Politics

Let's Play Horseshoe Theory

Extremists on the left and the right are much closer to each other than either side would like to admit.

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This summer, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went to the edge of space on a ship he built with his own earnings. A bunch of people saw the billionaire blast off and thought: "Screw that guy and his dumb rocket—the government should take his money because I have a much better idea of how to spend it."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) tweeted, "Here on Earth, in the richest country on the planet, half our people live paycheck to paycheck, people are struggling to feed themselves, struggling to see a doctor—but hey, the richest guys in the world are off in outer space! Yes. It's time to tax the billionaires." Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D–Ore.) said he'll introduce legislation that would tax wealthy space tourists in order to "support the public good." And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) reiterated their calls to abolish billionaires via a wealth tax.

The American right has long wanted to get its paws on Bezos as well. Former President Donald Trump has been beefing with Bezos for years, over the editorial line of The Washington Post (which Bezos owns) as well as the conduct of Amazon. In 2018 Trump tweeted, "I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!" Other conservatives weighed in with their own thoughts when Bezos flew. Matthew Walther, editor of the conservative Catholic publication The Lamp, wrote: "Maybe instead of sending idiots into a blank meaningless void at a gazillion bucks a pop we could build, I dunno, a functioning transit system in our capital city. Maybe we could even try real regional rail. Just spitballing."

The idea that left and right could be united by this moment of inspirational technological and commercial achievement to talk smack and do a cash grab isn't that unusual. There is historical precedent for such a strange-bedfellow slumber party, and plenty of examples of it in our present.

The horseshoe theory, like the Overton window, was a concept destined to be bastardized the moment it entered casual use. Its origins are murky, but the classic version posits that the political spectrum isn't linear, but bent like a horseshoe, with leftist and rightist extremists closer to each other than either side would like to admit.

The theory is typically used to explain why 20th century communists and fascists seemed to have so much in common, though it likely predates the last century. But in the United States in 2021, a softer version of this iron law is at play, with the center-left and the center-right mushily converging toward expensive authoritarian policies that look astonishingly similar despite their supposedly opposite goals. Still a horseshoe, but more like one of the marshmallow ones you can find in bowls of Lucky Charms.

Nowhere is the nouveau horseshoe more apparent than on the debate about Big Tech and free speech, with both the left and the right utterly convinced that large social media platforms and other tech firms are using their sinisterly large amount of power to benefit the other side. And both left and right are cheerfully willing to use the state to solve the supposed problem. Once again, their proposals look quite similar, yet they're far enough apart that never the twain shall meet. Governments absolutely need to tell tech companies what they can and can't publish or sell—on that power players and pundits of the American left and right agree. But does that mean more moderation to remove hate speech and misinformation, both of which can be defined as "stuff I don't like"? Or should moderation be banned altogether to prevent viewpoint discrimination? (More on that in Nick Gillespie's cover story, "Self-Cancellation, Deplatforming, and Censorship," page 16.)

The left and right frequently find themselves in uncomfortable agreement across a censor's tribunal table. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has been wearing a horseshoe around her neck for years, for example: first banned from the libraries of public schools at the behest of Christan conservatives for the allegedly demonic elements in her novels about tween wizards, then canceled for voicing politically incorrect views on trans issues by furious progressives who grew up wishing they could go to Hogwarts.

The squishy horseshoe also shows up in the debate over subsidized spawning. The right wants to encourage childbearing in order to maximize the percentage of native-born Americans in the population and promote family values, while also giving mothers more incentives to stay home with the resulting broods. The left has mixed feelings about whether more kids are good—we need them to prop up a massive welfare state, but they're also little carbon-emitting monsters who will bring about the climate end times—while being quite sure we need to make it easier for post-pregnant people (don't call them mothers!) to return to work.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R–Utah) has proposed the Family Security Act, a universal kiddie income, "which would provide a monthly cash benefit for families, amounting to $350 a month for each young child, and $250 a month for each school-aged child." He wants to pay for this by eliminating various other competing programs and tax credits. Ivanka Trump backed something similar in her role as policy adviser to her father.

Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D–N.Y.) tweeted that "Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure." The bluntness of those claims came in for criticism, but the sentiment is far from unusual in her party, which would like to insert all policy priorities into a debt-funded omnibus spending bill. (Read all about it in Eric Boehm's "Everything Is Infrastructure Now," page 24.) You get headlines like this one in The Washington Post's lady vertical, The Lily: "Child care wasn't prioritized in the first infrastructure package. It's 'cause for alarm,' experts say."

These two sets of goals produce very similar yet ultimately irreconcilable policy proposals. Families must be funded and nudged by the state using taxpayer money—on this they agree. But ask how much per child, on what terms, and via what mechanism, and the whole thing falls apart.

Once you start collecting horseshoes, it can be hard to stop. The classic "my body, my choice" slogan is now decorating placards at protests for a wide variety of issues, from abortion to vaccines and masking.

The labor left and cronyist right have both long championed "Buy American" policies. They hope to center our politics on the factory workers and manufacturing jobs that were once the mainstay of the American working class, a constituency that has been in play over the last several elections. The notion that we need to build things here is powerfully alluring to people with many different priors, even if it disregards the incredible gains in standard of living and consumer choice enabled by global trade.

The debate over race in public life repeatedly creates an odd juxtaposition in which a tiny number of white nationalists and an elite coterie of social justice activists both argue that, in fact, everything is about race and we should order our politics around that principle.

The notion that we might let people make their own decisions about their own lives in accordance with a liberal democratic legal order remains, luckily, the predominant view in this country. Most people who were not pathologically online or poisoned by power saw the news that Bezos went to space and thought, "Hey, cool. Kudos to that dude." That big curve in the middle of the horseshoe is where a majority of people will continue to reside.

