Recently, a fan of Spirit Island who studies anticolonialism asked me a really good question, and I thought others might be interested both in the query and in my answer. The questioner was kind enough to give me permission to quote them if I anonymized it, so here’s their query and the (lightly edited) core of my reply.
Indeed – what’s up with that? There’s several things going on.
…and a pair of asides that are a bit relevant, but much less determinative than the above (for reasons in parentheses):
- The colonial situation is far from the only thing occupying the day-to-day thoughts and activities of any given person among Dahan communities – they are living their own lives! (However, they are not generally oblivious, and will notice the danger, particularly as it unfolds in their local area.)
- Each Dahan community (as a whole) works largely via consensus and persuasion. This handles some sorts of problems much better than a hierarchical society is likely to, but consensus takes time and effort, and in uncertain situations it can be tricky to reach consensus that action is needed, let alone what action to take. (However, Dahan society has social structures specifically to deal with this, both through traditional ways of dealing with uncertainty or deadlock, and by appointing individuals into temporary leadership roles when the need for decisiveness / quick reaction / having a single coherent plan is high.)