Channing Pollock (1880–1946) was a successful Broadway writer, responsible for such shows as the Ziegfeld Follies of 1911, 1915 and 1921 and other plays, many of which were turned into films.
March 7, 1941
Mr. Channing Pollock
600 West End Avenue
New York City
Dear Mr. Pollock:
Thank you for your letter and the copy of “What Can We Do For Democracy?” which you sent me. It was an intellectual treat for me to read your lecture. One has so few occasions nowadays to see in print ideas such as yours—and so well expressed.
I was very glad to hear that you approved of my “To All Innocent Fifth Columnists”.[*] And I shall be only too happy if you find that you can use any of it in your lectures—with or without credit. I do not care at all about credit, but I care tremendously to have these ideas spread in every possible manner.
I realize the difficulties that would confront you if you headed a national organization [upholding individualism] such as I have in mind. But my plan would not necessarily burden you with a big administrative job. Your contribution would be “ideological” or intellectual guidance, at the head of a committee somewhat on the order of the Advisory Board which you suggest in “What Can We Do For Democracy?” Since our “ideology” (I hate the word, but it’s the most expressive one to convey my meaning) would be very much in line with that of your lectures, your work on such a committee would demand some time and thought, but no additional writing or research or slackening of your own writing and lecturing activities. The executive and administrative side of the organization could be turned over to other men—under the guidance of the committee.
The first problem, of course, would be to select the members of this committee. If, upon further consideration, you find that you are willing to make an attempt toward an organization of this kind, I would ask you to think over the names of those whom you consider the right people for the
directing committee. I am firmly convinced that if we could get together—as you suggested in our conversation—about fifty men of good reputation and standing in their various professions, who share our political convictions—the most important step would be accomplished right there. I am still enthusiastic and, perhaps, naive enough to believe that the groundword for the entire program of the organization could be laid out at one such meeting (probably a long one).
If you find time on your lecture tour to write to me and send me the names of these men, I will go to see them, and I am very willing to do all the explaining, contacting, arranging and general running around. I can get any number of young people to do all the “ground” work. But if I proceed with these young people on our own, you realize what a long time it would take to achieve the effectiveness which a committee of prominent men would give us.
I am sending this letter special delivery in order that it may reach you before you leave. I wish you great success on your tour and I know that there are a great, great many people left in America who will appreciate the ideas you represent.
Thank you for your courtesy and understanding,
*“To All Innocent Fifth Columnists” was AR’s 5,000-word critique of those whose silence aids collectivism. (“The totalitarians in this country do not want your active support . . . . All they want from you is indifference.”) It has been published in Journals of Ayn Rand, ed. David Harriman (Penguin: New York, 1997).