Letter 085, pg. 2
his productive work. This is his primary concern. His creative capacity is his highest virtue. But we have been taught that the highest virtue is to give, not to achieve. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution—or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. The creator stands above any humanitarian.
Before one can do things for people, one must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, one must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. One's own action, not any possible object of one's charity. The creative man, the producer, is never concerned primarily with other people nor with any humanitarian desire to “serve.” He is concerned with his work. The exercise of his creative faculty is his only motive.
It is true that the real benefactors of mankind have been the creative, productive men. No humanitarian ever has or can equal the benefits men received from a Thomas Edison or a Henry Ford. But the creator is not concerned with these benefits; they are secondary consequences. He considers his work, not love or service of others, as his primary goal in life. Thomas Edison was not concerned with the poor people in the slums who would get electric light. He was concerned with the light. You were not concerned with the poor people who benefit from better and cheaper steel. You were concerned with steel work. This is eloquent in every word of your book. It is the best, noblest thing in your book and in your life. You were never moved by any altruistic motive of service—and more honor to you for that—when you created Republic Steel or Vultee Aircraft. You were moved by a simple, personal, selfish and noble love for your own work. That is the only truly moral motive and the greatest virtue. The profit motive is merely its expression—the physical means by which one gains the freedom of one’s work and function. Why then should you have to justify yourself on any grounds other than the truth? Why should you apologize for it with moral excuses borrowed from the parasites? You seek your justification in the fact that the industries you created are now saving civilization. That is true. They are. But it must never be offered as a prime justification. The prime justification is the right of creative genius to create. Not service to humanity.
You say in your book: “I dispute with anyone who holds that men such as Mr. Taft—or President Roosevelt—are necessarily more honorable men, more kindly men, less selfish men, because they were born under no obligation to make a