Friday, November 13, 2009

Zombie Politics

The question was asked on a blog somewhere out there last year - why are zombies popular, recurring monsters? Of the various top monsters (vampires certainly are winning this year), zombies have the least personality, least variation, least ... everything. So why do we keep coming out with zombie movies and books (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, for instance)? When a commenter at Marginal Revolution asked the same thing, I knew I needed to repost this.

The best answer in the comments section from long ago was that zombies scale. There's a natural predator/prey limit to the number of vampires you can have running around; at some point your society is so full of werewolves or mutants that it becomes normal and a story of civil rights; as soon as you have enough aliens to cover 51% of the population, we become the 'other' to them and it doesn't make much difference how many more aliens there are ... but zombies just keep getting more terrifying the more of them there are. Indeed, it is the very notion of their expanding without limit that brings on the terror.

My first thought was that it's easy for us to 'empathize' with zombies since most of us wake up each morning feeling just a little bit undead. That, or else we go to work with "mindless, bloodthirsty, half-alive, subhuman wretches." While some of us enjoy putting on the vampire (I have a cape, myself) or the alien masks, the notion of waking up one day as a zombie has no fun in it. We've heard the zombies moan, and it doesn't sound like they're having a good time.

Then I had another idea: zombies are the ideal representation of our political opponents. Few things are as frightening as having a bunch of them running things and you being the last sensible person in a country gone mad. So we work out our political angst on a few million zombies and everything returns to normal.

For the conservative: Nothing says socialist-totalitarian rule of society like mindless zombies. No individuality, no moral restraint, no family - the religious conservative can be comfortable calling them evil. What anti-zombie strategy in its initial stages doesn't involve containment, the classic political conservative reaction to communism? Zombies do not understand diplomacy, only force, so military conservatives can have a field day. ... I'm not sure how fiscal conservatives get in on the act, but I'm working on it. Maybe zombies are too egalitarian or something, with hard-working, faster zombies only being the first to get mowed down, I dunno. Every home needs excess guns and ammunition to fight them off: zombies are WHY the 2nd amendment is in the Constitution . It should also be mentioned that zombie prevention/eradication requires a strong military presence in every city, particularly those with trailer parks. This creates jobs and is one of the listed purposes of government in the Constitution.

For the liberal: Nothing says predatory capitalist imperialism like mindless zombies. All they do is consume, their need for it is insatiable! They are anti-self-styled-intellectual, devouring brains. Zombies are bad for the environment, with explosively unsustainable population growth - there are even serious biology papers on the expansion of zombie epidemics. Zombie epidemics often start near nuclear plants and military bases, so we need to avoid nuclear energy and shut down the military. Zombies do not understand diplomacy, refuse to give peace a chance, and are violent in all their interactions (this one cuts both ways, you see). Zombies are not tolerant of alternative lifestyles and wipe out cultural diversity. It should also be mentioned that zombies are victims of their own society and their prevention/eradication represents an important public good that we need taxation and government oversight to prevent.


  1. Fiscal Conservative: While liberals want to tax the product of your mind and comsume it on pork-barrel spending projects, Zombies cut out the middle man and just eat your mind directly. You want to talk about wasteful spending? The zombies keep taking more and more brains from the taxpayers to redistribute them to the brainless (themselves) but they never seem to accomplish anything. The brain-rich get poorer and the poor don't get richer.

  2. Love the new blog! This zombie analogy is fantastic. You really amped it up with the "scare factor" in the begining; it made reading about the politiacl zombies in the end even more creepy!

  3. I like it, Sting. Sorry it took so long to respond - the blog hasn't been telling me when someone comments. I'm going to fix that and get better and responding.

    Desi - thanks. It's fun.