Why I’m Not A Socialist (Although I’m Totally Down With the 99 Percent)

IF YOU WATCH ENOUGH Fox News you’ll learn the world generally is made up of two kinds of people: God-loving Americans and Communists.

For those who don’t know the demographics, “God-loving Americans” consists of the 300 million or so citizens of the United States of America.

Minus the 11 million undocumented immigrants.

 

And Democrats.

 

democrats hate america

 

This means, of course, that the everyone else in the world is a communist.

Communists don’t love God.

Americans love God.

If you’re a God-loving American, by definition that means you’re a capitalist.

Bet you didn’t know God is a capitalist, too.

Indeed He is.

 

god bless capitalism

 

This means God is an American.

If He wasn’t, God’s only-begotten son JESUS CHRIST wouldn’t look like this:

 

jesus loves american... flags

WHEN JESUS COMES BACK HE WILL DEFEAT SATAN – AND DEMOCRATS

 

As much as Americans love God, God loves America.

That’s why America is the greatest country that ever was.

Communists can’t love America.

And just to prove how much God loves Americans, he rewards those who love him most (i.e. Americans) with boundless prosperity. That’s why American money looks like this:

in god we trust

 

Americans tend to be funny people.

The greatest comedians are all American.

That’s because God must have a heck of a sense of humor.

Even though Americans love him so, not all Americans have been blessed with prosperity and abundance. Some Americans don’t have a lot of money.

Some are positively broke.

Some joke, huh?

Still, even if you don’t have money, there’s no reason to lose faith.
Why else would we say we’re “One nation under God”?

pledge-allegiance

We know that the Almighty loves each and every American as much as he loves the private accumulation of capital, but you’re probably asking how can a God that loves Americans so much allow for any of the people that He loves to go without his blessings of prosperity?

How can God allow capitalism if capitalism is the root of so much poverty, homelessness, class tension, exploitation, and war around the world?

At least that’s what some people say it does.

First, I assume if you’re questioning God’s love of capitalism that you’re either a communist, a college student or a Democrat.

Either way, you’re probably wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt right now.

 

Che-Guevara-parody

 

Well, communist, that’s because most people don’t appreciate capitalism because they have no idea what capitalism is.

Most folks think that capitalism is all about making money.

 

capitalism-duck

 
Sure, it’s about that, but there’s more to capitalism than that.

Capitalism isn’t just about money, it’s about morality. Capitalism is a moral theory.
Capitalism isn’t meant to only enrich individuals, but to benefit society as a whole.

Although capitalism’s roots are in the feudal system, it was the 18th century Scottish moral philosopher, Adam Smith’s (1723-1790), An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), that is considered the “Bible of Capitalism”.

Smith believed that people are motivated by self-love and that the primary motivation for capitalism is self-interest, private property, and to be compensated in the market.

Smith writes

 

Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command … it is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of society, which he has in view.

 

According to Smith, we enter into exchanges with other people because we are working to our own benefit.

enjoy capitalism

 

Now, at first glance, this seems all rather selfish. A society that encourages people to only fulfill their own needs won’t endure for long.
That perception is absolutely correct.

But for Smith, there’s an ultimate benefit to pursuing one’s own self-interest – being kind of selfish is actually beneficial to society as a whole.

giphy

 

Smith maintains that while we pursue our own interests, by extension we also ensure the well being of others.

Some of this has to do with the nature of the market itself.

We should keep in mind that Adam Smith was a moral philosopher. The goal of our ethics is to do what is good – in particular – to act in a way that is ethically best for society.

People, according to Smith, not only vote at the ballot, they also vote with their wallets. This is how the free market works. A business owner who has a reputation for treating his employees and/or customers poorly or produces a substandard product/service is subject to the will of the market. He may find that people don’t want to do business with a bad businessman. The businessman must realize that he bears some degree of responsibility to the pubic (his business practices must be consistent with the common good) if he wants to make money.

A good businessman must keep in mind that he is bound to operate his business subject to public demand.

