Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Walking Dead is more About Now and the Beginning of the World than the End


Zombies are everywhere and when will we be done with all this. That’s what I thought several years ago in being constantly bombarded with Walking Dead commercials. But I was told that it held great thought provoking science fiction currency so I decided to take a look.
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, our 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.
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.
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.   
Such a blatant power play would be harder to pull off here but that doesn’t 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 Cooper 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.   

1 comment:

Katonah Joe said...

I appreciate your take, Rich, being relatively slightly more optimistic than mine. My read on TWD's creators' driving principle, however, is that, in fact, WE are the virus and we will ultimately consume all the world's natural resources including its people and leaving nothing in the balance. As much as we look to science and all our political leaders for intricate solutions on local as well as global scales, eventually the sun will burn out and lead all those unfortunate billions into the realm of the walking dead.