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Horseshoe theory: Wikis


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Horseshoe theorists argue that the extreme left and the extreme right are a lot more similar than members of either group would admit.

The horseshoe theory in political science asserts that rather than the far left and the far right being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, they in fact closely resemble one another, much like the ends of a horseshoe. The theory is attributed to Jean-Pierre Faye.[1]

Horseshoe theory competes with the conventional linear left-right continuum system as well as the various multidimensional systems. Proponents of the theory point to similarities between the extreme left and the extreme right.



More recently, the term has been used when comparing hostility towards Jews from both the far left and the far right (see New antisemitism).[2]


Critics of the theory have suggested that many sociologists consider the Horseshoe theory to have been discredited[3].

In University of Reading academic Peter Barker's[4], book GDR and Its History, Peter Thompson[5] of the University of Sheffield observes that the theory is "increasingly orthodox", and describes the theory as seeing "left and right-wing parties being closer to each other than the centre". He dissents from the theory objecting that it fails to take into account the unbroken continuum of political thought.[6].

See also


  1. ^ Encel, Frédéric; Thual, François (2004-11-13). "United States-Israel: A friendship that needs to be demystified". Le Figaro (Paris). Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2009-02-13. "Jean-Pierre Faye's famous horseshoe theory (according to which extremes meet) finds verification here more than in other places, and the two states of delirium often mingle and meet, unfortunately spreading beyond these extremist circles. But contrary to the legend deliberately maintained and/or the commonplace believed in good faith, Israel and the United States have not always been allies; on several occasions their relations have even been strained."  
  2. ^ "The Political Horseshoe again". AIJAC. Retrieved 2009-02-13. "I think Mr. Loewenstein has done a good job demonstrating why many people believe, as the “political horseshoe” theory states, that there is a lot more common ground between the far left, where Loewenstein dwells politically, and the far right views of someone like Betty Luks than people on the left would care to admit."  
  3. ^ Political Research Associates: Study the U.S. Political Right
  4. ^ University of Reading: Peter Barker
  5. ^ University of Sheffield: Peter Thompson
  6. ^ GDR and Its History pp103


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