kit-up-theories-international-politics-zombiesHow you equip yourself for a zombie apocalypse depends largely on your personal belief systems.  Are you going to focus solely on self-preservation?  Or is restoring order to your country a transcendent objective?  How willing are you to share your resources with strangers?  And how discriminating will you be in shooting other human beings?

Author Daniel Drezner tackles such moral dilemmas on a global level in his book Theories of International Politics and Zombies.  Drezner is the real deal, by the way, a professor of international politics at Tufts University and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Here’s how he breaks down America’s potential responses to a global zombie pandemic by ideology:

Realists would not risk American blood and treasure being the world’s zombie police.  In fact, they would take advantage of the outbreak in other countries to advance our own political and economic strength.  It’s every country for itself, especially under these circumstances.

Liberals would focus on global cooperation to quell the problem through international bodies like the United Nations and the World Health Organization.  Even if not every country pulls its weight, we will be better off by at least trying to coordinate our policies with other governments.

Neoconservatives would take swift, unilateral, military action and start establishing strong anti-zombie bastions worldwide.  There’s no time to haggle with second-tier players about what the best course of action is.  Zombies are an evil threat and must be dealt with decisively.

Constructivists would use the zombie epidemic as a means of uniting humanity’s differing worldwide cultures.  They would emphasize what we all share in common as people and establish a moral peer pressure for nations to act bravely and nobly in the face of the zombie crisis.

I find it interesting that these philosophies are also relevant on a micro level as they pertain to the individual person facing a zombie apocalypse – where every man’s home is his castle, and his land his kingdom.  What would your approach be?

 

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance December 31, 2011 at 2:19 am

Just more prof that we need Assault Weapons and we need to ban liberals NOT guns. LOL;)

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douche December 31, 2011 at 4:29 am

what the **** are people on about with this zombie ****? it's b/s.

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mpower6428 December 31, 2011 at 4:44 am

the "realists" and "neocons" strike me as presumptuous* the other two… fictional, a teabaggers bad dream. He assumes that developed (1st world) countries would have some sort of advantage in an evenly spread zombie pandemic. Living off the land, keeping your options open, cope-ing* with a severe lack of infastructure or just "survival" are the domain of 3rd world countries. who's to say they THEY wont be the ones to come and save our butts. and if they do…? could anybody here stomach the Congolese or the Bolivians or the Pakistanies choosing from any of the 4 options stated above…?

Daniel makes alot of assumtions about political philosophy, all of them reduced (simplified) to a trench of dispensationalist (end times) science fiction, and NO im not talking about the "zombie" part. That mope might actually be taking this stuff seriously.

as for the rest… fecces encrusted punji stakes for the non-zombies. ball-pin hammer for the rest.

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James December 31, 2011 at 5:17 am

Lol, if only had this been in the reading list for my 2nd year Theory module in Int. Relations. Would definitely help spruce up learning Fukuyama, Kant, Waltz and Mierschimer. Then again, I did use those lectures and seminars for pre-party powernaps. Karma.

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Moondawg December 31, 2011 at 6:08 am

If we are going to depend on the UN, mankind is doomed. We may be anyway, in that 98% of the worlds population does not take the potential zombie threat seriously. I would prefer to slay zombies at a distance, that means firearms. Liberals and the UN want to greatly restrict firearm ownership, thus ensuring that any zombie slaying will be done with hand weapons at very close range. I don't like those odds.

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douche December 31, 2011 at 7:30 am

of course they don't take the zombie threat seriously! do you? honestly? i can't work out why people are worrying about it for christ's sake. when has there ever been mention of a potential zombie threat?! i swear this topic has only come about since zombieland the movie came out. its so weird people are getting worked up about and even publishing literature on the topic. madness.

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Wow December 31, 2011 at 7:04 am

Realists. The UN is the most pathetic organization, ever.

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 7:51 am

That's a great point – if a country is already in a state of relative chaos, then the chaos of an epidemic may not be as much of a shock to their collective system.

