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Hope this is the right forum for this question.

About 10-15 years I came across a discussion/text. In this there was an argument, that zombie stories were a metaphor for the (capitalist) fear of communists, and vampire stories a metaphor for (communist) fear of capitalists.

I believe there were examples comparing left demonstrators with zombie hordes and vampires with investors. Also something how the conversion works. Zombies creating an equal while vampires servants or lower vampires.

I thought this would be an easy online search, but was unable find a source. I could locate Zombies of Karl Marx... - but that was written in 2018.

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    Isn't it weird that the vampires are funding the zombies.
    – Valorum
    Jan 11, 2020 at 10:35
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    This is a very persistent theme in anti-capitalist literature; haymarketbooks.org/books/469-monsters-of-the-market
    – Valorum
    Jan 11, 2020 at 11:22
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    Vampires certainly get described as capitalists these days, because the "blood-sucking" metaphor is too good to resist. But originally, they were described as corrupt aristocrats (think Dracula, Carmilla, Varney). They got transplanted to wealthy CEOs and such in more modern times, because such individuals are our modern aristocrats.
    – Adamant
    Jan 11, 2020 at 18:01
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    Zombies as communists...I don't think that's a common theme at all. They primarily represent the fear of disease, these days. If we are taking a broader and more historical view, zombies have often represented, not the capitalist fear of communists, but white fear of black people. This is evident both in the origin (Haitian folklore/Voudon) and in some early zombie stories such as "The Magic Island". Or even some more recent ones.
    – Adamant
    Jan 11, 2020 at 18:09
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    Going back a bit further, Dracula was a bit of a subversion in that usually vampires were actually poor rural people and more or less symbolized poor burial practices, both in that someone becoming a vampire was blamed on not being buried properly but also because most of the indicators (disturbed earth, arm found reaching out of the grave, pale skin, extended fingernails, hair growth) describe a corpse buried too shallowly and beginning to be dug up by animals.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 5, 2020 at 14:16

3 Answers 3

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World War II.

I don't think "zombies as communists" maps cleanly onto "vampires as capitalists" as an intentional contrast, especially since many of the most well-known vampire stories have been produced by capitalist Westerners. But if there was ever a period where the two coincided, it would be the mid-1940s.

Zombies have represented a lot of things in film and literature: this Vox article breaks it down nicely. The allusion to communism specifically arose after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the comic strip "Corpses: Coast to Coast" involving an army of zombies who would be loyal to Nazi Germany. An atomic bomb, far from being the cause of the problem (or even a problem at all), is actually the solution to the communist zombies.

Vampires have, broadly speaking, had three different forms through the ages: as hideous monsters throughout most early folklore (such as the one depicted in the 1922 film Nosferatu), as refined and cunning overlords ("old" vampires) popularized by Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, and as sex symbols ("new" vampires) popularized by Anne Rice's 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire. While vampires are not widely associated with anti-capitalist sentiment more generally, "old" vampires are often associated with anti-rich sentiment (Warning: TVTropes!).

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  • Karl Marx predates even Bram Stoker, as it turns out. So this quote by Marx likely refers to pre-Dracula blood-sucking bats.
    – Amarth
    Nov 5, 2020 at 16:30
  • @Amarth: I think you meant to comment on the other answer.
    – jwodder
    Nov 5, 2020 at 21:53
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As you note in the question, the origin of the vampire part comes from Karl Marx, Das Kapital (Capital).

Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks,

This dates back to 1867 and communism was not invented then. Probably the zombie statement was invented by someone on "the other side of the fence" as a counter-reaction to the above statement. And probably much later, likely during the cold war. I can't find any source for it.

Notably, this has absolutely nothing to do with fantasy or sci/fi, but politics. Vampires and zombies in this context are metaphors, not actual creatures. Vampire fantasy creatures can be said to be invented by Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897, 30 years after the above quote by Marx. So Marx must be referring to blood-sucking bats, since the vampires of today's fiction had yet to be invented. This also supports my assumption that the zombie quote was made after (likely far later than) 1897, because it wouldn't make any sense back in 1867.

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    I understand your criticism. In defense of the question - I see it as question about the trope - and as such think it could fit here. Feel free to vote for a close if you disagree.
    – bdecaf
    Nov 5, 2020 at 17:24
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    Vampires are older than Bram Stroker, at least 60 years older, maybe more.
    – user65648
    Nov 5, 2020 at 21:39
  • @C.Koca Because...? Your opinion is that it is so...?
    – Amarth
    Nov 7, 2020 at 18:36
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    I was referring to this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vampyre Yet, a quick google search revealed so many other events and stories.
    – user65648
    Nov 7, 2020 at 20:07
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    Note that the bats were likely named after the folklore creatures, not vice versa. The word "vampir" in Slavic languages (which was then acquired by other languages, including English) is thought to originate in ~12th century, while vampire bats were first encountered by Europeans during the exploration of Americas, so no earlier than 16th century. Nov 11, 2022 at 5:37
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Vampires have been used as metaphors for parasitic people in position of political power for a very very long time among the Slavic people.

Here is an example of a book, later movie, based on those themes. Where the vampire represents communism. (Sucking the lifeblood of the people)

https://sl.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampir_z_Gorjancev https://m.imdb.com/title/tt2024552/

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question was about vampires as metaphors for capitalist owners; if you want to challenge the premise of the question, you'll need more than a single example, you'll have to show it was a competitive trope.
    – DavidW
    Nov 8, 2022 at 11:51
  • Thank you, appreciate it. I merely wanted to provide some related material on fiction that provides some historical perspective. I'm sure there is no lack of metaphors around. In case the OP (or potential reader) is writing an article or paper on the subject, or doing research for whichever reason this is useful information.
    – NiM
    Nov 8, 2022 at 12:22

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