Greg Salmieri makes some fine points in his post Another Critic Who Doesn’t Care What Rand Thought or Why She Thought It, Only That She’s Wrong:

Cummins still gets Rand wrong on a number of points, and I think she does so because she isn’t really interested in getting her right. This is a common problem when people write about those whom they regard as ideological enemies. They come at the enemy’s texts with a preconceived idea of what she thinks, why she thinks it, and how her view can be refuted; and then they look for passages that cohere with this, rather than approaching the texts with the question “What does this person think and why?” Cummins has Rand pigeon-holed as a thinker of a certain sort, who occupies a certain foolish position in a familiar debate about egoism and altruism, and she shows no interest in testing that hypothesis, or (better) in putting the hypothesis aside temporarily to see what emerges from a straightforward reading of the texts. This is a mistake we all have to work hard not to fall into when addressing authors whose views we regard as opposite to our own.

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Such pieces are vehicles through which those who find Rand distasteful can commiserate with one another and preen over their own erudition, without engaging people who think differently or contributing to any productive inquiry. Sure, there’s some combing through a few of Rand’s articles to find passages to gripe about, and there may even occasionally be decent arguments about stray points, but there isn’t any real intellectual engagement—no attempt to identify and evaluate the theses, arguments, and themes that so many readers find enlightening and inspiring in Rand’s works. The frequency of such gripes, especially in the last several years, attests to the enduring place Rand has earned in American thought. It is high time that those who find her ideas uncongenial accept this fact and begin treating her accordingly.

Radicals for Capitalism

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