Avatar From Someone Who Knows

Interestingly Avatar is extremely popular outside the US, seems they are enjoying the film’s right-to-resist action which some US reviewers sort of ignore…oddly (a Tweet from Ali Abunimah today- Going west to east from Palestine to Afghanistan, every other country is occupied by US or Israel. All in between except Iran are puppets). A review of Avatar from someone who daily fights actual fascists, imperialists, corporations and racists (so drop the liberal hand wringing) most of whom get some funding from the US government-

Evo Morales, Bolivia’s socialist president, said the blockbuster movie Avatar was an inspiration in the fight against capitalism and efforts to protect the environment, Latin American media reported on Tuesday. James Cameron’s 3D blockbuster is the story of a man sent to infiltrate an alien race – tall blue creatures inhabiting Pandora – who are in conflict with humans, who want to seize their planet’s resources.

The movie, featuring lavish special effects, has reportedly made more than $1.1 billion at the box office worldwide and is likely to become the biggest grossing film in history. “There is a lot of fiction in the movie, but at the same time it makes a perfect model for the struggle against capitalism and efforts to protect nature,” Morales said, according to regional media. Morales has said he wants the Bolivian revolution to be promoted in Africa to help the continent shed the “imperialistic manacles” and nationalize its natural resources. The UN General Assembly last year declared Morales a “World Hero of Mother Earth” for his efforts to protect the environment.

Morales, 50, watched the movie on Sunday with his 15-year-old daughter. It was just his third visit to a movie theater. He said the film impressed him and he shares many of its messages. (Ht’s2 Otto El Duderino)

And as ever-

Bolivian President Evo Morales’ 10 commandments to save the planet, life and humanity:

1-Acabar con el sistema capitalista/Stopping the capitalist system

2-Renunciar a las guerras/Renouncing wars

3-Un mundo sin imperialismo ni colonialismo/A world without imperialism or colonialism

4-Derecho al agua/Right to water

5-Desarrollo de energías limpias/Development of clean energies

6-Respeto a la madre tierra/Respect for Mother Earth

7-Servicios básicos como derechos humanos/Basic services as human rights

8-Combatir las desigualdades/Fighting inequalities

9-Promover la diversidad de culturas y economías/Promoting diversity of cultures and economies

10-Vivir bien, no vivir mejor a costa del otro/Living well, not living better at the expense of others

First:  a call to end the capitalist system.  The capitalist system was inhuman and encouraged unbridled economic development.  The exploitation of human beings and pillaging of natural resources must end, as should wars aimed at securing access to those resources.  Also, the world should end the plundering of fossil fuels; excessive consumption of goods; the accumulation of waste; as well as the egoism, regionalism and thirst for earning where the pursuit of luxury was taking place at the expense of human beings.  Countries of the south were heaped with external debt, when it was the ecological debt that needed paying.

Second, the world should denounce war, which brought advantage to a small few, he said.  In that vein, it was time to end occupation under the pretext of “combating drugs”, such as in South America, as well as other pretexts such as searching for weapons of mass destruction.  Money earmarked for war should be channeled to make reparations for damage caused to the Earth.
Third, there should be a world without imperialism, he said, where no country was dependent upon or subordinate to another.  States must look for complementarity rather than engage in unfair competition with each other.  Member States of the United Nations should consider the asymmetry that exists among nations and seek a way to lessen deep economic differences.  Moving along those lines, he said the Security Council — with its lifelong members holding veto rights — should be democratized.

Fourth, he said access to water should be treated as a human right, and policies allowing the privatization of water should be banned.  Indigenous peoples had a long experience of mobilizing themselves to uphold the right to water.  He proposed that they put forth the idea of forming an international convention on water to guarantee it as a human right and to protect against its appropriation by a select few.

Fifth, he said the world should promote clean and eco-friendly energies, as well as end the wasteful use of energy.  He said it was understood that fossil fuels were nearing depletion, yet those who promoted biofuels in their place were making “a serious mistake”.  It was not right to set aside land not for the benefit of human beings, but so that a small few could operate luxurious vehicles.  It was also because of biofuels that the price of rice and bread has risen; and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were now warning that such policies must be prevented.  The world should explore more sustainable forms of alternative energy, such as geothermal, solar, wind and hydro-electric power.

