Democracy is NOT totting up opinions

Published: July 16, 2010 at 12:43am


“(Socrates) offered us a way out of two powerful delusions: that we should always or never listen to the dictates of public opinion. To follow his example, we will best be rewarded if we strive instead to listen to the dictates of reason.”

– Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy

49 Comments Comment

  1. Min Weber says:

    Socrates also said, “As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent.”

    But more importantly, he said: “By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

  2. K.P.Smith says:

    I think he was hedging his bets.

    According to Bertrand Russel…

    The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatsoever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind,a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.

    Someone who says it as it is, a bit like you Daphne.

  3. Maryanne says:

    @Min Weber: it applies more to getting a bad husband or a good one.

  4. Joe S says:

    “You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

    The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

    When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation.

    You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

    – Dr. Adrian Rogers

    • K.P.Smith says:

      With Denis out of the way, napart from the Doc’s religious zeal, I think he’d make a good bedfellow for the Baroness.

      The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

      How uninspiring to think that we have two socialist parties.

      • Min Weber says:

        The PL is not, and never was, socialist, despite Mintoff’s claim to socialism.

        The PL was, under Mintoff, a Leftist Nationalist party – it belonged to the so-called Third World Nationalism streak. (This might also explain the insistence on non-alignment.) Under KMB, it was … well … a headless chicken.

        To my understanding, Sant was inspired by Napoleon III.

        Under Muscat, the PL is moving toward Liberalism.

        The problem for the PL is that the PN is Christian Democrat – a political vision which encompasses a panoply of positions, some of which belong to the centre-right, others to the centre-left. With the PN sitting comfortably in that most moderate of areas, the PL has very little political space to occupy. And its recent attempts at soul-searching have been shallow and amatuerishly conducted.

  5. marcus flores says:

    1. Divorce is not a right; it is merely presumed to be so by a permissive society who chooses to do what it pleases, whenever it pleases without altruism and without counting the costs.
    2. Divorce maims ALL actors in this human tragedy for life. Vide: “Ehescheidung – Veletzungen fuers Leben” (“Divorce – Damage/Lesion/Scathing for Life”. “THE TRAUMA OF DIVORCE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES HAVE BEEN UNDERESTIMATED.”. (Put together in 1992 by counsellors and psychologists of international repute, and published by a non-catholic, strongly left-leaning source.
    3. The Catholic legislator who truly believes, and also LIVES his faith, can NEVER vote for divorce with a clear conscience.
    4. The late Dr. A. H. Farrugia LLD, the most-consulted Maltese lawyer on family-matters from the mid-60’s to the late-90’s, once wrote an eye-opener on the reasons for wanting to break up given him by “MOST of those who consulted him”…
    5. “I will look at the sun to blind myself to the shadows”, for true love is lifelong, exclusive and Unconditional; therefore it is independent of feelings: It is a commitment and a decision rooted in the will, the control-centre of personality, whereby we can continue to love both the lovable and the “Unlovable”.
    6. “Love is what remains when being in love has died.”.
    [email protected]

    • Macduff says:

      What a load of tosh. Keep religion out of this, Mr Flores. Marriage is a social contract, and like in any other contract, there should be the possibility to dissolve it.

      The trauma of divorce? What about the trauma that would have lead to it?

      And what is the more Christian: allowing two adults to go their own way and set up new families, or keeping them and their children in the living hell that is a failed marriage?

      Please, do say who are these illustrious psychologist you’re always bragging about. And a link to the relevant papers would do any harm, either.

      • David Buttigieg says:

        Well a big problem is that many people are confusing the sacrament of marriage with the contract of marriage.

        I have no doubt that many nay sayers believe that divorce will be imposed upon the church and the state will be able to dissolve the sacrament of marriage.

        Ofcourse, to any true catholic, divorce legislation will not make the slightest difference, if they stick true to their religion they can never marry again.

        Take that odd couple at their son’s communion, how on earth could divorce make things worse for them or the child? Has their ‘marriage’ a chance in hell?

