Everyone knows that zombies are metaphors and not monsters! Right?
Should a member of the undead species come into your acquaintance, inform it that it is merely reflecting neo-liberalism’s mass of toxic debt back at you and send it on its merry way. (Tell said-zombie you are either a/indebted individual b/ citizen of indebted country c/ trapped in global economic system of debt d/ all of the above, just like it).
Anyone familiar with Gothic research will jump with gleeful gloom at the mere spectral mention of the name Botting, and it is Professor Fred Botting’s 2013 academic researchˆ that sheds light on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Credit Crunch & Chew
For Botting, the credit crunch of 2008 struck the vampire deep in the heart. No longer was the metaphor of desire, excess and consumer boon, as embodied by the metaphysical vampire, relevant or wanted. Instead, the stagnant, corpse-like and toxic consumer was born. In the economic boom years, filmic vampires represented a…
“…voracious consumerist euphoria of unlimited desire and credit.” (Fred Botting)
However, once the vampires had done their damage upon the world economic system, zombies were left to mop up any sign of life for their undead needs. And what are their undead needs? According to Botting, consumer debt and its selling off to economically-peripheral collection agencies at very low rates…
“manifests an economy that, having bitten off more toxic debts than it can chew, just keeps on chewing….” (Fred Botting)
So, metaphorically speaking, the undead/brain dead continued to chew on brains knowing that this zombie debt can never be repaid and yet will never die. A true horror story is at hand in which we all remain trapped within a global system of undead economics.
For Botting, zombies are not mindless monsters but are metaphors for:
i) the capitalistic system itself that accumulates irrespective of value, and;
ii) the masses of robotic subservient humans whose primal needs make them reliant upon the very system that has transmogrified them into the undead in the first place.
Zombies are no longer fictional characters but are the revealers of this particular economic system’s expansion across all previously distinct social spheres. Perhaps the only fictional characters left are the aristocracy?
For Botting, a characteristic of a zombie is a lack of resolution (neither dead nor alive) and this too reflects the global economy’s lack of resolution. There remains only fear. The zombie is the failed system that carries on and on. The zombie is crisis-consciousness now that the vampire’s euphoric feeding that kept the global financial blood flowing is over; the vampire escapes debt repayment just as it escapes death. But the zombie is the financial corpse that will not move over to the other side.
In 2013, Botting viewed the zombie as the death of death; society had no resolution regarding the financial apocalypse of 2008 and so, the global financial system itself was bitten and infected and yet lived on as an undead system that defeated death but with no resurrection in sight.
Capitalism is surviving in a brain-dead state. But who would know by looking?
Zombies Got Trumped
Of course, since Botting’s 2013 research, a resurrection actually did occur in the form of a gold-clad warrior of the people/debtor to the Russians draining the swamp of conscientiousness. As Trump arrived on his pale white horse (brown horses banned), it is clear that both the symbolic vampire (excess spending) and the symbolic zombie (hangover of debt) are no longer relevant. We await the film industry’s next Gothic depiction of the new global politics; where progressiveness is denounced as elitism and European unity denounced as hegemony in order for the hegemonic elite of Trump to take over the world through fear-based democracy. It all seems a bit too fantastical for even the film industry. Where’s Botting when you need him?
ˆ‘UndeadEnds: Zombie Debt/Zombie Theory’ by Fred Botting, published in Postmodern Culture, 23(3),. May 2013.