July 20, 1941
Mr. Channing Pollock
Shoreham, Long Island
Dear Mr. Pollock:
Here is the letter of Mr. Eames which you sent me.[*] I am afraid that Mr. Eames missed the point and did not understand the nature of our proposed organization at all. We would not compete with or duplicate any other organization. What we want to do is not being done by anyone, and the need for it is desperate.
Here are the main points:
1. Our side has no “ideology”, no clear-cut, consistent system of belief, no philosophy of life. Merely to claim to be defenders of the “American Way” is not enough. It is a generality which is being used by everybody and anybody for all sorts of purposes. What organization of our side has defined a concrete ideology of Americanism? None. The first aim of our organization will be intellectual and philosophical—not merely political and economic. We will give people a faith—a positive, clear and consistent system of belief. Who has done that? Certainly not the N. M. A.[**] They—and all other organizations—are merely fighting for the system of private enterprise and their entire method consists of teaching and clarifying the nature of that system. It is good work, but it is not enough. We want to go deeper than that. We want to teach people, not what the system of private enterprise is, but why we all should believe in it and fight for it. We want to provide a spiritual, ethical, philosophical groundwork for the belief in the system of private enterprise. The Communists do not owe their success merely to booklets on the economics of Communism. They provide, first, an intellectual justification—a faith in collective action, in unlimited majority power, in a general, levelling equality, in “unselfishness,” “service,” etc. What are the intellectual justifications for our side? What are our moral values? Who has defined it? Who is preaching philosophical individualism? No one. And if it is not preached, economic individualism will not survive. Who could possibly acquire a new faith, a sense of spiritual security, of idealism and dedication out of N.M.A. literature? No one—least of all the N.M.A.
That is not the purpose of their work. Their propaganda is strictly and exclusively economic, and they are doing a very good job—as far as it goes. But we must go farther.
2. There is no mass membership organization of our side. All of them—including the N.M.A.—merely ask people to contribute money. That is why the average citizen takes no interest in any of them. People want to be active, to do something concrete for our cause—and no one gives them anything to do. You recall the almost desperate plea in the letters you received in answer to your lectures. “Please tell us what to do!”—that is the mood of the people. When it is answered merely by “send us a check,” no wonder that people turn away, indifferent and disheartened. The subversive organizations, the Communists and the Nazis, go out after mass membership, enroll people and give them a concrete program of activity for their cause. Who is doing that on our side? Yet that is what the people need and want. As witness—the tremendous response of volunteers in the Willkie campaign. The people are with us, but they must have leadership that offers them a concrete program of personal, individual activity. That is what our organization would do.
3. There is no organization of our side in the intellectual field. And there are hundreds of Leftist groups. As witness—the collectivist trend in all the arts and in all the avenues of public expression. Who has done anything to stop it? Our organization would make it possible for anti-collectivist thought, art and literature to be presented and heard—which is practically impossible now.
These are only the main points. As to the N.M.A.—Mr. Gall, who is one of its most influential leaders, did not think that we would duplicate their work. Quite the contrary. He told me he has known for a long time that the program I proposed to him, the program of our organization, is precisely what is needed and needed desperately, but the N.M.A. itself, by its very nature, could not undertake it. He realized that it must be an intellectual organization—not one exclusively of manufacturers. And he is working now to help us get financial backing. He sent me most of their literature. It is excellent material—for school children interested in economics. No more than that.
And we’re aiming much, much beyond that.
Well, I think, this should answer Mr. Eames.
With best regards,
*A. W. Eames was president of California Packing Corporation.
**Although AR types this acronym as “N.M.A.” throughout this letter, the last paragraph makes it clear that she was referring to the N.A.M., the National Association of Manufacturers, to which John Gall was connected.