October 25, 1946
Mrs. Rose Wilder Lane
R 4, Box 42
Dear Rose Wilder Lane:
By all means, you are free to tell anyone you wish that you have received a copy of my letter to Mr. Mullendore—and free even to quote it in your review, if you wish, in your own name or in mine, as you prefer.
The reason I asked you to keep the letter confidential was only in regard to your publication. I didn’t want to have any accusations against Leonard Read quoted in print until he had seen it. But now he has seen it, and I am extremely indignant about his attitude, as I learn it from your letter. When Mr. Mullendore came back from New York, he sent me a note stating that he had shown my letter to Leonard Read, and that Leonard agreed that his booklet was a mistake, but he did not agree with me that it was as fatal and crucial as I considered it to be. Now, the disgusting and inexcusable thing is their writing to you that you and I accuse them of being Communists, “making no attempt to substantiate such a charge”. (Incidentally, I didn’t accuse them of being Communists. I accused them of publishing a communist booklet, which it is.)
I think I had better tell you the whole story of what makes me so indignant against Read personally. Since he had always told me that he considered me one of the best and most strict authorities on the proper philosophy of our side, and since he admired my ability to see when our cause had been given away by implication, I offered him before he started the Foundation to serve as an unofficial editor for all his publications—without pay, of course. He was to send me everything he intended to publish, in manuscript, and I was to mark every passage that betrayed our cause in any way, and then give him my detailed reasons for considering it objectionable. In this way I was to protect him from publishing anything improper, and at the same time educate him and his associates to a better understanding of our proper philosophical line. This was agreed between us, and both he and I referred to me as the Foundation’s “ghost”.
The last time he was here, he told me he was sorry that he had not sent me the manuscript of his first book, as he had not had time to do it, but all future publications would come to me first. And the next thing I know I receive the printed copy of “Roofs or Ceilings?” with a rather
Page 2 Mrs. Rose Wilder Lane October 25, 1946
offensive letter from Leonard, offensive in that it had a kidding tone in which he told me that he had had trouble with his authors, but that all passages betraying our cause had been eliminated. There was, of course, no reference to our agreement.
That is why I did not want to send him a long detailed analysis of the booklet, but I did write it for Mr. Mullendore. I saw no point in forcing my opinion on Read after the booklet was published, since he had chosen not to ask my opinion, for his own protection, as we had agreed. In view of this and in view of the fact that he has seen my letter to Mullendore, which is more than an article in itself, I can say nothing except that his attitude is dishonest, unfair and disgusting if he or Watts write to you that I am making charges “without attempting to substantiate them”.[*]
I would suggest, of course, that you keep Mr. Mullendore’s name out of it (if you quote the letter in print), because he has behaved very honorably, and he does agree with us, but you may quote me against the booklet in any way you see fit.
I am hurrying to send this off to you, so I won’t attempt to answer the many interesting philosophical points in your letter to me of October 11th, which I should like to take up in detail at the first opportunity. It will be a long philosophical discussion between us.
But let me thank you for the third mention of ANTHEM in the last issue of your Review. I won’t attempt to tell you now how much I appreciate your attitude toward ANTHEM, but I would like to thank you for it in person some day.
*In her response of October 29, 1946, Lane told AR that “it was not Leonard who wrote me; it was Orval Watt[s], extremely angry.” B. Orval Watts was an economist at the Foundation for Economic Education.