The Walking Dead Theorem

Where's Brad Pitt when you need him?

Where’s Brad Pitt when you need him?


In a zombie apocalypse world, who would fare better? The liberal or the conservative? Post apocalyptic life would require innovation, efficient community and use of resources, a form of group oriented government and respect for and active involvement in the protection of the environment. Which group embodies those traits more?

While trying to conceptualize some of the fundamental differences between Liberals and Conservatives, I realized that enclosing the two groups in a vacuum of sorts might highlight some of the contrasting philosophies of each group. In modern society, the distinctions of each perspective can become a bit muddled due to the complex nature of life in the 21st century. I thought that if we were to strip away modern conveniences and return to a more basic existence, it would be easier to illustrate which perspective makes more sense from a human survival point of view and thus I give you… The Walking Dead Theorem.

The premise is this: Two groups of people survive the initial zombification of the human race. For those not familiar with the Walking Dead television show or zombie mythology in general, allow me to explain. Imagine the outbreak of a pandemic mutagenic virus (or toxic chemical or alien radiation or whatever causal agent you wish) that transforms human beings into nearly mindless, savage, rotting beasts that desire only one thing: Human brains! (Or just the general death and destruction of non-zombies – you know, like the way Phil Robertson feels about atheists. 🙂 ). This pandemic zombifies anywhere from 90-99% of the worlds population. Now imagine how our modern society would crumble without people capable of maintaining our infrastructure. No one is running the power plants or communication systems or hospitals or petroleum refineries or water treatment plants or… well you get the picture. Life has changed in a big way. There is no government, no military, no law enforcement. It has become survival of the fittest. And not only do the surviving humans have to learn to fend for themselves, they must guard against attacks from wild animals and zombies. Basic survival includes food and water procurement, treatment of disease and injury, protection from the environment (and zombies), etc.

Uncle Sam's corpse wants YOU!

Uncle Sam’s corpse wants YOU!

The experiment starts shortly after civilization collapses and continues on for as long as humans can sustain their existence. This means that the longer a group can survive, the stronger and better protected and provided they would naturally become. Our two experimental groups number 20 members each. One group consists of those who identify as Liberal and the other as Conservative. (I’ll shorten the name of the Liberals to the Libs and the Conservatives to the Cons. Nothing is being implied by the shortening. This is just me being lazy and not wanting to type so much.)

Each is made up of the same ratio of men to women. In fact, the two groups are nearly identical in all demographic segments, from age range to sexual preference, race, education levels, etc. The only difference is that the Cons tend to be mostly Christians, where the Libs only have a few Christians in their ranks along with a diverse range of other belief systems including Agnostics and Atheists. I’m working on the premise (based on my own observations and assumptions from American society) that most Christians are Conservatives and most Conservatives are Christians. My experiment, my variables.

Now that I’ve set up the scenario, let’s do some comparison and contrast. I’ve listed a number of criteria for analysis based on what I determined to be elements of survival and the continuation of the human species. The two groups will address each element using the accepted philosophical viewpoints inherent in each one. I will evaluate and rate each approach using a simple “pass” or “fail” method. Let’s see which group survives the longest, shall we?

Say hello to a few million of your new neighbors

Say hello to a few million of your new neighbors

(One important note: I am focusing on one primary philosophical distinction between the two schools of thought: The value of group versus the value of the individual and how this would result in different approaches to survival. I am also modeling the two groups based on how people self-identify using modern political and socio-economic measurements. I realize true conservatives would treat the environment in a manner different from what I have described below.)

Element #1: Government of group.

Libs: Believing that there is a the need for a generally understood and accepted structure of behavior, Libs set up a body of rules for the protection and benefit of the group rather than the individual.  These rules are devised, accepted and applied to all equally. Rule enforcement may be delegated to a single individual or subgroup. Decisions regarding the breaking of the rules and consequences are performed by a group of peers.

Cons: Believing  that the individual is more important than the group and that responsibility for conduct is personally assigned, the Cons develop only a weak and rudimentary system of rules governing behavior. The rules are mandated by those within the group that hold the greatest power and those same individuals take on the responsibility of enforcing the rules and determining the consequences of violation.

Grade: Libs – Pass. Cons – Fail.

Will there be an elected council?

Will there be an elected council?

Will they have a Ricktatorship?

A Ricktatorship?

Or a Governor?

Or a Governor?

Element #2: Food and water production/procurement and distribution

Libs: Following the “group before individual” philosophy, an individual or subgroup may be assigned the responsibilities of providing food and water for the group based on their qualifications or interest. Food and water are distributed equally to all group members.

