Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Atlas Shrugged Of The Left?

The movie Avatar by James Cameron is very hyped-even in libertarian circles. Austro-libertarians like Stephan Kinsella opine that the movie is very good and libertarian.Objectivists like Peter Suderman and Nick Rizzuto find the movie collectivistic. Rizzuto called it “The Atlas Shrugged of the Left”. “Atlas Shrugged”, writes Rizzuto, “is a story of the triumph of the individual over the collective, while Avatar is an amalgamation of Hollywood and the liberal left’s collectivist political fetishes.”What is the truth of the matter? The truth is somewhere in the middle. I won’t say that the movie is great. I found it unspeakably boring. The special effects were awesome. But, that’s about it. The movie is on Na’vi’s on Pandora defending their private property rights against humans. A human soldier, Jack Sully helps the Na’vi’s in the endeavor.

What struck me is the similarities Avatar have with a Malayalam movie “Vietnam Colony”. In
that movie, a private company tries to forcefully evacuate people from a slum sort of place.
They send the protagonist to trick people into accepting the deal. Later in the movie, like
Jack Sully, the protagonist Mohan Lal joins the people and fights the company. It all depends on how you look at it. We shouldn’t forget that Capitalism is a politico-economic system based on private property rights. What unites capitalists is their respect for the sanctity of private property. So, obviously the movie has a libertarian theme in that sense. As Kinsella wrote:“The plot is about property rights. In particular, the property rights of the Na'vi, in an established tree-city that they have clearly homesteaded. The "Corporation" here is basically a mini-state, or an arm of a state--it has an army going around killing and destroying”. But, I won’t go to the other extent and assert that it is a full-fledged libertarian movie. It is not. It is obvious that the people behind the movie didn’t intend that. Their collectivist, anti-capitalist mindset is apparent.

Nick Rizzuto noted that the primitive protagonists find virtue in their collective identity and lack of individuality. Rizzuto says that “The theme is the classic condemnation of capitalism; that wealth created not through innovation as Ayn Rand seems to suggest, but rather through exploitation”. Now, it is true that wealth is created through innovation and exploitation. But, to say this is far from proving that some people acquire wealth through wrong means. Obviously, some people do-And the movie is on some such people.

1 comment:

  1. I think one of the major themes in the movie was positively offensive to me as a human being.

    The movie portrayed the entire human race--symbolically through the corporation--as so morally depraved and beyond redemption that the only way the "good" protagonist of the story, Jake Sully, could seek redemption was to literally abandon his race and physically transform into a N'avi.

    Thus, all of humanity was portrayed as being morally inferior to the bow-and-arrow weilding N'avis.

    I am utterly disgusted by a movie that--on one unwitting but indispensable level--portrayed the greatness of human achievement to make available a kind of visual spectacle of such grandeur--and on another level--use it as a vehicle to condemn the human race itself and strongly suggest its irredeemable, pathetic, depravity.

    It's no suprise then that there have been numerous reports of people having suicidal tendencies after watching this movie because they apparently felt unclean being "human" and living in this world of "evil" and "immorality." Such people were apparently in such thrall of Pandora that they wished they could live there--all the while forgetting that it is this very world, and the best among our very human species, that has made the world of Pandora possible.