I am particularly interested in the bearers of what Robert Redfield called “little traditions,”
the ethnoi and other collectives who insist on existing, and who in no way feel represented by any of the nation states which subjected them to political-cultural hegemony and to economic and ideological “rationalization”, usually imposed by fire and sword.
These minor peoples – minor in the sense used by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their A Thousand Plateaus – witness with an anxiety not entirely free from contempt the agonized death throes of European nomos and the handover of the modernization offensive to the “great traditions” at the other end of the Eurasian continent. Moreover, these peoples now see themselves, suddenly and rather surprisingly, called upon to assist the old moderns who are at the end of their tether, harassed as they think they are, on the one hand, by the new moderns, who apply lessons learnt from Europe literally with no holds barred, and on the other, by the “intrusion of Gaia,” that strange power which has changed from being passively indifferent when confronted with the thaumaturgic pavanerie of the “humans” (the moderns) into an ominous protagonist. And she is all the more mortally unpredictable, the more actively indifferent towards us she shows herself to be.
Here is where inquiry ends, with an exhortation that the West should take steps “to seek the help of the other collectives whose competencies we had rejected in the belief that our first duty was to bring them out of their archaism by modernizing them.” And this must be done “before it is too late, before modernization has struck equally everywhere.” All this before the world comes to an end, and Gaia descends on us all – French and Chinese, Yanomami and Maori – including all the other living beings we have so far not succeeded in eliminating from the face of the planet.
– Eduardo Viveiros De Castro