Cons: Food and water are commodities that have value and following free market principles, whomever is able to produce/procure food and water has leverage and can then sell/trade them for other things. The price of the food and water (its value) is determined by the market and is as high as the market will bear. The assumption of risk in producing the food (and procuring water), protecting it against thievery and accepting loss due to theft, acts of nature, etc is born by the individual. It also gives rise to the notion of “ownership” of a natural resource (water).

Grade: Libs – Pass. Cons – Fail.

 Element #3: Safety and protection

Libs: Weapons are distributed equally so that everyone in the group can defend themselves and help protect the group. Group assigns specific guard or patrolling duties to a subgroup based on their qualifications or interest. This subgroup is responsible for the safety and protection of the group as a whole and might act as security for other subgroups such as those procuring food or water.

Cons: Weapons are distributed according to whatever each person acquired before or after the apocalypse. No equal distribution. What’s mine is mine mentality. Each person is responsible for their own protection.

Grade: Libs – Pass. Cons – Fail.

We stand together

We stand together

Element #4: Construction of shelter

Libs: Following the same philosophy that governed food and water, Libs work together to locate and obtain the tools and raw materials needed to construct new shelter or modify/reinforce existing shelter. Labor is shared by all and each individual is provided secure shelter. Whether a large single building is used and subdivided for individual occupation or a neighborhood is protected by building a wall around the perimeter, shelter would be relatively close together to more efficiently protect the group and create ease of distribution of goods and services. Community develops as the relatively close proximity requires more social interactions.

Cons: Following the same philosophy that governed food and water, Cons are each responsible for obtaining the tools and raw materials for shelter. Labor is dependent on each individual. If an individual is incapable of obtaining materials, or does not have the ability or skill set to construct/modify shelter he is left to either barter with someone else for the materials and labor or go without. Individual shelters would vary in size and quality and are spread out to give each individual as much real estate as possible. Isolation develops as each person assumes responsibility for his/her own needs and interaction would occur mainly for the purpose of transacting business. Those without shelter are at much greater risk of dying.

Grade: Libs – Pass. Cons – Fail.

Element #5: Health and medical care

Libs: Following the same philosophy that governed food and water, the Libs once again make access to medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and skilled medical treatment available to all equally. This reduces the risk of anyone dying due to disease or injury and improves the chance of a sick person returning to active, normal life and thus contributing to the community.

Cons: Following the same philosophy that governed food and water, the Cons assign ownership of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. Anyone with medical knowledge or skills would utilize them only if compensated. This uneven distribution of necessary materials and skills forces those without to either barter for the goods and services or do without. Those without access to medical care are at a much greater risk of dying.

Grade: Libs – Pass. Cons – Fail.

Did someone call for a Doctor? Sorry, wrong show.

Did someone call for a Doctor? Sorry, wrong show.

Element #6: Protection and preservation of the environment

Libs: Understanding that long-term survival and the continuation and possible expansion of the human race requires the efficient and responsible use of natural resources, rules regarding the usage and consumption of things like water, wood and soil are decided upon and adopted by the group and applied to all. The use of wood and possibly other fuel sources for fire would be necessary in this primitive new world, but the application of cleaner sources of energy generation like wind power (turbines could provide electricity, mechanical energy can be used to mill grains, etc) is also feasible. Depending on location, rivers might be dammed to provide wetland areas for wildlife and the generation of hydro-electric power. The creation, maintenance and usage of these methods would be done with the purpose of maintaining as much of an equilibrium with the environment as possible. Farming would employ methods of producing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to meet the nutritional needs of the group.

Cons: Use of land, water, forests and other natural resources would depend on individual needs and desires without regard to how one persons usage impacted everyone else. Pollution of air and water would occur as there would be no regulation of usage or consequences for anyone who monopolized or spoiled resources. The concept of ownership of these resources could limit supply or create an antagonistic environment if two or more people wanted the same resource. Food grown through farming would be less diversified and crops would be raised following the principle of market demand.

Grade: Libs – Pass. Cons – Fail.


Element #7: Religious/philosophical beliefs (While I don’t consider this to be an element of survival, it is a condition that would exist and impact life in the zombie apocalypse world and it helps to identify how, when certain individual liberties are examined, the two philosophies appear to change perspective.)

Libs: Tolerance of all belief systems is the norm. While open debate and discussion might occur regarding differences in belief, everyone would respect the individual right to choose one’s own religion or lack thereof.

Cons: Insistence on conforming to a singular Christian ideology with little tolerance for those who adopt another faith or those who reject religion in its entirety. What few social rules that are created and enforced within the Cons group, are based on Christian doctrine as interpreted by the most powerful individual(s) in the group. Deviation from Christian doctrine is met with severe consequences.

Grade: Libs – Pass. Cons – Fail.

I believe... that we'll have Spaghetti Tuesdays on Wednesday!

I believe… that we’ll have Spaghetti Tuesdays on Wednesday!


