Politics, Top Stories

The Hole-Digging Theory of Political Conflict

In Russia we have a saying: “Don’t dig a hole for another because you’ll be the one that falls in it.”

I have been very fond of this proverb since childhood when my parents shipped me off for my summer holidays to stay with my Ukrainian grandparents on their farm. There, over a period of three long months, I became friends with a local boy who introduced me to a game that all the kids in our village played.

The objective was simple: to dig a hole, conceal it with leaves, branches, and other debris and then guide your chosen target into it—typically a girl you fancied or, better still, a competitor for her attentions. Whoever said chivalry is dead has never been deliberately walked into a hole by the boy of her dreams.

Over the course of the summer, the game became more and more elaborate and the risks and rewards spiralled out of control: It turned out Ukrainian adult villagers were not fond of twisting their ankles in holes dug by their offspring and, despite their historically-ingrained distaste for any notion of collectivisation, were quite capable of organising a mass campaign of prophylactic spanking for all the children.

Nonetheless, the game went on and as participants we learned valuable lessons.

First of all, creating holes for others is tremendously enjoyable. The satisfaction of digging, concealing, plotting, and finally watching your quarry stumble into it is indescribable. The look of shock, replaced with relief and eventually hilarious rage on the victim’s face, very familiar to you as a previous target of a similar “holing,” was quite something.

But more usefully for adult life, digging holes for others is also dangerous. For a start, all the time spent carefully crafting your trap is time taken away from the important reconnaissance work of identifying the holes being dug by your enemies. A single-minded focus on digging your hole means you’re more likely to end up shocked, relieved, and enraged in someone else’s. The other problem, of course, is that hole-diggers were considered fair game by other hole-diggers, while non-combatants were generally treated as civilians and left alone. In other words, digging holes for others inevitably leads to others digging holes for you.

I believe those who imagine politics as a battleground between two gladiator armies, battling it out in open combat, are naïve. Our party political system is far better described through the medium of mutually-assured hole-digging destruction. Often, the destruction is done by the victims themselves by virtue of their own hypocrisy. Some memorable examples of this are John Major’s Conservatives in the early-to-mid-1990s, who presided over a “Back to Basics” campaign that emphasised traditional values only to be engulfed by a tsunami of sleaze, and American evangelicals who preach family values and abstinence from the pulpit with all-too-predictable consequences. As the late Christopher Hitchens once said, “Whenever I hear some bigmouth in Washington or the Christian heartland banging on about the evils of sodomy or whatever, I mentally enter his name in my notebook and contentedly set my watch. Sooner rather than later, he will be discovered down on his weary and well-worn old knees in some dreary motel or latrine, with an expired Visa card, having tried to pay well over the odds to be peed upon by some Apache transvestite.”

Those still reading despite the unwholesome imagery who are not day-to-day followers of American politics may, nonetheless, vaguely recall the brouhaha over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice in 2018. In September of that year, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings to approve his nomination and the Democrats on the committee, several of whom later unsuccessfully attempted to become their party’s nominee for president, got their shovels out and started digging. In an attempt to derail the hearing, they produced three women who alleged that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted them and immediately declared that all of these women must be believed.

Despite the allegations, none of which were substantiated, Kavanaugh was confirmed by the committee and became a Supreme Court Justice. The media circus moved on, but the hole that had been dug is captured by the hashtag #BelieveAllWomen. At the time, those who expressed concern about basing decisions about whether to appoint someone to public office on allegations that have never been examined in court were summarily dismissed as being complicit in sexual assault. You either believed all women or you were part of the problem. There was no middle ground.

Less than two years have passed and we now see why hole-digging is a dangerous pastime. After a long and arduous campaign, the Democrats have finally settled on their nominee in the form of Joe Biden. The Party ignored corruption allegations involving Biden’s son, his painfully obvious cognitive decline and the fact that he is an old, straight, white man, which won’t be a problem for the American electorate, but could well be for the Democratic Party’s activist base. Instead, the Party banked on his experience, wide appeal, and association with President Obama. But no sooner had Biden’s competitors for the nomination dropped out and endorsed him than a woman came forward alleging that Biden had sexually assaulted her.