Still, if you want a picture of the future, you could do worse than to imagine a horseshoe stamping on a human face—forever.

NEXT: Brickbat: All Tied Up

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  2. “The theory is typically used to explain why 20th century communists and fascists seemed to have so much in common,…”

    They had so much in common, not because of horseshoe theory, but because they are both developments of the Left, with the major difference being internationalism versus nationalism. They are not and never were at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

    1. She’s too dumb to realize fascism is just localized communism. Fascism was literally created by musollini after reading Marx. He just thought Marx focus was too broad/international and he wanted to focus on italys ethno-nationalism at home.

      How do these supposed educated writers at reason not know basic world history?

      You’re a fucking dumbass Katherine.

      1. And/or that fascism is the terminal step before broader communism. In the progressive march away from individual liberty, there is no argument that can’t be refuted by “for the good of the state”, the last (pesudo-)effective argument before they put a bullet in your individual liberty is “What about the good of *my* state?”

      2. Too dumb?

        Or too dishonest?

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    2. “with the major difference being internationalism versus nationalism”

      That’s rather vague, isn’t it? More specific is public ownership vs. private ownership. That’s why ownership of large corporations in Britain see sawed back and forth in the later part of the last century. Even the seemingly leftist worker owned cooperatives initiated under Franco and the Catholic church in Spain remained privately owned.

      1. Fascism doesn’t have true private ownership. It’s *nominally* private, but if you don’t do what the State wants you to do with it, the State will take it away and give it to someone who will.

        The real difference really is internationalism vs. nationalism. Communism is about class (with a preference for the proletariat), fascism is about nationality (with a preference for your own), but otherwise they’re basically the same.

        1. “Fascism doesn’t have true private ownership. It’s *nominally* private, but if you don’t do what the State wants you to do with it, the State will take it away and give it to someone who will.”

          That’s true under any regime. In the US today and back when the railroads were opening the West. Under communism, the state took control over all the means of production. That’s not the case under fascism. Even industries like armaments, deemed vital to state interests, were kept under private management and control, and the owners were able to enjoy the profits. The Krupp enterprise under the Nazis is an example. William Manchester’s The Arms of Krupp is a good place to start your research.
          http://library.lol/main/C98980092B47CD46713E17CB7011C2F4

          When you finished that we can move on to banking and finance, how Hitler privatized banks which were nationalized under the Weimar regime.

          1. That was only planned to last until the end of the war. The Nazi Party manifesto which was adopted by the Third Reich made it abundantly clear that everything was to be nationalized:

            13. We demand nationalization of all businesses which have been up to the present formed into companies (trusts).
            14. We demand that the profits from wholesale trade shall be shared out.
            15. We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.
            16. We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.

            Furthermore those banks weren’t nationalized by the Weimar at all. Most of them were foreign and some were expelled.

            1. If you propose to argue with the steaming pile of shit trueman, you might just as well argue with turd.
              trueman has no principles and no knowledge outside of what Parade magazine delivers.
              This is a quote, not taken out of context, but a clear statement by the steaming pile of shit trueman:

              mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
              “Spouting nonsense is an end in itself.”

              An example of what you’ll get from trueman.

            2. Lies. Britain learned the hard way not to trust Hitler’s lies. Put your trust in actions, not words.

              1. I have never read a rebuttal to an argument that so thoroughly convinces me the other person was right like your rebuttal.

                1. Maybe I was lying. Would I convince you if I told you I was lying?

              2. Hitler did pretty much everything he said he was going to do.

          2. BTW:
            “William Manchester’s The Arms of Krupp is a good place to start your research.”

            No, it’s a horrible place to start anything like “research” on this issue and that the asshole trueman finds it such is expected by some so ill-educated.
            While it’s a very good book by someone entirely too honest to unfairly condemn the Krupp family, it only begins to address the economic activities or the Nazis and the beginnings of their control of the entire economy.
            Wanna see where they were headed? Try a book which I’m sure confuses the asshole trueman: “Wages of Destruction”; Adam Tooze. The Goering Steel Works were not the result of Herman’s pioneering efforts.
            trueman? Stuff your bullshit up your ass and please act like the unlearned asshole you are.

        2. Exactly. Jack Ma, poor guy.

          You will own nothing and you will be happy.
          The global and state apparatchiks will own everything and will be happier.

      2. “…More specific is public ownership vs. private ownership…”

        To dim-bulb “thinkers” like trueman that would make the difference. Those of us who have read a bit and given it some thought recognize that, once again, trueman is full of shit.

    3. Fascism is socialism + identity politics.

      That’s a pretty good approximation of what the Obama wing of the 21st century left believes.

  3. Both the Left and the Right agree that the government needs the power to do good things, they just disagree on what the good things are.

    1. I live in Massachusetts, my life is better because of the innovations of Jeff Bezos. My life is not any better because of Elisabeth Warren.

      1. Perhaps if you were a loser you would feel differently.

    2. This, this statement right here. The most succinct way of explaining it.

    3. The USA would be a lot better off if both parties could agree that *the ?unlimited? power* was the problem and that the foundation of the USA only supports but 0.01% of the power of today — thus the very battle over it.

      And frankly one party does a heck of a lot better job at curtailing the power than the other.

      1. Gov-Power =/= Wealth (Guns don’t create wealth)
        Value = Wealth

    4. The only people who then would not be called either left or right would be Utopian anarchists.

      So, your statement is true, but largely banal.

  4. I’ve literally explained this numerous times in these threads. The theory was first put forth and published in a text book by my AP civics teacher in high school, who also was a history professor at Duquesne University, Bob Rodriguez.

    The political spectrum is a horseshoe shaped curved line. Communism/authoritarianism is the furthest left. Anarchism (lack of government) is the furthest right. In either case, anarchy or communism, people lose their inalienable rights. That’s why it’s a horshoe and these two ideologies almost touch, but don’t because they are arrived at via different means.