Smith also maintains that capitalism encourages innovation. Innovation is based on competition and competition is the catalyst of improvement. In competing with other businesses, entrepreneurs (motivated by self-interest) create new, unique, and better products.
Individuals, like businesses, are motivated by self-interest and that we also possess the want to improve ourselves.

you

 

Milton Friedman maintains that liberty not only guarantees wealth, but that freedom is protected by capitalism. That’s because government, by nature, is coercive and hinders personal freedom. Capitalists (and capitalism) can counteract the actions of government because the free market reflects the true will of the people.

 

*The drive to improve ourselves is materially-oriented. When you add natural liberty to the drive for self-improvement you get capitalism. The outcomes are reason-based. Smith keeps in line with Enlightenment philosophers like Immanuel Kant who maintained that we are driven by reason. Our decisions are rational. This is why Smith discourages monopolies. Monopolies eliminate competition. It’s not rational for one business to dominate the market.

Because Smith believes people make rational decisions, he believes that government regulation should be minimal. The market will function as if guided by an “invisible hand”.

i see the invisible hand

 

Smith says about the Invisible Hand

By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of society more effectively than when he really intends to promote it.

That is, Smith believes when we make money for ourselves, our interactions in the marketplace (as consumers, producers, and investors) benefits other people and society as a whole.

Just in case you didn’t know, the invisible hand is a moral concept.

Adam Smith also wrote

… improvement of the lower ranks of the people to be regarded as an advantage or as an inconveniency to society? The answer seems at first sight abundantly plain. Servants, laborers, and workers make up the far greater part of every aspect of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances for the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.

 

So far, capitalism sounds like a great gig, right?

billy

 

There’s a big problem with capitalism, tho.

There’s a pretty good chance that not everyone will profit equally. Not everyone will make money, Smith says. Despite the opportunity for individuals to make a F-ton of money, there will still be poor people.

f ton of money

THIS IS WHAT AN F TON OF MONEY LOOKS LIKE

 

Despite all the material fun stuff that capitalism promises, not everyone is on the capitalism bandwagon.

scaled_full_0f13a1aabb491eb3dbf2

 

Call them Socialists, Marxists, Communists, Godless America haters or folks who feel the Bern.

Some people would rather be Red than dead.

You know what that is, right?

bernie-sanders-socialism-scare-gif

 

The most famous treatise on socialism, The Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), maintains that capitalism determines people’s way of life (how people produce, distribute, and use goods). Life in a capitalist society alienates people, oppresses and dehumanizes people, and destroys social bonds. Workers and slaves to machines and slaves to the capitalist and the state that supports him.

This happens because everything is about making money.

According to Marx, even the rich are dehumanized by capitalism.

piece of paper

 

Fans of the theories of 19th century German philosopher Karl Marx (1818-1883) tend to believe:

  • Poverty and exploitation are products of capitalism (private property in particular).
    Private property leads to class division and economic inequality.
    Justice requires and end to private property.
    To abolish private ownership of capital and replace it with social (public) ownership.
    Collective ownership by the workers/public.
    Workers should choose how corporations are to be managed.
    Capital is not productive, labor is productive.
    Capitalism breeds unhealthy rivalry.
    Capitalism oppresses women.
    Markets are inherently unstable.
    Capitalism fails to provide social services.
    In a capitalist system, profits trump everything.
    Marx advocated fair wages and public education.

Now, socialism doesn’t seem so scary, does it?

Marx (and Engels) wrote:

 

…that kid of property which exploits wage labour, and which cannot increase except upon conditions of begetting a new supply of wage labour for fresh exploitation. … when, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses all its class character.

 

truncated theory

 

Marx states that the class struggle resulting from the capitalist system will eventually lead to the proletariat abolishing the capitalist system and replacing it with collective (worker-owned) means of production – Communism.

Under communism, Marx explains, the workers will have a workers paradise.

