Saturday, December 10, 2016

Political Desk: Zombies and Vampires

A while back, in a discussion of horror movies, the Lovely Bride's sister asked about the difference between zombies and vampires. And I said "Zombies are about the fear of the mob. Vampire are about fear of the elites."

I rarely say things like that which feel profound. Now, over a year and a half later, this comment still sticks in my mind, and has application in the Recent Situation.

[And as an initial digression/disclaimer - Yes, I recognize that both terms are pejorative, and in declaring your particular viewpoint as one or the other may well offend. OK. A lot of what we've been going through for the past year has been fired by fear, whether fear of mobs (zombies) or fear of the elites (vampires). Yet I will press on.]

Let's start with making the zombie/mob and vampire/elite connections. It is pretty clear about it when you're thinking about it. While early film zombies come out of a slavery tradition (there is usually some witch doctor turning people into zombies), in 1968 "Night of the Living Dead" pretty much crystalized the form (they were actually called "ghouls" in the film).

The modern rules about zombies, however, comes out of that film. No one is afraid of a single zombie - they attack in hordes. They are brainless, or at least uncaring. Driven by primal hunger. Sometimes they are fast, but mostly they are slow, but unavoidable. Relentless. They are everywhere. It doesn't matter if you take one down - they are amazingly egalitarian. They are replaceable, in that another will take their place should they fall. You can't negotiate with a zombie. They are the mob, the mindless masses, the unthinking hunk that once were human. There's no "lead zombie" but if there is someone trying to control them, they do so at the risk of the zombies turning on them.

The vampires, on the other hand, are elites, and go all the way back to Stoker and the Romantics, when just about everyone worth talking about was in the upper classes. Dracula himself was a count, a local ruler. Vampires live better than anyone else, but prey on the life force of everyone else. They take what they want out of a sense of privilege. They have cultured tastes and upper-class professions, when they have professions at all. Often independently wealthy. They dress well. Individual vampires keep coming back, regardless of how you think of you've disposed of them. They are hierarchical, with one vampire in charge, with a bunch of minions and brides and subjects reporting back. Yep, they are the 1%.

Now, without being TOO judgmental, this compares with a lot of politics recently. The history of government in general and democracy in particular can be traced to the balance between the powerful (by various definitions) and the masses (by various definitions). The writers of the Constitution were keenly aware of this, such that we are mostly a representational democracy, in that we chose individuals who are then supposed to vote on our behalf. Senators were originally appointed positions by the states, since letting actually people vote directly gave them too much power.

And indeed, that's been the argument through the years - balancing the many and the few, the lower and the upper, the zombies and the vampires. Heck, even the Roman Republic was a balance between the ruling oligarchs and the mobs. The rulers could make the law, but when they got out hand, the mob was a force in its own right. Greek city-states? Direct democracy, right down to the point where you could get ostracized from the city by your fellows. Unless there was a crisis, when they needed a strong leader, a single tyrant, a vampire, in charge.

And so, here we are. Over on the Dem side, we definitely had a populist movement in the Sanders candidacy, with huge hordes of passionate supporters showing up. But we don't talk about Mr. Sanders' charisma so much as his addressing root issues and identifying what these masses really wanted. His opponent, Ms. Clinton, was regularly pilloried for her support from corporate supporters. Plus, Rhodes scholar. Plus smarter than you. Yep, Vampire. So on the Dem side of the fence, the vampires won, such that even when the leader of the "zombies" endorsed the vampire, a lot of zombies refused to budge.

Over on the Republican side, the vampires seem to have wiped each other out in Camarilla Drama, leaving the field open to Mr. Trump, who appealed to a restive population with his exaltation to return to the past. And, despite having won the nomination for his party, despite having won the presidency itself, I have yet to read anyone on any side of the issue who has come forward to say "Yep, he's did a great job identifying the rules of the game and how he could win using those rules. Good show!" All the analysis has been on the restive masses who helped him succeed, with a dose of how bad things will be when the zombie hordes turn on their self-declared master.

Where does this go from here? I have no clue. Everyone keeps expecting Mr. Trump to reveal himself to be a Vampire all along (and yeah, the gold leaf on everything is a clue), and the Zombies to turn on him, but I am not quite seeing it yet. A different set of ancient vamps are flooding the upper levels of government, while the zombies are still getting their directives about who to be angry at today. So we seem to be in undiscovered country, waiting for the ghouls, or the liches, or the werewolves to show up.

More later,