The Horseshoe Theory Says Right And Left Wing Are More Similar Than You Think

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Traditionally, the political spectrum is illustrated as a straight line, with liberalism on the left and conservatism on the right, each ideology getting more extreme as it gets closer to the end of the spectrum. According to French philosopher Jean-Pierre Faye, that all checks out except for one important difference: the spectrum is not a line, but a horseshoe. This horseshoe theory of political ideology says that the radical left and the radical right are much closer to each other than they are to the political center.

Take the extreme left of communism and extreme right of fascism, for example. Communism relies on a strong central government that says that citizens should work for the collective good (the people) and wealth should be redistributed equally. Fascism relies on a strong central government that says that citizens should work for the collective good (the state) and wealth should be redistributed equally. Subtler examples permeate modern politics, too. In the U.S., both hardcore conservatives and far-left progressives harbor suspicion of the government and a skepticism of science. In 2006, Tzvi Fleischer wrote in the Australia/Israel Review about the way anti-semitism appears in both far-left and far-right political views. It also extends beyond politics into orthodox religion, where rival monotheistic traditions condemn the beliefs of the others yet share views on a wide range of topics. Learn more about the horseshoe theory in the videos below.

What Is Horseshoe Theory?

Watch an illustrated primer on this political principle.

The Basics Of Political Ideology

What's the real difference between right and left?

The Father Of Conservative Extremism

Learn about Barry Goldwater.

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