Archive for June 24th, 2010

‘Toward an international relations theory of zombies’

Foreign Policy magazine examines how different types of governments would handle a zombie outbreak.

From a public-policy perspective, zombies surely merit greater interest than other paranormal phenomena such as aliens, vampires, wizards, hobbits, mummies, werewolves, and superheroes. Zombie stories end in one of two ways — the elimination/subjugation of all zombies, or the eradication of humanity from the face of the Earth. If popular culture is to be believed, the peaceful coexistence of ghouls and humans is but a remote possibility — outside of Shaun of the Dead, at least. Such extreme all-or-nothing outcomes are far less common in the vampire and wizard canons. Indeed, recent literary tropes suggest that vampires can peacefully coexist with ordinary teens in many of the world’s high schools, provided they are sufficiently hunky. Zombies, not so much. If it is true that “popular culture makes world politics what it currently is,” as a recent article in Politics argued, then the international relations community needs to think about armies of the undead in a more urgent manner.

What follows is an attempt to satiate the ever-growing hunger for knowledge about how zombies will influence the future shape of the world. But this is a difficult exercise: Looking at the state of international relations theory, one quickly realizes the absence of consensus about the best way to think about global politics. There are multiple paradigms that attempt to explain international relations, and each has a different take on how political actors can be expected to respond to the living dead.

A fascinating article from both a zombie and political perspective.

How would the introduction of flesh-eating ghouls affect world politics? The realist answer is simple if surprising: International relations would be largely unaffected. Although some would see in a zombie invasion a new existential threat to the human condition, realists would be unimpressed by the claim that the zombies’ arrival would lead to any radical change in human behavior. To them, a plague of the undead would merely echo older plagues, from the Black Death of the 14th century to the 1918 influenza pandemic. To paraphrase Thucydides, the realpolitik of zombies is that the strong will do what they can and the weak must suffer devouring by reanimated, ravenous corpses.

 
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