This has left all those who tweeted #BelieveAllWomen in a frenzy of self-righteous moral fury in a bit of a quandary. It has been painful to watch the collective contortions of the people who publicly declared their complete faith in Kavanaugh’s accusers being forced to confront the choice between their principles and their presidential nominee. Some, like outspoken actress Rose McGowan, have come out of this dilemma with their dignity just about intact. Most have not.

While this episode is important in and of itself and the women and men involved in both cases deserve justice, the broader lesson here remains the same: The throwing of stones by the inhabitants of glass dwellings is not a good long-term strategy and since we all have a glass pane or two in our houses perhaps we ought to consider putting our rocks down every now and then.


Konstantin Kisin is a Russian-British comedian based in the U.K. and the co-host of TRIGGERnometry. You can follow him on Twitter @KonstantinKisin.


  1. Great article. I’m a big fan of your work, both on Triggernometry and with Comedy Unleashed. At a time when many on both sides of the Culture Wars are busy making fools of themselves, Free Speech in comedy is essential. I particularly liked your venue orientated interview with Andrew Doyle, and think you should try the same format again (when the opportunity arises). His ability to reframe ‘punching up’ to include wealthy woke white members of the establishment media, is an important push-back against those who would use the championing of others as a shield for the cultural Stasi.

    On a broader note, the inconsistent standard between the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh and the Tara Reade allegation, is yet another example of the hypocrisy we have come to expect. The Justin Trudeau Blackface incident was hilarious, but of greater concern was the speed and ease with which he was forgiven. It seemed the ink was barely dry on the broadsheet, before a slew of Celebs and notables were lining up to embrace him. The path to redemption is only to be found in the encampment of the Left, by all appearances- yet more evidence of the creeping double standard.

  2. As the son of a woman, the brother of two more, the husband of one, the father of two and the grandfather of three more, I would venture, just venture, to guess that there are very few women who believe all women.

  3. Men commit the vast majority of all violence and women commit the vast majority of all manipulation.

    We do what we’re good at.

  4. I cannot express how grateful I am to Joe Biden for ensuring that the mantra of the MeToo movement collapses under its own sick contradictions.

    Biden, of all people, who for so many years has worked consistently to undermine due process of law for those accused of sexual misconduct. Biden, the hypocritical architect of the redefinition of sexual consent on campus under Title IX, which demonized a generation of young men. Biden, famous for his role as the champion of feminism, as the white knight and savior of fair womanhood. Biden in his discreet supporting role as a specialist for inappropriately touching, kissing, hugging and sniffing women and young girls in public.

    But the chickens have finally come home to roost. Isn’t the irony delicious? How his supporters wriggle back and forth in deciding whether they should stick to their accused presidential candidate or rather to their noble principles. Now everyone with eyes can see their hypocrisy. Remember your demands to believe all women during your smear campaign against Kavanaugh?

    As you sow, so you shall reap. Karma is a bitch. And poetic justice really exists!

  5. I can see his point, but I can see yours too. One of the things that I think he is pleased about is that the people who are pushing the toxic narrative are now getting hurt by the toxic narrative. This may encourage them to stop it, because when you are doing something wrong and it cost you something, you might want to stop doing that something wrong.

    I think it may also help elect Trump, because when people are seeing how ridiculous and partisan these things are, well, he’s the game in town that isn’t pushing this particular narrative. He appears to be immune to it.

  6. I have sympathy for him as a fellow human being trapped in an unfortunate situation. Still, I think Biden deserves this. He has helped to put hundreds of men in similar or even worse situations. Now he tastes his own medicine. Maybe there’s something important he can learn from it?

    I agree with your description, but I estimate the consequences of this matter very differently.

    This situation is a unique opportunity for left-wing liberals to see what they are doing with their policies. And they will only learn this lesson if it affects people they care about. It is an important signal to all supporters of modern MeToo feminism that the ideology they support could easily turn against themselves or against their favorite candidate or their male friends or their brothers or their husbands on the next suitable opportunity.

