‘Food for the wolves’: the rise of the alt-right in Red Pill

Shaw, Kristian (2022) ‘Food for the wolves’: the rise of the alt-right in Red Pill. In: Hari Kunzru: Twenty-First Century Perspectives. Manchester University Press. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

Shaw K - Kunzru Chapter.pdf
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Shaw K - Kunzru Chapter.pdf
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Drawing on a personal interview, Shaw argues Red Pill not only reflects Kunzru’s own anxieties about the 2016 US presidential election but continues the concern for the haunting legacy of race in the contemporary moment that began with The Impressionist. For Kunzru, the novel reveals that ‘harsh contrast’ between those who believe the ‘rational progress of humankind will be done by academic progress’ and the xenophobic, nihilistic rhetoric of the alt-right, ‘where everything is done with a hyper-ironic mockery and nothing actually means anything’ (qtd. in Shaw and Upstone, 2021). The unnamed narrator’s obsession with the mysterious Anton, a baleful personification of the alt-right, leads him to question the values of a Habermasian public sphere and the morality of, what Shaw terms, his ‘gestural cosmopolitanism’. As he argues, the alt-right’s vision of a distorted ‘American sublime’, predicated on a nativist myth of ethnic unity, aligns with Trump’s attempts to tap into a destructive nostalgia untainted by the politics of progress. The second half of the chapter articulates the ways by which the alt-right manipulated memetic discourses to conceal their white supremacist agenda. Kunzru’s novel thus connects the spectral echoes of totalitarianism to contemporary cultural debates to expose the historical legacies that continue to scar the body politic.

Keywords:Hari Kunzru, Donald Trump, Brexit, Nationalism, Populism
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:49180
Deposited On:09 May 2022 14:41

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