Zombie Politics

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Zombie Politics

Copyright © October 14, 2011 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

Just a few observations on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, and their fascination with zombies:

In the February 2007 Reason.com article, We the Living Dead , author Tim Cavanaugh says “From (sic) Night of the Living Dead to Homecoming (in which dead Iraq war veterans return from the grave to vote against the war), the zombie movie has been among the most consistently political forms in American popular culture. The politics tend to lean left, but zombie entertainment approaches a level of discontent more elemental than mere anti-capitalism or shopping mall burlesque.”

Night of the Living Dead (NOTLD, 1968) was George Romero’s first zombie film, and in many ways it was more important than all zombie-genre films after it. Many attempts have been made since NOTLD, but it was Romero who trumped his own genre-creation with the far more politically conscious 1978 Dawn of the Dead (DOTD). These two films started the cultural infatuation with zombie-ism and created them as a liberal political motif. In DOTD it is especially significant that the dead return to pursue the living in that most modern representation of consumerism, the shopping mall. Apparently the dead have consumed enough folks at the Malls of America and now find they are ready to move on to the Center of Worldwide Capitalist war-mongers existing on Wall Street. Look out China! The flesh-eaters probably already have you in their sights.

6 Mind-Blowing Ways Zombies and Vampires Explain America by Peter Davis argues the American political landscape is definable by our intrigue with the monsters in currency. Of course, Cracked.com is about as tongue in cheek as Saturday Night Live, but they at least make an attempt at providing some “science” (of the pseudo-sort) to make their case. Vampires are the incarnation of right-wing, conservative fears of what they suspect liberals are up to, or believe in: moral relativism, sexual promiscuity, anti-religion, and the seduction and corruption of the seemingly innocent (youth). Vampires also are usually foreigners (Count Dracula is equivalent to Muslims, or immigrants) and parasites (sucking the life out of productive society).

On the other hand, the left-leaning, liberal, progressive thinker, according to Davis, tends to associate the right with the undead for several reasons. First, both zombies and conservatives indiscriminately devour the living, thinking elements of society. He refers us to Paul Krugman’s jibe ( When Zombies Win) that conservative economics is zombie-like (can you say eco-zombies?) Krugman thinks Obama’s administration did not go far enough with its Keynesian policies to actually produce a turn-around in our economy. He was too timid to hold the gun to the head of the conservative undead and so we are left with the perpetuation of George Bush. It is funny how Bush always gets the blame for the failures of the current administration to actually do anything. It may be that Obama is accurately viewed as a parasitic vampire, and his Keynesian pump-priming stimulus package just another attempt to bleed the nation dry. Strangely, as a conservative, I can see a lot of the zombie-fear realized in Obama as well, considering the indiscriminate brain-eating destruction he has wrought in nearly three years. Maybe that’s why even a lot of liberal thinkers are beginning to question his infinite wisdom and flee his outstretched arms.

Davis says “It's a belief that conservatives are a mindless, stupid mass, just aimlessly ambling forward and devouring everything in their path.” That’s what I would call putting your shoes on the wrong feet. The tea party movement has possibly been the most original grass-roots reaction to mindlessly following the political status quo that we have had since the mid-‘60s. And if you really want to see a mind-numbingly stupid follow-the-leader mentality at its best, look at the chanting, drum-banging masses of zombies produced by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Looks like Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease has eaten its way through the whole crowd.

Zombies, like Conservatives, according to Davis, have two other attributes which cause liberals to fear them. First is the tendency to want to remake the whole world in their image, to force a mindless conformity to conservative values on all of society. I think the same can be said for any person or group passionate about their ideology, including liberals. In fact, modern Liberalism and Progressivism seems to have a much larger part to play in the binding and gagging of opposing ideas. None today are better at shouting down their opponents. I don’t see a lot of conservatives going around demanding that our opponents “shut the f*** up”. In fact, the liberal end of the political universe, from labor union leaders (remember Gus Hall?) to Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Che Guevera, and Castro all have been masters at demanding intellectual and often literal restraint of their adversaries. Hitler, you must remember, was not a right-winger. He was at first a supporter of Stalinism until it became politically inconvenient. He remained a Socialist (that is what Nazism means) throughout his “career.” And all those white southern racists with the bags over their heads? The vast majority were Democrats.

The third distinctive of the conservative/zombie, in Davis’ bizarro world is an inability to think for themselves (as is evidenced by the fact that they don’t dress like hippies). We are “blind, mindless patriots” or worse, blind, mindless believers in God. Our conservative ideology is a construct of our theology, which again is proof of our zombie-ness, since we believe in the resurrection of a dead guy who is God, and that his resurrection will produce our own. The real and present danger for the liberal “thinker” is that some may be converted to the Christian zombie-god religion and politics, a fate from which one can never return.

