A false quote attributed to Aldous Huxley

Jean-François

New Member
Hi,

In my research work, I often see the following quite, attributed to Aldous Huxley in his seminal SciFi book Brave New World.

"The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of democracy, a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not dream of escape. A system of slavery where, through consumption and entertainment, slaves would love their servitude."​

But you won't find it there. You won't find it in any of his books. So the mystery remains.

On a French forum I read someone making the hypothesis that this text could come from the back cover of Brave New World. A text that would summarize Huxley's theme. But it remains a hypothesis.

I would love to see this one debunked. I also asked the same question in Quora here.

I guess this thread has some intersection with this one "Huxley & Faabian Society"
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The term "Perfect dictatorship" was popularized by Mario Vargas Llosa in 1990.

http://www.multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1993/10/mm1093_05.html

“ IN 1991, PERUVIAN NOVELIST MARIO VARGAS LLOSA scandalized the Mexican political establishment by describing Mexico as "the perfect dictatorship." "The perfect dictatorship is not communism, not the Soviet Union, not Cuba, but Mexico, because it is a camouflaged dictatorship," he argued. "It may not seem to be a dictatorship, but it has all of the characteristics of a dictatorship; the perpetuation, not of one person, but of an irremovable party, a party that allows sufficient space for criticism, provided such criticism serves to maintain the appearance of a democratic party, but which suppresses by all means, including the worst, whatever criticism may threaten its perpetuation in power."”
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I suspect the fake Huxley quote is a corruption of that.

Here's a more detailed account of what Vargas Llosa said in 1990, in Spanish:
http://eleconomista.com.mx/mexicanos-grito/2010/10/07/vargas-llosa-provocador

We know the Huxley quote is fake because it does not appear on the internet before 2014, and of course does not appear in Brave New World. It is quite possible that it appears in a modern edition in the introduction or notes written by someone else. The word "dictator" does not appear in the actual text, but in my edition it does occur in the end material:


But if this were so, I'd suspect the usage of "The perfect dictatorship" would still date back to Vargas Llosa

The general concept of "A system of slavery where, through consumption and entertainment, slaves would love their servitude" dates back to Juvenal, back in Roman times:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_circuses
"Bread and circuses" (or bread and games; from Latin: panem et circenses) is metonymic for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the generation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace,[1] as an offered "palliative." Its originator, Juvenal, used the phrase to decry the selfishness of common people and their neglect of wider concerns.[2][3][4] The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the commoner.
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deirdre

Senior Member.
? not sure what this is really:


Brave New Worldwould also delineate what the perfect dictatorship would look like. It would have the appearance of a democracy, but would basically be a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not even dream of escaping. It would essentially be, as Aldous Huxley tells us, a system of slavery where, through entertainment and consumption the slaves “would love their servitude” http://www.egs.edu/library/aldous-huxley/biography/
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
? not sure what this is really:
Brave New Worldwould also delineate what the perfect dictatorship would look like. It would have the appearance of a democracy, but would basically be a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not even dream of escaping. It would essentially be, as Aldous Huxley tells us, a system of slavery where, through entertainment and consumption the slaves “would love their servitude” http://www.egs.edu/library/aldous-huxley/biography/
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That seems very likely it. Huxley's actual words behind that "would love their servitude" were probably from a letter he wrote to George Orwell about 1984.


Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.

Huxley, Aldous (2014-07-01). Brave New World . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
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Jean-François

New Member
Wow. I feel quite impressed by the sources you just pointed to so quickly and efficiently. This opens new horizons.

Now what "stabilized" this quote that we can find everywhere on the net, including in documentaries, as a text from Brave New World? I feel quite interested in this phenomenon. I guess understanding it for this quote may lead to a more global understanding of the phenomenon.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
From an interview he gave, this is quite close

http://pulsemedia.org/2009/02/02/aldous-huxley-the-ultimate-revolution/
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Aldous Huxley
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EDIT: Although that quote (or anything like it) does not appear in the transcript, so I'm not sure exactly where it is from
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Hi,

In my research work, I often see the following quite, attributed to Aldous Huxley in his seminal SciFi book Brave New World.

