What of the zombie apocalypse — Dr. Anarchy responds

19 August 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in philosophy, war | 7 Comments »

From the Dr. Anarchy mail bag this week, a reader in Saudi Arabia asks:

What’s the official anarchist position on the Zombie Apocalypse?

I suspect that all of my loyal readers will agree that this is an important question, and one worthy of a detailed response from Dr. Anarchy and other philosophers and legal scholars who have had things to say about zombies in the past.

The answer depends on the type of zombies we’re talking about. If the zombification is reversible, then we may have to consider them as moral actors under temporary undue influence. This would not mean you can’t chop their heads off if they’re threatening to eat you, in full consistency with any rational concept of self-defense, but it does introduce a dimension of complexity to the moral calculus.

Milla Jovovich demonstrates her approach to the zombie apocalypse through ACTION!

Milla Jovovich demonstrates her approach to the zombie apocalypse through ACTION!

Now, there are some anarchists who are very much into animal rights as well as human rights, who would likely have a range of opinions beyond mine on this topic. To me, an irreversibly zombified human could not be considered a moral actor, and could therefore be treated like any dangerous animal in the event that it threatens humans.

A topic of particular interest to propertarian anarchists like myself is the question of property within the broader context of zombification, without even needing to go to the extreme of any prospective zombie apocalypse. If a person who owns property becomes zombified, what of their property? From my libertarian perspective, this question turns on whether or not they are still capable of being a moral actor.

For the irreversibly-zombified human, libertarian theory tells us that zombies — not being moral actors — cannot own property. This means that any property held by a person becoming irreversibly zombified becomes unowned, and is therefore subject to immediate homesteading by the first comer. So long as no other non-zombified legitimate claimants exist, unlimited expropriation of formerly-just, now-unowned property from zombies is morally defensible. The same is of course true of the material of the zombie’s body, leaving open the possibility of the assemblage of a zombie slave army by a sufficiently skilled and motivated propertarian anarchist.

However, what of the new zombie’s heirs? As irreversible zombification is not typically provided for in wills (i.e., it’s not really “death”), perhaps a variant of a living will could be used to ensure that the zombified’s property passes to their regular heirs in the case of such an eventuality. We might call this new legal instrument an “undead will”.

For the reversibly-zombified human, I’m really not quite certain. I suspect, though, that in a truly free market (which we don’t have today) it would be possible to purchase zombification insurance at competitive rates which would provide for a sort of trustee custody relationship over the property of the insured, should same become reversibly zombified. Insurers providing this type of coverage should be strongly motivated to find a cure for zombification so that the time and resources expended in the defense of zombie property is minimized, and profits thus maximized. Existing contracts referencing Acts of God or the Acts of the Apostles might need to be re-written in order to provide exclusions from force majeure provisions in the event of widespread zombification.

In any case, the potential of a zombie apocalypse provides agorists, anarchists of all adjectivial stripes as well as such degenerates as vulgar libertarians, minarchists and Republicans to build community and make common cause with such people as Milla Jovovich, whose demonstrated abilities in both combating and managing zombie crises should serve as inspiration to us all.

  1. 7 Responses to “What of the zombie apocalypse — Dr. Anarchy responds”

  2. By MCLA on 19 August 2009

    “To me, an irreversibly zombified human could not be considered a moral actor”

    Methinks you are letting off a large chunk of mankind. 🙂

  3. By Joe on 19 August 2009

    “This means that any property held by a person becoming irreversibly zombified becomes unowned, and is therefore subject to immediate homesteading by the first comer.”

    Here is another question for propertarian philosophers to ponder:

    In one of the later scenes of Zorba the Greek, Madame Hortense dies. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

    “Zorba stays by her side, along with Basil. Meanwhile, word gets round that “the foreigner” is dying, and that since she has no heirs, the State will take all her possessions and money. The villagers crowd round her house, impatiently waiting for her death so they can steal her belongings.”

    The question is: were the villagers “stealing” M. Hortense’s items or were they simply “homesteading” them?

  4. By Aaron Kinney on 20 August 2009

    I’ve been practicing my zombie-slaying skills in Left 4 Dead just in case such an emergency arises. 🙂

  5. By MerryMonk on 21 August 2009

    What, I asked, does “reversibly zombified” mean?

    From the unabridged, unofficial (duh) yet curiously strong Anarchist’s Dictionary:

    “reversibly zombified”
    1. A person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote but who nonetheless watches South Park

    2. Anyone still horny after consuming 6 or more of a tall drink made typically with several kinds of rum, citrus juice, and often apricot liqueur.

    3. an automaton such as a voter who nonetheless has enough self respect to evade jury duty

    4. A “citizen” who says “Why?” more often than they mindlessly say “I believe in”

  6. By Jack McHugh on 9 September 2009

    Of course zombification is death, and the dead person’s property thus inheritable. The “person” who inhabited the corporeal shell has been replaced by a mindless creature that as the passage says is not a “moral actor.” It’s no different than if you killed me and draped my skin over a robot, or a cougar – I’m gone, and something else has replaced me inside that skin. It would be a violation of equity to deny my heirs until a zombie-fighter pumps some buckshot into my lizard-brain.

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  2. 23 July 2012: Zombies and Property Rights | ars libertatis
  3. 20 February 2013: Zombies: A Rothbardian Perspective - Hit & Run :

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