        To complete the hilarity, guess who was the presiding magistrate!

      • Charles Cauchi says:

        That’s too kind and too polite, Macduff.

        You should have said ‘What a load of utter bullshit’

        Marcus Flores displays the typically narrow-minded arrogance and attitude of a Maltese Catholic who knows better than everybody else and wants to drag us up to heaven with him.

        If heaven is populated by headless chickens like him, please book me a place in hell.

    • K.P.Smith says:

      Maybe not in the context that was originally intended, but still relevant:

      “Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benny Franklin.

      Is the imposition of the denial of the right to divorce a prerogative of society?

  6. vaux says:

    allow me to quote this in Italian:

    la Santissima Chiesa ha il poteri del paradiso e l’Inferno
    il potere civile: nobile, giustissimo e rettissimo , il potere terreno
    il popolo ? il popolo ? .. bah..ha il potere del caz**.

    quote from the film “Il Marchese del Grillo”

  7. kev says:

    I assume this quote here is in the context of the ongoing divorce ‘debate’. But at a different level, I ask: WHOSE reason?

    This will be my last comment for a while, so I will leave you with an eye-opener – call it ‘conspiracy theory’ if you will, but you will only be deceiving yourselves. So watch this video, then re-read Socrates’ statement:

    • kev says:

      …and I mean de Botton’s quote, for he is the one who qualified it.

    • ciccio2010 says:

      Kev, let me see if we will hear from you earlier than you thought. I watched the video in your link.

      The conclusion that I draw is that you never had Economics in your Ordinary level education, or you failed it.

      If you had, none of this would really be news to you.

      And you would also know that Adam Smith himself – he who is considered the father of modern Economics – had noted that when competitors get together, their conversation turns to collusion on price-fixing (hence cartels). Is that not rational (as opposed to right or wrong, I mean)? Conversely, would consumers not collude on getting price discounts and free-rides?

      So, rationally, what is strange about bankers forming a cartel, secrecy and meetings in remote islands? I never walked into private meetings on Republic Street here in Malta or in Piccadily Circus in London – or anywhere else for that matter. Conversely, can you tell how many private meetings are being held every day anywhere in the world.

      But in Brussels you would have heard about self-regulation mechanisms. It is a hybrid, and a compromise, between public and private regulation. It applies in some of the professions, and in some industries. It is often acknowledged that private self-regulation is weak, and sometimes drifts to the lowest denominator. And when it fails, it invariably leads to more public regulation. Something like what’s happening right now in Washington with the new financial regulation.

      Kev, the power of the Fed Reserve has diminished with the emergence of the Euro – this was reflected in the value of the Euro vs. the Dollar, as Euro became a stronger international trading currency. But we now realise that the Euro needs a political backbone. This is something that the Fed has in the presence of the government in that “hybrid cartel” which G.E. Griffin explains in that video.

      The Fed may be dealt a further blow in the longer term with the rise of China as a world economic superpower (see about current debate on the value of the Yuan).

      So if I were in your position in Brussels, I would not worry much about the Federal Reserve. In fact, I wonder why you, as a “Soviet dissident,” are not more interested in the Bank of Russia.

      • kev says:

        My conclusion, Ciccio, is that you have not watched the entire video – which is definitely new to YOU, but not so much to me. The alternative would be even more saddening, because if you are unable to understand the elements of this grand ponzi scheme, then you are no better than a consenting serf.

        If you had economics at school then I fully understand where the balderdash you wrote comes from.

        And I am not a “Soviet dissident”, Ciccio, which is why the “Bank of Russia” interests me less than the entity that creates the currency I use as a frigging EU citizen that I was forced to become.

        Economics at school! U le, jahasra… kienx home economics ukoll. Hallina Ciccio, tridx.