"The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of democracy, a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not dream of escape. A system of slavery where, through consumption and entertainment, slaves would love their servitude."​

But you won't find it there. You won't find it in any of his books. So the mystery remains.

On a French forum I read someone making the hypothesis that this text could come from the back cover of Brave New World. A text that would summarize Huxley's theme. But it remains a hypothesis.

I would love to see this one debunked. I also asked the same question in Quora here.

I see in the Quora link that it was suggested it was a version of

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”
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Yet that is also attributed to BNW. It is not found in my edition, but is in fact in the Foreword that Huxley wrote for the second edition in 1947
There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation, is not merely inhumane (nobody cares much about that nowadays), it is demonstrably inefficient and in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, news- paper editors and schoolteachers. But their methods are still crude and unscientific. The old Jesuits' boast that, if they were given the schooling of the child, they could answer for the man's religious opinions, was a product of wishful thinking. And the modern pedagogue is probably rather less efficient at conditioning his pupils' reflexes than were the reverend fathers who educated Voltaire. The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an "iron curtain" between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals. But silence is not enough. If persecution, liquidation and the other symptoms of social friction are to be avoided, the positive sides of propaganda must be made as effective as the negative. The most important Manhattan Projects of the future will be vast government-sponsored enquiries into what the politicians and the participating scientists will call "the problem of happiness" -- in other words, the problem of making people love their servitude. Without economic security, the love of servitude cannot possibly come into existence; for the sake of brevity, I assume that the all-powerful executive and its managers will succeed in solving the problem of permanent security. But security tends very quickly to be taken for granted. Its achievement is merely a superficial, external revolution. The love of servitude cannot be established except as the result of a deep, personal revolution in human minds and bodies.
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He talked a lot about this topic, and give numerous interviews, and wrote many letters and essays - basically saying variants on the same thing. The fake quote could have arisen from any of them.

http://www.huxley.net/bnw-revisited/
The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people. His servitude is strictly objective.
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The older dictators fell because they could never supply their subjects with enough bread, enough circuses, enough miracles and mysteries. Nor did they possess a really effective system of mind-manipulation. In the past, free-thinkers and revolutionaries were often the products of the most piously orthodox education. This is not surprising. The methods employed by orthodox educators were and still are extremely inefficient. Under a scientific dictator education will really work -- with the result that most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution. There seems to be no good reason why a thoroughly scientific dictatorship should ever be overthrown.
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Jean-François

New Member
I can't thank you enough for the amazing research work you have done and kindly shared. Thank you so much Mick. If I can help in any way on other topics here, I will.

From all the material you provided I take on some core concepts, like the love for servitude, invisible walls, and the well known Roman concept of bread and games.
 

Lily Joy

New Member
Hi Jean-François,

I think the "quote" might actually come from the back cover of this book: http://www.syti.net/MeilleurDesMondes.html.
It appears almost word for word on the page, and was probably copied from the back cover.

This French edition of the book (1988) is available on amazon.fr (used book) for 1€: http://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/2266023101?redirect=true&ref_=s9_simh_co_p14_d0_i1
Unfortunately, back cover isn't shown. I tried to order it out of curiosity but it can't be delivered to Belgium, apparently.

According to your location, you might be able to get it ;-)
 

Lily Joy

New Member

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deirdre

Senior Member.
and was probably copied from the back cover
yea thats what i got.

Challenge, indictment, utopia world famous book, masterpiece of the early literature, Aldous Huxley has made one of the most lucid witnesses of our time.
"Today, the author had to write almost twenty years after the publication of his book, it seems feasible that this horror come upon us within a century.At least if we decline by then blow us to pieces ... We have a choice between two solutions: either a number of national totalitarian, militarized, having as root the terror of atomic bomb, and resulted in the destruction of civilization (or, if the war is limited, the perpetuation of militarism);or a single supranational totalitarianism, provoked by the social chaos resulting from technological progress." http://www.noosfere.org/icarus/livres/niourf.asp?numlivre=2146590820
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heres other editions if anyone wants to go through them. (back covers). http://www.noosfere.org/icarus/livres/Editionslivre.asp?NumItem=5029

but chances are that web page is just copying the popular quote. although nice to note they don't attribute the words to the author.
 

