It has been almost 12 years since the release of one of the highest grossing films of all time – that being 2009’s Avatar, James Cameron’s sci-fi epic.
There has been a running meme for the last couple years that despite the first Avatar film’s wild success in the box office, it isn’t a memorable film. The characters aren’t memorable, the storyline is a copy and paste of 1990’s Dances With Wolves, and that its success hinged on the technological breakthroughs in CGI and 3D film that were a staple feature of the film.
In retrospect, the running joke isn’t far from the truth. Avatar is a film that hasn’t held up for casual viewers on its own merits, but rather through nostalgia of a time that has long passed – a time before the insanity of the last 10 years in the social and political scene, where most people were more concerned about the film’s core messages; that being a deeply environmentalist film, a critique on colonialism, and the insatiable appetite of human discovery wreaking havoc on innocent and more noble creatures.
While there are aspects of the original film I enjoy, such as the detailed world-building that Cameron is known for, and the cutting edge visual effects, it still failed to resonate with me the way it has with many other viewers.
The preaching was exhausting when I watched it the first time in 2009, and it is still exhausting today. I get it. Humans are bad, save the trees, the military industrial complex is so evil, etc, etc.While the second installment Avatar: The Way of Water certainly delves a little deeper into the lore and ups the stakes for the protagonists, it still carries the same bare-bones environmentalist sermon that has become all too exhausting in this day and age, especially when we have Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil cronies ruining fine art and causing general inconvenience to all those around them in our current reality.
This is an excerpt from “Provenance”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.
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Rip Up the RoadsBy Adam Limb — 5 months ago
Driving may well be the biggest psy-op in modern history. The car has often been depicted as the symbol of freedom, the ability to go wherever one pleases – to emancipate oneself from the circumstances they find themselves in, and to strike up a new existence elsewhere. There’s a reason they talk of the ‘open highway’. Maybe in America this imagery resonates. After all, America has the size necessary for road trips to take you to genuinely isolated places. But America is America, and Britain is Britain. If you woke up at a random place on the British Isles, you could walk in any direction and find a marker of civilisation and follow it to safety before you were seriously close to death.
This fact is part of Britain’s charm, we really are the national equivalent of The Shire. A place where just the natural landscape lends itself to safety. Our island status makes it easy to defend, and our size allows us to grow, but not isolate ourselves from one another. Considering this, there really is no escape from civilisation in Britain. This may well be why exploration and adventure are such a large part of our culture: the only way to experience these things was to leave the country.
These facts make cars not so much a freedom, but a restriction. There is no ‘open road’ in Britain, just congested highways and country lanes that were fit for horses and carriages, not Land Rovers and BMWs. Driving in modern Britain means going from your box apartment to your box office, all facilitated by your box car. What do you get for the privilege of this freedom? More paperwork, bills, and another thing to look after. These are just the personal costs, the social costs are much greater. Huge swathes of land have to be taken up to facilitate cars. Roads are just the beginning, parking, driveways, motorways and car-related services such as petrol stations and garages all take up space that could otherwise be allocated for residential use. Cities such as Rome enchant those who visit because they were structured around the human and not the car. The streets of Rome have natural, organic arcs to them which obscure the street ahead. Cars don’t do well with too many turns, and so roads become long stretches that give the eyes nothing to feast upon but the gruelling monotonous journey ahead, often accompanied by ‘humorous’ bumper stickers or, God forbid, billboard emblazoned with advertisements – turning your commute into an advertisement break between your diminishing private life, and your gruelling work life.
So what should replace the roads? Surely we still need all of the creature comforts of the modern world, and if we don’t have roads between towns or within them, we can’t have any trade. First and foremost, people will not simply sit in their homes and starve because the A419 has been ripped up and they cannot reach a Tesco. Where there’s mouths to feed, there’s money to be made, and a new wave of farm-to-table markets would be incentivised to emerge locally. Now that walking is the main way of navigating towns and cities, commerce has to spread out to accommodate. No longer will there be massive central hubs of consumption, but small decentralised centres catering to the bespoke needs of communities on the most elemental level. For transport between these centres, the newfound cash not spent on road maintenance can be used to build trams to move people between these different centres allowing cross-pollination of consumers without the homogenisation of products that comes with shoving those products in vans and moving them across towns.
Of course, there are those goods which simply cannot be manufactured locally, and certain goods like fish are quite obviously not easy to come by if you’re not on the coast. To this end, a massive expansion and upgrade to the railways is needed. Expansion to offset the now-defunct road freight industry, and upgrades to ensure timely delivery of goods. This would mean moving away from much of the Victorian-era railway, but returning In full force to the Victorian-era spirit of industrialisation and progress. Rail freight is often cheaper per-mile than road freight, and allows for quick loading and unloading of containers, rather than manual loading and unloading from the back of lorries.
