The Horseshoe Theory of Political Extremism


This is my second attempt at political satire. Have you heard of the Horseshoe Theory of Political Extremism? It's like the saying goes: "the farther right you go, the closer you get to the left, and vice versa." It's like a horseshoe - the ends may seem far apart, but they actually bend towards each other. It's almost like the political spectrum is a giant, bendy straw that can suck up any ideology, no matter how extreme! But don't worry, the straw, as in this short essay, is made of rubber, so it won't poke your eye out.

They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but if you venture to the fringes of the political spectrum, you’ll find the strangest bedfellows of all — the far left and far right, nestled together like two peas in an extremist pod. On the surface, these two camps couldn’t seem more different. The far left reads Das Kapital, dreams of a worldwide communist revolution, and gets misty-eyed singing The Internationale. The far right reads Mein Kampf, dreams of ethnic cleansing, and gets all choked up belting out the Horst-Wessel-Lied. The far left has Che Guevara posters on their dorm room walls; the far right prefers portraits of the Führer. Surely these opposites are poles apart, right?

Wrong. Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find that the extreme left and right have more in common than either would care to admit. For starters, both have a burning hatred of liberal democracy and Enlightenment values like individual rights, free speech, and tolerance. To the Stalinist and fascist alike, such notions are bourgeois indulgences that must be crushed under the boot heel of totalitarian dictatorship. The horseshoe theory of political extremism states that if you go far enough in either direction, left and right bend around like a horseshoe and end up meeting.

History bears this out. In the 1930s, while the fascists were busy building concentration camps, the communists were hard at work constructing gulags. The Nazis had their SS and Gestapo; the Soviets their NKVD and KGB. Both gleefully purged millions in the name of their respective utopian fantasies. And the similarities don’t end there. The far left and right share an affinity for street violence, kangaroo courts, and cult-like obedience to a Supreme Leader. Mussolini, meet Mao — you two would get along swimmingly. Today, while neo-Nazis occupy their time terrorizing immigrants and vandalizing synagogues, Antifa thugs are busy cracking skulls at campus speaking events. Different flags, same stormtrooper tactics. All of which leads to an inescapable conclusion: the ideological distance between Maoism and Hitlerism, between Stalin and Mussolini, between a Stalinist commissar and an alt-right Pepe-posting troll, can be measured in microns. Like bickering siblings, the extreme left and right scream at each other from mere inches away, all the while blissfully unaware that they’re standing in front of the same funhouse mirror.

So, the next time you find yourself debating a political extremist, remember the horseshoe theory.

Odds are, their doppelgänger dweeb is standing right behind them, back-to-back, goose-stepping in perfect synchronicity. It’s enough to make even the most dour Marxist crack a smile — before sending you to the gulag for thoughtcrime, of course.


Popular posts from this blog

OCI Object Storage: Copy Objects Across Tenancies Within a Region

Religious Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence: My views

The Legal Rights of an Algorithm