      • ciccio2010 says:

        Kev, I see you have cut your holiday short. Was there some major disaster back in Brussels? Or was it my comments?
        Oh, I know it was not a new video to you. I suppose you watch it on those nights when you do not read about the Bilderbergers! If I am not wrong, you had referred to it on this blog on several occasions before. Moi, I prefer to watch live tv, such as Bondi+, Xarabank, Realta and TX (I am sure you will take this very seriously).
        Let me see if you can explain to me, in a few words of course, how the content of the video on money creation relates to the balance sheet of our commercial banks. Those banks say, and you can see it from their numbers, that they lend about 70 or 80% of their customer deposits. So if Euro100 comes in as customer deposits, 80 goes to loans, and 20 is in the tills. Where is the money created?
        At this point, however, I am also a bit confused why the money created by the Central Bank of Malta was to you less of a problem than the money created by the ECB or the Fed.
        As for home economics, yes, I think I remember the text I had was co-written by Adam Smith and Gloria Mizzi – but not very sure.
        Yours truly, consenting serf.

      • A. Charles says:

        Kev, your answer to Ciccio is pathetic.

      • kev says:

        Ciccio, I don’t want to be mean, but my sincere reaction is: Tal-biki!

        If you don’t know what fractional reserve banking is and you don’t know what quantitative easing is, then perhaps you should look them up. Had you bothered to watch the entire video, G. Edward Griffin explains it well enough. Otherwise, your €100 example is a load of codswallop. It’s not the way it works, caro. Not even close. I mean, really, if this is what ciccio2010 can come up with, then we are in a worse shape than I ever imagined, because I had the impression that you’re no fool. But I am the one who’s at fault here, because, as my Soviet experience has taught me, the illusion has a stronger grip over the educated – of course the West calls it ‘brainwashing’. But brainwashing seems to be everywhere except in the spotless West.

        Just, please, don’t be a bankers’ apologista. Smarten up. Forget the crap they taught you at school and start afresh. There’s Murray N. Rothbard’s classic – I believe I had told you about this book – “What has government done to our money” – it’s great for beginners. Here’s the link again for anyone who’s interested:

        But if you’re into the illusion, read the Fed’s shill: Niall Fergusson. He’s well rated, of course, just like his Soviet counterparts used to be. And with that I’ll leave you all in peace.

      • kev says:

        Here is another one – for dummies – Money as Debt:

      • ciccio2010 says:

        Kev, I see you have preferred to avoid my questions. But maybe because it is still Sunday morning. I will check here later for your answer.
        And since you did not deny, I still think you did not study basic Economics.
        In the meantime, here is a short economics lesson in the comfort of your home (you can call it “home economics” if you like) to keep you away from those videos:
        I think everyone knows that a dollar bill is a “promise to pay” instrument by the Fed Reserve. And we all know that the banking system is about debt. But against all that debt, there is, in the conservative of cases, unencumbered asset securities, or, in the other cases, a probable future flow of income (be that personal income, business income etc.) When things go wrong, and debt is created against no security, as happened in the US in the housing bubble up to 2 years ago, or as happened at the time of the .com bubble, the system has been applied wrongly. With consequent losses. But this is the wrong use of a system, and you cannot simply write-off the system.
        Kev, when debt is extended properly, it goes into factories, business, aircraft, ships, home building etc, rather than in holidays, consumption and the rest. When applied properly, it creates most of the wealth you see around you, whether in Malta, Brussels, or anywhere else. End of lesson.

      • ciccio2010 says:

