The Horrors of an Exclusionary Society

As a head of state, there is the responsibility to not only protect the population, but also to care for their morale. The Redeker Plan is at its roots a blatant betrayal of a country’s own population by its government. The Redeker Plan indeed forces governments to choose a small sect of people who have the ability to “preserve the legitimacy and stability of the government” (109), and relocate them to the safest sanctuary possible with the remaining resources they have. Assuming they survive the zombie outbreak, they would rebuild their country from the bare minimum.

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Populations become fewer and fewer as they retreat to their designated ‘safe zones’ by the government. (Image from The Economic Times)

However, this plan completely destroys team morale and nationalistic fervor, as the people who are selected for retreat to safe zones will continually face the guilt of leaving their friends, who are not chosen, to the zombie population. They would also face immense pressure, as their nation has placed the responsibility of rebuilding their society on their shoulders. The Redeker Plan is also very impractical, as seen through the lenses of Admiral Xu Zhicai. Although a country may devote their resources to help one small group survive “until the end of the crisis, or perhaps, the end of the world,” (249) it will always be impossible to account for any mini-outbreaks in the community. Once a zombie appears in the small community, it will eventually infect a certain portion of the community that would necessitate civil conflict. For instance, Captain Chen is eventually forced to attack his own countrymen because of a mini-outbreak in the small island population of Manihi, which left Captain Chen with “hair [that] had lost its color, as white as prewar snow… skin [that] was sallow, [and] eyes sunken.” (252) One single reanimation from within the community may be enough to spell the end of every human in the ‘selected population.’

The case of Paris also sheds light on the civilians who are not ‘chosen for survival’ by the government. Even as “two hundred and fifty thousand refugees” (310) fled to the Catabombs’ “subterranean world,” (310) one single zombie was able to catalyze the death of all refugees who chose to seek sanctuary in the Catacombs and the reanimation of two hundred and fifty thousand more zombies. In the zombie war, the humans who are left behind by their government effectively defects to the ‘other side,’ which welcomes the humans with open arms.

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Civilians who are abandoned by their own governments may choose to defect to the other opposing side of the war. (Image by All-len-All)

The only option as a head of state in a zombie outbreak is to attack the zombies will full force. However, the most effective plan would be to attack “slow and safe, one section at a time, low speed, low intensity, low casualty rate.” (314) Choosing to attack in the first place distinguishes humans, who fight, from zombies, who may be camouflaged amongst the humans retreating to a ‘safe area.’ This offensive plan is also beneficial because the entire population is asked to fight against the zombies in a total war. Why sacrifice the majority of the population for the survival of a small sect when there is the possibility of including all members of the country in a total war effort that increases morale and is also more practical?

Framing the zombie epidemic as a war creates an “us versus them” mentality. Humans do not recognize zombies as fighting for another country, but regard them as an entirely new species that only seek the destruction of the human population. Framing the zombie outbreak as an epidemic allows civilians to place responsibility on the government and its scientists to find a solution to the problem. However, presenting the outbreak as a war rallies the entire population, and the entire world together “under the common flag of survival.” (247)

Sources:

Brooks, Max. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Broadway Books, 2006. Print.

Images:

PTI. Retreating Ice behind Population Explosion in Adelie Penguins? The Economic Times, 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

On This Day August 13 1961 East German Soldiers Start Building the Berlin Wall Comments. All-Len-All, 12 Aug. 2016. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

All or Nothing: Humans or Zombies

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If the countries had not voted to attack, there would not have been any survivors left. (quotesvalley.com)

If I were a head of state in World War Z, I would also have voted to attack during the Honolulu Conference. While other countries argued that launching an attack on the zombies would lead to a meaningless loss of life, the governments also hold responsibility for abandoning their citizens during the implementation of the Redeker Plan. For example, Todd Wainio remembers reading a sign saying “Better late than never!” when his unit liberated a civilian zone. Voting against an attack would have proven the lack of responsibility and incompetence of the government that the sign had scornfully referenced.

From a social standpoint, launching an attack on the zombies would also rebuild the confidence of the people and fulfill a responsibility we have to future generations. For example, after the first successful battle against the zombies at Hope, Wainio notices “everyone jawing, laughing, telling stories” (Brooks 282). Wainio derives more satisfaction from taking the offensive against the zombies because he and his troops finally feel enough security and control to be able to relax and enjoy their time. They no longer feel restricted from their fear of zombies.