 

workers_paradise_1920s_big

 

It’s understandable that people aren’t fans of capitalism and why they’d feel that socialism is the answer.* As an American, and a lover of dollars in my wallet, I can respect the right for others to hold different political views than I do.

As wrong as those people may be.

I’ll admit, capitalism can be pretty messed up to some people.

laughs in socialist
But, before we jump on the to-each-according-to-his-need-and-ability horse-drawn cart, we might consider how or why capitalism is so messed up.

There’s a real possibility that we’ve been doing capitalism wrong.

 

capitalism wrong

Yes, it’s possible for Americans to do something wrong.

joke

 

Here’s the thing: Americans are capitalists at heart, but our current brand of capitalism may not be the same kind of capitalism that Adam Smith wrote about.

And that might have a little something to do with this woman right here.

 

Ayn_Rand12

MODERN-DAY AMERICAN CAPITALISM HAS MORE TO DO WITH THE WRITER/PHILOSOPHER/HATER OF MOOCHERS, AYN RAND, THAN IT HAS TO DO WITH ADAM SMITH

 

The Russian born, American philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982), is not only known for her novels/philosophical treatises The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and Anthem, she also almost single-handedly influenced modern American capitalism.
If anyone you know declares that they are “going Galt”, blame it on Ayn Rand.

gone galt

 

Rand is most famous for her philosophy of Objectivism, grounded in the moral principle of the “Virtue of Selfishness”. According to Rand, selfishness was acting according to one’s rational self interest. Rand states that altruism (emphasized in deontological ethical theories such as Kantian and Christian ethics) is harmful to individuals and society, and leads to immorality, injustice, and double standards.

 

Rand writes

The purpose of morality is to define man’s proper values and interests, that concern with his own interests is the essence of moral existence, and that man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions… the Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his actions and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.

According to Rand, if you earn it, it’s yours. You are under NO moral obligation to share with or do for others.

That’s because acting with the interests in mind forces us to ignore our own…

 

rational-self-interest

 
Like Adam Smith, Rand’s moral philosophy is also applicable to economics.

645280137_1719643

 

However, Randian economics holds that any attempt to regulate the economy or to influence what we do with what is ours is an infringement on an individual’s liberty and rational self-interest. If you do not do well financially, that is your problem.

No safety net. No invisible hand.

You shouldn’t expect that others will bear the responsibility of maintaining your well being.

No help for you, moocher.

 

invisible hand

NOPE.

 

Rand’s influence on American politics and economics is far-reaching.

Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, was a student of Ayn Rand.

 

greenspan and rand

PICTURED: ALAN GREENSPAN, AYN RAND, AND PRESIDENT GERALD FORD

It’s said that Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon were fans of Rand’s philosophy.

As are Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who forces, whoops, recommends that his staffers watch the film adaptation of The Fountainhead.

Former Congressman Bob Barr is a fan of Ayn Rand.

Other members of Congress who follow Rand’s objectivist philosophy include Representative Steve King (R-IA), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Paul’s father, former Representative Rand Paul of Texas.

 

a joke

 

Former 2012 Vice-Presidential candidate and current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI), stated that he handed out copies of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to his congressional staffers as Christmas presents.

 

Paul Ryan said of Rand

You know, it doesn’t surprise me that sales of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged have surged lately with the Obama Administration coming in, because it’s that kind of thinking, that kind of writing, that is sorely needed right now. And I think a lot of people would observe that we are living in an Ayn Rand novel right now, metaphorically speaking… The attack on democratic capitalism, on individualism, and freedom America is an attack on the moral foundation of America, and Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism. And this, to me, is what matters most, it’s not enough to say that President Obama’s taxes are too big, or the health care plan doesn’t work for this or that policy reason. It is the moral [aspect] of what’s occurring right now and how it offends the morality of individuals working [by] their own free will to produce, to achieve, to succeed, that is under attack. And it’s that which Ayn Rand would be commenting on, and we need that kind of comment more and more than ever.

… Although to be fair, Ryan later said that he rejected Rand’s atheism.

