Article: Rosenfeld, Gavriel. "Why Do We Ask 'What If?' Reflections no the Function of Alternate History." History and Theory. Issue 41 (Dec 2002). 90 -103.
Alternate history is inherently presentist. It explores the past less for its own sake than to utilize it instrumentally to comment upon the present. ... alternate history necessarily reflects its authors' hopes and fears ... Fantasy scenarios envision the past as superior to the present and thereby express a sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are today. Nightmare scenarios, by contrast, depict the past as inferior to the present and thereby express a sense of contentment with the status quo. [They also] have different political implications. Fantasy scenarios tend to be liberal, for by envisioning a better past, they see the present as wanting and thus implicitly support changing it. Nightmare scenarios, by contrast, tend to be conservative, for by viewing the past in negative terms, they ratify the present and thereby reject the need for change. These implications to be sure, are not iron-clad. Nightmare scenarios can be used for the liberal purpose of critique, while fantasy scenarios can tend towards a conservative form of escapism.
Besides the fact that these are obvious oversimplifications, please discuss.