    It is crucial that everyone recognizes that due process and a fair trial are more important than identity politics and mob justice. And this issue could be an important step towards this insight. That’s why I’m “gloating” that these people have scored an own goal here. It could help us all as a result.

  7. The #MeToo movement was founded in response to the taking down of powerful left-wing figures for their long histories of inappropriate conduct. The entire premise - Me Too! - was to shift blame away from left-wing figureheads and towards, ultimately, right-wing people.

    This was apparent from the outset. On the first day that the hashtag started trending, I saw a woman on reddit ask if her having once discovered that her father owned pornography made her a bonafide #MeToo victim. Of course, she was told that she was, just as much as any other woman! The narrative was that ALL MEN share the blame. You could see even then the transparent effort to deflect attention from the political orientation of the men actually being busted in the news.

    A counter-hashtag quickly launched - #NotAllMen - but this was quickly countered with #YesAllWomen, which alleged that the fact that all women experience some form of victimization at some point in their lives (no matter how small) means that all men everywhere are tried and convicted. Even if a man has never interacted with a woman in his life, he’s guilty for not stopping other men from misbehaving!

    This all fits the collectivist mindset. Group guilt, group privilege, group oppression. Any individual act is part of a broad narrative covering society as a whole. The personal is political. And like all manifestations of collectivism, the intent is to be inconsistent. Men are responsible for other men who they’ve never been within a thousand miles of, but women are not responsible for even their own actions!

    The endgame arrives soon enough. Once a single right-wing offender is identified, we completely forget all of the others (who all happened to be left-wing). Initially, it was Roy Moore. Once he got attention, everybody forgot about Weinstein.

    This was the goal!

    And then, of course, Brett Kavanaugh became the face of #MeToo. It’s like suggesting that Donald Trump is worse than Hitler! (oh, wait…)

    What is unfortunate is that even after seeing these things play out so many times, people are still naive about the next one. Are social media bans on COVID-19 “dissent” truly well-intended defenses of public health? Were they ever meant to be?

    Use your head. And if your head fails, try reading history.

  8. No, but I see very few actually distancing themselves from their identificationist brethren.

  9. Nice list, I was thinking the same thing above, but wouldn’t have known where to get a body count. Yup, I dare say it could be argued that liberals and progressives are more at risk. They are more likely to be surrounded by woke police and their purity is both more important and more scrutinized. Besides like I said above, men are born guilty and being a liberal is no absolution.

    It seems to me these ambush/assassinations should be forbidden outright. Everyone’s doing it now and it’s disgusting. Nope, if you have a complaint make it promptly and when it’s been dealt with it is over. No dredging up stuff from decades ago.

    No of course not. There will be the usual bell curve, with fire breathing man haters on one side and phony bandwagoners on the other and most people in the middle motivated by some level of genuine concern. But the ones making all the noise are the harpies and they do want to destroy all men or reduce them to servitude. Indeed there is much to be ashamed of, but as has been said above, ‘believe victims’ is an attempt to end due process. I wish more moderate people, of all genders, would control the movement. All decent people surely are horrified at what, say, Cosby got away with. Who doesn’t think that Harvey got what he had coming?

    That’s just it. As I never stop whining, the sane left has to regain control from the harpies and the woke zealots. Good old fashioned commies are at least sane.

  10. The fact that Biden is barely competitive in a field without competition says enough. Reade will be the hammer T. uses for the last nail on Biden’s coffin :frowning:

    As a life long left-centre person, thinking T. is a bizarre president, I would not vote for the Democratic party if I was an American unless they explicitly dump the corrosive woke shit.

  11. On second thought, this is one of those things were the feminists and The Patriarchy tend to agree: ‘work’ means work outside the home. But it is the feminists who denigrate domestic work, not The Patriarchs.

  12. Yes, but the question is, is this an impeachable offense? I actually go with Alan Dershowitz on this one. It doesn’t meet the level set by the founding fathers, and every time you lower that level, every time you lower the bar, it makes it easier to do it again the next time.