    1. That’s an odd definition of anarchy, which, at least in the anarcho-libertarian variant, is all about individual rights. Unless you are wanting to argue that without some minimal government that people wouldn’t be able to enforce their rights, or something like that.

      1. I think that is the argument.

        Anarchy leads to someone being strong enough to do whatever they want. Including taking what is yours. Without governance to protect private property and personal rights the guy who’s willing to take your life or your stuff and strong enough to disregard your objections is going to become increasingly powerful. That’s how you get old school warlordism or a single entity powerful enough they might as well be dictator.

        The notion of the American government when it was founded seemed to have a tinge of “A necessary evil is still evil” to it, not trusting any individual or single body to do something without a curb on its power. Seems slightly different to me.

        1. Exactly. Anarchy is anarchy. That’s why I didn’t add “libertarian” infront or behind it.

      2. Just based on the shear number of moral busybodies that came out of the woodwork last year, I think it could be reasonably argued that anarcho-capitalism would be an objective failure as surely as anarcho-communism, just for different reasons.

    2. The fundamental flaw of this and every other horseshoe explanation is that it completely disregards the original meaning behind the left and right spectrum. The right is, by definition, the side that stands for traditionalism and defends the status quo. That immediately eliminates anarchy.

      Anarchy does not have a place on any political spectrum – if your objective is the end of all polities, by definition, you are not on the chart. Its like trying put a vacuum on the periodic table.

      1. Does that mean that in a country that has been communist for a long time, the communists unwilling to change anything are right wing? I don´t think so.

        1. Apparently, you do not think very well then. Yes, an old Stalinist opposed to that whippersnapper Gorbachev is on the right wing of the Communist spectrum.

  5. If the USPS is losing money on Amazon deliveries, it needs to adjust the rates.

    1. If the USPS is losing money, they need adjust lots of things.

    2. I think ‘losing money’ is a given in any U.S. anything agency isn’t it?

  6. The Nolan Chart is much better than the horseshoe. Mangu-Ward should know this.

    1. Libertarians need to update the Nolan chart. It (the specific questions rather than the general outline) is hopelessly stuck in the early 70’s. And at least according to wiki, the origins of it pre-Nolan were an attempt to combine the New Left and the Old Right – or the SDS and YAF. Which is quite horseshoey

      1. It needs a third axis delineating the use of force/coersion. This is what gets me about Reason or sarcasmic’s ‘both sides!’ arguments. They frequently assert transcendance of the north/south dichotomy in conventional space only to argue that the picture of the Earth on the cover of the Washington Post is upside down.

        1. I can see you tried really hard when you imagined that analogy, but you failed. Miserably. I give credit where credit is due, and it ain’t due here.

          1. My fault for allowing my thinking to be confined to the inside of a Klein Bottle.

            1. The name printed on your underwear doesn’t interest me.

              1. Poor scumbag sarc! Always the victim!
                Hint: If two people tell you you’re a slimy piece of dishonest shit, they could be wrong. When the world tells you you’re a slimy piece of dishonest shit, you’re a slimy piece of dishonest shit.
                Fuck off and die,

      2. i think the divide between economic and personal is unrealistic.
        The Liberal tag should read Progressive instead.
        Liberal as in libertarian is already accounted for.
        instead of vectors for Personal and Economic i would have colors which would be applied to the dot indicating where one lands. Say, Yellow for Personal and Green for Economic. The shade of color from light to dark would indicate how far towards full freedom you are and the mixture of yellow and green would show how much your economic and personal views of freedom overlap.

        1. [not everything has to be mapped on along an axis]

    2. I agree that this is a better way to describe it. I think the most important axis is north/south.

      Also. Fuck Joe Biden. That south wing little bitch.

      1. Oh, thanks for reminding me. It’s a late rising morning for me.

        Fuck Sleepy, Creepy, Crazy, Crankie, Tankie, Corn-Pop, Lunch-Bucket, Basement-Bunker, Shotgun Joe Biden!

    3. Where do we put the CRT SJWs?

      1. In the gibbet at the crossroads? Birds and insects have to eat.

        1. I like that better than my idea – I was just going to put them in an enclosed space and let them devour each other.

      2. The left does way more damage to personal freedom

        The right occasionally exhibits an unhealthy desire to control other people’s bedrooms.

        But the left wants to control the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage, the rec room, the dining room…

    4. But this chart indicates that Liberals support personal freedom. Well, not the version of Liberal we have now.

      1. The left does way more damage to personal freedom

        The right occasionally exhibits an unhealthy desire to control other people’s bedrooms.

        But the left wants to control the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage, the rec room, the dining room…

    5. They say “Almost’ doesn’t count ‘cept in Horseshoes,” so she’s set her bar low.

    6. Nolan is awesome for individual, and group comparison, but does not necessarily offer the same, admittedly simplistic result. Horseshoe is easy to explain when talking with the maths-challenged, by whom I mean pretty much every damned person who comes out of the education system.

      1. “Horse shoe” is only a thing because after WWII, socialists did their damnedest to try to diassociate themselves from fascists.

        There has not been a true political “right” in the US, i.e., monarchists, for more than a century. On a one-dimensional political spectrum, the US has leftists (socialists, communists, fascists, progressives, social justice Christianity) and centrists (everybody else).

        1. There is a lot to what you say (opening sentence is spot on).

          I would only offer that one does not have to be on the right wing as it was defined in 1789. I had a poli sci professor who frequently said that a conservative is someone who prefers to stay the same but is capable of change while a liberal prefers to change but has the capacity to stay the same.

          His mantra has flaws but it makes the point that spectrum is not static. What the Founders believed was really leftwing in 1776 but extremely conservative now.

