Railing on Rand Again

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Ayn Rand does provide much fodder for academics.

“It’s easy to see why no one in academia wants to spend any time with Rand,” Jessica Hurley, a doctoral candidate from Penn, said at the Modern Language Association (MLA) 2013 meeting in Boston. “Her prose is turgid, her books are long, really long. You have to agree, as well, with her love of selfishness, hatred of altruism, rejection of compassion and altruism, embrace of selfishness and altruism.”

Before dismissing Rand, readers unfamiliar with her work should check out:

• Her first novel, We the Living;
• Her Playboy interview; and
• Her testimony before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.

In all of the above, she was testifying about the two subjects she knew and understood best:

• The Soviet Union; and
• Herself.

Rand’s understanding of capitalism is, at best, conceptual. There is not a businessman, small or large, who does not judge his success or failure by his ability to meet payroll. Hurley went on to dismiss the TEA party. Despite her assertions, TEA partiers are not necessarily, as a rule or generally, Randians. They hunger for information and read a lot but Rand takes a back seat, and far to the rear at that, to the Framers, with whom the author of Atlas Shrugged, in turn, is not completely in sync. I’ve been to many a rally, right and left, in my 53 years on the planet and find the intellectual curiosity of the TEA partiers sets them apart from activists from across the ideological spectrum.

As well, compassion does not assume superiority on the part of the compassionate (as Hurley posited). To Christians,“There but for the grace of God go I” is the ethos. One of my Facebook friends posted a post that put it this way: “Never look down on anyone. Only God sits that high.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.