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 7:56 am

The book does read like a slightly cheeky textbook, complete with footnotes, endnotes, and an extensive list of references. I actually wish it had been MORE academic with less frivolity. I hear you, though, on those dry college classes… I often wonder how I would fare in them now as an adult who no longer drinks four nights a week.

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James December 31, 2011 at 8:31 am

It does look an awfully lot like a spoof of Kenneth Waltz's "Theories of International Relations." It'd probably give a few IR/FP students a little laugh. As for the secret to my sucess at University… Flashcards! (And learn to read a 500-700 page textbook/case-study as fast as humanly possible.) Oh, and I would definitely encourage a flirtacious but plutonic relationship with any smart girls on your course. Emphasis on plutonic. Believe me there are worse things than a Zombie Apocalypse if it goes any further.

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 11:22 am

LOL Yeah, outside of a bus ticket out of town, I'm not sure if there's any gear that will mitigate a Girlfriend Apocalypse.

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 8:00 am

Drezner asserts that zombies are a stand-in for what Donal Rumsfeld called "unknown unknowns." It's not a perfect analogy, but to a degree it's true.

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mpower6428 December 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm

and its fun. if you have read Steven Kings "The Stand" more then once or follow any of the many Apocolypic TV shows these days. you can't help but wargame it now and then. "walking dead" is my favorite.

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Slag Trustone January 1, 2012 at 10:16 am

******: First, you take all the fun out of calling you a ****** bag, lol.
second, I believe Zombie has become a safe word that many have decided they can use to describe their philosophical opponents w/o drawing extreme criticism down upon our collective heads. And besides it's relatively harmless if the anti's don't get the picture, seeing's how they don't get the big picture as it is anyways

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Jack Murphy January 1, 2012 at 10:43 am

Although, I like these discussions, I also have to agree that some people are using zombies as a code word. I get a little suspicious when people say something to the effect that they need to stockpile guns and ammunition in case "zombies" try to break into their house to steal their flat screen!

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Pat Kilbane January 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Did someone say that on Kit Up, Jack? I've seen some jokes about liberals being zombies, but I haven't seen anything like the encrypted intolerance you're describing. If I had, I wouldn't have let it stand, and I don't think our readers would have either.

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 8:08 am

If exploration of zombie scenarios is not for you, I definitely get it. But here's another way to look at it. If you were in the middle of a societal breakdown, what would your objectives and rules of engagement be? Hurricane Katrina and the LA riots are plenty of evidence for me that rule of law can dissolve for a period of time even here in the U.S. IMO, it's not a waste of time to think about who you would be and how you would handle yourself in such a situation.

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douche December 31, 2011 at 9:45 am

fan of nutnfancy by chance?!

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Brandon Webb December 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm

******-
I'm with Pat on that last point. It's an entertaining way to talk about real world threats (natural or man made). Nutnfancy has some good stuff but his range work is a little sloppy from the few vid's I've seen.
-Brandon

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 8:09 am

Like George Carlin says, "slow and sloppy."

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JDsHandsomeSon December 31, 2011 at 8:37 am

An true apocalypse in America would overwhelm civil authority; it would be lucky to restore any semblance of order and security within our own borders, much less devote any thought or energy to intervening abroad or exploiting weaknesses overseas to our benefit. This is especially true with the ruling class we're saddled with today. And given the ideological bent of those in power now we cannot assume they would strive to empower America but would instead lend support to the "global community" under the foolish belief we are all one big harmonious, tolerant and inclusive brotherhood of man. We have no real friends out there. No one would come to our aid if we really needed it. They really think someone else will feed, clothe, shelter and protect them if we were to fail. Who would that be? The Russians? The Chinese? The Middle East? Mexico?

On the question of how societies adapt to a total demise of empires, we need only look to history to see what happen in the at that time known world when Rome fell. It took a few centuries of anarchy and roaming nomadic tribes before the Europeans coalesced into a feudal system, whereby the peasants bargained with warlords for protection in return for all the fruits of their labor. Maybe that will be our fate. Maybe we'll have to join warring gangs and slaughter each other until the strongest gang emerges on top.

Then it took another few more centuries for this system to evolve into nation states.

