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Zombie Invasion Politics

Date: 03-26-11
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Daniel Drezner, Steven Yeun

Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts University, joined Ian Punnett for a discussion on how humanity might respond to a worldwide zombie assault. Drezner makes three assumptions regarding the undead: 1) the only way to kill a zombie is by destroying its brain; 2) a zombie's only desire is to consume live human flesh; and 3) if a human is bitten by a zombie, he will eventually die and become one. Given the aforementioned threat and the likelihood it would quickly become a global problem, Drezner explained how various theories of international relations would deal with it.

The concept of anarchy (in this case, the absence of a world government) is a foundation for the school of thought known as realism, Drezner noted. For realists, national governments are supreme and must rely on their own capabilities when facing an external threat, he said. Realists are concerned about how much they can gain relative to other nations, and would be profoundly skeptical about a cooperative international war against zombies, Drezner added. He likened realists to the the characters presented in Night of the Living Dead, who, rather than working together, broke into factions and fought over scarce resources in order to expand their own spheres of influence.

Unlike realism, adherents of liberalism believe cooperation is possible, even in an anarchic world, Drezner revealed. Certain aspects of the liberal paradigm would aid in the spread of the living dead, but they would also be very active in trying to eradicate the undead, he explained. Liberals would likely form of a multi-lateral counter-zombie organization designed to regulate and combat the zombie menace, Drezner said. Neoconservatives, on the other hand, would be suspicious of such an international institution, he continued. They are apt to recognize that flesh eating ghouls represent an existential threat to humanity and would recommend an aggressive militarized response, Drezner said, adding that neoconservatives would also expand the fight to places 'friendly' with the undead, and as a result would undercut global unity.

According to Drezner, affluent democracies are better equipped to deal with an undead invasion than authoritarian states. Countries that have decentralized authority, quick local responses, lower population densities, and good healh infrastructures would be in the best position to survive a zombie apocalypse, he noted. The United States and Canada are well prepared for such a catastrophe, he said, though his personal preference is New Zealand.

Walking Dead's Steven Yeun

In the first half-hour, Steven Yeun briefly spoke about his decision to become an actor and his role as Glenn in AMC's TV series, The Walking Dead. The story chronicles the struggle of a group of people trying to survive in a world overrun by the undead. "It's not about how many zombies you can kill in a day... the real fear comes from what is the person next to you capable of that you didn't think he was before all of this happened," he said. Yeun hinted that next season the small band of survivors will find themselves on Hershel's Farm, where his character could find romance and a reason to live.

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