    It’s one of the reasons why I hope Trump really brings it home this election. Setting a precedent that frivolous impeachment is a really really bad idea and guarantees your loss in the next election may derail the hole digging. I don’t want to go through with impeachment happening every decade, or every presidency. As soon as the president has an opposition party in the house, they can do this. This isn’t good government. It isn’t good for us as a people. And it devalues our system of government.

  13. Great article but I’d quibble with this:

    It has been painful to watch the collective contortions of the people who publicly declared their complete faith in Kavanaugh’s accusers being forced to confront the choice between their principles and their presidential nominee.

    It hasn’t been painful at all! It’s been hilarious!

  14. There are two separate and distinct issues here.

    1. Does Biden deserve due process. YES

    2. Have the Democrats and the media been exposed as hypocrites; ALSO YES

    I’m human, I can believe that Biden deserves due process and also enjoy the heck out of watching the Democrats and the MSM try to wiggle out of this one :grinning:

    1. I said institutional power, not political power.There is a difference. I suspect most Pennsylvanians do not support the persecution of nuns being conducted by their government. However, unelected bureaucrats, unlike politicians, do not serve at the will of the people.

    2. There are multiple conservative outlets. But increasingly, access to news is controlled by a few large tech monopolies - Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Do an experiment. Type Trump into the Google search line and hit news. Check out the first 100 references and note how many are from conservative vs. liberal outlets

    3. The NYT has written several articles about the Black Hebrew Israelites. I was referring to the one they wrote immediately after the the Covington Kids slander. None of what you state was included

    1. Vox has provided a platform for Antifa on multiple occasions and has endorsed the use of violence in some articles.They have condemned it in others The article you cite actually agrees with me on the attempts to portray Ngo as a provocateur and not a real journalist. I guess you missed these articles
    1. The idea that there is not a free speech crisis on campus is ludicrous. The idea that you would use such an “impartial source” as Vox is even more ludicrous. Go to Heterodox Academy

    and read the numerous studies that demonstrate that conservative students are afraid of disclosing their views both to other students and their professors. Go to FIRE and look at the number of universities, perhap including your own, that have highly restrictive speech codes.

    1. Vox is correct that some left-wing professors have been fired for their comments. But let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s say there was a professor with openly extreme right-wing Nazi views. That professor stated that Jews control the weather and they they were responsible for 9-11. The professor stated that ISIS was really an arm of Israeli intelligence and that Israel was behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre Let say that professor shared anti-Semitic images such as a picture of the Jewish banking heir Jacob Rothschild with the words “We own your news, the media, your oil and your government.”.

    As parents, we trust you with that which is most precious to us - the education of our children. So do you believe that Nazis should be professors? Yes or No?

    I lied! This was not a thought experiment The professor was a far left woman by the name of Joy Karega who taught at Oberlin and who made all of those statements. However, she was endorsed by Der Stormer. Now that you know she was real and on teft - not the right, did you change your mind?

    1. The alt-right largely an invention of the press. Yes, there are right-wing extremists. Some kill people. Mostly they kill Jews That would be me. But 500 fat losers with tiki torches is not an existential threat to the U.S. despite what the NYT or ADL says. I stopped donating to ADL several years ago when they steadfastly refused to acknowledge anti-Semitism from the left, which is a huge problem on college campuses. When a Jewish student was initially told she could not serve in student government in 2015 the local ADL chapter said it was no big deal. They were silent when the president of SFSU said Zionists were not welcome on campus.

    Note that, unlike you, I did not use a single reference from a right-leaning media source. In fact some of the sources I used lean left. You used left-leaning sources, ADL, and far left sources, Vox, to make your points. Your arguments would be stronger if you used unbiased sources.

    I know many on the left. All are moderates like yourself. I get that the left is heterogenous. But it is the far left that is increasingly running the show. I will forward Brett Weinstein’s (late of Evergreen College) advice on to you.

    Watch out Liberal Professor, You’re Next!

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