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I wish to present a different angle to this discussion.

Any collectivist society can rightfully be invaded by a capitalist society if it needs to. This is because such a society always exists as an evil slave pen, with no regard for individual rights. I don't see how the Na'vi in Avatar could be anything else.

And now for an Ayn Rand quote:

Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers.

It didn't appear to me that the human culture represented in the movie was anymore capitalist than what we have now.

Being a mixed economy at best, they wouldn't exactly have a moral highground.

It was obvious in the interactions that the govenment/military & commerce were hopelessly intertwined.

Crony capitalism is not capitalism. It is just another form of statism.

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It didn't appear to me that the human culture represented in the movie was anymore capitalist than what we have now.

Being a mixed economy at best, they wouldn't exactly have a moral highground.

It was obvious in the interactions that the govenment/military & commerce were hopelessly intertwined.

Crony capitalism is not capitalism. It is just another form of statism.

A mixed economy is what the United States has "at best", and it was what it had at the time Ayn Rand wrote about its right to invade any slave pen.

Do you think this "right" should only apply to a 100 percent laissez faire capitalist economy?

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A mixed economy is what the United States has "at best", and it was what it had at the time Ayn Rand wrote about its right to invade any slave pen.

Do you think this "right" should only apply to a 100 percent laissez faire capitalist economy?

But you were cherry picking in that quote. This is the full statement:

"There are four characteristics which brand a country unmistakably as a dictatorship: one-party rule—executions without trial or with a mock trial, for political offenses—the nationalization or expropriation of private property—and censorship. A country guilty of these outrages forfeits any moral prerogatives, any claim to national rights or sovereignty, and becomes an outlaw.

“Collectivized ‘Rights,’” The Virtue of Selfishness, 105.

Volumes can be and have been written about the issue of freedom versus dictatorship, but, in essence, it comes down to a single question: do you consider it moral to treat men as sacrificial animals and to rule them by physical force?

“Foreword,” We the Living, viii.

The right of a nation to determine its own form of government does not include the right to establish a slave society (that is, to legalize the enslavement of some men by others). There is no such thing as “the right to enslave.” A nation can do it, just as a man can become a criminal—but neither can do it by right.

It does not matter, in this context, whether a nation was enslaved by force, like Soviet Russia, or by vote, like Nazi Germany. Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). Whether a slave society was conquered or chose to be enslaved, it can claim no national rights and no recognition of such “rights” by civilized countries . . . .

Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.

This right, however, is conditional. Just as the suppression of crimes does not give a policeman the right to engage in criminal activities, so the invasion and destruction of a dictratorship does not give the invader the right to establish another variant of a slave society in the conquered country."

In the first paragraph... which of these criteria did the Na'vi meet?

None that I could see.

In the last statement- do you see what Rand was getting at? The right to invade is based on the right to overthrow a dictatorship because it is a slave state. In the process it is NOT proper to replace the old slave state with a new one. The peoples of a conquered land are not without rights.

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But you were cherry picking in that quote. This is the full statement:

"There are four characteristics which brand a country unmistakably as a dictatorship: one-party rule—executions without trial or with a mock trial, for political offenses—the nationalization or expropriation of private property—and censorship. A country guilty of these outrages forfeits any moral prerogatives, any claim to national rights or sovereignty, and becomes an outlaw.

In the first paragraph... which of these criteria did the Na'vi meet?

None that I could see.

In the last statement- do you see what Rand was getting at? The right to invade is based on the right to overthrow a dictatorship because it is a slave state. In the process it is NOT proper to replace the old slave state with a new one. The peoples of a conquered land are not without rights.

OK, firstly I'm not sure why you emphasize the "NOT" in your last sentences since I never suggested any such thing. Invading does not mean enslaving.

As for your criteria question, those criteria are specifically for nations, not prenational tribal societies. But the essenctial point is that they are collectivists, and thus have not developed a system of respecting individual rights. Otherwise we would have to say that all African tribes were politically good (non-dictatorial) before they became dictatorships as states. They did not qualify on those specific (national) 'dictatorship' criteria as tribes, but they were certainly collectivistic and we know just how evil that was (and still is, in some parts of Africa/ the world).

