50 Years Ago: Capitalism & the Divorce Laws
The sanest views were those of some of the medical men and lawyers in the House of Lords. But nearly all of them spoke as if marriage and divorce can be considered in a vacuum apart from the economic organisation of society. The fact is that capitalism makes it increasingly difficult for the population to make a success of marriage or of any other personal relationship. Looking for an ideal marriage law under capitalism is therefore as hopeless as asking the capitalist powers to honour the pious aspirations of the League of Nations. It is not in the main the greater or less facility for divorce that poisons the relationships of working-class men and women, but the problem of economic security, the need for adequate food, clothing and shelter, freedom from worry about war and unemployment and, of course, the need for the individual man and woman to be economically independent.
So the new law will be open to almost as much criticism as the old. In a few years’ time we shall have the opponents of all divorce and the seekers for that impossibility: an ideal marriage law, combining to expose the hardships and miseries existing under the law. They will be quite right, except that the miseries are caused by capitalism and cannot be cured by tinkering with divorce laws.
[From an editorial “No Escape from Holy Deadlock”. Socialist Standard August 1937.]