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Appointing Judges in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jul 1st, 2017 at 08:23:12 PM EST

Both the Irish Independent and the Irish Times (scroll down the page) have published my letter criticising the hypocrisy of Judges criticising elected politicians for commenting on the suitability of Judges on the grounds of the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government, and then in almost the same breath seeking to influence the legislature in its deliberations:

Sir, - Chief Justice Susan Denham saw fit to rebuke Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over his Dáil comments about former attorney general Máire Whelan and reminded us of the separation of powers between the branches of government and the necessity to maintain some distance between them.

Just days later, Mr Justice Peter Kelly is reported ("Leading judge says Government moves to reform judicial appointments `ill advised'", June 24th) as criticising Shane Ross's proposals for reforming the judicial appointments process as "ill conceived" and "ill advised", and the way in which they were being rushed through the Dáil when (in his view) other matters before the courts warranted a higher priority from legislators.

Could it be that our esteemed learned friends are trying to have it both ways, telling legislators how and when to do their jobs whilst being extremely sensitive about any comments directed towards them by our parliamentarians?

Whatever the merits of Shane Ross's proposals, surely it is right and proper that the process of appointing judges should be debated and decided by our democratically elected representatives at a time of their choosing, and not by those who are the primary beneficiaries of the process? - Yours, etc,


Another letter writer then took up the cudgels to explain why the Judges' intervention was ill advised in the extreme:

Sir, - Whatever the constitutional propriety of senior serving judges attempting to influence the passage of a proposed Bill through the Oireachtas, the Association of Judges of Ireland's press release of June 26th is a matter of pronounced disquiet. Frank Schnittger's letter (June 26th) rightly points to the hypocrisy of senior judiciary standing on their judicial prerogatives to scold publicly politicians for their comments in the Whelan controversy, and, in the next breath, interfering in the legislative process.

Moreover, the separation of powers is a settled constitutional principle, repeatedly affirmed in case law, and the intervention of the Association of Judges of Ireland is a clear breach of this principle by a body that should know better.

Were the proposed Bill enacted and subsequently challenged in the courts, it is not clear how members of the association could sit impartially on the case after their representative body has publicly exposed their bias against the law.

How many judges will be available to hear such a challenge after those tainted by this ill-judged public intervention have been obliged to recuse themselves? - Yours, etc,


My letter in the Irish Times was published just below a letter from Minister Shane Ross himself, making it appear that I was writing in support of the Minister's proposals, even though my letter referred only to the matter of judges advocating the separation of powers only when it suited them. However, in fact I believe Shane Ross's proposed legislation only scratches the surface of the problem, and that much more fundamental reform is needed, as I made clear in a subsequent letter (not yet published):

Our learned judges appear to be horrified at the notion that "lay people" should be involved in the process of interviewing and selecting our judges and moreover seem emboldened to make their case most forcibly to our elected representatives.

This is despite the fact that Chief Justice, Susan Denham, has only recently reprimanded our elected leaders for commenting on the suitability of an appointee, reminding our elected leaders of the separation of powers in our Constitution, and of the need to keep some distance between our branches of government.

One would be forgiven for thinking that all was well with our system of justice, and that only a fool would consider tinkering with it. This is not the experience of many who look to the Courts to dispense justice in Ireland.

For a start, our system of civil justice is one of the most expensive in the world, to the point where only rich individuals and large corporations can fully vindicate their rights under the constitution. What's worse, is that the system incentivises our solicitors and barristers to make the process of justice as convoluted and drawn out as possible, as a means of maximising their earnings.

I used to work for one such large corporation, and even there the policy was never to contest even the most frivolous and vexatious of claims, because the costs of doing so outweighed what little benefit could be gained even when succeeding in contesting the claim.  In this way our legal system has greatly damaged our economy and ability to attract new businesses to Ireland. Businesses simply chose to invest elsewhere rather than endure such systemic, and legally enabled, fraud.

We look to our judges to ensure that Court time and client expenses are not abused in this way, but too few judges seem inclined to curb the earning power of their former colleagues and learned friends at the bar.

The primary purpose of our system of criminal justice is to protect our citizens from criminal actions, and yet when one looks at our crime statistics, one could be forgiven for thinking that it is not very good at that job, or perhaps that it is in fact serving another purpose altogether.  Again all the financial incentives are there to protect criminals from the consequences of their actions, and by comparison almost no resources are expended on repairing the harm to victims of crime in a timely manner.

None of the above is intended to impugn the integrity of our judges as the primary custodians of our legal system, and indeed many of them work extremely hard and have served the nation with honour and distinction.

It is, however, necessary to point out that the financial incentives are all wrong, and that the primary beneficiaries of both crime and civil disputes are all to often members of the legal industry itself. No wonder crime is so endemic in our society and the rich prosper while the rights of those who cannot afford expensive legal proceedings are trampled on with impunity.

Added to this one must observe that the members of the legal industry are all too often drawn from just one rather well healed class in our society, and even from quite a restricted number of families within that class. It all leads to a rather cosy, inbred, consensus as to what is good for the "laity", and, dare one say it, to a degree of arrogance and conceit. Access to the profession is largely controlled by private bodies, and progress within it all too often all about "contacts" with the right sort of people within it.

