To Isabel Paterson [Letter 152]

Item Reference Code: 145_PA6_003_001

Date(s) of creation

February 28, 1948


Isabel Paterson


[Page 1]
February 28, 1948

Dear Pat:

To answer you point by point: I hope you will do something, to whichever extent you want or can, about helping the boy friends to start the “Think Magazine”. I don’t think it would be “cutting in on my prestige for another purpose” if you use my name in speaking to Mr. Shuster. I believe that this kind of “using” is quite proper, because you would say what is true. I am most eagerly in favor of such a magazine, so if my interest is any sort of inducement to Mr. Shuster, it is proper to tell him so. But you are the best judge of how you want to approach this, so I will leave it up to you.

I believe it is significant that Mrs. Patterson was able to understand the importance of what you told her about the magazine. I think people generally are beginning to understand the need and importance of abstract ideas, but God knows they are too dreadfully slow about it. Now it is only a question of finding somebody who would understand and do something about it.

In regard to the news about the movie of THE FOUNTAINHEAD, yes, it is true, they may go into production now. Confidentially, the fact is that they are now in the state of figuring out the budget, and they will decide within a week or so whether they can afford to produce the picture immediately. So far they have signed a director and a star for it. The director is King Vidor, who is very good. I don’t know him personally, but he is said to be a conservative. The star is Gary Cooper, and I am delighted about that, because of all the stars, he is my choice for Roark. His physical appearance is exactly right—he looks like Frank.

Now as to your discussion of the conception of “need” in relation to my theory of individualism, I can’t argue about it very much, because I did not understand your exposition. I see no connection between it and my theory.

[Page 2]

You have always said that words should mean just exactly what they say, no more and no less. So when I said that “He needed nobody,” I meant that he did not need anybody, and not that he was trying to prove that he could do without. And when I used the word “need”, I did not mean “communication” with other people. I spent 400,000 words defining and illustrating just exactly what sort of need I meant.

I was stopped by your sentence, “The baby sees that the world is there already, on which it intends to exercise its rights.” I cannot conceive of exercising any rights on another human being. One of the cardinal points of my theory is a basic differentiation between a man’s relation to inanimate matter and to other men.

If somebody asked me “What in the world would you have done without Frank?,” I would never answer, “Why in the world should I have done without him?” I would consider such an answer an evasion of the issue. The question, “What would you have done without him,” does not imply that I should have done without him. The question says just exactly what it says. My answer would be: “I would have had a much harder and much more unhappy struggle.”

Also, my tongue would not turn to say such a thing as “I got my rights” in relation to Frank. I had no right on Frank whatever. I had no claim on him of any kind except whatever he wanted to grant me. A grant is not a right. I have the right to get married—provided the man involved is willing. My consent to the marriage is my right—but Frank’s consent is not my right. No right of mine constitutes an obligation on any man living. If I say that it was my specific right that Frank should marry me, it would amount to saying that he had to marry me. God help us both if we were on such a premise!

I strongly suspect that we are not discussing the same theory or the same problem. We could probably discuss it better in person, and it would probably take us from dinner to breakfast. When the time comes and if you are interested, I am willing.

No special news about myself. Frank and Albert [Mannheimer] have both read my last chapter this week, and their reaction was simply wonderful. Albert said it is the best chapter so far and I think so, too. As the story progresses, I am amazed by the extent to which it is possible to make business and economic matters dramatic

[Page 3]

and human in terms of fiction, not in terms of an economic treatise. I knew that that was to be my main problem in this novel, and I knew that it could be done, but I did not realize to what extent.

I am not too good at making predictions about the reception of my novel, but I will venture one: I think that the most disgusting opposition to it will come, not from Pinks, but from businessmen of the N.A.M. type. They’ll say I am too extreme. I am unequivocally opposed to seeing their throats cut, and they will never forgive me for that.

I believe I told you the story told me by Henry Hazlitt about the lady financial expert who said in a radio broadcast, “Of course, I am for free enterprise—but not for free free enterprise.” I think this is the classic statement of the century. I choose it as my nomination for the most monstrous words ever uttered, because it contains the whole rottenness of our age. Please give me a corner of the hell which you are preparing for “practical men”—I want to put there the people who are not for free free enterprise.

I think this will be enough—if I close on such an angry note, it will probably please you.

Love from both of us (without needs or rights—just voluntary love)


P.S. I let Frank read your letter and my answer. He is glowing over being the subject of a philosophical issue.