Red Pill: The Structure of Contemporary Apocalypse
Taking apocalypse literally as “uncovering” this paper talks about contemporary apocalypse as a collection of narratives uncovering a range of conspiracies such as white genocide and the Great Replacement, the New World Order, incels and feminism, and the COVID hoax. These cohere into a movement often referred to as Alt-Right where a feature of practice is to uncover types of thinking and forms of ‘truth’ that are supposedly suppressed, such as race science. The lead metaphor for this generation of conspiracy thinking is the “red pill” metaphor from the film The Matrix. This metaphor—ingestion of a sacrament—also ties the movement to religion and the traditional context of apocalypse. Addressing this dominant reading of apocalypse the paper goes on to explain how these conspiracies are responses to ontological precarity and the perceived collapse of a world. The paper uses the work of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Lacan to show how challenges to the dominant social structure—challenges based in gender, “race”, sexuality and conceptions of white privilege—undermine a sense of a “world”, causing anxiety and violence as individuals and groups seek to secure themselves through aggressive forms of self-expansion in the face of supposedly annihilating threats.