 

ryan-rand-hey-girl

 

To be honest, Randian capitalism-influenced economic policies work.

People make money.

And when pursuing one’s own interests, one is usually happy.

Because they have money.

3btee

 

However…

catch

 

Rand’s rational self-interest rejects Smith’s (capitalist) ethic that when we do for ourselves, we are actually acting in the interests of the common good.

And as 9 out of 10 philosophers will tell you, when we don’t act in the interests of the common good, society doesn’t fair too well.

The tenth philosopher is Ayn Rand.

She thinks giving the finger to society is ok.

 

greed
Ok, the Capitalist-Socialist divide has been going on for quite some time. Despite the fact that both theories have had the chance to prove which one is correct, all we’ve really done is proved that – well, that nobody has really gotten either theory right.
After all, both theories are over a century old. It’s a little difficult to ring up Adam Smith and ask him how capitalism is really supposed to work.

 

confused-business-man-scratching-his-head-while-reading-a-book-Stock-Photo

NOW, HOW DOES THIS CAPITALISM THING WORK AGAIN?

 

Besides, I have a feeling that Adam Smith spend all of his time on the phone taking selfies.

 

selfie

I HAVE A HORRIBLE FEELING THAT A LOT OF ADAM SMITH’S SELFIES WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS

 

The way things are, we’ve been made to think that there are only two economic theories to choose from. However, Capitalism is not without flaws.

But neither is Socialism.

‘Cause as much as I want universal health care, having a bunch of cash really isn’t that bad of an idea.

 

 

 

 

*I realize that throughout this post I have been using the terms Socialism, Communism, and Marxism interchangeably. And yes, I am aware of the differences between the three ideologies.
SOURCES:
Great Treasury of Western Thought: A Compendium of Important Statements of Man and His Institutions By the Great Thinkers In Western History. 1977. Eds. Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren. NY: R.R. Bowker Company. p. 803.

Adam Smith. “Benefits of the Profit Motive”. Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy. 1988. Eds. G. Lee Bowie, Meredith W. Michaels, Robert C. Solomon, and Robert J. Fogelin. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. p. 747.

Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. 1988 [1848]. NY: Signet Classic p. 67, 70.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardsalsman/2012/08/21/mitt-romney-paul-ryan-and-ayn-rand-now-thats-the-ticket/#59c883357810

http://www.e-reading.club/bookreader.php/137212/Rand_-_The_Virtue_of_Selfishness.pdf

It’s Gotta Be the Head

The new half-season of The Walking Dead starts in about a week.

I’m pretty excited about it. So excited that I’m writing another blog post about the show.

Yeah, I know. I write about this show a lot.

 

oh my god i need help

 

Writing about The Walking Dead (other than writing an episode review) may seem like a stupid pointless unphilosophical thing for a philosopher to do.

Yeah. Immanuel Kant would probably say something like that.

How do you say stupid in German?

 

german for poop

 

 

I’m pretty sure that means something else…
But here’s the reason why I do: I think the show is very philosophical.

 

are you on crack GIF

 

Ok, listen. This is how The Walking Dead is philosophical: Have you ever thought about whether a zombie is actually alive or dead? I mean really thought about it.

 

THE ANSWER SHOULD BE OBVIOUS BUT IT’S NOT

THE ANSWER SHOULD BE OBVIOUS BUT IT’S NOT

 

Sure, you can ask a scientist. But seriously, what’s a scientist going to tell you? A scientist is going to ask you if the zombie is breathing or if it’s decayed or if it has any measurable brain activity.

Something like that.

But you can much more fun if you ask a philosopher.

 

PHILOSOPHY IS FUN!

PHILOSOPHY IS FUN!

 

A philosopher will tell you all about metaphysics and ethics. And talk to you all about philosophers like Rene Descartes, or David Chalmers, John Searle, or Richard Rorty.

Sounds pretty exciting already, huh?

 

DOESN’T DAVID CHALMERS LOOK LIKE AN EXCITING GUY?

DOESN’T DAVID CHALMERS LOOK LIKE AN EXCITING GUY?

