By David Outten
I’ve received some challenging replies to articles I’ve written in regard to the message of AVATAR. Several indicate that I need to “get a life” that AVATAR is “just a movie.” Others take a more thoughtful approach. David Boaz, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed sought to encourage conservative critics of AVATAR to see the movie as a conservative call for property rights.
Boaz makes the comment, “At least for human beings, private property rights are a much better way to secure property and prosperity. Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear that the land belongs to the Na’vi, not the Sky People.”
Let’s not get confused. Cameron created Pandora with a communal sense of property. With a few exceptions he created the human invaders to be mean greedy bullies. He made the primitive communal society look noble and the invading Capitalists look nasty.
In 1965, David Lean made DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. In his movie, Moscow’s old Czarists were not necessarily nice, but the Communists who came into power and declared everything communal property were positively nasty. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, while fiction, was based on actual history. We’ve spent trillions of dollars on national defense to be sure that same kind of property, and other rights, were not forced on Americans.
One of the problems with communal rights is that the “chiefs” of the commune wind up determining what everyone else can have, say, or do. Communal rights wind up being no rights at all. Say the wrong thing and you have no right to life.
Did European settlers infringe on the communal property rights of American Indians? That’s a good question. There were famous incidents where settlers bought land from the Indians — remember Manhattan. There were others cases that were, no doubt, shameful property grabs. What happened was a clash of a primitive culture with a more advanced one.
If the planet earth was invaded by beings with vastly superior technology, your property rights would probably not be worth the paper they’re written on. If they have the military might to enforce their rules, you will have the rights they give you. That’s been true long before the Jews of Jesus’ day were under the thumb of the Romans.
The United States has been wildly prosperous and draws people from around the world like a magnet because it was founded on the belief that individual rights come from God, our Creator. As a nation we’ve tried to hold these God-given rights above the power of government. In fact, the government is supposed to protect these rights. When individual rights diminish and communal rights increase the danger of tyranny increases as well.
People who watch AVATAR and admire the Na’vi communal civilization as idyllic need to watch DOCTOR ZHIVAGO for a refresher course in communal living on earth.