(Absolutely massive spoilers are ahead. If you haven’t seen through season 7, episode 4 of the AMC television show “The Walking Dead” and you don’t want to know what happens, by God, man, stop reading!)
For those unfamiliar, The Walking Dead is a hugely successful television show based on the graphic novel of the same name. The series is about what happens to a group of survivors, led by former small town deputy sheriff Rick Grimes, after a zombie apocalypse wipes out most of humanity. The zombies, of course, can walk. And they are dead. Hence, the name of the show. They also feast on the flesh of the living. So they are basically to be avoided. In that sense, they have some similarity with the IRS.
WHO’S SCARIER: THE DEAD OR THE LIVING?
But the zombies are not the most dangerous threat. Other survivors are the real threat. It seems the apocalypse brings out the worst in some people. Our heroes, however, are good people who just want to find a safe place and to be left alone. (Except for that time they stabbed a bunch of people in their sleep. But that was, like, totally necessary.)
As part of the breakdown of civilization, the government completely collapses. It just goes away. There is no law enforcement, no military, no garbage pickup. There is not even a Department of Housing and Urban Development. Things are bleak.
Despite the anarchy, survivors persevere. They continue living even without crucial government services like the Health Department. Although the Health Department might have been useful when our heroes found themselves in Terminus. Terminus, a former railroad facility, was run by a group of cannibals. They would lure people in with a promise of sanctuary …. and terminate them. Then eat them.
I told you things were bleak.
But Terminus is old news. Our heroes are now living in the Alexandria safe zone, a sustainable housing development, still standing despite the mayhem, with its own water supply and solar power. It’s a good place to ride out the apocalypse. Well, it would be, if all they had to worry about was walking dead. The wall surrounding the community keeps them out. But the dead are not their main problem.
SAVIORS: FRIENDS OR FOES?
Negan is the leader of a group called the Saviors. (Or, I guess, the Saviours for those watching in the UK). He is a violent, flamboyant bully who gets his way by fear and intimidation. The Saviors demand that other communities, like Alexandria, pay tribute. If they do not pay, they will be killed.
In other words, they are the new government.
Now our modern government may not be as brazen about it, but they will kill you if you do not comply with requests. Or, more accurately, its demands. You ever notice how the government never makes requests? Neither does Negan. He demands. Like the IRS does. And the EPA. And the DEA. And the NSA. And the TSA. They demand.
If you refuse? Government will kill you. So will Negan. Think about it.
A person, let us call him Rick, may refuse to pay a tax. That’s the tribute the government requests, errrr, demands. Rick may be able to get away with it for a time. But eventually a person with a gun, let’s call him Negan, will appear and request that Rick come with him. And Negan will not be alone. His companions will also be armed. And if Rick refuses to comply, force will be used against him. If he continues to resist, he will be killed.
“No, way! That would never happen, D.K.! Quit exaggerating,” you may be saying.
But it’s no exaggeration. Eric Garner could explain it to you, except he was killed by the government for refusing to pay a cigarette tax and then failing to come along when “requested.”
BLURRED LINES SEPARATING COMICS FROM REALITY
The comic book Negan is, indeed, a cartoon (natch). He is brazen, loud, bold and has no pretension about what will happen if his tax is not paid. He will kill you. He is honest about the consequences. He does not hide behind any pretense like a “social contract.” He simply has the force and you will comply or you will die.
In The Walking Dead, Negan is the government. The Saviors are his bureaucrats and his intelligence agency and his law enforcement. Apparently anarchy is not actually all that much different than a well ordered civilization with a governing civil authority.
 Or, in other words, a comic book that is not funny. At all.