 

The reason why we would ask something like, “Is a zombie actually living or dead?” is this: Wait – let me ask you a question first.

When someone on a TV show is arrested what’s the first thing they say to the arresting officer?
Right.

The perp invariably will declare that they have rights.

 

THERE’S A 47% PERCENT CHANCE THAT AT SOME POINT DURING THIS CONFRONTATION THE INDIVIDUAL WHO IS NOT COP WILL DECLARE THAT HE HAS RIGHTS

THERE’S A 47% PERCENT CHANCE THAT AT SOME POINT DURING THIS CONFRONTATION THE INDIVIDUAL WHO IS NOT COP WILL DECLARE THAT HE HAS RIGHTS

 

But what kind of people have rights? I mean, what does a person have to be to have rights?

Living, right?

Living people have rights.

A person who is alive can declare he has rights. A dead person can not.

 

IT’S OBVIOUS THAT THIS GUY IS ALIVE. …. I THINK.

IT’S OBVIOUS THAT THIS GUY IS ALIVE. …. I THINK.

 

But what about the rights of the undead?

 

Do the dead even have rights?
First, I’m not getting all new agey on this. I’m not talking about life after death or whether beings exist in an alternate plain of existence. These (can be but) aren’t really typical philosophical topics. I’m talking about our general definition of what death means.

Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (13th edition) defines clinical death as:
Permanent cessation of all vital functions. [defined by]
1) total irreversible cessation of cerebral function of the
respiratory system, spontaneous function of the circulatory
system. 2) the final and irreversible cessation of perceptible
heartbeat and respiration.

 

 

This describes a zombie perfectly.

 

To make things clear, here’s a definition of zombie (as defined by Urban Dictionary):

Zombie: The Walking Dead. Scientific name Homo Coprophagus Somnambulus

A deceased human being who has partially returned to life due to undeterminable causes… In its near-mindless state, it grasps no remains of emotion, personality, or sensation of pain… Circulatory, respiratory, and digestive system are unaffected by reanimation…

 

ACTUAL ZOMBIE BRAIN SCAN…. OR OF A REGULAR VIEWER OF REALITY TV

ACTUAL ZOMBIE BRAIN SCAN…. OR OF A REGULAR VIEWER OF REALITY TV

 

I think it’s safe to assume that we can all agree that a zombie is definitely dead. In horror films the undead are mowed down without a second thought. They must be exterminated before they infect or consume the living.

This is because the living have rights that the dead do not. Namely, the living have a right to life.

Our rights are intrinsically linked to the idea of interests.
The Israeli moral and political philosopher Joseph Raz describes rights like this:

X has a right if and only if X can have rights and, other things being equal, an aspect of X’s well-being (his interest) is a sufficient reason for holding some other person(s) to be under a duty….

In short, our rights involve not only the well being (interests) of others, but also our well being.

It is in the interest of every human being to live as long and as safely as possible. Therefore humans have a right to life.

 

i_like_being_alive_by_sebreg-d5rktpp

 

But here’s the catch – in a zombie apocalypse the undead inevitably will outnumber the living.

 

THIS GRAPH SHOWS THE RATIO OF LIVING TO UNDEAD DURING A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

THIS GRAPH SHOWS THE RATIO OF LIVING TO UNDEAD DURING A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

 

Alright. Let me tell you something.

You may have noticed it already, but whenever a philosopher talks about stuff like rights they’re talking about politics, or as professional philosophers like to call it, political philosophy.

 

Political philosophy is:

… the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it should take and why, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

Thanks, Wikipedia.

 

Remember we were talking about interests awhile back? Well, it’s not just political philosophers who chat about interests. Moral philosophers (also known as ethicists) write about interests, too.

 

THIS PHILOSOPHER IS QUITE WELL-KNOWN FOR WRITING ABOUT “RATIONAL SELF INTEREST”

THIS PHILOSOPHER IS QUITE WELL-KNOWN FOR WRITING ABOUT “RATIONAL SELF INTEREST”

 
Political philosophers may speak the language of rights and freedoms, but at the heart of every law, policy, or political argument is a question of ethics.

