The lead character in the Pixar film “WALL-E” is both an acronym (Waste Allocation Load Lifter—Earth class) and a lonely robot with a personality. While Pixar has mastered the art of animation, it is the implicit message this film conveys which makes it much more than a mere cartoon.
Some conservatives have written the film off as anti-capitalist propaganda. If the intent of capitalism is to cater to the basest instincts of the human heart, requiring us to indulge our every whim and desire, leading to a dependence on government, then I guess I, too, am an anti-capitalist. However, capitalism can only arrive at that end when all of the restraints of personal responsibility are removed. In this sense, WALL-E is a brilliant exposure of liberalism’s flaws.
WALL-E is the story of what results when a liberal vision of the future is achieved: government marries business in the interest of providing not only “the pursuit of happiness” but happiness itself, thus creating gluttonous citizens dependent on the government to sustain their lives. The result is a humanity consisting of self-absorbed, isolated individuals with no affection for others, who thus defy what it means to truly be human.
The movie begins 700 years after the last human has been forced by undisciplined consumerism—and the waste in its wake—to leave the planet. An army of robots (WALL-Es) then sets out to clean up man’s mess. One might immediately surmise that the creators of the movie received their inspiration from Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Not so fast. While in the storyline humans certainly have laid waste the planet, and the government’s answer to the crisis is the removal of humans (which is also Al Gore’s solution), 700 years after the last human has left the planet it becomes quite clear that the earth needs humans just as much as humans need the earth. After all, in the Bible we learn that humans were created as caretakers for the planet: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
WALL-E exposes a fundamental flaw in the liberal worldview. In their well-intended desire to lift people out of despair, liberals often fail to factor in the depravity of the human heart. Offer a man the opportunity to get something for little or nothing and the ultimate end will be a man who believes himself entitled to everything for little or nothing. The Buy ’n Large metaphor in WALL-E is not an attack on capitalism. It’s an attack on the government’s co-opting of the entrepreneurial initiative of its citizens, micromanaging it through mandated outcomes and compulsory taxes to the point that there is no longer an incentive for individuals themselves to produce.