  7. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) tweeted, “Here on Earth, in the richest country on the planet, half our people live paycheck to paycheck, people are struggling to feed themselves, struggling to see a doctor—but hey, the richest guys in the world are off in outer space! Yes. It’s time to tax the billionaires.” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D–Ore.) said he’ll introduce legislation that would tax wealthy space tourists in order to “support the public good.” And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) reiterated their calls to abolish billionaires via a wealth tax.

    From a Koch / Reason libertarian POV, this anti-billionaire hate speech would indeed be alarming — if Democrats actually meant any of it. But as OpenBordersLiberal-tarian’s First Law states, they do not.

    Evidence of the Democrats’ transformation into the objectively pro-billionaire party is not hard to find:

    1. Sanders and Warren and AOC supported the same Presidential candidate that billionaires supported.
    2. Since Biden’s inauguration, the richest people on the planet have gotten substantially richer.
    3. As wealth is concentrating at the very top, what do Democratic politicians and voters get genuinely angry about? State-level restrictions on access to abortion care!

    It’s easy to see why Biden was the overwhelming choice of the Koch-funded libertarians at Reason.com.

    #InDefenseOfBillionaires

    1. What I think is ironic is how right-wing douchebags can advocate authoritarian policies when it comes to immigration and abortion and then lazily lampoon leftists for doing the same thing with regards to guns. Very horseshoe and very meta.

      1. What I think is ironic is that you have a roof over your head, but won’t pay your mortgage.

      2. Or how leftists advocate authoritarian policies on guns, vaccines, rent control, taxes, money supply, etc and then lazily lampoon the right for doing the same thing with…wait the left also is authoritarian on immigration (see Obama’s reign most people sent packing, most kids in cages) and abortion (so getting murdery with unborn children is NOT authoritarian, huh)

        Just drink your bleach and draino and lie down, screetch.

      3. I don’t see what’s “authoritarian” about immigration restrictions.

        And I don’t see what’s more authoritarian about restrictions on abortion than the rest of our restrictive medical system that the left approves of.

      4. Might have something to do with the realities that gun rights are specifically mentioned in the Constitution and a country with open borders ceases to be a country.

        As for abortion, are you aware that almost all of very liberal Europe restricts abortion more than all but a few states?

        Maybe we misunderstood you – is your complaint that the right wing is too lazy about lampooning leftists?

  8. When all the horses aspire to make omelettes, then all the individual nobodies look like eggs.

    1. They aren’t yolking around when they say they are eggcited about this.

      1. Will we let a few broken eggs prevent us from making omlettes? Neigh!

        1. Those broken eggs would be a shell of their former selves.

          1. Obama’s slogan was: “You didn’t build that!”

            Mitt Romney’s slogan was: ” Hey, kids! Let’s build stuff with egg shells!”

            1. Egg binder…full of women

      2. Yeggs too you!

      3. Eggstricating ourselves from the yolk of oppression— that’s the mane tging

    2. The weather forecast at the track is sunny side up with scrambled clouds and drizzle

    3. As Colonel Sherman T. Potter would say: Oh, horse apples!

  9. I see it as there are basically two sides, but rather than left versus right or Democrat party versus Republican party. In reality it is authoritarian versus libertarian or state-ism versus individual freedom.

    While it’s true that there are some differences between the specific dictatorial or authoritarian violence or removal of individual freedoms that the the Democrat party and Republican party want to take from us. Still a freedom lost is still a freedom lost.

    To me the Democrat party and Republican party are largely the same and should be avoided and removed from power. We live in a so called Democracy and so called Republic, where we are free to choose as long as we decide to do what the government decides for us and are represented as long as the government can disregard the citizens and do whatever they want.

  10. Matthew Walther, editor of the conservative Catholic publication The Lamp…

    Had to dig pretty deep for that one, but please, by all means, uncover every rock to meet the ‘both sides’ requirement.

    1. If it makes you feel any better, he’s also a regular contributor to the Op/Ed page of one of the largest newspapers in the country.

      1. apparently not one big enough to prevent it from being censored by twitter….
        so …. not a real equivalence to NYTimes or WAPO writers

      2. WOW, so just as powerful as Schumer and Pelosi

    2. Matthew Walther, editor of the conservative Catholic publication The Lamp, wrote: “Maybe instead of sending idiots into a blank meaningless void at a gazillion bucks a pop we could build, I dunno, a functioning transit system in our capital city. Maybe we could even try real regional rail. Just spitballing.”

      Soooo…This writer for a Catholic publication thinks the Natural Universe is a meaningless void? That’s curious.

      Oh, You Know Who Else had a Solution that involved trains?

      1. The millennials? And every conurbation-dwelling fuckwit, ever?

  11. I was taught this in Social Studies ~1979. Go left you are Democratic, moving to full communist. Go right you are Republican, moving to full Hitler at the other end of the horse shoe, using those terms.

    1. Well whoever taught you that was either a moron or a leftist propagandist. National Socialism is a neighbor to communism and leagues away from the Right in any meaningful way except on the question of whether or not you hate your own country.

      1. Indeed. Communism is little more than INTERNATIONAL Socialism. Nazism is, of course, NATIONAL Socialism.

  12. Clearly, we need to give Jeff Bezos’s money to *somebody* who knows how to use it more effectively. Equally clearly, this person is Elon Musk.

    (Okay, I am only serious about Musk having a much better idea of how to run a rocketry company, not about the propriety of appropriating Bezos’s money.)

  13. Tbos article will make you dumber.

    1. And clearly unable to type

      1. True AI, once self aware, will help you with that deficiency.

        1. That’s why I am convinced AI is a lot farther off than some people think.

          Every time I type something on my phone it picks the wrong thing. EVERY time. I have never said Duck you and left it. Ever.

  14. If we made a list of what Biden wants vs what Trump wanted in regards to infringement of civil liberties and put them on a scale the Biden side would tip it over.

