What did leap out towards the end of the book was this sentence:
The natural long term tendency of any eco-system is to become progressively more plural, complex, sociable.
This opinion does, of course, challenge the idea of some who think survival of the fittest might suggest otherwise. I strongly suspect Mabey is right: the evidence is all around us if only we are willing to look.
But that is not what economics is seeking to do. There is monoculture in our economy: a persistent belief that only the market can deliver and only material reward matters leading to concentration on a singular approach to decision making and so to the form in which society is developing.
We need an economy that is more plural, complex and sociable. It so happens that nature has worked out that this is the basis for sustainability. The economy we have is the opposite of that.
So, err, what is it that allows complexity in an economy? Plurality?
Yep, that’s right, markets. One estimate is that at any given time in Manhattan there are 1 billion separate and discrete prices. There is no possible method of achieving that plurality, that complexity, without the cooperation of people through markets.
There is also no method of political or economic management that allows greater complexity, sociability or plurality in forms of organisation than markets. Only that form will allow workers coops, customer coops, capitalist organisations, sole traders, partnerships and yes, the State itself, to rub along together.
He’s shouting about markets, the very thing that actually allows the thing he claims to desire.