Letter 087, pg. 3
in some way. Their own success drove them to their own destruction.
We must define, understand and accept Individualism as a moral law, and Capitalism as its practical and proper expression. If we don’t—capitalism cannot be saved. If it is not saved—we’re finished, all of us, America and the world and every man, woman and child in it. Then nothing will be left but the cave and the club.
Look at the tempo of destruction around us. An idea is responsible for that—a fatally erroneous idea. An idea can stop it—a true one. How fast or how well will depend on the quality of the men who understand it and on what they do about it. But humanity cannot start to recover until the idea and direction of recovery become clear to them. Men do live through their minds. Everything we are and have comes from men’s thinking. Only an idea can save us.
This, briefly, will be the content and purpose of my book.
It will be a short book, actually a booklet, the kind that would sell for a dollar, I suppose. About fifty thousand words or less. The idea of “The Fountainhead” must be stated in non-fiction form—to stand on its own as an idea—more completely than it could be stated in a novel, without the distraction of a story and a plot. It will not, of course, interfere with “The Fountainhead” in any way. In fact, I think it would help the sale of “The Fountainhead.” Take notice of the reviewers who said that “The Fountainhead” could “change the life of anyone who read it.” I am now getting fan letters to that effect—readers speak of the difference “The Fountainhead” has made in their entire view of life. But the idea must be given the complete statement—particularly as applied to the sociological and economic realm—which most readers cannot make for themselves. And those who have not read “The Fountainhead” might be prompted to read it once they hear and understand the idea on which it is based. They might be baffled by the conception of a non-altruistic man as a noble, virtuous and heroic being. They might not be able to visualize him for themselves. Well—let them read about Howard Roark. In this way the novel and the booklet will complement each other.
Two years ago, I wrote a thirty-two page article called “The Individualist Manifesto.” It was not written for publication, but as an appeal to all individualists to unite for the preservation of our capitalist system. It stated briefly the ideas outlined above. I sent a few typewritten copies to prominent men. The response amazed me. Everyone who read it asked my permission to