Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 07:38 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 07:38 | SYDNEY

'Dad, you killed the zombie Flanders!'


Sam Roggeveen


19 August 2009 18:43

A regular reader insists I write about this Canadian mathematical study about how the world could go about combating a zombie epidemic. As Alex Massie says, this kind of thing is made for the blogosphere, and I see Dan Drezner has already put his peculiar international relations theory slant on the matter.

I would approach the issue from a perspective that might be familiar to regular Interpreter readers. Let's say this zombie epidemic originates in the UK (hey, it could happen) and devastates the country, with sporadic outbreaks around the world thereafter. I would support the use of air power and special forces in cooperation with local living humans to put down the undead threat in the UK, but that should be the extent of our commitment.

Given zombie-ism could break out almost anywhere around the world, there's little point putting huge resources into rebuilding the British economy and political system. I mean, it would be great for the remaining Brits if we helped them rebuild their country, but where's the national interest? And let's not be distracted by arguments that a large nation-building presence in the UK could help stabilise French-German relations or reduce the flood of Newcastle Brown Ale onto the international market. Those would be ex-post facto rationalisations of a flawed policy.

It would be tempting to declare a 'war on zombies' but that would just perpetuate the idea that counter-zombie-ism should be military-led. Yes, the limited and precise use of force would be necessary from time to time, but zombiedom is really a public health issue. It requires good screening and intelligence, and above all a national and international effort to improve the resilience of our social, economic and political institutions.

It would be impossible to protect everyone from zombies at all times and in all places. So public policy should focus on harnessing the capabilities of government agencies, the private sector and volunteers to make sure that society can bounce back from zombie attacks when they occur.

Oh, one last thing. If you can correctly identify the TV show and episode* I'm quoting in my headline, you'll get...well, nothing, actually. Except that peculiar feeling of satisfaction when you know you're sharing in an inside joke. Except I haven't actually gone to the effort of making a joke; I've just made a lazy pop culture reference in the hope that parts of my audience will feel special knowing we share some cultural affinity. Come to think of it, that's sometimes what watching The Simpsons is like. Zing!

* The Simpsons, Treehouse of Horrors III, and the next line, spoken by Homer, is: 'He was a zombie?'

Photo by Flickr user frickinmuck, used under a Creative Comons license.