Shane Ross's proposed reforms are modest indeed, and barely touch on the above issues - such is the political lobbying power of what is supposed to be a separate branch of Government.  But anything which introduces an element of lay participation in the appointment of Judges is to be welcomed, even if it only opens up the profession to a small window of what life is like for lay people and the victims of crime and injustice under the gavel of legal rule in Ireland.

I doubt my much longer second letter will be published, but I wrote it anyway just to get some things off my chest. The legal profession in Ireland is indeed almost a closed shop for privileged middle class families with the necessary connections, especially for barristers and Judges, and their perceptions of what is normal and acceptable can be quite obscene. Barristers charge in excess of €2,000 per day, and cases are routinely postponed again and again with "refresher fees" charged every time.  Everyone in the legal profession gets paid, plus expenses, every time, whilst the victims of crime and witnesses get virtually nothing.

My work for Restorative Justice Services brings me into contact with many front-line workers in the field, and the reality on the ground can often be quite harrowing. Victims of crime aren't formally represented in Court - the State prosecutes where it deems to have enough evidence - and the perpetrators generally get free legal aid - at enormous expense to the taxpayer.

But victims are often not even informed of the outcome of trials, and their perpetrators are generally paroled or released without the victim being informed. Although the Judge may take a "Victim impact statement" into account when sentencing, no attempt is generally made to repair the harm suffered by the victim - either by the perpetrator or by the state.

The legal profession in general, and Judges in particular, are often sublimely indifferent to the suffering of victims, and the inconvenience and risks for witnesses, as they simply aren't players in a legal game which is effectively designed to maximise legal earnings, rather than societal benefit.

The sense of self-importance and conceit prevalent in the Judiciary is perhaps best illustrated by their opposition to paying taxes on their income on the same basis as everyone else. In 2011 the Irish Government and people even has to initiate and pass the 29th. amendment to the Constitution to overcome judicial claims that a tax introduced for everyone in the wake of the 2008 crash should not apply to them as it might interfere with their independence. In reality, it interfered only with their conceit that they should somehow be above the law applying to everyone else.

In the meantime the Irish judicial system is clogged up with cases taken to force less well off parties to concede because they cannot afford the legal fees involved, and because it is in the interest of lawyers to overcomplicate and drag out those cases as much as possible in order to maximise their earnings. Cases can drag on for years by which time it is often much too late to mitigate the harm done by a crime or a dispute.  

Car insurance premiums sky-rocket because the cost of legal fees often exceeds the compensation paid to the injured party in a car crash, to the point that many younger drivers cannot afford to get insurance at all and consequently break the law and drive without insurance. Simple legal transactions can take an age and cost a small fortune. In essence, the legal profession have hijacked the law to their own benefit. It is time that "the laity" claimed it back to work for the benefit of the people as a whole, and in particular for the benefit of the victims of crime and injustice.

Lawyers maximising their earnings by complicating and dragging out legal proceedings is an entirely rational response to a payment system which rewards the length of time and the number of postponements and sittings required to complete a case. It is irrational to expect them to do otherwise.

If, on the other hand, lawyers were salaried state employees who weren't paid overtime for excess hours worked, you can be damn sure they will complete cases as expeditiously as possible, consistent with maintaining their licence and reputation as competent attorneys.

The vast majority of lawyers I have ever known have been almost entirely motivated by money and status, and  were hyper conscious of both. Quite a few didn't even like practising law.  They also tended to have very high expectations of their future earnings/status and a very high opinion of their own abilities.

Some very few were quite altruistic and concerned with Justice etc.  Those ended up working for free legal aid (in the days when it wasn't generously remunerated), Amnesty International, The anti-Apartheid movement, the UN, and various advocacy groups.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 1st, 2017 at 11:32:59 PM EST
Barristers in FitzPatrick case paid record-breaking rate

The daily fee paid to barristers in the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick were the highest ever paid to counsel in a criminal case.

Senior counsel for the prosecution and defence were paid €3,000 each a day by the State for the 126-day trial which was the longest in Irish legal history. This is more than three times more than the standard rate of €858 a day for senior counsel in Circuit Court criminal trials.

The senior barristers were also paid a €40,000 initial "brief fee" to take the case, vastly more than the normal brief fee of €1,716. The two senior counsel earned a total of over €400,000 each including VAT for the trial.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 2nd, 2017 at 08:38:19 PM EST
Please don't tell me that the prosecution is outsourced?