 

ethics everywhere

 
So – the zombie apocalypse has begun. News reports say the nation is overrun by hordes of the undead.

 

night of the living dead

 
You’ve locked yourself and your loved ones behind closed doors. You’ve boarded up your windows. You’ve hoarded an ample supply of toilet paper and armed yourself with your weapon of choice.

 

HE’S NO DARYL DIXON BUT IT’S AS CLOSE AS YOU’RE GONNA GET IN THE REAL WORLD

HE’S NO DARYL DIXON BUT IT’S AS CLOSE AS YOU’RE GONNA GET IN THE REAL WORLD

 

Several of your neighbors have decided to form a posse to hunt down and destroy the revenant menace. You want to join them but you’re a philosopher. You have to think about things first.

You ask yourself, is participating in the mass destruction of the undead really the right thing to do?

As a philosopher, you know that when you act you’re not just required to consider your own interests but the interests of others as well.

be sensitive

 

According to the website Dangerous Universe, during the first year of a zombie outbreak, the zombie population would surpass the remaining population of living people.

 

zombie population

 

Now, if having rights is all about having our interests served, whose interests are being served in a world populated by the undead? More to the point: whose interests should be served during the zombie apocalypse? Can the living morally justify killing the dead?

We’re told that the undead are no longer our friends, family and neighbors, but should that matter? Do the reanimated have no rights that the living are bound to respect?

 

THERE’S A 47% PERCENT CHANCE THAT AT SOME POINT DURING THIS CONFRONTATION THE INDIVIDUAL WHO IS NOT ALIVE WILL DECLARE THAT HE HAS RIGHTS

THERE’S A 47% PERCENT CHANCE THAT AT SOME POINT DURING THIS CONFRONTATION THE INDIVIDUAL WHO IS NOT ALIVE WILL DECLARE THAT HE HAS RIGHTS

 

Perhaps the correct question isn’t is participating in the mass destruction of the undead really the right thing to do? but rather, should the living give their lives to respect the rights of the dead?

Utilitarian ethics tell us that an act is morally permissible if the intended outcome results in the greatest good for the greatest number (The Greatest Happiness Principle).

 

THIS IS A UTILITARIAN CALCULUS

THIS IS A UTILITARIAN CALCULUS

 

In a zombie apocalypse the dead outnumber the living.

During the first year, anyway.

If the dead outnumber the living might we argue that according to the Greatest Happiness Principle the interests of the deceased take precedence over the interests of the living?

It would be unwise for a mortal to assume that the fact that the undead can’t articulate their interests infers that they don’t have them. It’s undeniable that zombies, despite being dead, have interests. They clearly want human flesh (or brains, depending on what zombie movie/TV series you’re watching).

 

tarman

 

If our ethics tell us that the only morally permissible acts are the acts that secure the greatest good for the greatest number and the dead outnumber the living, isn’t the happiness achieved if the dead are allowed to consume the living?

Now would be a good time for a …..

 

thought experiment

 

Let’s say, in the real world, cockroaches outnumber humans, and we’re not bound to respect their interests. That’s right. Simple numbers do not determine whose interests count over another. We wouldn’t say the fact that cockroaches outnumber humans means that we are morally obligated to place their needs before our own.

The fact that this:

 

cockroach GIF

 

Outnumbers this:

 

human GIF

 

Is not enough to declare one group’s rights should be achieved at the expense of the other.
Especially if those rights includes consuming the other group.

 

So – we must choose different criteria for having one’s interests count. How do we do that? How we determine whose interests count without running the risk of being arbitrary or speciesist?*

 

Before we define our new criteria, watch this scene from the horror-comedy zombie film, Return of the Living Dead (1985):

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, did you watch the movie clip?

