Fascist Rebirth – A “NEW” MAN, AGE & SOCIETY
ROMANTICIZING the PRIMITIVE [BACK to the FUTURE]
AVATAR‘s GREEN FASCISM
by Edward Morriss
Edward Morriss: NO ONECAN AGREE ON WHAT AVATAR REALLY MEANS, but what if its meaning is more DANGEROUS than it appears on the surface” ???
A blogger named John Shade led me to a piece of writing that really brought the comparison home: SUSAN SONTAG’S “FASCINATING FASCISM”
The Sontag article is a classic review of the celebrated Nazi propagandist Leni Reifensthal’s late career photo essay, The LAST of the NUBA”. SONTAG’s POINT is that the FASCIST SYMPATHIES and RACIAL PREOCCUPATIONS that guide Reifensthal’s work for the Nazis also can be seen in her photographic work on the NUBA PEOPLE in AFRICA.
You can uncannily SUBSTITUTE Cameron’sname whenever Sontag mentions Reifensthal and SUBSTITUTE the NA‘VI whenever Sontag mentions the NUBA.
The entire Sontag article could just as well have been a review of Avatar.
The last of the NUBA [AVATAR]is about a PRIMITIVIST IDEAL a portrait of a people subsisting UNTOUCHED BY “CIVILIZATION,” in a PURE HARMONY WITH THEIR ENVIRONMENT.
What is distinctive about the FASCIST VERSION of the old idea of the “NOBLE SAVAGE”. … its CONTEMPTfor all that is REFLECTIVE, CRITICAL and PLURALISTIC.
In Riefenstahl’s [Cameron’s] casebook of PRIMITIVE VIRTUE, it is hardly the intricacy and subtlety of primitive myth, social organization, or thinking that are being extolled.
Enthusiastic about the ways the Nuba are EXALTED and UNIFIED by the physical ordeals of their wrestling matches, in which the “heaving and straining” Nuba [Na’vi] men, ‘huge muscles bulging,’ throw one another to the ground-fighting”
Not for material prizes but ‘for the RENEWAL of SACRED VITALITY of the TRIBE.
To summarize: Fascist “spiritual REBIRTH” through ROMANTIC(ANTI-RATIONAL) CONNECTION with the COLLECTIVE“organic whole” of “NATURE”.
The FASCIST IMPULSE is rooted in ROMANTIC IDEALS about what is NATURAL and BEAUTIFUL and PRIMITIVE.
These ideals provide a justification for PRESUMED SUPERIORITY, the notion of a CHOSEN PEOPLE and the SUBMISSION of the INDIVIDUAL WILL to the GROUP.
Nazi Ernst Lehmann’s Biologischer Wille. Wege und Ziele biologischer Arbeit im neuen Reich:
“We recognize that SEPARATING HUMANITY from NATURE, from the whole of life, LEADS to HUMANKIND’s OWN DESTRUCTION and to the death of nations”.
“[The] striving toward CONNECTEDNESS with the TOTALITY of life, with NATURE itself this is the DEEPEST MEANING and the true ESSENCE of NATIONAL SOCIALIST THOUGHT.
Fascism’s appeal was in it’s “WILL to POWER” – SELF-ABANDONMENT to one’s INSTINCTS.
Nazi religion was a manifestation of ANCIENT “PAGAN ROMANTICISM”
What is FASCIST about Avatar and Na‘vi thought?:
1) they don’t allow anybody into their presence that looks or speaks differently
Jake Sully must not only adopt their highlyUNIFORM appearance but also their customs, languageand ultimately their god
2) their existence is primarily athleticand highly sexualized [ROMANTICISM]
latent fascism in [Cameron’s] style – the scene of “sexualized conquest” when Jake Sully first learns how to DOMINATEan animal in the na’vi way
3)they are RULED by a CHARISMATIC LEADER whose will they seem to FOLLOW WITHOUT DEBATE OR QUESTION
4) they alone are PLUGGED INTO NATURE, with which they ostensibly live in HARMONY
Consider AVATAR‘s CORE NARRATIVE: a man who is crippled, finds the “REBIRTH of body” and TRIUMPH of HIS WILL by RETURNINGto this ABSOLUTIST PRIMITIVE IDEAL.
Avatar is, as Sontag writes about Riefenstahl, a story about “ACHIEVED COMMUNITY”, in which triumph over everyday reality is achieved by ECSTATIC SELF-CONTROL and SUBMISSION
The movie is so popular because EVERYONE FEELS POWERLESS and DISENFRANCHISED IN SOME WAY and EVERYONE ENJOYS the FEELINGS of LIBERATION. The movie INSPIRES.
This is also why depression the next day can be so brutal for some people. They are slammed back into THEIR BURDENED, CRIPPLED REALITY.
In my view, the idea of NATURE put forward in Avatar is out-of-date, LAZY, PORNOGRAPHIC and POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS for its very ORTHODOXY.
The understanding of the risks of climate change have come through the application of the post-enlightenment work ethic and dreaded technology.
WE MAY THINK WE are INVULNERABLE to FASCISM and EXCLUSIONARY VIOLENCE. BUT WE ARE NOT.
Judging from the ECSTATIC RESPONSE of the Navi-idealizing among us, a worst case climate scenario could very well bring on the RISE of GREEN FASCISM.