The Democrats “World of Non-A”

by | Nov 28, 2000

Two thousand years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle named one of the basic rules of reality: “A is A.” Reality is what it is. Contradictions cannot exist. This rule came to be known as the Law of Identity. Early in the 20th century, another philosopher tried to project what it would mean if the Law […]

Two thousand years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle named one of the basic rules of reality: “A is A.” Reality is what it is. Contradictions cannot exist. This rule came to be known as the Law of Identity.

Early in the 20th century, another philosopher tried to project what it would mean if the Law of Identity weren’t true. What would the world be like, he asked, if A could also be non-A, if contradictions could exist in reality? He called his book: “The World of Non-A.”

The Gore campaign seems to be using this forgotten volume as a rulebook in its fight to reverse the Florida election. And their latest claim is the most brazen example yet of “A is non-A” thinking: after a hundred years of using the angry street protest as their favorite means of political expression, the liberals have suddenly declared that street protests are evil.

The Gore-Lieberman campaign has condemned the gatherings of hundreds of Republican protesters outside the buildings in Florida where hand recounts are being conducted. Such protests, according to the would-be vice-president, represent “intimidation and violence” and threaten to replace the rule of law with “the rule of the mob.”

Bear in mind the history of the left on this issue.

This is a movement that lionizes the leaders of violent union strikes; if you want to know what “intimidation” means, ask anyone who has ever crossed a picket line. Yet a bunch of middle-class Republicans blowing whistles and horns outside County Hall constitutes a “near-riot,” in the words of a hysterical Gore-Lieberman spokesman.

This is a movement that looks back fondly on the occupation of university buildings by unkempt hordes of student radicals back in the ’60s. Yet its leaders yelp “mob rule” when a handful of official Republican observers in Miami-Dade chant and bang on doors to demand access to the very counting process they are there to observe.

This is a movement that bused in thousands of union protesters to block streets outside the World Trade Organization meeting last year in Seattle. Yet it condemns the Republicans for allowing out-of-state protesters and providing free sandwiches.

This is a movement that remained silent last week when Democratic protesters chanted “no revote, no peace” — an explicit threat of violence. Yet it regards as potentially violent a crowd of Republicans whose fierce cry is “Cer-ti-fy Bush! Cer-ti-fy Bush!”

This is a movement that excused the bloody Los Angeles riots as an expression of “understandable” outrage. Yet it condemns Republican protests in which the allegedly menacing crowds are “separated from their adversaries by two strands of yellow police tape,” in the words of a Los Angeles Times report. Any mob that can be restrained by plastic tape isn’t much of a mob.

I have to admit that I don’t approve of street protests. I have participated in a few myself and even helped to organize them, and I learned that they are rarely a good way to promote your message. A hundred chanting people are not as persuasive as one well-written letter to the editor.

But there is a world of difference between a violent protest, like the New Left’s riot outside the 1968 Democratic convention, and what is happening right now in Florida. The two bands of police tape say it all. The real restraint on the Republican crowd is not those delicate plastic strands. It is the protesters’ respect for the rule of law — the very thing Lieberman accuses them of attacking.

So what makes the Gore campaign think they can get away with vilifying the Republican protesters?

Remember that these are the same people who insist that every voter’s intent must be divined, even if he only “dimpled” a ballot — but then they throw out thousands of pro-Bush absentee ballots on minor technicalities. They are the people who issue high-minded calls to “lift our national dialogue” — just after their subordinates issue personal attacks on Republican officials like Katherine Harris. And so on. So it is no surprise that these people want to simultaneously approve and disapprove of street protests. On every issue, they think A can also be non-A — depending on their own convenience.

We do have to uphold the rule of law — and the most basic laws are not the laws created by government, but those laid down by reality. We should demand that the Democrats adhere, first and foremost, to the Law of Identity — to the law that reminds them that they can’t get away with contradictions.

Robert Tracinski was a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute from 2000 to 2004. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Mr. Tracinski is editor and publisher of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily, which offer daily news and analysis from a pro-reason, pro-individualist perspective. To receive a free 30-day trial of the TIA Daily and a FREE pdf issue of the Intellectual Activist please go to TIADaily.com and enter your email address.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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