Wednesday, July 26, 2006

James Valliant on Henry Holzer

We are still in chapter 3, where Valliant discusses the claim that Rand was an authoritarian. One of the people Rand "broke" with was her attorney Henry Mark Holzer. Valliant suggests that Rand's splits with people (to the extent they were splits as opposed to just drifting apart) concerned ideological disagreements. He says it is "clear" that philosophical splits were emerging with people, even if it is "not entirely clear" that these differences were the "proximate cause" of the split.

Turing to Mr. Holzer, Valliant suggests that their split might have had something to do with Holzer's belief in strict construction of the constitution. Rand, Valliant tells us, had a more flexible approach to constitutional interpretation. (page 74.)

That's about all that Valliant says. There are two footnotes to the paragraph in question (numbers 52 & 53).

Footnote 52 refererences Holzer's book Sweet Land of Liberty? where Valliant notes that Holzer didn't agree with the "right to privacy" underlying such decisions as Roe v. Wade.

Footnote 53 references:

1. Rand's Marginalia at pages 203-205;

2. An article by Harry Binswanger concerning the Bowers v. Hardwick decision (a 1986 Supreme Court case in which the court uplheld a state's right to criminalize sodomy); and

3. Stephen Macedo's 1986 book The New Right v. the Constitution.

I don't have Holzer's and Macedo's books, but from their titles I doubt they contain information on the Rand/Holzer relationship. Certainly Rand's Marginalia and Binswanger's article don't.

In fairness to Mr. Valliant, he doesn't claim to know the reason for the split, but he leaves the impression that philosophy was an issue. Based on these footnotes it isn't "clear" to me that Holzer's judicial philosophy was a factor.


Anonymous said...

Um, er... what I wrote was that -- despite these emerging intellectual differences -- that it is "not entirely clear" that they were "the proximate cause" of the split, even though they would have justified such a split, in my view. As I also observe, it was not Rand who "broke" with him in any case, but Holzer who left Rand -- hardly an "excommunication" at all.

It's curious how on each one of these things, you fail to mention the full context, or even enough context to get what I was driving at... and THAT doesn't seem like a fair "methodolgy," either.

Neil Parille said...


I don't know why they split. My point was that the footnotes you provide don't give any evidence that it had to do with ideas as opposed to personalities.

Anonymous said...

And I never suggested otherwise.

You stretch so hard in some places, then narrow your focus to the micro in others... Really odd.

Now, I DID say that Rand WOULD HAVE been justified in breaking with him, but that's another matter, since she did not break with him at all. If, as is suggested from the material I cited, Holzer is opposed to the outcome of Roe v. Wade, then Rand, who supported it, would have been right to have publicly dissociated from him, if only for the sake of her intellectual integrity.

That's a big difference they had.

Anonymous said...

Let me just add: I assumed a familiarity with Rand's position on abortion rights, being so well-known. The footnotes are to demonstrate how serious is the difference, as well as the seriousness of Rand's position.

Neil Parille said...


I don't know what Holzer's view on abortion is/was.

He may have believed that: (a) it should be legal; but (b) the constitution did not secure such a right. This would be a disagreement with Rand, but hardly earth shattering, particularly if he didn't represent his views as Rand's.

And are Rand's views on judicial interpretation part of Objectivism? They seemed to be no more well worked out than her views on homosexuality. (In fact, I would argue that a strict construction view of the constitution is more consistent with Objectivism, but that's another issue.)

Anonymous said...

Holzer's view is that Roe was wrongly decided, and that, even if he wants legal abortion, there is no constitutionally protected "right." On the other hand, Rand supported the outcome of Roe in public on more than one occasion.

I agree that Rand might not have regarded such a difference as worth a break. I just don't know.

But, it seems to me that something does not need to be part of Objectivism, a philosophical position, to be a line-drawing point for Rand -- or anyone.

Anonymous said...