Negan referred to Beta as “clearly a Goose Stepper” on The Walking Dead’s Season 10B Premiere. Let’s examine the deeper meaning of Negan’s commentary on The Whisperers. Author George Orwell once commented on the ‘Goose Step’ as “only possible in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.”
This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10B Premiere (“Squeeze”).
Negan attempted to earn Alpha’s trust on last night’s TWD by informing her of a traitor in the flock spreading her wings without permission. However, the slick haired, leather jacketed one was quick to point the finger away from Alpha’s second-in-command, Beta, in the blame game. Negan vouched for the skyscraper-esque giant’s innocence, commenting, “And no, I’m not talking about Frankenstein’s hemorrhoid. The big dude is clearly a Goose Stepper.” Thus, presenting Beta as someone who toes the line and upkeeps the status quo, so-to-speak. So, just what is a “Goose Stepper” you might ask?
Anyone familiar with World War II should immediately visualize the prominent marching step, military parade formation that has become inseparable from its popularized use during the era. The ‘Goose Step’ involves troops swinging their legs upward straight vertically in unison while marching. It’s meant to show a totalitarian form of discipline and evoke silent intimidation to spectators.
George Orwell’s 1941 wartime essay The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius available online via The Orwell Foundation, referenced the ‘Goose Step’ as “expressing a certain philosophy of life,” a “vision of a boot crashing down on a face.”
“One rapid but fairly sure guide to the social atmosphere of a country is the parade-step of its army. A military parade is really a kind of ritual dance, something like a ballet, expressing a certain philosophy of life.
The goose-step, for instance, is one of the most horrible sights in the world, far more terrifying than a dive-bomber. It is simply an affirmation of naked power; contained in it, quite consciously and intentionally, is the vision of a boot crashing down on a face.”
Gamma herself has spoken of Alpha’s way of making you forget the past for the needs of the pack. There is no opposition on The Whisperers without retribution from Beta or Alpha. Consequences are always on display in front of others to warn them from falling out of their ‘Goose Step’ formation. A type of forest-based public square, post-apocalyptic, stocks and pillory. The Whisperers’ masks cover their humanity by taking away individual expression, while they march with death personified in unity.
In George Orwell’s ‘England Your England, he mentions the ‘Goose Step’ only being possible “in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.” It’s assured there are no Whisperers openly joking about the will of Alpha, who rules by the sword. Whisperers fear being turned-in by their fellow party members for speaking out of turn.
“Beyond a certain point, military display is only possible in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.”
Controlling The Whisperers
According to a Digital Journal article on a study called ‘How to control your herd of humans‘ originally published in Volume 201, Issue 2694 of New Scientist, Scott Wiltermuth of Stanford University in California and colleagues have found that activities performed in unison, such as marching or dancing, increase loyalty to the group.
“It makes us feel as though we’re part of a larger entity, so we see the group’s welfare as being as important as our own.”
There is certainly a mental psyche aspect to Alpha’s relentless micromanagement of The Whisperers. Forsaking one’s individual expression for the larger group’s supposed ‘welfare.’ Recall, Alpha telling Gamma’s sister Frances to place her crying baby down in the field… Against her wishes. Accordingly, it can be argued that The Whisperers’ act of marching together while masked with the faces of those who’ve perished, is not just a survival tactic… But a loyalty exercise. A test to to identify who will conform to The Whisperers’ rigid party line, and who will fall out of it.
Be sure to read TWD: Lydia’s mistreatment proves Second Chances are Fashion Statements and The Walking Dead #TBT: Negan asks Daryl ‘Who are you?’ on The Natural Aristocrat.
More Walking Dead Season 10 coverage is available in The Walking Dead category section!