Horseshoe theory is bunkum

It has become popular among centrists to discredit the Alt-Right, saying that while alt-rightists ostensibly are the inverse of SJW’s and Antifa, Alt-Rightists are in fact the exactly the same as their leftist counterpart. I notice Sargon of Akkad and others pushing this point. I observe it is an instinctive response by normies against the political upheaval of our times. Let us take a closer look.

First, a representative illustration of Horseshoe theory:

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.55.53

The top reveals how the advocate of horseshoe theory sees himself: as a person led by classical liberalism, science and reason.

The left and right sides are fairly accurate in the eyes of today’s normie: the left is into environmentalism, feminism and socialism while the right is into Catholicism, chauvinism and nationalism. At the ends both sides grow toward each other, symbolising the idea that the extreme left and extreme right are in fact the same.

Which is bunkum. It is intellectual laziness at best, purposeful obscuration on average.

It is like saying virgins and players are the same because they are both extremes ends on the spectrum of the sexual market. It is like saying good and bad are the same because they are both extreme ends on the spectrum of morality. It is bunkum.

The only thing that can be said in favour of horseshoe theory is that people with strong political convictions occasionally switch sides to the other political extreme; e.g. young leftists turning rightist when they grow older. This is because politically minded people by nature understand the game of power and sometimes find it in their benefit to play the game differently. It is not because they have not changed.

The left is defection, the right is cooperation. The left is chaos, the right is order. A leftist lies, a rightist talks truth. It is as simple as this. Stretch out the horsehoe, make it into a ruler, and already you have a much better illustration of reality.

What is actually going on is that the centrist wants to avoid the responsibility that comes with choosing one side, fearing repercussions from the other. This is fair game. But it has nothing to do with truth, for sitting between truth and lies makes you a soft liar.

A much more accurate representation of the political spectrum is the following illustration provided by Radish:

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.45.19

As you can see, fascists are in fact quite similar to communists, just not for the reason horseshoe theory tells us. Fascists are leftists. It was in fact literally in the name of Hitler’s party: the national socialists. Hitler used leftist government to supply his army, hence the failure to supply his army.

Furthermore Radish tells us that mainstream 2013 has moved frightfully far to the left, far away from it’s purported liberalism of, say, Tabula-Rasa-Locke, who was in retrospect also an obvious leftist.

We see now the silliness of centrists imagining themselves above political extremes: centrists are shaped by the political extremes. 200 years ago centrists thought the emperor of Habsburg was the best thing since sliced bread and women belonged in the kitchen, today centrists think emperors are evil dictators and women belong in the office. The Overton window is the delicate balance between extremes and its make-up is decided by its extremes, not its middle. The middle follows the history’s current, has always followed history’s current, and is therefore neutral, neither good nor bad, though passively good in that they hope to have a good life which is best accomplished when civilisation flourishes.

All of which is as friendly a manner in which I can say: Sargon of Akkad, know your place.

10 thoughts on “Horseshoe theory is bunkum

  1. As always, the one-dimensional conception of politics fails completely to capture a correct or even optimally correct picture of the world. This isn’t Johnson-Lindenstrauss, you cannot compress the high-dimensional and complex space of ideology into a single dimension and retain any semblance of usefulness. Even the two-dimensional “Political Compass” beloved of libertarians the world over is similarly uninformative.

    The Nazis were undoubtedly Socialists. This does not mean that they share anything else with classic Leftism; their ultimate goals are completely incompatible with the goals of, say, the Communists, which is why they were all busy beating up and killing each other through the 20’s and 30’s. This is not a cosmetic distinction, it produces huge differences. For example, we can also divide ideologies from Nationalist to Internationalist, in which case Communism and Libertarianism find themselves together opposed to Nazism and Fascism (for an example of the extreme internationalist bent of many Libertarians, see Bryan Caplan’s “Open Borders in Four Easy Steps”, which contains some of the worst logic I’ve seen in a political piece).

    While I agree with you that horseshoe theory is broadly wrong, its central point — that the extremes (which are supposedly as far from each other as possible) share something fundamental — is correct. I agree with Sargon in one important way: that the extreme “left” and extreme “right” share a disturbing feature, which is a barely concealed love for cruelty and depravity — and on the right this doesn’t just mean Nazis. I read Jim because he’s interesting, but his creepy ideas about selling women on auction blocks or whatever is ample enough reason for me to completely reject his world-view.

    [Moldbug, on the other hand, seems to have a strong distaste for cruelty and consequently I quite like him — even if, in the end, I don’t agree with him.]

    1. What the political extremes share is an appreciation of power and its possibilities. Power includes the power for cruelty and depravity.

      For the left this is an added bonus; observe how leftist rulers universally relish the opportunity to punish, torture and murder.

      For the right it is an engineering problem: man and woman have by necessity some cruelty. How to deal with? By 1) engineering incentives thus that cooperation is rewarded and depravity is punished and 2) by stopping holiness spirals that promote cruelty. Jim’s plan addresses all of this. I have never seen him advocate the selling of women on auction blocks, instead I have seen him promote hope, cooperation and just treatment of women. If anything, Jim is too optimistic, too good-hearted.