        Kev, I think your post of 0024am was published AFTER I posted my reply above of 1259hours, maybe Daphne could confirm. Unfortunately, I had only seen the post of 0107am at the time of my reply.
        I see that, as usual, you resort to personal remarks when your back is to the wall. It does not stop me.
        I know very well what quantitative easing is (e.g. the Bank of England’s buying of high quality private sector bonds from the banks, so that it lends money to bankers and takes off assets from their balance sheets in exchange for cash during the crises) and what fractional reserve is (i.e. the issuing of money in circulation in excess of gold reserves held), thank you very much – all off the cuff, of course, not from a conspiracy video.
        But unless you have a sound basis in Economics, those videos, and complex terms like quantitative easing and fractional reserve banking are going to confuse you badly. And you should not try to confuse others.
        To be frank to you, what I do not know is what Constitutional Money is (referred-to by Mr. G.E. Griffin). So you may teach me the meaning of that – I do not think that an explanation was in any of your videos.
        Go on, tell us how you would make the world richer with Constitutional Money – we are all ears. At least you should parrot to us how Ron Paul will go about it. Is that some form of Government-control of our money, from the Libertarians?
        Kev, the banking system is based on TRUST. But so is the family (hence the original subject of divorce), your relationship with your professional advisors, and so is your trust in government, airline pilots, taxi drivers etc. If you loose all that trust, then you should live alone in a cave, not in Brussels.
        So it is better to be called an apologista than to behave like a hypocrite (no offence intended).
        But I still did not get the answer to my questions.

      • kev says:

        Thank you for the lesson, ciccio2010 – and for reminding me that you can lead a donkey to water, but you can’t make it drink.

      • ciccio2010 says:

        Ok, Kev, let me try this way. You need to drink a lot of water because we are in the middle of a heatwave. At least 2 litres a day.

      • kev says:

        Ciccio – the comments are sporadically approved – perhaps it’s Daphne’s way to stop this tit-a-tat. I don’t know.

        You I say I go personal when my back is against the wall. Far from it. You are so off the mark I hardly know where to start. For example you mention gold reserves. What gold reserves? Today’s currencies are not backed by any gold. We are talking about fiat currencies here. You also say you don’t see how this relates to commercial banks – now really, have you or have you not watched Griffin’s video? Watch the video for dummies – Money as Debt – that should teach you something.

        I have gone through much of this in past posts and I haven’t that much patience to go through it again. And again, you are so off the mark, it kills my motivation to explain.

        You say the banking system is based on trust. Well yes, when you give such financial entities the power to create money out of thin air, trust is all that’s left. So am I being personal if I told you how naive I think you are?

        Let me just tell you this: in less than two years the US financial system, together with its economy, will collapse. Collapse as in TOTAL collapse. The European financial system is not far from collapse, but they will do everything within their power to safeguard the euro because that is tied to the political project that the EU is. The global bankers in charge of the Federal Reserve, to which Obama has given extensive powers over the US economy (not just its financial system), are global bankers, many of whom are based in Europe, mostly London. But I will again have to stop here because you would not be able to fathom the truth.

        You WILL some day come back to these posts – you’ll see.

      • kev says:

        …as to Constitutional money, since you ask, that’s money backed by gold and silver – sound money, as stipulated by the US Constitution. It also stipulates that no central bank should have such an authority – that the issuance of currency is in the hands of Congress.

  8. ciccio2010 says:

    Philosophy is of no consolation to me.

    The next general elections will be won after the votes are totted up. The reasoning will (hopefully) come afterward, when the losing party tries to understand why it lost.

  9. interested bystander says:

    Did they make all this fuss about legal separation and civil annulments?

    Why does everyone assume a divorce will be easier to get than a civil annulment?

    Any evidence of this?

    Why don’t the divorce lobby make a case for civil annulment to be easier to obtain?

    Any ideas?

    [Daphne – Because people want to be divorced, not to have their marriages declared null and void. There is a difference between saying your marriage is over and pretending that you were never married at all. To have your marriage declared null, you must be really full of hate for the other party and want to wipe him/her/the marriage out of your life completely. But well-balanced people see their marriages, however bad and especially when they are still on good terms with their spouse, as part of their lives. ]

    • interested bystander says:

      I spoke with an Irish priest years ago who told me that the Vatican never declares null marriages with issue, because it makes the children bastards. I was shocked to learn in Malta this is the norm.

  10. A. Charles says:

    Marcus, of all people do you have to mention the late A.H. Farrugia LL.D who used to be the legal adviser to Cana Movement and had to resign because he had a mistress? She was one of his clients, and going through a separation herself.

