Despite a few notable exceptions, zombie films often gloss over society’s sudden slide into the apocalypse. And instead of offering any real details about the collapse of an entire nation, audiences are often thrust immediately into a Mad Max-style dystopia. But rather than producing some lawless wasteland, could the zombie apocalypse actually usher in a tyrannical dictatorship, a totalitarian state or perhaps even lead to a global prison planet?

Consider the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, introduced in the aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks on the United States. The proposal sought to control infectious epidemics and respond to bioterrorism by expanding a number of governmental and police powers. Sue Blevins, the President of the Institute for Health Freedom, described just a few of these broad new powers in a piece for The Heritage Foundation.

Under the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, upon the declaration of a “public health emergency,” governors and public health officials would be empowered to:

1. Force individuals suspected of harboring an “infectious disease” to undergo medical examinations.
2. Track and share an individual’s personal health information, including genetic information.
3. Force persons to be vaccinated, treated, or quarantined for infectious diseases.
4. Mandate that all health care providers report all cases of persons who harbor any illness or health condition that may be caused by an epidemic or an infectious agent and might pose a “substantial risk” to a “significant number of people or cause a long-term disability.” (Note: Neither “substantial risk” nor “significant number” are defined in the draft.)
5. Force pharmacists to report any unusual or any increased prescription rates that may be caused by epidemic diseases.
6. Preempt existing state laws, rules and regulations, including those relating to privacy, medical licensure, and–this is key–property rights.
7. Control public and private property during a public health emergency, including pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, nursing homes, other health care facilities, and communications devices.
8. Mobilize all or any part of the “organized militia into service to the state to help enforce the state’s orders.”
9. Ration firearms, explosives, food, fuel and alcoholic beverages, among other commodities.
10. Impose fines and penalties to enforce their orders.

In defense of the act, the American Medical Association published an article claiming that “individuals should be required to yield some of their autonomy, liberty, or property to protect the health and security of the community.” And when an official news release from the World Health Organization declared a recent West African outbreak of Ebola as “unprecedented”, it immediately renewed interest in draconian legislation like MSEHPA.

Perhaps Benjamin Franklin didn’t have the zombie apocalypse in mind when he reportedly claimed that “those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” But there are plenty of people who would do just that at the very first report of the walking dead. So the next time you imagine the post-zombie landscape as a lawless wasteland populated by roving bandits and anarchists… think again! It may look more like an internment camp.

Header image adapted from “New world order poster” by Albert Engströmer.


  1. Remember Hurricane Katrina? The police were next to useless except for gun confiscation (remember the rapes and looting that followed) In a worse crisis or depending on the type of local government you have they won’t just take the guns they’ll confiscate what supplies you have as well.
    My advice is try and look as inconspicuous as possible, that means forget the tactifool gear and use regular camping gear so you don’t draw attention to yourself and have a plan for hiding your guns and gear.

  2. While initially it’s certainly possible that we could find ourselves in some form of a police state / dictatorship during the early stages of something along the lines of a zombie apocalypse it all really depends on how widespread the initial outbreak is, how rapidly the infection is spreading, and the means by which it is being spread. It’s conceivable that such an outbreak could occur so rapidly over so wide an area that the PTB (powers that be) would be unable to adapt quickly enough and the Nation would fall into anarchy.

    In any case it’s a wise person who prepares for anything.

    • Doesn’t matter how wise a person may be. Preparing for everything is an impossibility. Which is why the world is always in some state of chaos.

      The right people are never in the right place.
      The right thing to do is harder than the easy way out.
      The dumb outnumber the intelligent.
      The weak are outnumbered by the strong.

      The world is an unpredictable place, filled with unpredictable people.

      This isn’t to say there isn’t beauty in the maelstrom of chaos.
      Just wish there was more of it.

      • Bran.done – As a former public library director I never claimed that I knew everything, instead I claimed that I knew how to find information on just about anything. I know a little bit about a great number of things and should I need more detailed information about a particular topic I have a very comprehensive reference library I can refer to.
        The dumb and the weak outnumber the strong and intelligent by several orders of magnitude, however both groups are relatively easy to manipulate through any number of means such as patriotism, religious fervor, and of course – fear. The greatest danger, IMO, facing the intelligent survivor in the event of the Nation falling into anarchy are these strong arm leaders who see anyone smarter than they are as a direct threat to their rule and one to be eliminated as quickly as possible. This leaves the intelligent survivor with but two choices. Choice 1 entails the elimination of the leader along with his top goons/thugs and taking over control of the clan, tribe, whatever or Choice 2 which means leaving the area immediately and not stopping until very far away. Given my druthers I would opt for Choice 2 and be smoke on the wind.

        • I wouldn’t argue with you. If fact, I’m with you. The tyrannical only have the dumb to listen to their crazy. The same with religious leaders.

          The world is in this state because we cant let go of idiotic ideals.

          They like to say that the moral code is in place based upon the bible. I haven’t believed in that shit since I was 6, but I know to be a good person because its just what is needed to make the world a better place to live.

          I don’t need a code to know what is wrong. I like to set shit on fire, doesn’t mean I’ll me on the news any time soon.

      • From the English in your comment, scratch suspect, I bet money you are not a prepper. LoL

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