Life Is Not Useful

Ailton Krenak

128 pages Partial in English Original publisher: Companhia das LetrasCurrent Affairs

Indigenous thinker and leader Ailton Krenak powerfully points out the destructive tendencies of so called “ rampant consumerism, environmental devastation and a narrow and restricted understanding of humanity’s place on this Earth, especially important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many centuries, Brazil’s Indigenous peoples have bravely faced threats of total annihilation and, in extremely adverse conditions, have reinvented their lives and communities. At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic forces the rest of the world to reconsider its lifestyle, Ailton Krenak’s clear and pertinent thinking emerges with newfound impact and brings fundamental contributions to deal with the challenges we face today: the horrible evolution of a pandemic, the rise of far right governments, and the damages caused by global warming, to name a few.

In essays of impressive strength and beauty, Krenak questions the value of “going back to normal”, when  “normal” “is a vision of humanity divorced from nature, actively devastating the planet and digging deep trenches of inequality between peoples and societies.”
According to the Indigenous leader, “civilization” is not a destiny. His criticism is aimed at the “world’s consumers”, and he questions the idea of sustainability itself, seen by many as a panacea. After the sobering wake up call the COVID-19 pandemic has provided, Krenak envisions an opportunity to create deep and meaningful change in the way we live. But returning to a more profound connection with nature is a battle that will be hard fought for the West.


Foreign Rights on behalf of Companhia das Letras.