by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

What I think your reader (and perhaps Scott) are missing in the debate about illiteracy is that the question is not whether writing can be a powerful tool of social control - it can be - but whether societies as a whole make a conscious decision to reverse literacy in their move to Zomia. That strikes me as significantly more problematic; both of the examples your reader cites involved societies in which certain groups resisted the introduction of writing, not societies in which literacy was abandoned for social reasons after having already become part of the culture.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.