Vampires may well be the fear of the right because of their antinomianism. Zombies, however, are the joke of both sides of the political spectrum. Because of their brain-dead inability to be motivated by anything else besides more brain-dead stimuli, the gullible non-thinker becomes easy prey for the political opportunist on either side. It does not matter if the opportunist is a “liberal” like Obama, or a “conservative” like Gingrich, or even a moderate like Trump. The left champions the zombie anti-hero as a portrait of conservatism because zombies can make no decision unless it is based upon base human emotions requiring little or no intelligent research. Liberals imply that such inability to think is the result of a capitalistic removal of the brain, whereas it is really a product of the failure of the American liberal experiment that started with the ‘60’s hippies and has continued almost unchallenged for more than forty years. Their only recourse is to remove the brains from the rest of society. Zombie culture hopes for the destruction of all thought and a turn to the mindlessness of programmable droids following whatever agenda feeds them, even if it ultimately destroys them. Liberal zombie droids are sheep for their own slaughter.

One thing that liberals have always understood (i.e., that humor sells ideology) is a concept conservatives once understood but somewhere abandoned because of the seriousness of the (post)modern world. That thing is best noted by way of the example from Bob Hope seen here. Zombies, like Democrats, according to Hope, “have no will of their own. You see them… walking around blindly, with dead eyes; following orders; not knowing what they do; not caring.” Except for the “not caring” part, I think the skit gets the point across eloquently. The caring liberal unfortunately cares too much about the wrong things or things he is misinformed about. He often cares enough to suffocate the rest of us. The caring conformity of the hippie-libber requires everyone to suffer at the same level – the bottom one, so that no one feels treated undemocratically. Again, that is the nature of the liberals’ zombie politics: “from each according to his ability to each according to his need” whether the able are willing or the needy are able. When everyone is disabled no one feels bad about being the lazy or inept one.

Cyrus Lewis shows how zombie politics is being reinvigorated as a reflection of the apolitical or nonpolitical attitudes of a large segment of the youth culture. His article LMFAO: No. 1 Singles and Zombies as Political Metaphor is accompanied by the music video by the hip-pop LMFAO duo. (Yes, that really is what they call themselves). In the video, which is entertaining in a perverse comedy sort of way, the group is overtaken by the zombie mentality, becoming subverted to it. The zombie ethic of the party/dance (shuffling) is the only value left to the undead, who seem to enjoy it, realizing that all other values cancel one another out. The community “shuffle” is a realization that all politics is meaningless anyway, and a waste of time. Zombie-ism comes full circle, rejecting both Democrat and Republican ideals as the junk-politics of the rich and brain-dead.

The zombie shuffle embraces the sexual ethos of vampirism which we discussed above. The intellect may be dead, but fleshly lust still dominates. Sexuality (that vampire-side of the left that conservatives so fear) is part of the scene. LMFAO become cross-pollinators between the sexual intellectualism of the vampire left and the consumer driven anti-intellectualism of the zombie right. Sex, partying and doing your own thing become the cultural ethic of the whole community.

Denying this party-ethic is a lone African-American man dressed in a white shirt and tie, reminiscent of the hapless hero in NOTLD who in the end is mistaken for a zombie and killed. In the LMFAO video this figure is intent on saving the musicians from a fate worse than death: assimilation into the zombie culture. He apparently does not realize that it is the musicians’ own song that has produced the shuffling of the dead. Politics and religion are overtaken by the universal appeal of the song and dance. Even Jesus Christ is depicted as a willing participant in the zombie shuffle. This is the dance-macabre (dance of the dead) portrayed in modern language. Death is a dance, not to be feared, but embraced. It is the nihilist ethic of Satanism: “Do what thou wilt”. St. Paul described it as “Eat and drink! For tomorrow we die.”

Cyrus Lewis ends his examination of the video with these telling words: “…LMFAO could not have chosen a more apt glyph for a contemporary dance video vignette. The zombie, as apotheosis of hip consumer, savvy individual and unapologetic pleasure-seeker, should be a pop star.” (Lewis extensively quotes Henry A. Giroux’s Zombie Politics, Democracy, and the Threat of Authoritarianism, as support for his contention that the politics of both left and right have melted into one insidious mass of consumer culture. And of course, that is precisely what the less retarded amongst the OWS movement have been saying all along.) Zombie culture is one of consumer-oriented Epicureanism; it is a culture of self-serving individualism, democratization, and a rejection of faith in a world beyond this one. It recognizes no savior but oneself and no messiah or political action figure that can really change the status quo. It shouts out “do whatever you want because no one cares anyway. Get what you can for yourself, now, before the zombies of Wall Street with the help of fat politicians and antiquated religionists devour it all.” It remains the negative politics of envy and greed based on Marxist social theory, eviscerated of the gloomy Marxist apocalyptic, yet without anywhere else to go. Of course, that assumes there was ever anything visceral about Marxism in the first place. LMFAO! So until something better comes along, just keep on dancing.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the NewEdisonGazette.com. You may contact him at dje@newedisongazette.com.


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