In his recent article in The National Review, “In the Zombie World, Only the Conservatives Survive,” David French argues that zombie fiction (notably AMC’s The Walking Dead) “may be the most conservative fiction of all.”[i] I disagree.
French predicates his case on three claims: (1) in zombie fiction, the government is incompetent and almost immediately collapses; (2) you’ll only survive if you have a gun and know how to use it; and (3) people end up being the most dangerous animals of all in the post-apocalyptic world.
First of all, the points French makes certainly have some truth to them, but they offer only a partial view. First of all, conservatives can be as enamored of the government as any liberal—to the extent, of course, that government embodies conservative values. (Kim Davis, the Kentucky country clerk who’s refusing to sign marriage licenses for gays and lesbians comes to mind here.) Liberals and conservatives each love their own particular incarnations of the government. If anyone’s going to be dancing when the government inevitably collapses, it’ll be the libertarians.
Secondly, yes, you need a gun (or a katana or a cross-bow) in the zombie apocalypse. But, as the NRA loves to remind us, guns don’t kill people, people kill people—and having a gun, and surviving with it, always depends on who you are and who you’re with. As The Walking Dead and every single zombie fiction repeatedly shows us, there is strength in numbers: you survive only with a group. Yes, humans may be dangerous (French’s third point), but humans are also their own salvation, and the people you choose to ally yourself with are the single most important predictor of survival. More important than guns, in short, is community.