Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thought of the Day - Horseshoe Theory

Several years ago I encountered a rather remarkable observation and associated name on a Yahoo Group for historical reenactors. In a conversation thread about something political which I immediately forgot there was mention of an explanation for a universal truth which I never forgot. The Horseshoe Theory explains everything I have seen of the arcs of variation of opinion on any subject. It's basic premise is that in any ideological arc the two extreme ends have more in common with each other than they do with the center or even more moderate elements of their own side. When I looked up this theory on Google perhaps as recently as a few years ago I could not find any mention of it. In recent days I felt the desire to finally share it with you here based upon my own interpretation and memory of how it was used in that original context. However, to my surprise and delight, tonight I noticed that there are actually now several pages devoted to it not the least of which are Wikipedia and RationalWiki. Apparently, this theory was first set forth by French philosopher Jean-Pierre Faye in 2008. However, Josef Joffe gives an excellent explanation of it in an essay:
"Left and right together illustrated once more the "horseshoe" theory of modern politics: As the iron is bent backward, the two extremes almost touch."

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