Thursday, August 13, 2009

Zombie Therapy

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Monsters who feel remorse for their behavior is a regular theme in vampire dramas – HBO's "True Blood," the film, "Twilight" – so I thought it might be fun to extend the same feelings to a zombie. He eats people's brains, then feels bad about it. If only Karl Rove were capable of such emotion.

A libertarian reader told me recently that he believed government should stay out of our way because most people are basically good and will do the right thing without government intervention. He called my view that humans cannot be trusted, "cynical."

He's absolutely right, it is cynical. I also happen to think it is realistic and accurate, as witnessed by recent human history. (By "recent," I mean the past 100,000 years.) While most "individuals" might be good, groups of idividuals in power cannot be trusted. Corporations are amoral by definition – their sole purpose for existence is to make money, not serve humanity – and the very small percentage of people who rise to the top of corporations are very often as unethical and unrepentant as a zombie. That's how they get there. Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Dick Cheney, everyone on Wall Street, etc.

People who rise to the top of government usually have the same problem, of course; power almost always corrupts. But the difference is that government is not amoral by definition and in a republic such as ours, the politicians eventually, in some way, must answer to the rest of us. That is to say that if things get out of hand we can fire them, as we did to so many Republicans in the last election. (Of course, people have to be smart enough to figure out they are being screwed, which sometimes takes a while, but that's another story.)

It's not perfect, god knows, but it's better than letting markets police themselves and not screw the rest of us (see Wall Street, last eight years), and corporations not to pollute the planet and sell toxic goods to the rest of us (see last 60 years), and people to treat each other fairly and not seek to destroy those with more skin pigment. (See Civil War, civil rights movement, "birthers," current town hall hooliganism over health care, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Rush, etc.)

Stories about zombies and vampires are popular because they are a metaphor for our actual lives as we struggle to avoid the bloodsuckers and braineaters at the top. What discourages me most is when the monsters find ways to scare their prey into fighting for them, instead of against, as they have done so often in the past decade and most recently with health care reform.

Enough seriousness, now this.

7 comments:

Yet Another Steve said...

I agree that most people are basically good. However, if you have 200 basically good people trapped in a school or mall with one basically BAD person who happens to be toting several guns, the goodness of the majority isn't ENOUGH. And yes, intervention is called for.

punmaster said...

Wisdom is cynicism with better marketing.

Chris Gray

RSJ said...

I always find it odd that the people who want the most draconian laws, police crackdowns, and longest prison terms for individuals are also often the same people who most want a 'free market' without regulation, believing that the 'Invisible Hand' of Adam Smith, or some other mystic phenomenon, will magically make corporate sharks into snuggly bunny rabbits.

It hasn't happened yet in human history, and I doubt it will in the near future.

Large piles of money have always been known to attract the worst element in society, whether in politics or the executive suite, and today we are seeing the full-out ruthless sociopath celebrated as a captain of industry to be admired. (Well, until Wall St. went to hell anyway.)

Hailey said...

AMEN!
And I love this cartoon. It works on another level... just the way some of us feel in different social situations. I don't go around eating people (really!) but I know I'm not truly understood. And, it is just funny.
You are brilliant!

James said...

I'm the guy who e-mailed you, and while I don't want to come off as being critical, it seems here that you're applying a double standard. You say that people who rise to power will become corrupt and abuse that power, yet you only apply it to republicans. Don't forget that liberals can be as corrupt as conservatives.

Kevin D said...

I really liked Zombie Therapy and even shared it when it was published last week.The reason I really liked it was summed up nicely by what Dan has written in the intro - "Monsters who feel remorse for their behavior is a regular theme in vampire dramas – HBO's 'True Blood', the movie 'Twilight' – so I thought it might be fun to extend the same feelings to a zombie" and this is all that occured to me that day.

Goes to show the beauty of comics! This one works on so many levels,can be intepreted in so many ways (I personally never felt the way Dan does - "Stories about zombies and vampires are popular because they are a metaphor for our actual lives as we struggle to avoid the bloodsuckers and braineaters at the top") but nevertheless Alt Texts,these blogs and comments of the Cartoonists makes comics on the web even more interesting, helps you see things in a whole different/Alt light,lets you interact with other readers,the writers and also gives you an insight into what the Cartoonist was thinking while drawing it.

Josh said...

punmaster: if you actually are trying to justify being cynical as a good thing, then there's no hope for you, man.