First off, thanks for bearing with. I’ve been out for a while, and I hope to be back for good.
Today, I wanted to present a response to Stephen Carter’s Bloomberg article on the way that guns and zombies are linked in the political imagination.
He’s right, of course, about the way that gun purchases are linked to the rise of zombie fiction. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go far enough.
Zombies aren’t the only big disaster tied to gun purchases. The survivalist wing of gun enthusiasts refers to zombie-type scenarios as SHTF situations: when “Shit Hits the Fan”. (Here is a particularly emblematic example.)
But I think that Carter is wrong to tie SHTF-events to fear. They are linked to distrust of government and the system, but the breakdown of civil order is not about self-reliance as “necessity, not ideology” like Carter thinks.
Rather, SHTF gun preppers believe that in such a situation, their pre-existing ideology will win out – people who rely on the system for employment or survival will die off first, and preppers will rise to the top of the social order. That’s not fear: that’s anticipation.
This is why I worry about doomsday preppers and their rise to prominence in the national imagination. As someone who relies on civil order, less for employment and more for ready access to lifesaving healthcare, I see the importance of social bonds and general peacefulness. The kind of people who buy guns in preparation for a zombie apocalypse or other SHTF scenario are not merely advancing preparedness for such a situation. They are actively trying to hasten a breakdown of social order.
That’s not idle fantasy, as Carter seems to imply. That’s a power fantasy of the worst kind, one that assumes a fundamental weakness on the part of an American participatory democracy. What preppers are hoping for is the rise of authoritarianism, under…who else? The preppers themselves.