This is a concept often mishandled in two opposite ways. Two ideological takes can have a degree of relationship without being the same statement. For example:

And the way this should be treated as far as political alliance is that if Alice has X enemy points, Bob has somewhere between 0 and X. We can extend this with Carol who is a second step away from Alice ("wanting to imprison innocent people makes Alice a bad person, but disagreeing with that doesn't make Bob a bad person"), and she should have more enemy points than 0 but fewer than Bob.

One way to mishandle this concept is to overestimate the distance of a Step and have no issue whatsoever with Bob. I've seen this example a couple times:

Me: "Dave Smith called Nick Fuentes, a known, literal fascist who hates freedom in every way, a "fellow traveler". This is one reason why I don't like Dave Smith."

Paleolibertarian: "But he didn't explicitly agree with any of Nick's fascist positions! If you have a problem with that comment, you're a snowflake."

(Aside: Dave Smith does actually support closed borders, and that's an even bigger reason to hate him. But that's not what we're talking about here.)

Left libertarians did the same thing with the 2020 lockdowns enforced in the name of COVID-19. The decent ones would admit that police kidnapping people for going to work is not something any libertarian or anarchist could support (there were a horrifying number of self-identified anarchists who wouldn't even admit that), but would have harsher condemnation for those who thought the media (you know, a cartel of known liars and we all agree on that) was even slightly exaggerating the severity of COVID than for leftists who supported such kidnapping.

You can also mishandle this concept by underestimating the distance of a Step. Bob is not literally the same as Alice and should not be treated the same. SJWs do this a lot:

Me: "Yes, I agree with you that racism against nonwhite people is a significant issue. I'm just saying racism against white people exists in some parts of society, not even that it's equally common."

SJW: "Ugh, I can't believe you'd side with the oppressor and undermine the struggles of POC like that. That makes you a racist too."

To them, the distance of a Step away from bigotry is almost 0.

Paleolibertarians also do this when the "evil anchor" is on the left, like when they canceled Jo Jorgensen, a candidate so libertarian I thought she was an ancap trying to infiltrate the system, and called her a Marxist because she used the #BlackLiveMatter hashtag. To them, the distance of a Step away from Marxism is almost 0.



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