    The both sides argument is a stupid excuse for libertarians to not fight back

    1. But it is a great excuse for Reason writers to staunchly defend the abuses by Democrats and marxist revolutionaries with false equivocations.

    2. LOL, your kidding right. I am guessing they are pretty equal here. The difference is that Biden will come up with a legal reason and Trump will say because I am President.

      1. “It’s probably unconstitutional, but I’m going to do it anyway”

        /Biden on the eviction moratorium.

        Fucking idiot.

        1. And Biden on vaccination of health care workers…and government employees…and anyone working in a medium to large company.

          I’m wondering when he’ll decree that the families of all these people must be vaccinated.

        2. “An Auto-de-Fé is what you shouldn’t do, but you do anyway!”

          –Torquemada (Mel Brooks) in The History of the World, Part I.

          1. aughtn’t to do.

            1. Oh, right. I won’t argue with Torquemada. He’ll play ping-pong with my balls and make my privates public with a game! Oy! Meshugganah!

    3. Would you rather be shot in the face fifty times or a hundred times? If you complain about the prospect of being shot fifty times then you must want to be shot a hundred times.

      1. Tony gets a shot in the face at least 50 times a night.

        1. i am skeptical that he could be that popular

  15. Recent polls show that most Americans want more government, but also distrust government. Maybe they were kicked in the head by a horse.

    1. This phenomena has discussed in Reason before. The more government we have the less we trust it and the more we want. Kind of like drinking seawater and we all know where that ends.

      1. “the more we want”

        You really don’t get it, do you. You’re alone here, in that desire.

        1. First I was using “we” as a collective and not for me personally. I believe Nick Gillespie has written on this topic in the past. More government results in people have the less trust in government and then wanting more government to address that mistrust.

          1. Right, so we can assume you’re not a fan of Biden’s ridiculously unconstitutional executive orders, budget desires, and expansion of the nanny state?

            Oh wait, you just defended his EOs up above…

            1. I did not defend President Biden’s EO’s I just noted that his administration usually has the legal argument lined up while the former administration usually went scrambling for it afterwards.

              I don’t like EOs but see them as a results of a lazy Congress that refuses to address problems. If Congress refuses its job the executive branch will step in. This is true of the Biden Administration as well as many early administrations.

          2. Nick Gillespie wrote that Stalin gave Communism a bad reputation

            1. What does that have to do with my comment?

  16. Go along the horseshoe far enough in any direction and you end up in Alaska. Right wing legislators managing a left wing wealth redistribution scheme.

    1. My home state. Very true.

  17. Lets not forget that there is a middle to horseshoe and that is where we need to work to get. The purpose of the left and right is to come up with ideas that can be tempered into middle ground workable solutions.

    1. The purpose of the left and right is to produce false dichotomies that justify solutions to problems that don’t exist.

      The lesser of two evils is still evil. Stop supporting evil.

      1. And the greater of two evils is still the larger evil of the two, and stupid, lazy, sumbitches like you can’t figure that out.

  18. Noooooooooo!!!

    Heresy!!!!

    Republicans good Democrats bad!!!!

    YOU VOTED FOR BIDEN! YOU WANTED THIS!!

    AAAUUUGGGHH!!!

    Think I just summed up most of the posters.

    1. I voted for Jo, which is even worse than voting for Biden because I went off the bipartisan reservation. This is all my fault. Unmutual. I confess. I confess.

      1. Ayuh. I didn’t vote. Which is even worse, because not voting is the same as voting for Hitler.

        1. Even if you live in a deep blue or red state where there’s no chance your vote will make any difference.

          1. Which leads me to suspect that the whole point of voting is not to select our rulers, but to engage in a religious ritual to publicly show our obsequiousness to Holy Godvernment. Hence the “I Voted” stickers.

            1. Yes, sometimes it seems elections are about being manipulated into giving one of the two big teams the ability to point to their “mandate” from the people. In other words, rubber stamping your approval of the powers that be.

              1. Not teams. Squads. There is only one team.

    2. Ah I see you switched accounts and are not back…no wait you forgot to log into sqrlsy again. Douche.

  19. Both “Left” and “Right” sides of the horseshoe, or any other yet-to-be-labeled “side,” if given enough power, end up in totalitarianism, at which point it becomes a rather silly argument what to label them.

  20. Except the extreme end of the right is tiny and difficult to find, while the extremist left is 99% of the entire left.
    Kill or be killed.

    1. Oh, come on. it’s only 98%. Maybe 97% on a bad day.

    2. Except that the tiny far right is holding the Republican Party hostage, while the far left is forced to compromise with centrist Democrats.

      1. I’ll note people like you called Romney “far right”, so your designation of “far right” is of little use.

        1. Please check my posts and let me know when I have ever referred to Senator Romney as “far right”.

          Since you bring up Mitt Romney, I think he is a good example of my point. When he ran for President in 2012 he was forced by the far right to say that he would repeal the ACA. Because he had implemented a similar law in Massachusetts it would have been natural for him to tell people that he would improve the ACA and implement it better. His failure embrace the ACA and talk of better implementing it was one reason he did not get elected.

          1. 99.99 % of Republican voters were for repealing Obamacare, as were 50% of Independents.
            So no tiny far right majority forced anything, you dipshit

            1. Republicans and some Independents were for “Repeal and Replace” not repeal alone. Republicans never came up with a replacement because the ACA was essentially their idea in the first place.

      2. “…Except that the tiny far right is holding the Republican Party hostage, while the far left is forced to compromise with centrist Democrats…”

        Dopes this stupid sumbitch ever post anything that isn’t an outright lie and/or laughably so?

  21. It was Bezos’ money to spend as he wished in whatever peaceful way he wished. He chose to go into space as part of the effort to commercialize space. Heck, his passengership was actually a productive effort, but that’s a side issue.

