The Legend of Korra – An Allegory against Marxism?

Growing up, I was infatuated with the Avatar the Last Airbender Universe. Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko created a fictional saga unlike anything that had featured on Nickelodeon. Despite being a tv show intended for kids, it addressed serious topics such as genocide, warfare, bigotry, good and evil. 

As the show’s sequel The Legend of Korra experiences a revival of popularity on Australian Netflix these holidays, I thought it timely to write why I think the show is not only a great story, but an allegory against marxism.

Now hear me out, it’s not as far fetched as it seems. For those unfamiliar with the narrative, the show takes place in a world where people can ‘bend’ the elements (water, earth, fire or air). The Avatar has the capacity to bend all four elements and is charged with keeping balance in the world. In this era, the Avatar is a girl named Korra who arrives in Republic City and faces political upheaval. In season one, a revolutionary movement called The Equalists is on the rise, headed by populist, masked figure Amon. The equalists are non-benders who want to purge the world of benders, and blame “all warfare in all ages” on benders. Not dissimilar to Marx calling all of history “the history of class struggle.”

“Very soon the current tyrannical bending regime will be replaced by a fair minded equalist government”

Amon (‘And the Winner Is…’, Episode 6)

Sounding awfully like marxism right?

The scary thing about the equalists is that they make no distinction between people who use their bending ability for good or for evil. Just by virtue of arbitrarily being born with bending abilities, they are immediately grouped as ‘the enemy’ and charged with oppressing the non-bending community.

The Equalist Movement is fuelled by resentment and violence. Amon stokes class antagonism when he describes benders as possessing an “unnatural advantage over ordinary people” that must be destroyed. In true communist style, Amon pronounces “We will equalise the rest of the world. The revolution has begun”, thrusting his fist into the air.

The Legend of Korra exposes the ugliness of the politics of envy. Illuminating the hypocrisy between those who claim to want a better world, and instead create a more violent and divided one.

Jordan Peterson wrote that the “hypothetically egalitarian universality doctrines of Karl Marx contain hidden within them sufficient hatred, resentment, envy and denial of individual culpability and responsibility to produce nothing but poison and death manifested in the world.” This is the reality of marxist doctrine reflected allegorically in The Legend of Korra.

“Republic City stands as a beacon of freedom but the equalists are using that freedom to tear it down”

Tarrlok, (‘When Extremes Meet’, Episode 8)

The fact about the equalists is that many of them do not truly want equality. They want to strip people of their individuality and subject people to the lowest common denominator in the name of ‘equality’.

What is truly disturbing about the cult of personality around Amon is that his supposed background of being a non-bender oppressed by benders is a myth. He is actually a water bender and blood-bender, and he uses this power to strip people of their bending abilities. In the great irony of the saga, Amon is using his bending power to oppress people.

In the final showdown between Avatar Korra and Amon we see what they truly stand for.

What Korra stands for is using her ‘advantages’ for corporate benefit. Korra is blessed with superior bending abilities as she is able to manipulate all four elements, but uses those gifts for the public good. It demonstrates the ethos “to whom much is given, much is expected” or “with great power comes great responsibility”. It replaces the principle of “equality” with that of duty to one another. Amon brings chaos and animosity. Korra brings peace and service. 

If you want to bask in some solid anti-communist content these holidays but do not have the willpower to pick up The Road to Serfdom or The Gulag Archipelago, I implore you to watch this animated series. And for the socialists that are angry I have ruined their favourite tv show, I am deeply sorry – but not really.

Julia Kokic is the President of the Conservative Club

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