Sixth, he said there should be more respect for Mother Earth, and the indigenous movement must bring its influence to bear in fostering that attitude.  The world must stop thinking of Mother Earth in the capitalist sense — which was that of a raw material to be traded.  For who could privatize or hire out his mother?

Seventh, he stressed the importance of gaining access to basic services for all.  Services such as education and transport should not be the preserve of private trade.

Eighth, he urged the consumption of only what was necessary and what was produced locally.  There was a need to end consumerism, waste and luxury.  It was an irony that millions of dollars were being spent to combat obesity in one half of the globe, while the other was dying of hunger.  He said the impending food crisis would necessarily bring an end to the free market, where countries suffering hunger were being made to export their food.  There was a similar case with oil, where the priority lay in selling it abroad, rather than domestically.

Ninth, he said it was important to promote unity and diversity of economies, and that the indigenous movement should put forth a call for unity and diversity in the spirit of multilateralism.

Tenth, the world should live under the tenet of “trying to live well”, he said, but not at the expense of others.

He said the best way forward lay in social movements, such as the indigenous people’s movement, which would not fall silent until it had brought about change.  He ended by greeting fellow South Americans in the room, acknowledging their role in the fight.  In Bolivia, the provisions of the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples had been made into law, and he expressed hoped that other countries would do the same.  He welcomed the attention, good or bad, he was receiving as a member of that movement, saying that perhaps it would lead to ideological clarity.

6 Responses to “Avatar From Someone Who Knows”

  1. Bina Says:

    To my knowledge, Carlos in DC was the first to explicitly link Avatar to American indigenous issues.

    Meanwhile, in Russia, some old communists and a prominent Soviet-era SF author are taking issue with it, claiming James Cameron plagiarized their literature.

    And of course, all the usual right-wing shriekers HATE it.

    Couple all that with Evo’s endorsement, and it’s more than possible that this flick actually has merit!

    • RickB Says:

      Stalker (based on Roadside Picnic) is one of my personal canon of essential art so I would say he has a point, although Avatar seems a bit like Harry Potter in that it is a culmination of so many existing works that we either stop allowing new stuff that is derivative or relax on copyright a bit.

      Have you seen it yet? I had my misgivings and still do but it is overall a great evenings entertainment with a rousing pro resistance feel.

  2. Duder Says:

    Thanks for always reading my blog Rick. Avatar is nice, but Evo is the real deal. And while there are elements of the film to praise, as Evo has, I do agree with that review “When will White people stop making movies like Avatar?” that the film unfortunately follows the old racist trope of white man saves noble savages. That is way old communists would find such similarities with it in their writings, because us white people have been telling ourselves the same basic story for so long we have forgotten how basic it is to our culture.

    • RickB Says:

      Weirdly I have 2 rss for you, is one better than the other?

      Anyways, yes the noble savage is tiresome but that essay took that much further with one reading to the exclusion of all other issues and based on noticeably a white privileged largely non political US citizen’s idea of race in cinema history. As a comment said, they were Latino and fell somewhat dismayed a white person expects them to identify with the Na’vi but not the humans! And although it is in broad strokes that old story, the Avatar aspect does alter than formulation (noticeably for the io9 reading it discounts the avatar concept) so it is still white guy goes native and becomes leader (although low class disabled, a pariah to his former Marines and a wage slave to his corporate manipulators) but in this he becomes something else entirely and at the end it does talk about the ‘aliens returning to their dying planet’ referring to humans who came to plunder, the film has moved around to the indigenous perspective entirely. Yes it would have been far more innovative to tell the story entirely from the Na’vi perspective but as with um…thinks..what was it called….Strange Days clearly Cameron is very intrigued with minds journeying elsewhere and sensory and empathic interfaces. Plus, well it is a big audience film, capitalism plays a role as does the juvenile desire to go from zero to hero in such stories. I think ultimately (and perhaps this is the calculation Evo has made) as it is a huge global blockbuster that many people will see, so better to accentuate its radical possibilities than dismiss it and lose a teachable moment on the broader issues of exploitation, imperialism and ecocide.


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