'The Walking Dead' is More About Now and the Beginning of the World Than the End
Zombies ate my neighbors plays out on the national stage.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
Zombies ate my neighbors and are everywhere. So much so, that all I could think was "When will we be done with all this?" as The Walking Dead commercials ran incessantly. But I was told that it held great thought provoking science fiction currency so I decided to take a look after several years on the sidelines.
While it probably gets most people ruminating about end of the world scenarios, it got me thinking about the beginning of the world. In our infancy, how did people group together in order to compete for limited resources. How ruthless or just were they in securing survival at the expense of their neighbors?
In one scene, The Walking Dead cast heroes come across an encampment where supplies have been left unattended, and thus they defer on helping themselves. That decision is called into question when the good guys later find the inhabitants slaughtered, and all the supplies gone to the spoils of a less enlightened group.
Internally, order among the autocratically lead clan is kept according to the laws of deception, fear and a careful cultivation of entitled superiority over everyone else. Even so, the more democratic brand of survival in The Walking Dead always seems to find the advantage over evil. But if you could actually track the world to its origins, I believe you’d find most of us derive of the more despotic lineages.
Extrapolating 'The Walking Dead' on the Nation/State
Nonetheless, nations eventually formed and such cutthroat necessity diminished among groups inside those borders. Legal and societal protections took precedence. On the other hand, we have yet to develop any real legal restraints that keep nations from fighting for those same limited resources.
Hence, nations still war as humans did at the outset – pursuing resource security abroad to ensure economic stability at home. Still, if your Roman Legions can’t be roused enough to move onto Britain, an about face through Gaul has to be the standing order.
As such, it follows that in every war each side always tries to portray the other as the aggressor. In other words, public opinion mattered long before the invention of the printing press, and governments have always been subject to this informal constraint.
The Will of the People Requires Manipulation
But governments being constrained by external pressure – short of war – is pretty new. King Leopold II’s horrific exploitation of the Congo Free State serves as a significant marker in the informal regard. Killing approximately 10 million people in turning the area into a huge slave labor camp, the world actually was galvanized and resulted in the first mass human rights movement.
So in our enlightened age, you can’t just Genghis Khan yourself across the steppe. On the other hand, it appears that Vladimir Putin missed the message as he flexes his muscles across the old Russian Empire.
Acting over what they consider their sphere of influence and exerting military and economic control for the betterment of Russia, the constraints are limited when you own the media and enjoy immense domestic popularity. All those among the populace who still lament the loss of the Czarist and Soviet empire doesn’t hurt either.
Hegemony Requires Subtlety
Such a blatant power play would be harder to pull off here but that doesn’t mean we defer in pursuit of getting our hands on what others have. We’re just more deft in going about it – especially in regards to what we consider our sphere of influence.
Once the possibility of the direct occupations that took place all throughout Latin America fell out of favor in the first part of the 20th Century, establishing hegemonic puppets under the guise of the Cold War secured us everything from sugar and copper to oil and bananas. Only recently has South America started edge us out.
Fortunately, we now have Muslim extremists to help sell intervention in the Middle East that keep the energy flowing in our direction. So when will it end? – Never.
Our only resource is to keep talking and staying informed before we become The Walking Dead and they’ll be talking about us when they say: Zombies ate my neighbors.
Rich Monetti can be reached at [email protected]
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