Non-Hobbesian apocalypses?

I’ve been thinking about this thought I had here:

Why do we keep making zombie/apocalyptic stories that envision the opposite, that people will inevitably be cruel, unable to cooperate and will victimize each other?

Do people have media examples that don’t do this?

Meg Elison’s Book of the Unnamed Midwife does this, sort of, I think: after a kind of apocalypse (a plague), the resulting social conditions open up new social arrangements, but AFAIK the world beyond those points of light is brutal.

Avery Alder’s Dream Askew and The Quiet Year also let you envision cooperative communities in the post-apocalypse…

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So interesting, I’ve been thinking about that same sentence. That whole thread dusted off a lot of thoughts I’d had when I first encountered Debt.

Aside: I’ve digested what I have of it in curated presentations that folks blog about, ya know the parts that interest them. It is on my reading list.

Okay, back to this topic, I’ve been looking for media that shows this. I think it is kinda solarpunk, kinda social commentary. What I mean is, when I create personally, a lot of it is “something big happened, and everything is different, except people are kinda the same in a universal sense”.

@malatesta which, um, Hobbes, are you referring?

Also also, zombies comes from slavery and apocalypse is rooted in bible lit, so if you were to come up with a term for your post-world-as-we-know-it, where folks are just chill, what would you call it?

Also also also, this was a really awesome excerpt:

I’m using Hobbes as in this asshole - Thomas Hobbes - and referring specifically to his concept of the state of nature:

Beginning from a mechanistic understanding of human beings and their passions, Hobbes postulates what life would be like without government, a condition which he calls the state of nature. In that state, each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This, Hobbes argues, would lead to a “war of all against all” ( bellum omnium contra omnes ). The description contains what has been called one of the best-known passages in English philosophy, which describes the natural state humankind would be in, were it not for political community:[22]

In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.[23]

This is what most people think happens in a post-apocalypse, and what the city and federal government assumed would happen during Hurricane Katrina, and they acted accordingly…

Not sure what to call a chill post-apocalypse…even in the media I’ve cited that are more about supportive/cooperative community building, there are ugly and threatening components just beyond the limits of the community.

I guess the Vuvalini from Mad Max: Fury Road are an example. Into the Badlands is not as chill since things just redeveloped into a very strict feudalism with a “state of nature” just beyond the wall…

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Chillpocalypse Now

It’s not necessarily that I think people would just be chill, but that even in a non chill world, our media examples rarely if ever look at non-nihilistic stories/outcomes.

I don’t know how much Walking Dead you ever read/watched, but one of the most consistent themes is that every effort to build a community is doomed because of the inherent deadly entropy of a zombie-hell-world…that positive communities will come apart at the seams when confronted with zombie hordes or human attackers, and that there will be hellish nightmare societies based on domination and exploitation.

One cool thing about Avery Alder’s games is that they are about community and mutual survival…

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I’ve never heard of solarpunk before but I love it and I need to investigate further.

What are some solarpunk works that you like?

A positive post-apocalypse about community and support that I mostly dislike - the post-9/11 TV series Jericho. It’s extremely sentimental and extremely white. It demonstrates some of the positive or non-nihilistic qualities I’m looking for but bases them in a retro fantasy of the American heartland.

I don’t know much. I’ve more done intense deep dives into critical reviews of themes of solarpunk. :face_with_monocle:

I’m kinda on a media blackout that isn’t TV with @susan. We’ve got our shows, but otherwise I’m too busy writing to consume right now. But I’ve got maybe four separate text files I’ve collated over the last few years, and you know I’ll post stuff as I read it. :slight_smile:

Chillpocalypse Rex.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison has repeated apocalypse built in to the … storytelling-everything (plot, background, world, motivation, conflict, characters). The people of the world band together out of necessity to form comms, short for community, and it’s maybe a little warlike but also there’s cooperation and a reimagining of revolution against a sort of facism in a world where technology keeps getting reset cuz the world keeps ending. It’s a mind-expanding trilogy. I loved it so much. It also deals with love and abuse and parenthood and abuse and relationships of all different kinds and abuse and power and abuse. It is a lot. It’s really good.


A post was split to a new topic: What are your shows these days (Summer 2019)?

I feel like most post-apocalyptic media, the apocalypse is a flimsy excuse/setup for survival horror dramas. Trusting other and cooperating with others and empathy aren’t productive for a lot of easy horror writing, unless their being subverted in the next breath. The shows rarely care about the apocalypse, they just want to fuel adrenaline and survival/horror themes which are very much in vogue.

I think what your after is actually utopian and or revolutionary media, just “happening” to take place after a calamaty or great social upheaval.

Though ive heard the concept of post post apocalyptic batted around. Where post apocalyptic societies shift gears to actual community building. (with a hobbesian state in between) Mostly in RPG circles.


This was my introduction to solarpunk, and it is very cute and fun. It’s mostly not too deep on the political commentary side, but it’s a really lovely read. Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers


I feel that the original George Romero zombie films really leaned hard into the fault lines in a small group of frightened humans, and the imagined dynamics of those, and honestly that’s a horror setup that I really love. I also really enjoy The Mist, despite the very Stephen King touch of an over the top Christian cult that develops right in the middle of the survival horror situation.

I think there’s something a little different with extended series set in an apocalypse, because those are more social critiques than illustrations of “human nature” or small group dynamics. Like I think the inspiration for the guy who created The Walking Dead was “what if Dawn of the Dead just went on and on and never ended, what then?” And I think in attempting to answer those questions, the only answers people seem to come up with are dark fantasies of power, domination and exploitation. I do like stories about power and how it’s used! I just think at this point the post-apocalyptic genre is extremely one note.

I think Stephen King’s The Stand is a good example of something that goes from the post-apocalypse to the post-post-apocalypse, even though it’s very manichean and ultimately it’s not my favorite. And at some point he decides to stop telling the story of these two opposing societies growing and throws them into a direct religious confrontation…

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