Lily Joy

New Member
I don't see how this is the word for word quote, Deirdre?

Quote questioned above is: ""The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of democracy, a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not dream of escape. A system of slavery where, through consumption and entertainment, slaves would love their servitude."

If you understand French, you will see that it appears almost word for word here: http://www.syti.net/MeilleurDesMondes.html
"Le "meilleur des mondes" décrit aussi ce que serait LA DICTATURE PARFAITE: une dictature qui AURAIT LES APPARENCES DE LA DÉMOCRATIE, UNE PRISON SANS MURS DONT LES PRISONNIERS NE SONGERAIENT PAS À S'ÉVADER. UN SYSTÈME D'ESCLAVAGE OÙ, GRÂCE À LA CONSOMMATION ET AU DIVERTISSEMENT, LES ESCLAVES "AURAIENT L'AMOUR DE LEUR SERVITUDE"..."

I sent an email to the webmaster of site sity.net and he says the text is just his description of the book, posted on that page, and was copy-pasted and spread as from Huxley. He also said another text from his website was later copy-pasted and attributed to Chomsky (from this page http://www.syti.net/Manipulations.html).

Besides, the fact that "songeraient" was translated literally with "dream" (rather inappropriate) would indicate "amateur" translation towards English.
 

Jean-François

New Member
Deirdre, Lily, thanks for your contribution. Everything points to the fact that the quote allocated to Huxley comes from some back cover, either in the French and English versions. Interesting to see how it becomes a "real" quote in the collective memory, as we see this quote everywhere on the net. Falsely allocated quotes (not to mention acts) proliferate on the Internet and shows in a live way how collective memory builds itself.
 

Marc D.

New Member
Besides, the fact that "songeraient" was translated literally with "dream" (rather inappropriate) would indicate "amateur" translation towards English.

Indeed. 'Songer' means 'dream', but 'songer à' means 'think of'. This alone is enough to determine that the quote attributed to Aldous Huxley is actually an amateur translation into English of the French blog entry found by Lily Joy.
 

Steven Kelly

New Member
I think Deirdre has the source that's closest to the original so far. Look at the differences in language usage, all in my opinion more like a native speaker: "A democracy", "not EVEN dream", "THE slaves". The other, more common, versions may have been translated into French and then back into English.

The earliest crawl of that page by the Wayback machine was May 2012 (http://web.archive.org/web/20120522190641/http://www.egs.edu/library/aldous-huxley/biography/), although it could of course have been there earlier. The next question is who wrote that page, and was it original.
 

Marc D.

New Member
I think Deirdre has the source that's closest to the original so far. Look at the differences in language usage, all in my opinion more like a native speaker: "A democracy", "not EVEN dream", "THE slaves". The other, more common, versions may have been translated into French and then back into English.

The text found by Deirdre is yet another amateur translation of the French text found by Lily Joy:
Le "meilleur des mondes" décrit aussi ce que serait la dictature parfaite: une dictature qui aurait les apparences de la démocratie, une prison sans murs dont les prisonniers ne songeraient pas à s'évader. Un système d'esclavage où, grâce la consommation et au divertissement, les esclaves "auraient l'amour de leur servitude"...

This is not a translation into French of a text by Huxley, but a commentary about 'Le Meilleur des mondes', the French translation of Huxley's 'Brave New World'.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The text found by Deirdre is yet another amateur translation of the French text found by Lily Joy
It doesnt matter if the European Graduate School or the syti site wrote it first. The syti page does go back to 2006.

The point is the OP quote seems to be from commentary about the book, which does closely follow Huxley's philosophy, rather than an exact quote from Huxley.




PS. And it isnt an amateur translation in either direction. "wouldn't even dream of" in English means "think of".
And i thought dream was rever. And think is penser.

Either way both languages are saying the same thing.
 

Steven Kelly

New Member
The text found by Deirdre is yet another amateur translation of the French text found by Lily Joy:

This is not a translation into French of a text by Huxley, but a commentary about 'Le Meilleur des mondes', the French translation of Huxley's 'Brave New World'.
I don't think we've established the order here: how do we know which is a translation of the other? In favour of a French original is that the French versions date back further, and there are 16 pages of Google results including the exact quote, as opposed to a few for the English quote. However, it is more likely in general that a French speaker will find English text and translate to French, than that two separate English speakers will find French text and translate to English.

