, which I managed to see online, read: “Do you think that, if you were granted omnipotence and omniscience and millions of years in which to perfect your world, you could produce nothing better than the Ku Klux Klan, the Fascisti, and Mr. Winston Churchill?”
I should add Mr Roth is not to be accused of censoring out Churchill because he was quoting from a book, using the correct quote. It, of course, would be more useful if the author of Portnoy's Complaint had quoted from the original lecture but never mind. It remains disturbing that 45 years after an intellectual's death, his work can be censored.
Noam Chomsky, the Linguist and political theorist, for many years while Professor at MIT, had a large poster of Russell in his office. He held the British philosopher in very high regard. Bearing this in mind I emailed Chomsky. I asked him the following:
Bertrand Russell's 1927 lecture Why I am not a Christian contains the following comment, 'you could produce nothing better than the Ku Klux Klan, the Fascists and Mr. Winston Churchill;
I read the Allen Unwin edition some years ago. Philip Roth wrote in his novel, Indignation, quoting Russell from the same lecture, he writes, 'you could produce nothing better than the Ku Klux Klan or the Fascists’...omitting the Mr. Churchill. Since researching this I understand the 'Mr. Churchill' has been censored out in some editions. I have never known this to happen before, and am very concerned this could happen. My question to you is are you aware of this? If you were I would have expected you to document the fact,
He replied the following day:
Interesting. And “kafkaesque” is not a bad term for it. It does happen. It’s happened, for example, with some of Churchill’s awful speeches, purified in standard editions.
13th April, 2015