Author Samit Basu’s Immigration Advisory for Fictional Dystopias

A collage of The City Inside book covers.

Image: TorDotCom

If you are in the global north and want to migrate to a fictional dystopia, then you have lost your grip on reality but also, more worryingly, may have expat colonial / oligarch aspirations: your only possible reason for wanting to move could be to reinforce that dystopia’s ruling elite. This advisory is not for you.

If you’re in the global south and being forced to migrate by your regional totalitarian / oligarch combination, war, invasion, climate catastropheor by economic / social devastation caused by that heady mix of corruption, tech / financial upheavals, the pandemic, failed institutions and systems, or the looming prospect of genocide or apartheid being forced on you by an evil regime and their relentless bigotry, please understand we do not mean to trivialize your plight. In the extremely unlikely chance you are reading this while seeking shelter in hostile lands whose rulers might be at least indirectly responsible for your trauma in the first place: we are sorry.

But. If you’re in a global south region (the definitions are complicated, we know: there are global-south pockets geographically located in the heart of the global north) but you have enough privilege to survive, to not be faced with immediate violence, to not be under immense threat if you obey the ever-shifting rules of society you’re in… AND if you have spent much of the pandemic lockdown with a roof over your head and food on your table and an internet connection, constantly looking at countries that at least pretend to be better than yours, places where it looks like there are education, social or economic opportunities you don’t have, or governments / oligarchs that say sensible, human-friendly things from time to time that aren ‘ t outrageous lies, and look relatively less chaotic than your local set, or maybe just places where basic systems work, or which aren’t overheated, flooding, mega-polluted and volatile, places you’d never thought of moving to but which just seem saferand wondering whether you had the stamina and resources to make a switch, and looking at the people you’d have to leave… AND if doomscrolling, multi-directional propaganda, constant history-rewriting or outright fascist reality-distortion have seeped into your life enough to render you unable to distinguish between fact and fiction, truth and lie…

Then why not consider moving to a fictional dystopia? Let’s look at some of our most popular destinations and ask ourselves: Are they really all that bad?

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