Monday, April 09, 2007


Radical Hope

In his review of Radical Hope--a book about the transformation of the Crow tribe by Jonathan Lear--Charles Taylor observes that,
A culture's disappearing means that a people's situation is so changed that the actions that had crucial significance are no longer possible. ...You find yourself in a circumstance where, as Lear puts it, "the very acts themselves have ceased to make sense." Nothing of significance could happen anymore. This is a terrible reality, and it is one that we have trouble understanding, but it is a fate that we in "advanced," more "complex" societies have been imposing for many centuries on "indigenous" or "tribal" peoples.

With the devastating impacts of globalization and a pervasive loss of faith in progress, we are now experiencing our own kind of culture death--perhaps less horrifying, but real nonetheless. Abandoned by the malign neglect of the same forces of mechanized state and market aggression that devastated the plains Indians, will we who've long rejected the role of passive consumer show the resilience required in recreating our society? Are we prepared to lead those who lament, "I am trying to live a life I do not understand."


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