Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Avatar, a review

A guest post by Adam Smith

Well, OK. Not really. Smith died a couple of hundred years ago. But Luboš Motl's review of this film reminded me of Smith on colonialism. Smith was, of course, a strong advocate of Liberal values - personal freedom, economic freedom, free trade.

**Mild spoiler below**

First, Motl, who refers to the blue aliens in the movie as smurfs:

Now, some conservative commentators have decided that the movie is a propaganda piece to attack the white race, capitalism, America, the U.S. army, and the technological life on Earth as we know it. On the other hand, the movie celebrates Gaia, primitive tribes, and white traitors.

Well, the story may surely be interpreted in this way - as a pure far-left propaganda - but I wasn't really annoyed by this obvious interpretation. Why? Simply because I didn't have the feeling that the corporation reminded me of the real corporations that I like in our world. It didn't even remind me of the armies on the Earth that I respect. ;-)

On the other hand, the smurfs were primitive but their life was a life in freedom, a very primitive form of capitalism where you have to earn your flying horses, and so on. In this sense, I think that the corporation in the movie was analogous to the people who promote the Big Government, to the climate alarmists, and all this stuff. They also wanted everyone to work for one predetermined technocratic goal.
I think Smith's sympathies would have been with the smurfs too. In the movie, Humans want to extract minerals from the smurf's planet:

Folly and injustice seem to have been the principles which presided over and directed the first project of establishing those colonies; the folly of hunting after gold and silver mines, and the injustice of coveting the possession of a country whose harmless natives, far from having ever injured the people of Europe, had received the first adventurers with every mark of kindness and hospitality.
In ancient times the opulent and civilised found it difficult to defend themselves against the poor and barbarous nations. In modern times the poor and barbarous find it difficult to defend themselves against the opulent and civilised.

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