This similar security is felt by Kwang Jingshu, who notes after stability returns to his community that “real children… don’t know to be afraid, and that is the greatest gift, the only gift we can leave to them” (Brooks 335). By recognizing that zombies are nothing to be afraid of—through the successful war waged on zombies—these children are able to act like “real children” who can enjoy their childhood in a secure, safe environment, protected from the horrors of death and decay. By launching an attack, we would be able to secure a healthy living environment for our future generations.

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“Real children” who can live without fear (multiculturalkidblogs.com)

I would have implemented a plan similar to the U.S.’s plan, which involved marching through the country and killing any zombies sighted. From a tactical standpoint, this would be the most efficient and effective way to rid the world of zombies and prevent another outbreak. The attack on zombies is like a “war” because there are two opposing forces, zombies and humans, who have been confined to their restricted territories. However, zombies are unlike any opposing force that any human army has faced. Unlike enemies like foreign countries or rebel groups, zombies do not have a “limits of endurance” (Brooks 273). In a war between humans, one side will always give up once they have lost too much manpower or spirit. However, perhaps more like viruses and bacteria, zombies will not stop until there are no humans left—by their very nature, humans and zombies cannot coexist. If we did not attack, “we could only get weaker, while they might actually get stronger” (Brooks 272). Unlike a war, the attack on zombies is an unavoidable endeavor to ensure human existence.

 

 

Twisted Freedom

Maria Zhuganova: “Conventional executions might have reinforced discipline, might have restored order from the top down, but by making us all accomplices, they held us together not just by fear, but by guilt as well. We could have said no, could have refused and had been shot ourselves, but we didn’t […] We relinquished our freedom that day, and we were more than happy to see it go. From that moment on we lived in true freedom, the freedom to point to someone else and say ‘They told me to do it! It’s their fault, not mine.’ The freedom, God help us, to say “I was only following orders’” (Brooks 83).

In this passage, Zhuganova details the impact of the Great Panic—more specifically, the arrival of military personnel the Panic brought—on people of Khuzhir, Olkhon Island. Zhuganova’s use of parallel structure in the first sentence (“might have”) conjures images of an unpredictable military personnel, who come to the island searching for zombies. The military is aware that standard executions mark a distinct line between who is the victim and who is the perpetuator, and so they deliberately deviate from this. Instead, they offer the people a choice: kill, or be killed. Zhuganova notes that they were “all accomplices” (83), which suggests that most of the people there chose to kill. Trapped in an inextricable web of fear and guilt, people like Zhuganova feel responsible for the deaths they inflict, but are unable to stop; in this way, the military maintains control without exerting much effort.

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Not unlike an insect caught in a spider’s web, the people on the island believe they will only make things worse for themselves if they struggle or show resistance

The parallel structure of “could have” in the second sentence creates an almost wistful tone as Zhuganova thinks of the alternatives she had—ones that she could have chosen. However, the “but we didn’t” (83) cuts Zhuganova’s musings short; this simple syntax is abrupt and definitive, reflecting not only the end of Zhuganova making any more choices, but also her resigned acceptance of the situation. She uses this brief sentence to summarize the inner turmoil expected of her (whether she should say no and be shot, or dole out the punishments and killings herself) but does not dwell any longer on this moral dilemma. The situational irony that making a choice leads to a loss of freedom also marks humanity’s downfall: humans are characterized by having intention, but because they are unable to reconcile their conscience with this one choice, they relinquish any control they once had.

Zhuganova continues on to describe the paradoxical situation people now find themselves in, where they are able to achieve “true freedom” by letting go of their previous freedom. The dialogue she provides—“They told me to! It’s their fault, not mine” (83)—demonstrates the ongoing cycle of blame that facilitates this new kind of freedom. Because there is always a scapegoat, people are no longer responsible for their own choices. And with the phrase “God help us” (83), Zhuganova acknowledges not only her twisted reasoning, but also humanity’s inability to solve their own immorality.

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The never-ending blame game

Zhuganova’s use of “we” throughout most of the passage emphasizes that everyone is responsible: the military is manipulative, but the people ultimately made the choice to sacrifice others to save themselves. In the context of the zombie outbreak, the theme that the passage presents—that people must combat their selfish nature to preserve human morality—expands to the text as a whole: playing the blame game only delayed response to the zombie outbreak, diverting attention and resources away from the true crisis.

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