  11. marcus flores says:

    K P Smith –

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The fact that this age has certain widely-held opinions is no evidence whatsoever that they are not utterly absurd. By the way, Bertrand Russell was shredded by Fr. Copleston SJ, in the famous 1948 BBC Radio Debate on The Existence of God. But then, K.P was just a glint in his Maker’s eye.

    • Joseph A Borg says:

      “By the way, Bertrand Russell was shredded by Fr. Copleston SJ”

      Really! I think you live in a parallel universe. People like Coplestone turn philosophy into a circus act. They mash the argument enough to make it unintelligible and thus impossible to counter.

      If you want to tie yourself in a knot to prove god’s existence suit yourself but be aware that the greatest advances in humanity’s history have come precisely when the idea of a god became irrelevant and considered dangerous to scientific discovery.

      for reference:

    • K.P.Smith says:

      Marcus, this is 2010 not 1948 and let’s face it, no one is so perfect as to have all the answers to life’s little mysteries, and even less so to decide what is best for every individual.

      That is why we like to believe we have the choice to each live our lives as we see fit, as is befitting a country that claims democratic credentials.

      As for the BBC’s debate, rather a moot point of discussion when one considers the impossibility of proving or disproving the existence of God when even by the church’s admission the act of believing in an omnipotent being is based on pure, blind faith.

      The last time I looked in the mirror I did see myself looking back, even though I ‘thought’ I had gone blind when I turned of the lights. Silly me.

  12. Brian says:

    Socrates committed his life to truth and morality, and he paid dearly with his life for this.

    The question is, do our politicians really hold dear to their hearts this belief?

    • Benny says:

      Minn hekk irid jghaddi kull min jghid li huwa Kattoliku. Irid ibaghti minhabba tweminu bhalma gralu Rocco Buttiglione.

      L-Ewropa ma ridietux bhala Kummissarju Ewropew ghax bezghet minnu. Dik konsistenza. Dawk principji. Dik serjeta’ U trid taghtina l-lezzjonijeit l-UE. Kemm iridu jaqdfu biex jghallmu xi haga lilna l-Maltin. Jghallmu l-qzieqez u mhux lilna. Ahjar minnhom f’kollox.

  13. marcus flores says:

    and, despite all this, he still was right when he said:
    “The large majority of those who consult me, with a view to breaking up, do so for the most-trivial of reasons.” He also told me personally: “They quoted from the actors in ‘Dallas’, and now from the latest soaps!”.

  14. Min Weber says:

    Daphne, When (elsewhere) you spelt out (thanks for not shouting!) that Italy’s case is not applicable to Malta, I think I will have to beg to differ.

    We know that Italy had a referendum on whether to abrogate an already existing law permitting divorce in cases of imprisonment for more than 15 years.

    The Maltese situtation does have some similarities with the Italian one. We already have a law allowing the recognition of foreign divorce decrees for Maltese citizens.

    There is now a movement asking for legislation allowing Maltese Courts to give divorce decrees themselves. It follows that, like the Italians, we should have a referendum; in our case on whether divorce should not only be recognised when decreed abroad, but also that Maltese Courts should be allowed to decree it.

    Upon reflection, I think this is the most accurate depiction possible of the obtaining situation.

    I don’t know whether you would agree.

    [Daphne – I don’t. The situations are not the same at all. An abrogative referendum to repeal a divorce law is in no way comparable to a referendum to introduce divorce legislation. The only thing they have in common is that both are undemocratic and wrong-headed.]

  15. Hypatia says:

    Marcus Flores: all comments made about divorce are equally applicable to personal separation as we have it in Malta. All those in foreign countries who make such comments about divorce do so because, in those countries, people divorce not separate.

    In Malta, people separate because there is no alternative but the effects of separation are identical to those of divorce. This has been said ad nauseam now but the anti-divorcists are either in bad faith or too thick to see the truth of what I’m saying.

    Substitute the word “separation” to the word “divorce” in all these statements and statistics and it would be perfectly applicable to Malta.

    Why don’t you, and others like you, admit frankly that your real motives are religious, period? It’s useless to hide behind the traumatic social effects of divorce when your real reasons are religious and not social.

