Letter 085, pg. 3
living.” I say you have not gone far enough. I dispute with you or anyone who holds that politicians or social workers are not necessarily less honorable, less kindly then [sic] the men who make their own living. I say that humanitarians are parasites, in principle and in fact, since they are primarily concerned with distribution, not with production, that is, with distributing what they have not produced. Parasites are neither honorable nor kindly. So it shocked me to read you, a great industrialist, saying in self-justification that you are just as good as a social worker. You are not. You are much better. But you will never prove it until we have a new code of values.
You say in your book: “Tolerance for socialistic propaganda has increased in this country because Americans who know better have not sufficiently resisted the idea that a man with payroll responsibilities is necessarily less of a humanitarian than people of prominence without such responsibility.” No, that is not true. It was because the men with payroll responsibilities felt it necessary to apologize for themselves as “humanitarians.” It was because we accepted altruism as an ideal and the title of “humanitarian” as a brand of virtue.
You speak of “a conception that is the rotten core in all of the New Deal thinking: that because a man is obliged to make his own living, he therefore becomes somewhat less honorable than people who do not have to make a living.” If we accept altruism as an ideal, this “rotten core” is completely logical: since it is nobler to “serve” than to produce, the man free to dedicate himself to some sort of humanitarian “serving” is nobler than the man who is producing. Where is the basic and vicious error? In the conception of service to others as a primary virtue.
We cannot save the system of free enterprise while we ourselves hold the moral beliefs of its enemies. We cannot save it without a complete and consistent philosophy of individualism. A militant and inspiring philosophy, not an apologetic one. Altruism by its very nature is a collectivist principle. If we accept the moral law that man must live for others—we have accepted collectivism, and all the practical consequences will follow inevitably.
You have come very close to the truth in your book, when you chose the Right to Work as your basic theme, as the thing to be defended. It is the creator’s first right. But it cannot be defended, except as an individual right to be exercised for the individual’s own sake. If collectivism is our moral code—why shouldn’t society tell a man how he must work? If service to others is his