In order for rail to dominate the British landscape, the failures of the British state can no longer be tolerated. It shouldn’t take a decade to open a railway for public consultation, only to downscale it before any serious construction has taken place. Instead, a reactive and dynamic centralised infrastructure is required that clears out the dead weight who would stand in the way of a new vision of Britain – one in which the countryside is reclaimed from the concrete mess of roads, and the rewilded landscape tears past the window of your maglev as you travel from Plymouth to Edinburgh in four hours, rather than ten.
However, the removal of roads doesn’t require the end of private travel. Instead, we can simply take paramotors to the skies and fly to any number of open fields. Paramotors are statistically safer than cars, and can go at around 60mph. Private travel in Neo-Britain would mean the removal of box cars to open skies, overlooking a renewed landscape. For those who prefer to remain grounded, the reclaimed land doesn’t need to be privatised, it can be kept public and traversed by anyone who rents a quad bike and decides to drive through the wilderness to visit their friend a town over, or anyone who just wants to to ramp around the countryside for the day.
Roads are an ugly blight on Britain, they turn a once green and beautiful isle into a grey, dead landmass full of grey, dead people. They facilitate a society built around machinery and not around the character of the people who compose it. There are those who want to end the growth of technology where it stands. These people will lose out to those who wield the weapon of tech. There are also those who wish to simply allow tech to override their humanity. Indeed, we see this in the fact most of our cultural events (including Project 22) are experienced through a screen. Instead, I propose a third way: that technology is a tool in the hands of those who wield it, and through a great strength of will, we can adapt it to the world we live in. We ought not to see technology as an escape from nature, nor as a means to become stewards of nature. We are a part of nature, and must shape ourselves and our societies to work in tandem with it. To that end, we must rip up the roads.
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Against Republicanism | Aidan ScottBy themallard — 5 months ago
Many Conservatives have noticed a worrying trend in polling recently. YouGov suggests that support for the Monarchy is falling, especially among younger people. For the first time in British history 19-24 year olds apparently support having an elected head of state instead of a hereditary one. When combined with His Highness the Prince of Wales’s constantly mediocre approval ratings, a grim future seems to loom ahead of us. Many of my colleagues have dismissed these signs as unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps they are right, but I cannot help but be worried, and my worry has driven me to write this article in defence of Monarchy against the evil that haunts modern Britain: Republicanism.
In Britain, and I do not intend to comment on any other nation in this article, we have been ruled by Kings, Queens, and occasionally Emperors and Empresses, since written records began. Because of this it seems fair to regard Monarchy, in one form or another, as the native political system of the British peoples. Whilst our Monarchs have often been foriegn, the Throne has always been a native institution, never forced on us. The same cannot be said of Parliament, a Norman-French perversion of the Anglo-Saxon Witan. The only period where every part of Britain was not ruled by a Monarch was during Oliver Cromwell’s brief stint as Lord Protector during the interregnum, where he established himself as a hereditary Absolutist ruler, a King in all but name and legitimacy. As we all know, this unprecedented period was so terrible that after Cromwell’s death Charles Stuart, son of the previous King who Parliament murdered, was asked to come home from France and be Crowned King Charles II. The only time in history where Monarchy was abolished lasted a few short decades, and ended with Monarchy’s restoration.
I believe one of the most important reasons to defend Monarchy in Britain is because it is one of the few fully domestic institutions left. Indeed, it is the domestic institution, it acts as an immaterial liferope stretching back thousands of years, on one end it is held by our ancestors, and on the other end it is held by us today. Whilst in the past we may have had more ropes strung between us, none were as important as the Throne, and all others have been cut in the name of reform and progress. If we choose to let go we lose our last real connection to our forefathers, forcing us to drift aimlessly into the future like a raft untethered from a larger ship. Some would argue, of course, that just because a system is native does not necessarily lead to its being good and worth protecting. I admit that this is true in some cases; to the Aztecs human sacrifice was native, and so too was widow-burning native to the Indians. However, a system being native almost always acts as a reason in favour of its preservation, as it is these unique elements that make each nation recognisable against one another, or connects lands far apart which share common heritage. The Throne simultaneously differentiates us from our neighbours, whilst also ties us together with our friends in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and many other nations who share the Queen as their Head of State. Until Monarchy is proven completely rotten it must stay, for our ancestors sake as much as ours.
