“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Survival still standing up for tribal rights.

It's not all that many generations ago that we were all tribal hunter gatherers and of course this phase of human history was by far the longest. The few remaining peoples who practise this mode of production can tend to be seen by us as the mere victims of, or worse still a hindrance to, the onward march of progress. They are much more than this of course. Tribal people are not interesting primitive relics of a lost age neither are they  noble savages; they are human beings much like the rest of us and with all of the strengths and failings that are a part of the human condition. The history of the relationship between hunter gatherer tribes and the agricultural/industrial world is well documented and sad. I have always felt that these people may well be the custodians of knowledge that stood us in good stead for hundreds of thousands of years and for all I know may be needed again one day. Tribal societies don't exist in a state of inertia and have always absorbed and been influenced by outside developments. They are not blind to some of the benefits of the products of global capitalism but wish to except these benefits at their own pace and on their own terms.
I have been a supporter of Survival International, the group who campaign for the rights of tribal peoples, for over twenty years. Standing up for the rights of some of the most threatened people in the world without being in any way patronising or controlling was never going to be easy but I reckon that Survival have just about got it right. If you want to know more about tribal people and their struggle to continue to live in the way that they choose you need look no further than Stephen Corry's excellent "Tribal Peoples For Tomorrow's World. It would be difficult to find a better introduction to the subject.

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