Human behavior does not change. We are wired the same as the ancients and will do what they had to do, first achieving some kind of individual security, then allying with those like us, fighting those not like us, and so on until after a thousand years or so we're back to where we started 230 years ago. Let's hope that we don't burn down all the libraries so our descendants can at least catch up on what we did after inventing the wheel so they'll have a head start.

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 11:48 am

JDsHandsomeSon – Insightful stuff… thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Drezner does assume that governments will last long enough to enact international policy, and that is a big assumption. When you look at the chain reaction that hit countries all over the world in the financial crisis, it makes sense that a dramatic plague would spread chaos with an ever-increasing domino effect.

As far as nations helping each other, Drezner made the interesting point that people tend to come together in times of crisis UNTIL scarcity of resources reaches a tipping point – after that, they turn on each other. I wouldn't be surprised if a zombie apocalypse would see people start with the former and devolve to the latter.

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JDsHandsomeSon December 31, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Mr. Drezner's observations seem logical. I'm intrigued by the subject and his book, so will likely pick it up and check it out. Thanks.

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Paralus January 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Sounds like something Martin Van Crevald would have written about if he was interested in zombies. I guess zombies could be thought of as the ultimate "non-state actor". And if governments were unable to contain the crisis, then yes, humans could devolve into whatever form organizations they could to achieve some semblance of security.

Gangs, neighborhood hood watch, tribes. Of course, competition between them when there are zombies about is just plain stupid. The enemy of zombies is my friend.

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Timmy G December 31, 2011 at 8:43 am

On a related topic, why is gold considered the doomsday currency of choice for the nuke bunker in the backyard types? It's not liquid or easily carried around. Do I shave off portions to buy some bread? I think .22LR or variants thereof would be the ultimate currency in an end of world situation. Don't even mention the worthlessness of Bitcoin at that point.

We do have recent case studies showing near armageddon in the world, as seen in any country ruthlessly dominated by a foreign power such as the Nazis or any other continuous siege, gold is meaningless at that point if a you are the "rabble."

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Neal December 31, 2011 at 11:31 am

Because, after the smoke clears, gold is still uncommon. In the Information Age it has become even more valuable due to its industrial uses in electronics.
If you want to buy 80 acres farmland after the balloon has gone up, you can pay in a truckload of .22 (plus the truck), an overly heavy backpack of silver, four working-age children, two mules, or a heaping handful of 1 ounce gold rounds.
Or, if you're the type that likes hot lead, you can try and take it forcefully.

Now, I have no gold, but I don't intend on buying farmland. You're right, it's far too compact. That's why I throw in with the junk silver, heirloom seeds, and lead crowd.

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Timmy G December 31, 2011 at 8:48 am

The UN would of collapsed at this point of the game as the delegates huddled in the safety of NY or their home countries and are all looking out for number one. You can't buy off or sanction zombies nor can you use crappy intel to justify anything since it's obvious how bad things are.

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Neal December 31, 2011 at 11:22 am

LOL!!!
New York, safety he says!!!
Quit it, you're killing me.

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Timmy G December 31, 2011 at 2:55 pm

NY would be a police state at this point in this scenario ("but it already is" is the natural response I guess). And one of the UN HQs is in NY, hence "being safe" in NY.

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Matt December 31, 2011 at 9:32 am

I'm more of a cross between a "realist" and a "neoconservative". I wouldn't want Americian troops going off a dying in other countries that can't be saved, I also would want to restore order and safety in our counrty before we went off restoring oreder in other countries. But don't get me wrong; I would completely want to help our allies kick some zombie ***.

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Hey Matt – some mix of those philosophies would surely be in order… both would face the issue of adequate resources. No constructionism for you? ;) That chapter was the most airy-fairy of the bunch.

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Pat_Kilbane December 31, 2011 at 12:02 pm

…and your comments about the author and his theories speak to the nature of political theory itself: as a set of broad principles used to predict complex human behaviors, its practical application will always be wanting.

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mpower6428 December 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm

you are right ofcourse, and i crossed the line a little, as usual. carry on sir. thx.