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OK, firstly I'm not sure why you emphasize the "NOT" in your last sentences since I never suggested any such thing. Invading does not mean enslaving.

As for your criteria question, those criteria are specifically for nations, not prenational tribal societies. But the essenctial point is that they are collectivists, and thus have not developed a system of respecting individual rights. Otherwise we would have to say that all African tribes were politically good (non-dictatorial) before they became dictatorships as states. They did not qualify on those specific (national) 'dictatorship' criteria as tribes, but they were certainly collectivistic and we know just how evil that was (and still is, in some parts of Africa/ the world).

It is ridiculous to call a tribal society evil. Evil requires knowing the difference between better and worse and willfully choosing the worse. Primitive societies are ignorant, they lack the concepts necessary before it can even be possible to imagination a social organization based on consistently protecting individual rights. If ignorance is evil then every infant is evil and most of humanity is intrinsically evil.

You attempt to argue the syllogism:

Collectivism is evil.

Tribal society is collectivist.

Therefore tribal societies are evil.

This equivocates on the root word collective. Not every instance of collective functioning is identical with collectivism. If it were then football, tug-of-war, governments and corporations are all intrinsically evil but we know they are not.

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There is a sort of 'original script' for Avatar floating around the internet that contains more details than the movie wound up including. For when it might be useful to have a better idea of what he intended with certain aspects of the film. I can't find any indication that it's a copyright violation or any other legal problems as I've seen it on some high profile sites, but will not link it here except to say it's usually labeled 'Project 808'. Apologies if this has been posted.

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It is ridiculous to call a tribal society evil. Evil requires knowing the difference between better and worse and willfully choosing the worse. Primitive societies are ignorant, they lack the concepts necessary before it can even be possible to imagination a social organization based on consistently protecting individual rights. If ignorance is evil then every infant is evil and most of humanity is intrinsically evil.

You attempt to argue the syllogism:

Collectivism is evil.

Tribal society is collectivist.

Therefore tribal societies are evil.

This equivocates on the root word collective. Not every instance of collective functioning is identical with collectivism. If it were then football, tug-of-war, governments and corporations are all intrinsically evil but we know they are not.

I obviously did not use the word 'collectivist' in that general sense, but in the specific sense of seeing and treating an individual as a slave to society.

But coming to your argument on supposedly amoral ignorant societies, let me understand exactly what you are saying.

Are you saying the Soviets knew that capitalism was better for them but willfully chose the worse political system? Why? If not, are you saying they were also NOT evil? [Or perhaps you mean that they just needed to have a grasp of capitalism and socialism? So, every African government that is evil has properly understood capitalism and willfully rejected it? Or they are actually not evil too?]

And are you also saying that those tribes that fought with the Greeks (in '300') were not actually evil? Or if they were, then they had exposure to (and understanding of) the ideas of the Greek enlightenment and "willfully" rejected them?

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I obviously did not use the word 'collectivist' in that general sense, but in the specific sense of seeing and treating an individual as a slave to society.
Equally false. A primitive society does not see and treat each other as slaves, that takes a corps of Marxists.

But coming to your argument on supposedly amoral ignorant societies, let me understand exactly what you are saying.

Are you saying the Soviets knew that capitalism was better for them but willfully chose the worse political system? Why? If not, are you saying they were also NOT evil? [Or perhaps you mean that they just needed to have a grasp of capitalism and socialism? So, every African government that is evil has properly understood capitalism and willfully rejected it? Or they are actually not evil too?]

And are you also saying that those tribes that fought with the Greeks (in '300') were not actually evil? Or if they were, then they had exposure to (and understanding of) the ideas of the Greek enlightenment and "willfully" rejected them?