In the clip, a zombie describes the state of being dead as painful and says that eating brains is the only way to relieve the pain of being dead (it’s worth noting that the zombies in the Return of the Living Dead films can articulate their interests, which is eating brains).

 

MERLE LOOKS LIKE HE’S FEELING BETTER ALREADY

MERLE LOOKS LIKE HE’S FEELING BETTER ALREADY

 

So, the zombie’s want to decrease physical pain gives us reason to make the argument that a zombie has at least one interest.

 

zombie protest

 

It’s been established that the living dead outnumber the living. It is also the fate of all men to die, and according to zombies death is painful. Ending the pain of death is actually in the interest of every being that is dead or eventually will be dead. And if the consumption of brains (or human flesh, depending on the movie) is the only thing that stops the pain, then the only moral thing to do is to permit the dead to eat the brains (or flesh) of the living.

Now, I know you’re raising an objection to my utilitarian logic.

Bullocks, you say.

Zombies are dangerous. Zombies eat people.
Well, as any fan of The Walking Dead knows, the undead can be subdued simply by removing their arms and lower jaw, thus rendering the once-threatening revenant harmless.

The character Michonne has employed this successful method not only once but twice.

michonne's pets

 

 

michonne's pets 2

 

 

As has the character Andrea:

 

 

andrea's pet

 
Wrangling zombies is all really quite simple**

 
Let’s look at it this way: what if being a zombie wasn’t dead, but suffering from a mental illness that makes them attack and eat other living people. If zombies were not dead but living individuals overcome by a compulsive behavior, we wouldn’t hesitate to declare that despite their mental illness, zombies have rights we are bound to respect. Even those individuals who are most dangerous to society would not be immediately done away with. This is because they retain rights because that every human is entitled to by virtue of being human – a being with interests that we are morally obligated to respect.

 

download (6)

 

So when “good guy” Rick Grimes slays the undead the audience may cheer for him, but he really is an evil man carrying out an evil deed. Rick Grimes (or any other zombie hunter) has no moral authority to impede on the rights of the undead.

 

RICK GRIMES IS GUILTY OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY - OR WHATEVER IT’S CALLED WHEN YOU GO AROUND SLAUGHTERING ZOMBIES LIKE THEY DON’T MATTER

RICK GRIMES IS GUILTY OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY – OR WHATEVER IT’S CALLED WHEN YOU GO AROUND SLAUGHTERING ZOMBIES LIKE THEY DON’T MATTER

 

Even if a person is not mentally “all there” or lacks measurable brain activity, or lacks the ability to articulate their interests, we can‘t morally justify killing them – even if they‘re icky or stinky or want our brains or can’t be reasoned with.

Or perhaps even if they’re dead.

 

 

Any other ethical reason we have for killing zombies boils down to some arbitrary quality like the aesthetics of the undead.

 

We want to kill zombies merely because they rate high on the “eww!” scale.
eww-o-meter
However nasty a zombie may be, a zombie’s “eww” factor doesn’t allow us to neglect a zombie’s interests.

The mere act of finding a zombie unpleasant smelling or to look at or just because it wants to eat your brains are hardly justifiable reasons for committing genocide.

 
Even if you’re Rick Grimes.

 

 

 

 
*speciesism is defined as the human assumption that humans are superior to other animals and therefore entitled to use, abuse, or exploit non-human animals as we see fit.
It’s not unreasonable to assume that many of the living would adopt a speciesist position towards the undead.

** According to utilitarianism the Greatest Happiness Principle requires us to consider the happiness of everyone who stands to be affected by a particular act. “Everyone” also includes zombies. If removing a zombie’s jaw and restraining it is as (or more) effective as killing it, then our utilitarian calculus suggests that we may be morally obligated to remove and restrain instead of kill.

 

SOURCES:
Adam Swift. Political Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide for Students and Politicians. Second Edition. 2007 [2006]. Malden, MA: Polity Press p. 143.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Zombie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_philosophy

http://www.dangerousuniverse.com/du/2013/how-many-zombies-are-there-in-the-world-of-the-walking-dead/