II. Unite-to-Fight-Zombie Liberals
Like realism, there are many varieties of liberalism. All liberals nevertheless share a belief that cooperation is still possible in a world of anarchy. Liberals look at world politics as a non-zero-sum game. Working together, whether on international trade, nuclear nonproliferation, or disease prevention, can yield global public goods on a massive scale. Major actors in world politics have an incentive to realize the gains that come from long-term mutual cooperation and avoid the costs that come with mutual defection.
At first glance, the liberal paradigm appears to be pretty incompatible with a zombie canon that tends more to undead apocalypses. Indeed, the tragedy of liberalism in a universe with zombies is that some of its central tenets would likely accelerate the rise of zombiism. Open borders, for instance, would surely facilitate the cross-border spread of both the undead and infected human carriers.
A second glance reveals that the liberal paradigm offers some significant analytical bite. Romantic zombie comedies -- rom-zom-coms for short -- contain both implicit and explicit elements of liberalism. The 2009 film Zombieland is about the articulation of and adherence to well-defined rules for surviving in a zombie-infested landscape. Its central message -- beyond the need for cardio workouts -- is the need for disparate individuals to credibly commit to each other.
At the climax of Shaun of the Dead, Shaun rallies his friends and relations with a stirring paean to liberalism: "As Bertrand Russell once said, 'The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.' I think we can all appreciate the relevance of that now."
And what would liberals do after a ghoul invasion? Provided that the initial spread of zombies did not completely wipe out governments, the liberal expectation would be that an international counterzombie regime could make significant inroads into the problem. Given the considerable public-good benefits of wiping the undead from the face of the Earth, significant policy coordination seems a likely response.
The liberal paradigm would predict an outcome that would not be perfect and would be quite vulnerable to political criticism over time -- much like the European Union. That said, the system would also be expected to function well enough to ward off a total zombie apocalypse. Zombie flare-ups would no doubt take place. Quasi-permanent humanitarian counterzombie missions, perhaps under United Nations auspices, would likely be necessary in failed states. Liberals would acknowledge that the permanent eradication of flesh-eating ghouls is unlikely. The reduction of the zombie problem to one of many manageable threats, however, is quite likely. Most countries would kill most zombies most of the time.