A grasp of capitalism and human rights was not necessary for Soviets to recognize mass murder is evil. What made the Greeks good was not their practice of capitalism and human rights, they had neither. No society is amoral, but it is parochial and dogmatic to apply your own standards throughout history where it would be impossible for anyone to even begin to understand them.
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There is a sort of 'original script' for Avatar floating around the internet that contains more details than the movie wound up including. For when it might be useful to have a better idea of what he intended with certain aspects of the film. I can't find any indication that it's a copyright violation or any other legal problems as I've seen it on some high profile sites, but will not link it here except to say it's usually labeled 'Project 808'. Apologies if this has been posted.

I don't think there's any disagreement about what he intended, only about how the actual end product should be interpreted.

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OK it seems we are speaking past each other.

1. I did not say they see or treat each other as slaves. And neither did the Soviets. Neither do the Iranians. I was specific.

2. It was not because of mass murder that the Soviet Union was called evil (at least by Ayn Rand). Same goes for Cuba, etc.

3. I did not say the Greeks were good because of capitalism and human rights. I simply said "ideas of the Greek enlightenment", the rest was your invention. I took YOUR standard of judging evil in all my questions and merely asked you to confirm its application in those different situations.

If you want this discussion to be productive, you might want to start paying attention to my actual words.

Equally false. A primitive society does not see and treat each other as slaves, that takes a corps of Marxists.

A grasp of capitalism and human rights was not necessary for Soviets to recognize mass murder is evil. What made the Greeks good was not their practice of capitalism and human rights, they had neither. No society is amoral, but it is parochial and dogmatic to apply your own standards throughout history where it would be impossible for anyone to even begin to understand them.

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1. I did not say they see or treat each other as slaves. And neither did the Soviets. Neither do the Iranians. I was specific.
Soviets and Iranians do see and treat each other as slaves. The Soviets because of Marxism, the Iranians in their submission to Allah.

2. It was not because of mass murder that the Soviet Union was called evil (at least by Ayn Rand). Same goes for Cuba, etc.
Mass murder stands as important evidence to the verdict, or cause to effect, so mass murder is a reason Ayn Rand called the Soviet Union evil. But it wasn't Ayn Rand's opinion we were discussing, it was that of the contemporary Russians during the revolutionary period. They had ample first hand evidence (the same evidence Ayn Rand had) the theories of Marxism were lies and stuck to it. Evil.

3. I did not say the Greeks were good because of capitalism and human rights. I simply said "ideas of the Greek enlightenment", the rest was your invention. I took YOUR standard of judging evil in all my questions and merely asked you to confirm its application in those different situations.
The "ideas of the Greek enlightenment" came after the war with the Persians. Persians knew all about the Greeks, had been required to put down Greek rebellions on Asia Minor, and had employed Greeks in the Persian royal court. The Persians came after the troublesome Greeks deliberately because they were not yet slaves of Persia. It requires no learned sophistication to regard those who would make you a slave evil. Get your history from Herodotus not movie adaptations of comic books.
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Soviets and Iranians do see and treat each other as slaves. The Soviets because of Marxism, the Iranians in their submission to Allah.

Mass murder stands as important evidence to the verdict, or cause to effect, so mass murder is a reason Ayn Rand called the Soviet Union evil. But it wasn't Ayn Rand's opinion we were discussing, it was that of the contemporary Russians during the revolutionary period. They had ample first hand evidence (the same evidence Ayn Rand had) the theories of Marxism were lies and stuck to it. Evil.

The "ideas of the Greek enlightenment" came after the war with the Persians. Persians knew all about the Greeks, had been required to put down Greek rebellions on Asia Minor, and had employed Greeks in the Persian royal court. The Persians came after the troublesome Greeks deliberately because they were not yet slaves of Persia. It requires no learned sophistication to regard those who would make you a slave evil. Get your history from Herodotus not movie adaptations of comic books.

OK, let me tone this down. And I will take your points one at a time so that we don't lose ourselves. I address only your first point.

1. So I guess if you go to Iran and asked their leaders "are Iranians slaves?" you expect they will reply "yes, of course"? Or the Iranians themselves will say they are slaves and treated as such?

