The key to fully understand the novel « World War Z » by Max Brooks is to accept that the book is not about zombies. As with any other monster or Gothic-like creature, zombie stories are never about the monster itself.
Stories and novels always carry with them the politics, social values and the culture of their time. In the case of « World War Z » the novel is not really about the fear of a zombie plague. Despite being inspired by the dangers of a globalized world, which allows diseases to spread at unfathomable speeds, the book is more a critique of various individual aspects of the western society of the early 2000s.
Max Brooks’ novel looks at issues like militarism and interventionism, among other social currents and ideologies.
And while the novel exposes certain characteristics of the post-modern world, it never acknowledges all these issues as being part of a larger system of oppression.
In a nutshell, « World War Z » by Max Brooks presents a zombie apocalypse, embodying the idea that: It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. An idea that is almost stereotypical by this point; Almost, being the key.
Don’t get confused, « World War Z » is a very fun read and in some aspects it feels very relatable to the current COVID-19 pandemic; but, it is also quite dated in some other aspects. One of the things that date the book are its stereotypes, but that’s something we’ll talk about later.
« World War Z » by Max Brook is a very fun book. To be honest I read it in just 1 week.
It’s also scary in some parts, but not, because of the zombies. Instead it is scary because it embodies the (now) stereotypical idea that it is easier to imagine the end of the world, than the end of capitalism.
BUT, that doesn’t mean the book doesnt expose the new socioeconomic situation of globalizing capitalism and its weaknesses and contradictions.
The novel does criticize neo-liberal politics, both in the economic and political sense, even if by the end of the book it ends up reinforcing them.
Today, the meaning of ‘liberalism’ moves between two opposed poles: economic liberalism (free market individualism, opposition to strong state regulation, etc.) and political liberalism (with an accent on equality, social solidarity, permissiveness, etc.)Slavoj Zizek
And that’s the scary part.
Despite imagining a new world that is “Post apocalyptic“ in which humanity actually rebuilds contemporary society; the book presents a reinvigorated capitalist society, in the form of a liberal utopian vision.
- Lanzendörfer, Tom. “Max Brooks’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War: Conservative Armageddon and Liberal Post-Apocalyspe. » LiNQ (Literature in North Queensland), vol. 41, May 2016, pp. <112-123>.