Using a reading of Hari Kunzru’s novel Red Pill to frame our contemporary political moment, this article asks what techniques of cultural critique are available to the Left today when the strategies of imaginary worldbuilding have become so central to the ethnonationalist politics of the Right. It argues that the end of the Cold War prompted a reconfiguration of political identities and public discourse in both the West and the former Soviet territories—through distinct but interrelated logics—that highlighted the failures of liberalism in ways that set the stage for the mainstream return of fascist politics of white supremacy. In this context of alternative histories taken as fact, of conspiracy rhetoric seemingly impervious to reason, this article asks how we can respond in intellectually robust ways that will help us to ground an inclusive culture and build a better future, practices the author situates in the broad field of Marxist-informed utopian studies.

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