If, on the other hand, what you mean is that they are essentially slaves according to YOUR objective judgment, then that applies to those uncivilized tribal societies too, no?

Iranians might explicitly believe that they should submit to Allah through their powerful spiritual leader who will dictate Allah's orders to them; the tribe might believe they must submit to their dead ancestors or some divine tree through their chosen powerful leader(s) who will dictate its orders to them. [And of course for the Soviets, the leader dictates on behalf of "the community"].

Why is the tribe to be excepted from your judgment as a dictatorship? Why does it matter whether the dictatorship comes from Marxism or "Tree-ism" or Allahism?

[i will not at this stage discuss your mass murder point and whether it applied to all dictatorships before they could be judged as evil. I will also not ask you whether you think a person can be judged as evil from his ideas alone even if he has not murdered anyone, which seems to be the source of our difference.

Nor will I address your interesting statement that we are discussing what THEY themselves considered evil...

...but I guess I have!]

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Oh, and for your last point on Persians. Are you saying the reason we say they were evil was because the Greeks thought anyone who would enslave them has to be evil? So our judgment would have to be different if the Greeks also thought slavery was OK?

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1. So I guess if you go to Iran and asked their leaders "are Iranians slaves?" you expect they will reply "yes, of course"? Or the Iranians themselves will say they are slaves and treated as such?

"Yes, of course" they will answer, they are all slaves of Allah. The very name of the religion "Islam" translates to 'submission'. Islam permits the killing of infidels, but it commands the killing of apostates.

Primitive tribal societies are free by default because they do not have a priest caste, writing, and a bureacracy. They simply can't be dictatorships. Nor do actual primitive tribes act like dictatorships-to-be-waiting-for-technology-of-oppression. Primitive tribes might fight other tribes but they do not kill within the same tribe just for power.

The point behind all this is "ought implies can", you can't hold a person accountable to an impossible standard. True primitives lack the necessary context to understand rights, and because that context is necessary understanding is impossible for them.

The humans in Avatar are a futuristic version of the same humans that exist now, so they do have our context can be judged by our (and their) standards.

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My statement was intended to be my declaration that I'm done debating the unknowable and arbitrary points of a work of fictitious art to determine the exact nature of why it's a steaming pile of elephant dung.

No one is forcing you to participate in this thread.

You labor under the presupposition that I'm not aware of this fact?

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...those uncivilized tribal societies...

At least you didn't use the pejorative "savage."

Why is the tribe to be excepted from your judgment as a dictatorship? Why does it matter whether the dictatorship comes from Marxism or "Tree-ism" or Allahism?

Which tribe? If we are discussing real world tribes, you need to be specific. All tribal societies were different. If we are discussing the Na'vi, in the context of the film, they were far from a dictatorship. Does "Treeism" refer to radical environmentalism, or to the Na'vi's connection to their neural network, or to something else?

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Primitive tribal societies are free by default because they do not have a priest caste, writing, and a bureacracy. They simply can't be dictatorships.

Primitive societies are free?

This tells me that we will never agree on this subject, our premises are just too different. So I have to quietly bow out of this one.

But thanks all for your interesting deconstructions of the movie.

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Primitive societies are free?

This tells me that we will never agree on this subject, our premises are just too different. So I have to quietly bow out of this one.

But thanks all for your interesting deconstructions of the movie.

I agree. This:

Primitive tribal societies are free by default because they do not have a priest caste, writing, and a bureacracy. They simply can't be dictatorships. Nor do actual primitive tribes act like dictatorships-to-be-waiting-for-technology-of-oppression. Primitive tribes might fight other tribes but they do not kill within the same tribe just for power.

is an incredible statement. If you think that the absence of the superficial features of modern dictatorship is a sufficient condition for freedom, then our disagreement stretches far beyond Avatar. Living in a primitive society entails constant interference in one's own life by others, to an extent that has never been (and probably cannot be) matched in modern times. While one cannot morally condemn a tribal who does not understand the concept of rights, one can say that the society he lives in is bad for man's life.

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