In regard to government – Democracy is best supported by the concept of liberalism, namely rule of, by and for the people. Conversely, conservatism assigns power to the individual which gives rise to what would eventually become a dictatorship. Might makes right.

In regard to distribution of goods and services – Liberals believe that care should be taken for the group to work as a whole to protect and provide for each individual. Withholding food, water, weapons, shelter, medical care or any other necessity for survival from any individual weakens the individual which in turn weakens the group. Conservatives believe that  each individual is responsible for himself only and sharing with others is weakness. It only makes sense to give to another if the giver receives something of equal or greater value in return. This approach would eventually yield a degradation of the group as a whole in order to protect the interests of the individual. It would be more likely that the size and strength of the group would deteriorate making survival more difficult for each individual that remained in the group.

In regard to providing protection and defense against danger: Again the group mentality trumps individual concerns. Leaving the duties of protection to each person increases the risk of someone getting injured or killed. Also, the uneven distribution of weapons would give those with a lot of weapons an advantage over those that had few or none and would lead to those without having to barter for protection if they were able. This exposes a weakness in the integrity of the group by creating unneeded and unequal dependency.

In regard to providing shelter: This follows the same line of thinking as distribution of food, water, medical supplies, etc. Providing shelter for all members of the group ensures a better chance of survival for each member and thus preserves the strength of the group.

In regard to religious/philosophical tolerance: Here we see a reversal of attitude concerning the importance of individual wants over compliance with group conformity. When it comes to accumulating wealth or any other self-serving desire, Conservatives favor the individual freedom to pursue those things. But in relation to individual thought, expression or belief, there is a pronounced tendency to reign in the deviants and maintain uniformity. Liberals, by contrast, value and embrace diversity in thinking.

Overall Evaluation: Liberal tenet – A group is only as strong as its weakest link. Conservative tenet – Survival of the fittest. The valuation of the group has merit over the valuation of the individual in that the group can be considered a whole and each person one of its parts. Each person strengthens the group with his/her contributions. The loss of each person weakens the overall group and every remaining member of the group suffers for it. For example, if there is a doctor in the group and he is unable to feed himself or protect himself from zombies because he is without food or weapons, if he dies, he takes his medical knowledge and skills with him. This eliminates an important asset for the rest of the remaining people.

While some may argue that my points are valid only in a zombie apocalypse, I contend that the size of the group does not matter and that humans are social creatures because we need to be in order to survive. Our actions that directly impact the group must be weighed with emphasis on the needs of the group before the needs or desires of the individual. Polluting the environment, wasting natural resources, unfairly distributing wealth or being unwilling to contribute to certain social services such as education, law enforcement, public safety, development and maintenance of public infrastructure, financial assistance for the needy, health care, etc, negatively impacts the group and thus each individual within the group suffers in one way or another.

On the other hand, with respect to our personal beliefs, sexual preferences, artistic expression and other aspects it is not only acceptable, but preferrable that attention and focus be placed on the individual. Diversity in those areas actually can strengthen a community.

Conservatism tends to foster the idea of individual ownership which can lead to violence over who has the right to own objects, materials and land. This fosters greed and gluttony. It also creates a gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” and community starts to fracture into socio-economic classes. We see evidence of this in modern American with the reluctance of Conservative Republicans to support programs designed to benefit the poor or working class (Medicaid, Health Care Reform, Public Education), yet there is strong support from this same group when it comes to cutting taxes for the wealthy, passing bills that give corporations some of the same rights afforded to human beings and sacrificing the environment for unhealthy fossil fuel production.

Now before anyone accuses me of simply trying to forward a Communist agenda, I concede that Communism may look practical in theory, but it doesn’t work in the real world. When you factor in human nature and the many negative traits man has (greed, gluttony, laziness, jealousy, apathy, etc) it becomes almost impossible to motivate people to work for the good of the group and surrender personal gain. And yes, the model I used in my “experiment” for the Liberals resembled Communism. Fear of death and the need to survive can sometimes create motivation for cooperation where none may have existed before. In the end, if the Liberal group grew and prospered, I suspect there would be a tendency for the group to evolve into another socio-economic form. In time it could even develop into a blend of Socialism and Capitalism.

My point was to illustrate my perception of Conservatives as seen through a Liberal eye. The conservative approach seems selfish and not beneficial when trying to advance the quality and longevity of any society. It is my bias and I welcome differing viewpoints.

Final Conclusion: Liberals survive and repopulate. Conservatives die alone.


[Author’s note: This was not an attempt to propose a legitimate scientific or philosophical theory. The nature of this article is simple social commentary and an attempt at entertainment. I would love if it sparked discussion and debate but it should be taken as it was intended – a slightly humorous “what-if” scenario open for interpretation. Thanks.]


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