George Monbiot breaks off from an unexceptional defence of financial regulation in the light of the Northern Rock crisis to launch into an extraordinary speculation on human nature, leading him away from a critique of libertarian capitalism to one of liberty itself.
Wherever modern humans, living outside the narrow social mores of the clan, are allowed to pursue their genetic interests without constraint, they will hurt other people. They will grab other people's resources, they will dump their waste in other people's habitats, they will cheat, lie, steal and kill. And if they have power and weapons, no one will be able to stop them except those with more power and better weapons.
This is certainly a bleak view - and the solution?
We need a state that rewards us for cooperating and punishes us for cheating and stealing.
No room for free will, for ethics, or even social development? No analysis of power structures, conflict, social systems and communities? No co-operation or mutualism? And what of the State in such a brutal world, would it not too replicate this malevolent human behaviour? Monbiot has an answer.
At the same time, we must ensure that the state is also treated like a member of the hominid clan and punished when it acts against the common good.
How is the State to be "punished"? When put to the test, he was a vehement opponent of the punishing of the Ba'athist State in Iraq. Very curious.