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Josh Orth January 1, 2012 at 2:15 am

thanks Brandon, again. a good way to blanket the "unknown unknown" real world threats and risks.

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Jack Murphy January 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Pat, for some reason I can't reply to the relevant post. In regards to your question, no, no way have I seen anything like that on Kit Up! You're right, we wouldn't let someone get away with that type of thing. I have seen it elsewhere though.

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Pat Kilbane January 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Thanks for clarifying, Jack. As for the technical issue with the reply, the comment programming starts indenting when you reply to a reply and only allows the indents to go three deep. Beyond that, it doesn't even offer a reply button due to space limitations for indenting.

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Paralus January 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Ally myself with a group large enough to fence sufficient acreage for agriculture, then start building a really kick-*** wall.

With a moat.

and alligators.

I bet gators would love putrid zombie flesh.

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Pat Kilbane January 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm

That would be the ticket, Paralus – a self-sustaining, hermetically sealed safe zone for yourself and your group. If your wall is sturdy, it wouldn't even have to be that high. The alligator part sounds like a lot of work, but would be a dramatic touch.

If your group was harmonious and had abundant supplies, what would your disposition be to outsiders seeking help? Would you lean towards the isolationism of the Realists, making alliances with other groups like the Liberals, or venturing forth to kick *** like the Neocons?

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Paralus January 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Well, I concede the gators might be a little difficult, but you have to admit, it'd be a nice touch. If no gators are possible, then I'd seek a northern climb where the zombies dead tissue would freeze solid.

Simple palisade walls would be sufficient, but you'd need to have multiple fall-back safety areas in case there was a breach by zombies (if they get past the alligators). I'm thinking something like star-shape fort.

If you aren't growing, you're dying and, according to Boyd, no organization/organism can live in isolation from its environment and survive. So that means you would need to conduct patrols, some long-range and some short-range. The short-range patrols would be to ensure there aren't massive hordes of zombies. The long-range patrol would be to seek out tools, equipment, supplies, etc. that the community couldn't create itself.

hopefully the long-range patrols could bring back other survivors as well so the community could grow stronger.

Zombies don't pro-create so the only way they can grow is by biting people. There are a finite amount of people, however, and eventually the zombies will run out of converts and the zombie population would plateau.

From there, with good organization and sound tactics, it is a matter of time before the zombies succumb to "pacification". And sense they are stupid, too, zombies could be tricked into kill-zones.

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Dan January 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I'd go Book of Eli and roam the country living off the land. Permanent settlements in a realm of chaos beg to be raped and pillaged by nomads. You would also see every authoritarian wannabe dictator come out of the wood work to set up their own little fiefdom, and that worries me more than what the world would throw at me. The hearts of men are fickle and easily swayed by fear and/or greed, best to stay away from them entirely.

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Twidget at large January 3, 2012 at 6:18 am

That can get pretty lonely, it's nice for a while but,…

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Riceball January 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Pat makes a very good point, the only real difference between a Katrina/LA riots scenario and a fictional zombie apocalypse is that the people in the real life situation aren't necessarily infectious and in a zombie apocalypse most infrastructure will still be intact and relatively functional (at least for a while). If you're still in doubt about the practicality of planning out a fictional zombie apocalypse then how about a scenario like the one shown in the movie, Contagion? Something like that would be very similar to a zombie apocalypse with the exception that the sick aren't trying to eat you but that doesn't mean that they still wouldn't try to attack you or your friend's and family.

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Joel May 23, 2012 at 6:42 am

I agree somewhat, but there is a flip-side to the argument. The more advanced societies, if they can avoid total breakdown in their communications and scientific establishments, would have additional tools available to fight the threat than the third-world countries. Also, the more advanced countries could be in more of a position to lessen the panic and assist the citizens – though this would be a very limited degree in the beginning. Countries such as the US would also be more able to effect armed resistance by the citizens after the initial zombie attack.

For example, the US or Russia or China could rapidly develop bio-war experiments which may prove effective against zombies, such as forensic etymologists and geneticists engineering a super-maggot which would rapidly eat the zombies. Such a solution could only come from a technologically advanced society.

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