    Why the hell do people think it’s there right and prerogative to tell other people how to spend their money? What gives them the moral authority to tell them where they can or cannot travel? An flight to Europe is fine, a flight to the edge of space is not. What’s the moral difference?

    Why are they telling Bill Gates what charities he must give to, when Bill Gates is already donated hundreds of millions to charities already. Do these people object because it’s not THEIR choice? Not THEIR favored charities? Do they even give a shit about charity when they demand his money be confiscated? Taxation is not charity, taxation is extortion.

    These people aren’t hand wringing out of concern, they’re hand wringing out of envy. It’s a Dick Dastardly style of hand wringing. Mwa ha ha, that money’s now mine to spend!

    1. Why the hell do people think it’s there right and prerogative to tell other people how to spend their money?

      Because it’s money. It doesn’t have anyone’s name on it, so it could be anybody’s. If it were a personally identifiable thing it’d seem different, but because money is fungible, people see it as potentially their own.

      1. Not quite what fungible means, but close. Dollars are fungible because one dollar is the same as any other dollar. Fungibility means I can trade my 50,000 dollars for 50,000 of Bezos’ dollars and both of us would still be happy. I’m not keeping track my my dollar bills’ serial numbers.

        So I dispute it’s fungibility, and assert instead it’s good old fashioned greed and envy. “It’s not fair that he has more!”

  22. “But in the United States in 2021, a softer version of this iron law is at play, with the center-left and the center-right mushily converging toward expensive authoritarian policies that look astonishingly similar despite their supposedly opposite goals.”

    I don’t think they are creating a smaller horseshoe so much as just pushing down the branches of the regular horseshoe. In other words, the “center” right and left and moving away from the center. Its something that’s been going on for decades

    1. The horseshoe is becoming horseslippers.

      1. They’re being welded onto boat anchors so they can sink us all…after they’ve nailed them into our feet!

    2. So it’s not even lying in a plane any more, the tips are at a lower level?

  23. Second comment, because I deserve it because Monday’s make me sad.

    Anyway, the horseshoe theory is bad because it’s the same old “the spectrum is a circle” theory. Which is wrong. It’s wrong because the spectrum is not linear. It’s linear for any one single particular issue (for or against or other), but there are hundreds and thousands of issues all interwoven.

    What unites the extreme right and the extreme left is collectivism. The extremists want to enact rules that all others must follow. That’s the commonality. And they coincide in their desire to make people cogs in a machine that an elite will control. They differ only in who they want that elite to be. They are both monarchists, they disagree over who should be king.

    1. Yep, if you look at it one a 2-dimensional graph its much clearer. The extreme left and right have very different Y values, but the same X value

    1. Damnit, I eat Cheerios and Raisin Bran, and both of them generic or store brands! What’s this have to do with me?

      Where does Man-Goo get the time and luxury to play around with full-priced retail baby stuff like Lucky Charms? If you gotta use kiddie kibble, get a big sack of Malt-O-Meal so you can see how the other half lives!

      And did anybody teach her it’s not polite to play with your food, especially when you’re virtue-signalling with your food???

      Get off my lawn!

      1. lol on further inspection of the photo those might *be* Generic Charms.

        1. Aye! Always after me Generic Charms! With all the same flavor as Lucky Charms, but without that high-priced Leprachun! Get yer own Pot-O-Gold, me bucko!

  24. Libertarianism is way, way too invested in misdefining “left” and “right”, which is what you have to do to make far-left and far-right look identical.

    1. They spend lots of time navel gazing and fence sitting, then wonder why they never got an electoral vote.

    2. Sorry to whomever. My earplugs touched the “Flag” button by accident. Smartphones can be a pain to use sometimes. I need a holographic keyboard. Does anyone make something like that for us four-eyes?

      1. I don’t even try. I stay off of comment boards until I’m home at my desktop.

      2. Don’t worry about it. Nobody at Reason ever examines flagged comments, anyway.

        1. And that’s a good thing.

    3. One side wants to regulate Facebook and Twitter. The other side wants to regulated Facebook and Twitter. They have have different motives for regulation Facebook and Twitter does not negate the fact that they both and to regulate Facebook and Twitter.

      If you look at the Nolan Chart, it’s a diamond. The more freedom someone wants the more the edge up to that single point at the top of the diamond. Left libertarians and right libertarians will eventually meet each other at maximum freedoms for all.

      Likewise the more control someone wants over other people’s lives the more they edge downward until the hit the bottom of the diamond. Both left statists and right statists will meet together in their desire for maximum control of all the people all of the time (minus some small carve out for them and their friends).

      1. Wanting to forciblly keep progressive government-unapproved speech off social media is not the same thing as wanting to remove special protections from social media if they unfairly censor users who post progressive-unapproved speech, you dumb duplicitous dildo

      2. (minus some small carve out for them and their friends)

        Yes, totalitarian activists always imagine they will be in the elite after the revolution. What they don’t realize is that totalitarian regimes cannot tolerate political activists of any kind, even the ones who supported their takeover, so the new rulers will put them against the wall first thing. It happens every revolution.

      3. Your opening paragraph illustrates the absurdity of the notoriously vague definition of the word “regulate”. Like many other left-wing terms (“racism” is an obvious example), “regulation” is used to conflate the egregious with the trivial; the abhorrent with the benign.

        You use the word to argue that enforcing “Don’t tread on me” is equivalent to enforcing “Ban all dissent.”

  25. This summer, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went to the edge of space on a ship he built with his own earnings. A bunch of people saw the billionaire blast off and thought: “Screw that guy and his dumb rocket—the government should take his money because I have a much better idea of how to spend it.”

    Actually, no. My first thought was that Bezos should stop using government to take my taxdollars so that he can fly to space, because I have better ideas on how to spend my money.

