Horseshoe theory is always an interesting one. Like with most political theories, I think there elements of truth and of cynicism to it, both.
The cynicism of horseshoe theory is that it's a theory invented by bourgeois liberal democrats really just to advance the cause of a more complete commercialization of society by casting all opponents thereto as dangerously tyrannical. This cynicism was perhaps most clear in the second half of the 20th century when those very neoliberal, Western regimes, led by the United States, more often than not allied themselves to military dictators and coups and even the forces of political Islam in the Third World in the name of stopping the ascendancy of Marxist forces (especially in as far as those forces might be tied to the Soviet Union). That describes most of the Third World governments and forces we (the United States) supported as liberating forces during the Cold War. It's tough to rationally argue that such forces were, in truth, any more liberal-minded or pro-democratic than the Marxist police states and aligned forces that they fought. My point being that, historically speaking, governments controlled by capitalistic, neoliberal forces haven't had a problem aligning themselves with police states, theocracies, and other reactionary elements, so it's in this way that horseshoe theory can be of cynical use on their part, as Simon Choat has pointed out.
There is, however, also an aspect of truth to horsehoe theory in my observation. One is struck by the 1939 truce between the Soviet Union and the German Nazis at the outset of the Second World War, and by the similarity of their political systems (single-party arrangements complete with slave labor camps for political prisoners, etc.), that sort of thing. Democratic socialist George Orwell certainly noticed the similarly authoritarian tendencies between sections of Marxists on the one hand and right wing reactionaries on the other, which he famously took aim at in his book 1984.
Fast-forwarding to this century, you can see a number of prominent common causes between much of the progressive left and the not-so-progressive right in differing forms of anti-globalization and even in the occasional formal alliances with Islamist and nationalist parties and elements. Among the most striking examples of this phenomenon from recent years that I would highlight was the endorsement of Donald Trump's presidential campaign by Slajov Zizek, the leading voice in Orthodox Marxism in this century, and the strikingly warm relationship between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un that has subsequently emerged.
Anti-Semitism in particular is a worryingly common feature of no longer just the far right, but also today of many on the far left. I'm sure we've all noticed not only the recent spat of attacks on synagogues here in this U.S. in the last year, but also a troubling pattern of progressive members of Congress playing to anti-Semitic tropes in their critiques of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians even here in this country. Go farther out than Ilhan Omar to places like the Nation of Islam and the anti-Semitic attitudes can become more overt and pronounced, as we have also seen right here in this country.
I would also observe two other notable expressions of commonality between the far right and some on the far left today. One is their relationship to women. I'm always struck by it whenever Margaret Atwood (the famed author of The Handmaid's Tale) is interviewed. One of the things she highlights often in interviews is that, historically speaking, totalitarian regimes have always seemed to feature a fascination with controlling women's reproductive functions; a fascination with the number of children that women are or aren't having, be it the Third Reich or the Romanian Marxist regime of the late 20th century. If you go far enough to the left or right, you will still see this phenomenon today. I've also observed another similarity related to women: a striking tendency to talk about women using the same tropes that ethno-nationalists use to characterize Jewish people: women, and especially feminists, are increasingly being talked about as a bourgeois conspiracy against the working man. Conservative political parties and progressive activists alike often refer to "the feminist elites" and female candidates for public office, no matter whether they are neoliberals or economic populist progressives, are alleged to be corrupt deceivers beholden to finance-capital; women in general are alleged to be privileged over men and the secret rulers of society from behind the scenes, by way of controlling men in metaphysical ways.
The other is a similar aversion to basic democratic freedoms. From the White House these days we hear the press routinely described in Stalinist terms as "the enemy of the people", and that's by a self-described right wing "nationalist". Conversely, on the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the infamous phenomenon of cancel culture that really can pose a threat to principles like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
In truth of course, this is all dynamic. People pursue alliances of political convenience and expedience often times. They are necessary to achieve victories, typically. It's really not more complicated than that, for as cynical as each of the above elements may render one. For example, I'm a radical feminist and yet, seemingly ironically, I find that I'm sometimes able to get along with men's rights activists (some of them anyway) more easily than with more conventional, intersectional feminists. That's because, though we may approach questions related to men and women and their respective natures and interests from broadly opposing angles, we nonetheless share a sincere interest in these topics, whereas others may prefer to simply not discuss them very much. Of course this doesn't work in groups. When it's me trying to communicate with a group of MRAs, nothing happens because groupthink prevails. But one-on-one, communication can sometimes actually be possible. I mean, even if from different angles, on occasion radical feminists and some MRAs reach similar conclusions. For example, many MRAs are against pornography and sex dolls because they believe these things stifle the sex lives of men, while radical feminists believe these things are harmful to women in many (frankly more serious) ways, so that's an example of how sometimes we wind up agreeing with each other more than with the forces of sexual liberalism. And other things. Just as an example.
I'm a flexible and practical person. That's because I know what I'm for and against and am also open to hearing those who disagree with me, even strongly. I favor the progressive Democrats in our elections (at this time anyway) because of what our particular political dynamics are in the U.S. right now. If I lived in the UK, I'd probably support the Liberal Democratic Party in whatever elections may come next because the dynamic there currently revolves around Brexit, which I view as a reactionary, isolationist project sponsored by Moscow that will devastate the UK if implemented (and is already right now just out of the suspense around it on a certain level) and the neoliberals who form the Liberal Democratic Party have become the solid remain party, whereas the left wing Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn has embraced instead a "soft Brexit". In other words, on the most basic and compelling question of the day in that country, Labour has as much in common with the Conservatives pushing for a "hard Brexit" as they do with the Liberal Democrats who are against the project altogether. The neoliberals are right to take their principled stand, I believe. That's why they're gaining in popularity at Labour's expense right now. In the recent Israeli elections, I preferred the secularist, Arabic Joint List and was glad to see them emerge in third place as a major force. If I were Canadian, honestly I believe I'd currently side with their Conservative Party maybe even in the upcoming election in that country. Canada's Conservatives are waaaaay more moderate and reasonable than ours (for example, they are not proposing budget cuts to public welfare programs or even so much as the regulation, let alone prohibition, of abortion) and there are some important areas, like free speech, that I think form some of the most important differences between the parties in that election right now.
(Like I've said before, I'm not actually per se an ideological progressive myself. Though I have definite principles, I don't really feel like I have a specific ideological category, and am very pragmatically-inclined as a result.)
Those are my thoughts on this.
Last edited by Jaicee - on 22 September 2019