Thursday, June 24, 2010

Public Policy, Games Theory and the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse

Oh sure our leaders and administrators are worrying about trivialities like global warming, simmering warfare, global food shortages and economic uncertainty...but who's planning for the ravening hordes of the hungry dead?

The prestigious journal Foreign Policy fills the dangerous zombie gap in large scale public policy planning and puts some serious wonk time into exploring different strategies for dealing with the hungry dead. they explore differing approaches based on ideology, resources and military strategy.

There are many sources of fear in world politics -- terrorist attacks, natural disasters, climate change, financial panic, nuclear proliferation, ethnic conflict, and so forth. Surveying the cultural zeitgeist, however, it is striking how an unnatural problem has become one of the fastest-growing concerns in international relations. I speak, of course, of zombies.
For our purposes, a zombie is defined as a reanimated being occupying a human corpse,
with a strong desire to eat human flesh -- the kind of ghoul that first appeared in George Romero's 1968 classic,
Night of the LivingDead, and which has been rapidly proliferating in popular culture in recent
years (far upstaging its more passive cousins, the reanimated corpses of traditional West African and Haitian voodoo rituals). Because they can spread across borders and threaten states and civilizations, these zombies should command the attention of scholars and policymakers.

Followers of cold blooded Realpolitik would call for closing the borders and leaving the rest of the world to be over-run by the shambling hordes. Selfish but effective if you don't mind watching the rest of the world get eaten alive. Liberals would band together and cooperate against the zombie threat, a little hippie-dippy perhaps, but ultimately probably the best long term strategy for cooperating against the undead on a global level - see the book World War Z, an Oral History of the Zombie War for the best description of the UN VS the Zombies model. Finally neo-conservatives would probably go out in the world proactively bombing, shooting and presumably torturing the walking dead in the fight against the undead evil-doers. Effective in the short term but the 'You're either with us or you're with the Axis of the Evil Dead' approach would turn off potential allies.
In the end, what I am suggesting is that with careful planning and a consistent approach, the zombie threat can be managed. The purpose of this essay is not to make a policy recommendation or suggest that one approach is superior to another. It is up to the reader to exercise his or her own judgment in determining what to do with this information. Indeed, interested and intelligent students of world politics should use their own brains -- before the zombies do.

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