    1. You’ll be happy to know Bezos received almost no government funding, and what he did get was very early in his company’s development when the government gave him a few million while searching for contractors to supply the ISS (those contracts were later awarded to Elon Musk’s SpaceX)

      1. Ditto. Most of Bezos’ dollahs come from Amazon, which first sold books, then sold everything, and still didn’t make yuuge profits until they monetized their cloud technology. None of that was via any significant taxpayer money (except for local kickbacks to build a plant or something, which both left and right (and even Ron Paul) are in favor of so long as its in their district).

      2. According to the Liberaltarians of Reason, legally minimizing taxes equates to taking other people’s money.

    2. Yes, but that’s not why people are shitting their pants over Bezos in space.

  26. Horseshoe theory is caused by the fallacy of putting a multi-dimensional situation into a flat line. There is no smooth left-right dichotomy.

    There are at least two main axes, liberal/conservative on one axis and libertarian/authoritarian on the other.

    The extremists on both sides are authoritarians because they want their side to win at all costs. You can call it “far left” and “far right” but in reality, they united in being authoritarians. On the other hand, you can hold pretty out there conservative/liberal viewpoints while still being strongly libertarian.

    1. Yup it is amazing how people don’t see that. Then they fall for the least bad choice fallacy. The whole cycle just keeps repeating itself.

    2. Imposing predetermined axes is also a blunder. If you want science that doesn’t assume its conclusions, you need cluster analysis like that typology that they’ve periodically updated for a few decades now to identify new clusterings.

      1. But then should the clustering be used only to form a hypothesis or model, with the additional step of proof of the hypothesis or model, before claiming science?

    3. To truly understand someone’s politics, the Nolan chart needs a few more axes: pragmatic vs. idealistic, gradualist vs. absolutist, for sure; maybe also tribal vs. universal, individual vs. communitarian. And there’s truth-seeking vs. narrative-seeking, victimized vs. enabled.

      1. That’s why I said “at least”. Analytical/Emotional is also one of the most significant policy-making axes, though it isn’t often referred to.

        1. Analytical/emotional a good one.

  27. Here’s a pro-tip for you Katie,

    Other conservatives weighed in with their own thoughts when Bezos flew. Matthew Walther, editor of the conservative Catholic publication The Lamp, wrote: “Maybe instead of sending idiots into a blank meaningless void at a gazillion bucks a pop we could build, I dunno, a functioning transit system in our capital city. Maybe we could even try real regional rail. Just spitballing.”

    The guy calling for public rail ISN’T a conservative.

    1. I think The Lamp is only “conservative” in terms of its adherence to catholicism.

      At The Lamp we take marching orders from neither the discredited ideologies of the progressive left or the libertarian-conservative right nor from the neoliberal consensus of atomization, spoliation, rootlessness, and mindless entertainment into which both are rapidly being subsumed, but rather from the immutable teaching of the Church.

      1. And you have to laugh at the “immutable teaching of the Church” part.

        1. Check out the YouTube video of Brett Winterble interviewing Father Bill Nicholas on NewsMaxTV. The headline is: “The Inquisition–Fr. Bill on NewsmaxTV (Historical Perspectives)”

          Biggest bunch of apple-polishing, whitewashing, revisionist history, Catholic Apologetic, bullshit on The Inquisition that I have ever heard in my life!

          1. Now do Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust.

            1. Fake news. Pope Pius XII never happened. You can’t scientifically prove it.

            2. I’m going to check out the rest of Father Bill’s Channel to see if he goes that far.

              I’m also going to find out if Brett The Winter Bull has a Vibranium arm, gets triggered by word sequences, and says: “Hail Hydra!”

    2. Ding Ding Ding!!!!! But both sides

  28. “Or should moderation be banned altogether to prevent viewpoint discrimination?”

    Yes. You’re a publisher or you’re the phone company. Pick one.

  29. Romney and Gillibrand are the Extreme Right and the Extreme Left? Seriously?

  30. “a tiny number of white nationalists and an elite coterie of social justice activists both argue that, in fact, everything is about race”

    Uh…no. It’s a tiny number of white nationalists and everyone to the left of Jimmy Carter.

  31. “The notion that we might let people make their own decisions about their own lives in accordance with a liberal democratic legal order remains, luckily, the predominant view in this country.”

    Have you ever left the house, Katherine? By far the dominant view in this country today is that the government should stop people from doing anything I disapprove of and take care of me cradle to grave. Liberal values have nearly died out.

    1. ^THIS; Everyone battling over the Gov-Gun-Forces massive amount of POWER. Which shouldn’t be there in the first place.

  32. What’s funny about the “both sides are the same” argument is when trashing the Republican side the argument uses *outlier* opinions of anyone who claims to be Republican but practices RINO tendencies compulsively.

    Here’s a bomb shell – The TRUMP Administration cut taxes.. The TRUMP Administration cut regulation.. The TRUMP Administration ended Hitler-Obama’s fine for not being on Nazi-Healthcare.. The TRUMP Administration *almost* ended the most expansive Nazi-Healthcare.

    Talk is talk; but when it comes to actual action – the parties are NOTHING alike.

    1. Need we even keep going; Dropping from the Paris-Accord.. The list goes on and on and on.. But nothing told the story louder than how Trump immediately cancelled a swath of Democratic Executive Orders when first and office and Biden immediately enacted them all over and PLUS another hundred.

    2. What’s funny about the “both sides are the same” argument is when trashing the Republican side the argument uses *outlier* opinions of anyone who claims to be Republican but practices RINO tendencies compulsively.

      It comes back to the point I’ve made about the ‘BOTH SIDEZ!’ argument since it was applied to racism. The inability to discriminate is not a feature of inteligent systems. It’s an anti-pattern of rational thought, like insisting we construct programming languages without if/else statements rather than insisting a program be barred from producing any given output… the desire to generate equal outcomes without the ability to distinguish ‘oppressor’ from ‘oppressed’ or determine what constitutes equal.

