What's wrong with the horseshoe theory?

Author: User_2006 ,

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  • User_2006
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    User_2006
    I am 14 and I have a relatively shallow understanding of politics. I have recently discovered horseshoe theory and some memes mock and criticize it for being inferior. I understand my question may be a no-brainer to some of you, but, if you want to answer, go ahead.
  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @User_2006
    I wasn't familiar with the term and had to look it up. But basically, it is a way for right wingers in america to completely dismiss the left. If you can equate the left with being nazi's (who are far to the right) then you can dismiss them and all their "crazy" ideas (like giving people healthcare) without having to actually think about them very hard. 

    But the bottom line is that the world is far, far more complicated that terms like "left" and "right" can capture. Take the establishment dems for example. Economically they are actually right wing. But on token social issues, the go to the left so that they seem "progressive". So are they left or right? Neither terms particularly describes them well. 
  • Marko
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    --> @User_2006
    It’s a general rule of thumb, at best....but it is still less an absurd than the alternative depiction, namely, a linear political continuum, with left and right factions inhabiting both ends. 

    If you played around with the horseshoe representation, and looked at it through the lens of history, you would probably see some cyclical inversion of position from time to time. So I’m instead seeing an extremely warped strip of metal, continuously hammered by the blacksmith, and, taking numerous snapshots in time, some of the snapshots will more or less represent a strip of metal having the horseshoe shape.
  • User_2006
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    I think regardless of it being a curved line or a straight axis, it shouldn't be one dimension. I think politics has at least 2 axes, and that is why many internet users(who have not-so-deep understandings of politics) prefer it than horseshoe or political axis. I mean, the more axis, the more accurate it is, but 2 axes are the next best thing consider computers need MUCH more data to store 3d models, and we can't even simulate 4d spacetime unless we are in Einstein's laboratory, and making politics on such models would already fry the brain of normal users like me.
  • oromagi
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    THEORY has multiple meanings including

    "A description of an event or system that is considered to be accurate."

    but also

    "A coherent statement or set of ideas that explains observed facts or phenomena and correctly predicts new facts or phenomena not previously observed"

    The horseshoe theory is an accurate description of something but it doesn't do much to explain or predict political behavior.  I think calling it the "horseshoe observation" might quiet some critics.  The phenomenon is not particularly surprising when one considers that both extremes are alike in their contempt for the establishment (which is typically more politically centrist than say, Trump's America) and each extreme studies the other for successful adaptations and tactics.  Many extremists are more defined by their extremity or their anti-establishment posture than by any idealogy. 

    We see this when the most ardent Bernie supporters vote Trump, for instance.  Tellingly, 10% of Bernie voters in 2016 voted for Trump in 2016 while in 2020,  when Bernie's support is rather smaller and more socialist, a greater percentage of Bernie voters (15%) have shifted their support to Trump.  Clearly, that 15% is less interested in say, healthcare for all than it is in seeing the present infrastructure crash altogether.  We can see that Russian espionage exploits this dynamic by setting up increasingly radical facebook groups on the far end of either spectrum.  For exaple, Russian money supported California separatists on both ends of the political spectrum.

    A vivid illustration of the horseshoe dynamic can be seen in the 2017 marches and protests in Berkeley, Portland, etc.  Certainly, each extreme had its own symbols and demographics and other identifiers but what is striking to me is the way the college lesbians of Antifa adopted the tactics of Proud Boys and Klansmen-  dressed in black, masked, anonymous, gas masks, helmets,  clubs.  Both sides march the same routes, wave signs, flags, etc.  Each spares some rhetoric and violence for the other but most of the action on either side is directed at the police trying to keep them in line.  There are multiple examples of no side being able to tell which side perpetrated some offense or initiated some clash.
  • Imabench
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    To keep it real simple: Horseshoe theory is the idea that the farthest left leaning part of the population and the farthest right wing part of the population can in some circumstances have more in common with each other than those with more centrist beliefs.... The more extreme you go, the more likely you are to adopt the idea that the US government has to be completely redesigned for the country to survive, society itself has to be fundamentally transformed, and that all of this should be done with near brute-force behind the leadership of a single politician rather than through the legislative process. The only differences are in what direction these massive transformations should be made, to the left or right on the political spectrum, but overall these people all the way at the end of the spectrum are so extreme that they have a substantial amount of traits in common with one another, thus the Horsehoe theory having the spectrum represent a horseshoe rather than a linear pattern