    The effects of separation are equally traumatic – so what do you suggest? That we remove separation from our laws too?

    If divorce is not a right, then why does it exist in all countries of the world bar two? The sheer weight of numbers militates towards the view that it is a right.

    Interested bystander: children born of marriages subsequently declared null are NOT illegitimate (this term is no longer in use in the Civil Code) but considered as born in wedlock. The null marriage is called a putative (this word reminds me of St. Joseph who is described in doctrine as putative father) marriage and all acts done until such time as the marriage is declared null have full civil effects.

    The community of acquests, for instance, subsists till the marriage is declared null. This has already been stated many times in this blog.

    Benny: I force myself to be polite in spite of your vocabulary. In what are we “ahjar minnhom f’kollox”? Are you implying we should have stayed out of the EU? I can’t believe there still exists such chauvinism as yours.

    The Catholic Church declares it will not interfere in politics but surreptitiously (or not so surreptitiously) does so through politicians faithful to her. How’s that for transparency?

    Why do Catholics insist on interfering in the life of non-Catholics? Probably because they have always done so. In the past, they could use coercion and would still do so today if they had the power. The closest they get to exercising temporal power is by acting vicariously through some Catholic politicians.

    In this country, it is difficult to escape the clutches of the Catholic Church. In the past, even if you left Malta, you were still chased by Maltese Catholic priests. In the heyday of emigration in the 50s and 60s, the then archbishop of Malta would always send Maltese priests to migrant countries to “tend to the needs of the Maltese migrants”, that is, to make sure they remained as impermeable as possible to new ideas, be they Protestant or secular.

  16. K.P.Smith says:

    Classic! Kudos Mr. Charles.

    I have a scheduled poker tournament in two minutes; maybe you can come up with a sentence to describe the late Mr. Farrugia including: typical-ivory tower-living-hypocrite. On second thoughts….

  17. Min Weber says:

    From this morning’s Times:

    Metro quotes the results of a new research that cast doubt over the stereotype of a “seven-year itch” in marriage. A study of 90 family law firms in Britain found that the biggest threat to a marriage hits after 12 years. More than 25 per cent split because of infidelity, and 18 per cent because of “unreasonable behaviour”.

    What is unreasonable behaviour?

    [Daphne – Where does one begin? Talk to people, and you’ll soon find out when you manage to break past the facade. The most common ‘unreasonable’ behaviour in Malta is husbands who keep non-working wives on a financial shoestring, while at the same time making it impossible for them to earn money of their own. This is widespread.]

    • Min Weber says:

      I was more thinking of other things. Like personal crises. From my own personal experience talking to people, many wives are beginning to leave their husbands when these start going through rough patches.

      Once Daphne, you quoted Theodore Zeldin in an article you wrote for a newspaper (many years back). You quoted his fantastic book An Intimate History of Humanity.

      In that book, Zeldin tells us that the 19th century created the romantic idea of marriage, whereas in preceding centuries marriage was looked at as a contract and therefore negotiated. Lovers would exchange letters in which they would enumerate their various shortcomings, to see whether they were ready to accept them.

      Hollywood has continued the idyllic notion of love. (Well Hollywood is always 50 years behind…)

      Young people are therefore bombarded with the idea of entering marriage harbouring extremely high expectations. When bad times come – as they certainly will, always – many start faltering.

      [Daphne – I agree with you on this. But you miss one crucial point: that the growth of the notion of marriage as being about romantic love has changed the nature of marriage itself. It remains today no less a contract than it has been throughout history. Even today, in Malta, spouses have contractual obligations towards each other. And it is precisely because marriage is still a contract that the parties to that contract must have the right to terminate it rather than the qualified right merely to withdraw from its obligations through separation. It is the idea that there should be no divorce, and not the idea that there should be divorce, that feeds in directly to the notion of romantic love.]

      They see crises as unreasonable behaviour, and stop at a superficial appreciation, instead of trying to see the reasons behind unreasonable behaviour… such as a lousy environment at the workplace, financial difficulties, etc etc.