Many have already written on the economic benefits the Monarchy brings for Britain. I find these arguments boring and unconvincing. For example, they often imply that we should support abolition if the Monarchy cost more than it brought in, an idea I find abhorrent. Instead an argument I find far more convincing, and one I hope Republicans will struggle to argue against, is the fact that the Monarchy acts as a foundation for every law in the country. Britain is well known for our unwritten “constitution”. Instead of writing a single document to clarify everything from rights to how Parliament is to sit we simply use the laws that our fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers and so on wrote to settle these issues. If we find these laws no longer suit us, we pass new ones that supersede and replace them. I love this system. It grants us both flexibility and structure. Even if at times it can be confusing, it is uniquely ours. However, unlike in America where their constitution essentially derives its authority from itself, our beautiful tangled mess of a constitution is built on the firm foundation of the Monarchy. It is the only institution that was not founded by some law, rather each law gains its force and legitimacy from the Monarch themself. When one keeps this in mind, it seems impossible for Abolition to occur without also requiring huge constitutional reform. Trying to get rid of the Monarchy without upsetting our delicate Constitutional arrangement, like trying to remove a house’s foundations without causing the whole thing to collapse. It would not be enough to pass an amendment removing any mention of the Monarch from every law ever passed, the powers of the Monarch would have to be given to someone, and who does the general public trust with such immense power; Boris Johnson? Keir Starmer? The House of Commons? None of these people have proven themselves to be as prudent or farsighted as Her Majesty the Queen or any of her predecessors and none are worthy of the powers of State. Do you trust anyone to rewrite the entire British Constitution and not make a mess of it, or worse edit it in a way that benefits their party and their interests? You clearly shouldn’t, and the safest way to ensure they don’t is to fight to protect the Monarchy at all costs.
There are many points that I have failed to make in this article. Whether because I found them overdone or unconvincing, I have not written any argument that cannot in part explain my own personal devotion to our greatest institution, or why I will fight for its continuation until I draw my last breath. Such arguments can be found elsewhere, and perhaps I will write a more general ‘Monarchist Manifesto’ at a later date. I only hope to have contributed a few somewhat unique points in this extremely important debate.
God save the Queen.
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Government Versus The FamilyBy Jess Gill — 5 months ago
Over the past few decades, it has become the norm that when a person is in trouble they rely on the state and not their family. When a man is in financial trouble he is infantilised by the state as he turns to universal credit. When a man has personal troubles, he feels more confident in turning to a stranger qualified as a ‘therapist’ than to find comfort in the arms of his loved ones. When a man needs education, he turns to the state-approved curriculum in a run-down, crowded comprehensive school rather than carrying on his father’s trade or learning for himself. The state has effectively become the parent.
Now, this is not to say that there aren’t situations in which individuals may need support outside their family; there are times when getting help from the community is important. The average person is stuck between two ideas: that families shouldn’t be dependent on the state and that we shouldn’t let children suffer because of their family situation. However, the default in modern society is to turn to the state first and the family second. Regardless of how altruistic the intent is, the state has incentivised such behaviours by creating a system where children are more dependent on the government than their parents. This, in turn, incentivises single-parent households and mothers to enter the workforce; needing to spend less time at home thanks to state-provided childcare. Whether that be providing free childcare or encouraging women to pursue careers through promoting university, the government has encouraged mothers to leave their children to go to work. This was especially seen under Blair’s government which provided free part-time nursery places for all three and four-year-olds or targeting 50% of the population to go to university.
As stated by Peter Hitchens:
“The whole idea of public policy towards childhood now is that children should spend as much time as they possibly can away from their mothers. I am taxed so that children can be put in nurseries so their mothers can go out and work in call centres.”
Of course, this is not to say that women should not go to work. However, through these policies, the government has incentivised women to put work in front of their family. This has led to major negative effects for children such as a significant rise in mental health problems over the past few decades.
The family, and by extension the community, should offer a support system. When a person is in need, relying on family is much more reliable and rewarding than government benefits. Family tends to be much more reliable than the impersonal government that changes every few years. And when there are times where the family fails, private charity is there as a safety net for the most vulnerable of society.
In addition, the government deprives families of the responsibility to give to charity as society trusts the government to show their altruism by providing welfare for those in need. By removing individual responsibility through government enforced philanthropy, community connections are withered.
However, our current system means that the support many children receive is from faceless civil service workers rather than seeing the generosity of their neighbours. During the last decades of life, our elderly receive their support from state pensions instead of their family. Their earnings in their working life have been taxed, with the government using their money on projects that don’t benefit them or their loved ones. Due to this, they’ve not been able to build up wealth to pass on to their children. In addition, the state creates a division between generations, as the young are forced to pay for an increase in social care through the national insurance increases which creates disdain between the young and old. The state deprives the family of its role – it incentivises disconnect between generations and a reliance on the state rather than those closest to you.
A strong family creates happiness, security and prosperity. It helps each generation learn from the last and grow. It allows children to grow up as individuals with diverse perspectives and ideas, not just the taught lessons from state education. It allows children to have an identity within the family while retaining their individuality. This isn’t something that can be replaced by faceless bureaucrats. The family should come first, not the state.
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