Monday, January 4, 2010

On AVATAR, The Greens and Private Property

So...beforehand I was warned I was about to watch a "greennish" kind of movie. Still, decided to go and contributed to the $1 plus billion it had made, worldwide, after its opening weekend. I wanted to see the "awesome tech" behind it. Here are my pennies on it:

1. Production was incredible, 3 hours of landscape made interesting by watching it on a huge screen and the 3D thingy. However, there were not remarkable quotes or lines throughout the movie...let alone memorable speeches. The story plot itself was pretty plain.
2. The way Cameron tried to make the fiction real. Read this piece to learn the “real science behind Avatar”. One of the elements I liked the most was the explanation Dr. Augustine gave of the connection of the Na'vi to all other living organisms within Pandora was great. The neurological connection linked as a net was pretty neat…would have prefer more of this and less of that…(asking forgiveness for killing their food type of thing....) Anywho,
3. The Avatar concept itself. The sci-fi potential behind the idea is mindblowing. If your one body gets ruined, you could reborn -sort of- in a new body with your very own mind. Yeah, cool.

1. The senseless-cliché of having "private corporations" as the essence of pure evil. I agree with Felipe when he states “[Cameron] does not portrays a critique against laissez-faire. He rather criticizes corporate mercantilism and violation of property rights”. However, there’s never said -or imply- a critique to the government by providing privileges to this company. Therefore, the audience walks away without grasping that it is mercantilism which is wrong, not free market competition.
2. Again another cliché: making look bad wanting to make profits, by saying they get them at all costs. This is represented in the scene where the company director explains his stockholders do not like the bad press generating from the Na’vi been killed. However, he then asserts that what it would upset them the most would be the fact of losing profits. That is so not true. It is indeed the sole purpose of private enterprises to make profit by respecting individual rights, of which one is to respect others private property.
3. Contradiction people contradiction: they spent around $300 million to do it, including more than $150 in marketing that includes banners, toys, set, all the set props for the movie (products coming from mines anyone...?) They are criticizing the very same wealth that allowed them to do this high-tech movie.

1. This was an issue of property conflict.
Roy Cordato tells us that "environmental problems" are problems of "interpersonal conflict" which arise from the incorrect definition of property rights. In this particular case, it appears the Na'vi were the rightful owners of the property the "evil humans" wanted to get. Humans were invading some sort of private property. They surely didn't have the right to claim such property by force, because it wasn't theirs to get. It should have been a negotiation. If the humans in fact had nothing the Na'vi would find valuable, well, they would have to go somewhere else. Commerce is the most pacific transaction among humans. Two entities who are willing to voluntarily exchange one value for another of higher value to them.

2. Intrusion is indeed a violation of individual rights, but I would dare to say it is mostly done by governments and not private enterprises. Besides, it is very likely that in the future, the "evil human" will be played, in fact, by government officials since "space anything" is permitted by legal-law (this isn’t really saying the same, another whole post on it…) only to the government. There are, so far, very mild and timid efforts by private enterprises (Virgin's commercial suborbital flights to be precise). As the book "Space: The Free-Market Frontier" states, space enterprises are still legally under the government power.

3. The false dichotomy between preserving the environment or reaching a better standard of life by acquiring services or technologies that destroy the environment. It had been showed that the issue is rather to whom the property belongs to. When in private hands endangered species or total ecosystems are better preserved when in the hands of government.

However, these points weren’t quite understood by the director of the movie. Cameron laid it out on the context of the global warming mainstream propaganda saying it is us humans who destroyed our planet and then go like virus destroying the home of somewhere else (Matrix anyone...?). They do all these by atrocious greed of making money by killing if necessary.

I mean, what a coincidence it was released just the week the Copenhagen Climate thingy went through.

Well, and that’s that.

The picture comes from the wikipedia site