To Burt MacBride [Letter 254]

Item Reference Code: 143_MAx_016_001

Date(s) of creation

August 30, 1946


Burt MacBride


[Page 1]

August 30, 1946 

Mr. Burt MacBride
The Reader’s Digest
Pleasantville, New York

Dear Burt MacBride: 

Thank you for your interesting letter. I still don’t agree with you on what you consider the proper way of fighting Communism, but I don’t want to engage you in another long argument. 

However, since you say that my explanation has given you “a new slant on the subject”, I must warn you against a grave mistake, as I don’t want to be responsible for a mistake of this nature. You propose to claim that there is no such thing as Communism. Actually, what exists in Russia is Communism—it is the only way in which Communism can ever work in practice—it is the only way in which it will always work, no matter who attempts it or where—and it is completely consistent with the basic philosophical premises of Communism, though not with the superficial slogans of the Communists. If you claim that Russia is not a Communistic state but a perversion of Communism, you will merely reaffirm to people that Communism is a noble ideal, but Russia has betrayed it. 

You say: “The countless persons who are trying to overthrow our system aren’t idealists or moralists at all.” I didn’t say they were. They are the product of the wrong kind of idealists and moralists. And it is the wrong kind of idealism and morality—or rather, perverted and corrupted remnants of a moral sense—that make people tolerate the contemptible gangsters who are trying to overthrow our system. If it weren’t for the morality of altruism, nobody would tolerate those people and their attempts for one minute. And until the morality of altruism is blasted out of people’s minds, nothing will save us from Communism in one form or another. 

No, I don’t think that the job of exposing the fallacy of altruism would be difficult or would take long. No honest, competent or intelligent person has ever lived by the principles of altruism. None has ever believed it. It is not a matter of teaching them something new, but a matter of giving statement and voice to what the best of mankind has always believed, but never found words for. You would be surprised how quickly it can be done, and what the results would be. Again, I refer you to the spontaneous public response to THE FOUNTAINHEAD. 

[Page 2]
Page 2     Mr. Burt MacBride     August 30, 1946

No, it is not as late as you think. It is merely very early—in the age of the rebirth of Individualism. 

With best regards.



Ayn Rand