What is however sure is that Lily Joy's syti link has the longest provenance so far on the Wayback Machine, dating back to 1 June 2002 (on a previous host), with that quote in the exact same form there: http://web.archive.org/web/20020601233307/http://perso.wanadoo.fr/metasystems/MeilleurDesMondes.html

There's a discussion on French on this exact same topic:
http://wiki.gentilsvirus.org/index....Mondes/Citation_faussement_attribuée_à_Huxley

It's interesting that the French on Lily Joy's syti page seems to contain a grammatical error: "grâce la consummation et au divertissement". Shouldn't that be "grâce à la..."? Almost all French pages maintain that error. There are other reliably dated quotes of it (sometimes explicitly citing that web page) dating back to at least 2005. That page is thus reliably attested as our oldest source so far.

However, it does not seem proven yet (only asserted) that the quote on that page was original: it could be from an earlier source (e.g. the back of a book), another language, or even from Huxley himself. Such a source would of course be pre-2002, and thus unlikely to show up on Google.

I went through all the back cover texts included on the page Deirdre referenced ("heres other editions if anyone wants to go through them. (back covers). http://www.noosfere.org/icarus/livres/Editionslivre.asp?NumItem=5029 "), and none had the quote or anything like it.
 

Marc D.

New Member
And i thought dream was rever. And think is penser.

'Songer' used to mean either 'dream' or 'think' (the second sense being derived from the first one). Nowadays, it is only used in the form 'songer à' and only means 'think of'. The old meaning is still understood, though, because the noun 'songe' is still used as a synonym of 'rêve' ('dream') in a literary context. Hence a French translator may be tempted to translate 'songer à' into 'dream of' or 'even dream of', although that exaggerates the original meaning, while translating 'dream of' or 'even dream of' into 'songer à' would not be expected at all. This is a strong point in favour of a French origin to this false quote, in my opinion. I am a native French speaker and a professional EN>FR translator with many years of experience, by the way.

I actually think the 2002 text (wanadoo.fr) is a paraphrase of some sentences as they appear in the French translation of 'Brave New World'. It would be interesting to find this French translation and the sentences that were paraphrased or summarised. As I see it, we have a group of sentences by Aldous Huxley in English, then the French translation, then the French paraphrase on the blog, then two or more translations into English of the French paraphrase, trying to pass for actual quotes.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
I actually think the 2002 text (wanadoo.fr) is a paraphrase of some sentences as they appear in the French translation of 'Brave New World'. It would be interesting to find this French translation and the sentences that were paraphrased or summarised. As I see it, we have a group of sentences by Aldous Huxley in English, then the French translation, then the French paraphrase on the blog, then two or more translations into English of the French paraphrase, trying to pass for actual quotes
yea. i think the quote is a paraphrase of Huxleys general philosophy (as Mick has shown above) whether in English or French.

I am a native French speaker and a professional EN>FR translator with many years of experience, by the way.
yes i can tell you are a native french speaker. "He wouldnt dream of it" in english means "he would never think of doing it". Now i'm not saying the syti guy knows this of course. If he doesnt know 'dream of' means the same as 'ponder', then i agree he probably would have chosen a different word. How would you translate 'ponder'?

But since you dont seem to understand the English use of the phrase "dream of", i think that helps show the syti guy may not know either.

i read yesterday he has like 10 million 'followers', so i think its reasonable to assume that they spread the quote around and the EGS writer reused it himself. or the EGS guy reads syti's blog himself, since neither of them attribute the thoughts to Huxley as a direct quote.
 

Volatile Dais

New Member
I signed up here to un-bunk this quote, but Fabinho Zooker has linked the reference of the said quote.

Huxley did speak words to this effect & though verbatim is often lost when people reference audio visual (not written text), this is not a myth, this was a potential future Huxley laid out for western society.

I love this interview & often refer to the words said, but again, verbatim is lost or tough to reference in less formal or impromptu settings.

A slight misquote is surely best stated as such opposed to written off?

Regards & thanks admins for this useful site.
Glad to have stumbled into this while seeking the text to the video linked by Fabinho.
 