      This is because they don’t want equality or to end discrimination, they want to discriminate in their preferred fashion.

  33. K M-W, I’m a strong proponent of the horseshoe theory, this said, your first, the Bezos-in-space, example has far more dribbling lefties than shuffling righties. And this trend bears out, if one takes the time to do a bit of research. I posit that the modern Left and progressives have taken everything that the 1980s religious right did, expanded upon it, and are carrying on with such gusto and excess that the horseshoe resembles a capitol ‘J.’

  34. You really have to be an intellectual dunce of the highest order if with a Yale degree in political science and writing for a libertarian magazine, you still think of politics as one-dimensional and haven’t even heard of the Nolan chart.

    That, or Mangu-Ward is a run-of-the-mill paid propagandist who doesn’t care what she writes as long as it makes her bosses happy.

    Which is it? Stupidity or venality or both?

  35. This article reminds me of that opening classroom scene from Dead Poet’s Society. KMW’s metric is so strained and it’s conclusion predetermined that it is painfully stupid to even read.

    We should all rip it out from the internet.

  36. Reality Check “First and foremost, Hitler saw the State as the ideal form of social organization; managed by people dedicated to making it finer and stronger. Wrong! He failed totally to get his premise right, i.e., that individual humans each own themselves, and should interact only when and how each wishes to do so – in what we call the “market.” This fundamental error he shares with all who favor the continuing existence of government. Thus, at root, every politician is a Nazi.” ~ Jim Davies

  37. I tend to be more utilitarian, and Reason.com is more libertarian, but this is a good article – directly on target. The problem is the ends of the horseshoe are politically active trying to invoke change, and the bar in the middle are people trying to live their lives. The centrists need high profile politicians who represent their interests.

    1. We need Extreme Centrists?

  38. For the random imbeciles who assume the Nazis were NOT socialists (regardless of their claim to be such) and to lefty imbeciles like trueman, who assume post WWII ‘liberal’ writers like Manchester are capable of analyzing economic data and trends, I cannot recommend “Wages of Destruction” (Adam Tooze) strongly enough.
    And it is worthwhile to read “The Russian Revolution” (Richard Pipes) either concurrently or closely thereafter.
    Hitler had exactly the same plans as Lenin, and had progressed along exactly the same path, but had his plans cut short as a result of the war he started; he had to rely on the capitalist owners of industry in the (failed) hopes of out-economiking the Allies, since he had no socialist management team ready to take over, if (unlikely) that group ever could.
    He, like the Japanese, lost the war the day he started it as a result of a similar (imbecilic hope) that ‘spirit’ isn’t victim to 50-caliber rounds. It is.
    Yes, the National Socialists were socialists; they had every intent to ‘nationalize’ industry as they had agriculture.
    If you have good cites to the contrary, please post them, but be assured there are hundreds of books on the shelves back there, and I’m willing to call bullshit.

  39. Oh, and “Arms of Krupp” is very good reading, but contra trueman, is worthless regarding the Nazi/socialist issue.

  40. I usually agree that the left and right extremes get kind of similar (see: vaccines, at least before Covid), but the Big Tech example is terrible. “Big Tech should be regulated so it doesn’t let people talk as much” is the polar opposite of “Big Tech should be regulated because it is stopping people from talking.”

  41. The paradox of the horseshoe theory becomes clear when you carefully re-examine the conventional view of the political spectrum. We have International Socialism on the Left, and National Socialism on the Right, with numerous examples of regulation and nationalization of particular industries rated along a continuum in the middle.

  42. The entire spectrum is Socialist!! A more meaningful view is to rate all authoritarian systems together on one end (let’s say the left), and more freedom and individual autonomy on the right. In that view, Communism and Fascism fall together on the Left end, and Jeffersonian democracy falls to the Right (but not the most extreme Right–the rightmost extreme would be complete anarchy). That explains how far-left and far-right are manifestations of the same authoritarian impulse.

    1. “A more meaningful view is to rate all authoritarian systems together on one end (let’s say the left), and more freedom and individual autonomy on the right. ”

      This has been done for years. The Index of Economic Freedom is one such effort by a rightist think tank. Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand rate the highest, and Sudan, Libya and Venezuela rate the lowest.

      1. Sure, I didn’t claim that this idea was original. I was only explaining how it is that the extreme left and right always end up acting so similar to one another. It seems less strained than the horseshoe explanation.

        1. ” I was only explaining how it is that the extreme left and right always end up acting so similar to one another.”

          I’d agree that authoritarian regimes are authoritarian. But is China further left than Canada, say? Canada has socialized medical insurance, so in that sense they are more extreme than China, which does not. Yet few would argue that Canada is more authoritarian than China, which makes a point of managing public opinion and movement, and much more. Canadians on the other hand are free to move from country to town, and province to province without government permission.

  43. I grant you that Canada is less authoritarian than China. But is it more socialist, since it is pursuing a socialist policy that China is not? Ther is a far more practical explanation for why China is not working toward a policy goal of medical care for its citizenry–they have nowhere near the resources that such an undertaking would require. In any case, extreme left (China is extreme left but Canada is not) and extreme right systems exert similar efforts to control personal and societal freedom.

    1. “But is it more socialist, since it is pursuing a socialist policy that China is not?”

      I would say why not? How is China extreme left when the medical industry is privatized? Same with a huge chunk of the education system. In Canada they are socialized, not privatized. My definition of leftist or socialist is public, not private. How can a country that lacks socialized medicine and socialized education be more extreme in its socialism than a country that has both? I agree that China is more extreme than Canada when it comes to authoritarianism, but surely that’s another issue entirely.

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