      1. Again, I reject your idea of a one-dimensional political spectrum. I additionally reject your definition of left-vs-right which seems to simply re-define “leftism” to mean “anything I don’t like” and “rightism” to mean the corner of NRx that you happen to inhabit. Furthermore, there are plenty of leftists who didn’t revel in torture and murder (I never got this impression from, say, Obama or Merkel) and plenty of rightists who did (Idi Amin, Papa Doc, Ivan the Terrible, Hitler, etc).

        But I’ll agree with you that the extremes share “an appreciation of power and its possibilities” — and this is precisely why I don’t like them. I want the “possibilities of power” to be locked away in a box and fired into the sun. The whole point of an advanced civilization is to rein in power, to make it behave, to limit those possibilities. That’s one of the reasons that I oppose the universities’ project of dismantling traditional cultures.

        Jim has definitely talked about women as property, or about “sacking the universities and enslaving their women”, hence my point below about him joining Islamic State. Even if these were “jokes” (they didn’t really sound like jokes), they give an impression of a sadistic joy which is terribly distasteful to me.

    2. I meant “approximately”, not “optimally” in the first paragraph. Shut up, it’s late here.

      To illustrate what I mean about a love for cruelty a bit further, look up these two phrases and note the similarity:

      1. “Good Night Red Side”
      2. “Good Night White Pride”

      The thing that bothers me about Nazis and anarchists alike is not their political violence per se — if I shared their belief blaming all the problems of society on [convenient scapegoat], I’d probably advocate violence too — but the sheer glee they seem to take in violence and mayhem.

      [As for Jim, I wonder why he doesn’t grow a big scratchy beard, change his name to Jamal, and join the Islamic State. They seem to be implementing the society he claims to want.]

      I also want to clarify that I’m not some hippy-dippy peacenik. Cruelty is sometimes necessary, especially in times of war. But it should always be a last resort, and applied in the manner of General Sherman — with solemnity, as a necessary evil.

      In short, the difference between civilization and savagery can be summed up as: civilization is William Tecumseh Sherman (“War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it; the crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”); savagery is Conan the Barbarian (“What is best in life? To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.”)

        1. Both Sherman and Conan want to crush their enemies. The difference is how they regard the task. A Conan is much more likely to crush their allies than a Sherman, and to carry on the cruelty far longer than necessary, because Conan finds pleasure in the act of cruelty, while Sherman despises it but does it out of necessity.

          I agree that the opposite extreme from Conan, which is the modern “humanitarian” who says “We musn’t crush our enemies!”, is just as bad. By their leniency they permit armed conflicts to persist far longer than they should, and often encourage attempts at fighting by groups that otherwise would not dare. The result is much more cruelty than if the moralist had not intervened. If Assad had been allowed to smash the rebellion against him, as his father did in Hama, Syria would never have become the mess it is now.

          “I can make this march, and I will make Georgia howl!”

          “If the people raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity-seeking. If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war.”

          — W. T. Sherman

          As for Jim on Islam, it doesn’t negate my point at all. Jim’s remarks (his latest post mentions selling women on auction blocks, though it doesn’t explicitly advocate it) suggest that he enjoys the thought of cruelty. It does not manifest itself physically in the way that anarchist and leftist protesters often smash and loot shops, and therefore Jim and his ilk are lesser threats to civilization than the far left. But his attitude is still antithetical to civilization.

  2. “The left is defection, the right is cooperation. The left is chaos, the right is order. A leftist lies, a rightist talks truth. It is as simple as this.” love how you defined the left as everything you don’t like.
    You traded one linear, ridiculous graphic of the political spectrum for another.
    The Nazi’s couldn’t supply their army? So it must have been Italy that conquered most of Europe lol. Convenient how you forgot to mention the Socialists were THE FIRST group to be murdered by the Nazi’s then the trade unions- because the Nazi’s were so left leaning.
    Ya know, North Korea’s ruling party is the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” so they must be a democracy huh

    1. Hitler pretended that Aryan whites were a homogenous group of superior people, which is really untrue, although it is extremely typical of how a leftist imagines rightists think. His false model of the world led to bad decisions led to Germany’s forces being unsupplied.

      Hitler being a leftist is obvious, just as it is obvious that guys like Bolsonaro, Trump and Baudet are rightists.

  3. If the assertion that the far-right is synonymous with the far-left then said horseshoe illustrated in the ‘horseshoe theory’ would have to have horseshoe ends touching. It would be a strange hoofed horse or pony that wore such a shoe. In fact the gap noted in the illustrated theory, between far-left and far-right is a wide chasm to jump across greater in width than the ‘grounded space’ (along and around the iron horseshoe) between other of the political variants indicated on the horseshoe theory. Given that many on the far-left or far-right may not be at all athletic enough at leaping wide political gaps to either side’s domain and may fall into what political category? 🙂

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