The moral conundrum which Ariane so nicely describes is a really profound and important one, as GoldenTriangle's much recommended post suggests and as my own human-evolutionary, i.e. Darwinian, view of "society" as an "human resource" and artificial environment, which state and economy developed over the centuries to facilitate the exploitation of (to the misplaced and perverted Darwinian advantage of wealth, power and privilege, which nowadays in Britain, at least, to some degree, includes most of us) provides a sound theoretical basis for.
STATE and RELIGION have succeeded in conflating, and exploiting, the two very different environments in which human nature and behaviour patterns evolved: one being our original tribe, which we are naturally inclined to subordinate our personal interests to, the other being everything external to it (including other, rival, tribes), which we are naturally inclined to exploit to our own personal (and tribal) advantage.
So long as we fail to recognise the state's primary role in facilitating society's self-exploitation, and continue confusing it with our tribe, this moral conundrum (the rot at the heart of our civilization) will remain - and eventually put an end to us.
I can understand people's reluctance to face up to this more than just "inconvenient truth", since it undermines the whole basis of the "society" we all depend on and don't want to descend into tribal conflicts, violence and chaos. But if we want to change things for the better (which we must, if we are to survive) then we must replace the lies and self-deception on which the existing politico-socioeconomic order is based with a much more realistic, Darwinian, understanding of our situation.
wolfmanjack and SeanThorp:
All property is theft..... of one type or another. The post agrarian moral decline that we've suffered in the last 10,000 years is truly lamentable . .You are both on the right track, but it is not that simple, and the moral indignation (self-righteousness?) your comments imply won't help us understand the root cause of the problem, which is what we urgently need to do.
As I pointed out in my first post, above, understanding this problem demands a human-evolutionary, i.e. Darwinian, perspective, i.e. for us to view ourselves as the evolved social and tribal animal we are, only now living in a very different environment (of civilization itself) from the one we evolved in and are behaviourally adapted to, and which the power structures of state and economy developed over centuries to facilitate the self-exploitation of, to the advantage, of course, of its powerful and privileged elites.
Once we've recognised its Darwinian nature and developed an understanding of it, it's not a problem that will be easy to solve, but at least we will then have the option - and challenge! - of attempting to in a more hopeful, enlightened and rational fashion than is possible at the moment.
mickangelo: "What an airhead article. People get paid for writing this kind of stuff? Only in the Guardian, folks..."
I couldn't disagree more. Ariane's piece describes a profoundly important moral conundrum, a proper (Darwinian) understanding of which might just enable us to save our civilization from extinction (see my first post, above).