THERE are many shocking and depressing moments in the reality television experiment that is Channel 4's Eden. But for me the worst comes when contestant Glenn Moore suggests he and his male buddies should start “Operation be a c*** until some people leave”. Thus begins a story which is essentially about a small group of white guys cosying up to each other and ostracising everyone else. Since they believe they are the natural survivors and the best at everything, this gives them lots of satisfying pack-bonding feelings. All the other nasty stuff seems to follow on from that.

The show features a group of 23 people left to fend for themselves for a whole year on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. I doubt the programme-makers were looking for quite as bleak and banal a story about modern humanity as the one that has been broadcasting on our screens over the last week. Nevertheless, a year after the show was dropped following plummeting viewing figures, it’s here, repackaged as Eden: Paradise Lost, a Lord Of The Flies of our time.

On one level it isn’t that bad. The only violence here is emotional, or inflicted on the animals that are being killed as food. On many levels it doesn’t seem much different from any other reality television show, except that its duration, and the levels of hardship involved, add an extra edge to it. Many participants left before the end of the year – and not surprisingly.

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If there’s one thing that Eden shows it’s that you can get out of modern society, but you can't escape it. The ideas, fantasies, cultural memes and programmings of the world you have been raised in will follow you there. The programme could be presented as a guide to some of the most toxic of these.

First, there’s the survival of the fittest meme, which, naturally, quite a few of the show's male participants seem to have come fully primed with. Chief advocate of this philosophy, appears to be resident hunter Glenn Moore, who I dearly hope has been overly caricatured in the editing process, as I'd hate to think he actually is the obnoxious bully that he appears. My heart sank every time I saw him on screen. Early on he appeared to have made up his mind that “community is a burden” and that this short experiment should be about who to sacrifice. “We can’t carry everybody forever,” he says. Hence, eventually he and his small tribe, the Valley Boys, go off to form their own separate village in the woods.

In the current political climate, this individualism and self-preservation seems particularly chilling. The group that forms around Moore, appears systematically to have decided that the way to get on is to get rid of the women, the gay guy, the ethnic minorities, the touch-feely veterinarian ... anything that does not conform to a vision of macho strength, or tribal purity.

Then there's the cave man/hunter-gatherer fantasy, in which the true nature of human beings is that men run around catching food while women stay at home sewing and waiting to be shagged. “I bet back in the day the hunters used to come back with a deer like this and get laid off everyone,” says one of the Valley Boys as they carry a large deer back to their huts.

One of the biggest problems with this show appears to be that so many of the female participants, quite sensibly departed, for multiple reasons, “operation c***” being one of them. The Valley Boys are left to bemoan the fact that they have no female company, crack sexist jokes, name sausages after their members and do homophobic role-play.

They’re clearly having a great time. But it’s horrifying. And, worse still, it’s not that unfamiliar. We know this kind of misogynistic stuff goes on – in drinking clubs, workplace nights out, secret societies, anywhere in which men’s bonding is based on a macho hierarchy.

As Rob, the vet, says at one point: “It just becomes pack mentality and who can be the most laddish. They’ve been allowed to snowball into these chauvinistic pigs and it’s only going to get worse.”

All too familiar from the real world, eh?

So, to anyone who was thinking we should rid ourselves of all those societal restrictions like political correctness, anti-bullying policies, manners and, above all, feminism, Eden is your go-to antidote. The programme made me think of Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels Of Our Nature, in which the psychologist argues, controversially, that humans are getting less violent thanks to feminism, modern nation states, commerce, cosmopolitanism and rationalism.

Eden, of course, didn’t have to be this way. I don’t believe the show had to result in the dark, depressing portrait of humanity that is being broadcast currently, and I blame the programmers whose thoughts in bringing together the contestants, as always, were fixed on making good television rather than creating paradise. Frankly, they couldn’t have done a much better job at creating hell.