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Rory

Senior Member.

I must be missing the point here. I don't hear those words at all in this video. Though some of the sentiment, for sure.

Here's what Huxley says:
HUXLEY: Well, to start with, I think this kind of dictatorship of the future, I think will be very unlike the dictatorships which we've been familiar with in the immediate past. I mean, take another book prophesying the future, which was a very remarkable book, George Orwell's "1984."

Well, this book was written at the height of the Stalinist regime, and just after the Hitler regime, and there he foresaw a dictatorship using entirely the methods of terror, the methods of physical violence. Now, I think what is going to happen in the future is that dictators will find, as the old saying goes, that you can do everything with bayonets except sit on them!

WALLACE: (LAUGHS)

HUXLEY: But, if you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled, and this they will do partly by drugs as I foresaw in "Brave New World," partly by these new techniques of propaganda.

They will do it by bypassing the sort of rational side of man and appealing to his subconscious and his deeper emotions, and his physiology even, and so, making him actually love his slavery.

I mean, I think, this is the danger that actually people may be, in some ways, happy under the new regime, but that they will be happy in situations where they oughtn't to be happy.

https://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/video/2008/wallace/huxley_aldous_t.html
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Nauldian

New Member
Hi,

In my research work, I often see the following quite, attributed to Aldous Huxley in his seminal SciFi book Brave New World.

"The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of democracy, a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not dream of escape. A system of slavery where, through consumption and entertainment, slaves would love their servitude."​

But you won't find it there. You won't find it in any of his books. So the mystery remains.

On a French forum I read someone making the hypothesis that this text could come from the back cover of Brave New World. A text that would summarize Huxley's theme. But it remains a hypothesis.

I would love to see this one debunked. I also asked the same question in Quora here.

I guess this thread has some intersection with this one "Huxley & Faabian Society"

When Brave New World was first published in 1931 Huxley did not consider the dystopian world he depicted to be an imminent threat. Thirty years later however, following the Second World War, the spread of totalitarianism, and the great strides made in science and technology, Huxley changed his opinion and in a speech given in 1961, he put forth the following warning:

This is where the quote is from...
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” (Aldous Huxley, Tavistock Group, California Medical School, 1961)
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Rory

Senior Member.
That's nice work, digging that up, and it certainly contains many of the same words, themes, and sentiments.

That said, it's still not the same quote.
 

LREKing

New Member
The emphasis on pharmacology certainly makes sense if he were addressing a medical school.

But [maybe OT here] he was also wrong. From ancient alcohol, to the "mother's little helpers" of the late '50s (e.g., Miltown) and the Quaaludes of the disco era, to whatever people are using/abusing today (opioids?), regular use can result in dependency, addiction and/or other unwanted side effects. Such drugs may allow one to avoid anger and anxiety for a while, but thus far there has always been a cost to mucking about with body chemistry. What he appears to be describing is still science fiction.

And it hasn't been the government that has done this, but capitalism. The government is always playing catch-up.
 

SoccerDad

New Member
Do you have a source link for your quote, because everything i'm seeing links back to InfoWars.
This is an interesting one for sure....stumbled upon Metabunk as a result of looking for the source as it's not in the Berkeley speech in 1962 as is almost universally claimed. It's curious to me that so many articles and such would claim as a source a talk that anyone can listen to, that's only 40ish min long (with 30ish more for the subsequent Q&A), that anyone can hear/read does not have this passage as part of it.

The passage is from a speech Huxley gave in 1959, not 1962, although the topic and tone share many similarities which perhaps exacerbates the source confusion. Further, the title is the 'Final Revolution' whereas the Berkeley talk is referred to as the 'Ultimate Revolution'.

According to the transcript:
"This lecture was given at a symposium named “A Pharmacologic Approach to the Study of the Mind” which was held at the University of California's San Francisco Medical Center on Jan. 25-27, 1959."
(https://brobjerg.net/docs/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/19590126Thefinalrevolution.pdf)

The passage in question is found on page 8, middle paragraph.

The audio can be found here:
http://digital2.library.ucla.edu/viewItem.do?ark=21198/zz002b1gsb

and the passage in question around the 40:07 mark.

Hope this helps! :)
 
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