      • Min Weber says:

        “It is the idea that there should be no divorce, and not the idea that there should be divorce, that feeds in directly to the notion of romantic love” – yes and no.

        Socrates suggested becoming a philosopher not divorcing… even though divorce was available (to men) in Ancient Greece, and Socrates was not a product of the 19th century.

  18. John Caruana says:

    What would happen if one spouse would like a divorce and the other does not? Would divorce then be ‘imposed’ on the unwilling spouse?

    [Daphne – Yes, because it is far worse to impose marriage on the unwilling spouse. But divorce is no longer a unilateral action. It is now bilateral. In other words, you don’t have a wife divorcing a husband, or a husband divorcing a wife. THEY divorce. If one party resists the divorce or fails to cooperate, then the divorce comes through after two years of separation without that cooperation. This change in the law was the result of a change in mentality. Up to then, the thinking was that one spouse divorced the other for grave transgressions: there was FAULT. There wasn’t any conception of two spouses agreeing that they could no longer live together and deciding to move on. That just didn’t happen. The nature of society in the 18th, 19th and most of the 20th century just didn’t allow it. It was a terrible thing for a woman to be divorced, for example. She must have done something very, very wrong for her husband for divorce her. A divorced woman became a social pariah. With ‘fault’ divorce, the court battles became really ugly: detectives, exposure of secrets, making out that your husband was an animal or that your wife was a slut – and all in public. So reason prevailed and the law changed. I’m taking the British example here, because it’s the one I’m most familiar with. ]

    • John Caruana says:

      Thanks for the reply. It reveals an ‘anti-marriage’ bias in British law, doesn’t it? So marriage requires the consent of two adults, while divorce requires the consent (or co-operation) of only one!

      [Daphne – It’s actually quite logical. If people cannot be forced into marriage against their will, then they cannot be kept in that marriage against their will. As you said, marriage requires the consent of both parties.]

  19. Min Weber says:

    There is a very “interesting” letter on today’s Times:

    It is interesting that polygamy was not – obviously – confined to the Old Testament. The polygamous model was very common in pre-Christian, post-Rome Europe. In ‘Europe after Rome’ (Oxford 2005), Julia M.H. Smith tells us (p.127): “When, towards the end of the eleventh century, Adam of Bremen (d. c.1083) commented that among the Swedes ‘a man according to his means has two or three or more wives at one time, rich men and princes an unlimited number. And they also consider the sons born of such unions legitimate’, he was only reporting, with perhaps modest exaggeration, a centuries-old pattern of powerful men exploiting these opportunities to ‘hoard’ women and thereby confirm their superiority not only over the women but also over less successful men.”

    More interestingly, on pp.128-129, she tells us, “Irish law distinguished between the cetmuinter, the ‘chief wife’, and lesser-status wives. […] In the face of Christian clerical disapproval, Irish lawyers turned to the Old Testament for justification of traditional habits. […] Those who condemned a plurality of unions, in Ireland and elsewhere, were the clergy. The Christian doctrine of marriage was based firmly on the practice of the later Roman Empire, as encapsulated in a ruling of Pope Leo the Great (440-61) that a legitimate marriage was one between a free man and a free woman of equal rank […] Leo’s view, that ‘not every woman joined to a man is a “wife” because not every son is heir to his father’, asserted a distinction between the woman who was partner to the only form of sexual union recognized in Roman property law, marriage and a woman in any other form of sexual liaison, such as concubine and mistress.”

    On p. 130 she further tells us that “In Ireland, the Latin word for a woman having illegal intercourse, adultrix, supplied on of the Old Irish words of the secondary wife, adaltrach.”

    There is nothing new under the sun.

  20. Min Weber says:

    Socrates here reminds me of:

    ‘Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil’ (Exodus 23:2).

    But do note that the Exodus verse carries a qualification to the exhortation not to follow a multitude: “to do evil”.

    It would seem that it is fine to follow a multitude to do good.

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