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Jul 3rd, 2017 at 08:23:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes the state generally employs self-employed barristers to prosecute its cases.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 3rd, 2017 at 10:12:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And remember as Mr. Fitzgerald was in receipt of legal aid, the same rates were paid to his council too (rightly in my view as this means the state does not have an advantage compared to the accused). Therefore, this will be easily the most expensive trial in Irish history.
by piobar on Tue Jul 4th, 2017 at 12:10:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find judges claiming what's sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.  As for the time and expense of litigation, it sounds like Ireland managed to swallow the US system whole.  You poor bastards.
by rifek on Mon Jul 3rd, 2017 at 12:14:50 AM EST
The codification of civil and criminal laws as well as their arcane purposes, enforcement, and procedural language (Latin) of adjudicating disputes, adopted by the governments of the USA and its antecedents (the republics of Europe), owe its existence today to traditions and social structure erected by the bureaucrats of classical Rome. There --not the classical Athenian polis-- is the model of civilization vaguely recalled today that instantiates a "democratic" institution of the western Roman empire believed to oppose the arbitrary authorities of any monarchical/despotic/tyrannical ruler: Let's call that concept of "justice" in toto "public law." And let us consider how radicalize French, generally, and Napoleon, specifically, in his comparatively brief tenure popularized this fictitious innovation throughout the illiterate, feudal carapace of Europe.

"The interests of the State"
rather than an attorney, ideally, is to represent, figuratively and literally, everyone in a courts of law --particularly in finding the facts of criminal conduct. Yet we find time and again instances when the arbiter of "justice" (a judge or magistrate) fails to administer "legal" procedures or interpret facts of law as expected. Whatever that expectation may mean to you or me or the boy-next-door more often than not reveals that our apprehensions do not question either the code per se enacted by elected representatives or the moral turpitude of the persons who elected the legislators.

Who demands capital punishment to remedy the harm afflicting a dead victim?

Permit me ironically to quote, for example, passages from The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World by G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, pp328-329

The sphere (the intellectual one) in which Roman genius displayed itself was the ius civile, the 'civil law', a term with a rage of means (depending mainly on the context) which I shall use in a fairly broad sense, to mean the private law regulating relations between Roman citizens [...] I do not meant at all that the Romans had what we call 'the rule of law': in fact that was conspicuously lacking from large areas of the Roman legal system, including particularly what we should call criminal and constitutional law (together making up 'public law'), the very spheres most people today will mainly be thinking of when they use the expression 'the rule of law.'[even the operation in practice of the civil law was deeply affected by the new forms of legal process which were introduced in the early Principate and gradually came to supersede the 'formullary system' that had flourished during the last few generations of the Republic. It is difficult even to give these nese new processes a collective name, but perhaps 'the system of cognitio will serve. Introduced for some purposes as early as the reign of Augustus, and always of course dominant in the provinces, thes procedure had become universal even in Italy and Rome itself by the late third century [C.E.] in civil as well as criminal cases. It was sometimes referred to by the Romans as 'cognitio extraordinaria', even long after it became standard practice. ...In practice it gave the magistrate trying the case a very large measure of discretion, and its general extension justifies such statements as those of Buckland that 'civil procedure was superseded by administrative action''and that there was an 'assimilation to administrative and police action. It is true, as Buckland insisted, that the civil procedure was 'still judicial' and that 'the magistrate must abide by the law' but the magistrate had very wide powers, and as far as criminal procedure is concerned ... that the rule' nullum crimen sine lege, nulla poena sine lege'('no criminal charge except by a law, no punishment except by a law') was always unknown to Roman law. [...] I am devoting more attention here to legal procedure and less to legal principle than might be expected because the Roman lawyer, unlike his modern counterpart in most countries, 'thought in terms of remedies rather than of right, of forms of action rather than of cause of action (Nicholas, IRL 19-20) so that the nature of legal procedure was all-important.

The roman ius civile was above all and elaborate system, worked out in extraordinary detail and often with great intellectual rigour, for regulating the personal and family relationships of Roman citizens, in particular in regard to property rights, a peculiarly sacred subject in the eyes of the Roman governing class

Perhaps high or low esteem (You be the judge) for the sanctity of property could furnish an explanation, why no legislator has thought to exercise the tax authority of the state --rather than its remunerative discretion-- to sanction [!] obscene 'incentives' of judges and lawyers, while replenishing the state's treasury?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jul 3rd, 2017 at 04:00:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Electing judges in Texas: How might one go about 'reforming' 15M registered voters?

Texas High Court Deals Blow to Same-Sex Couples

In the unanimous opinion, the state's high court reversed a lower court's ruling in Pidgeon v. Houston that public employers cannot deny same-sex spousal benefits to their employees.
Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd, writing for the Texas Supreme Court, said in the opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, recognizing same-sex marriage, did not resolve whether the Constitution requires states or cities to provide tax-funded spousal benefits to those couples.
Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks, described in their lawsuit as "Houston taxpayers and qualified voters," sued the city and the mayor, contending that Houston was expending "significant public funds on an illegal [SIC] activity" and injuring them because they are "devout Christians who have been compelled by the mayor's unlawful edict to subsidize [SIC] homosexual relationships that they regard as immoral and sinful."
The Texas Supreme Court, unlike in many other states, is elected, and Republican incumbents sometimes face primary challenges.

Perhaps arguments either to reduce the pay of judges, distribute the income of litigators, or even limit terms are ineffectual means of assuring the fair and impartial countenance of the state?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jul 3rd, 2017 at 08:53:35 PM EST
The California Law allows the governor to appoint judges but required that they can be challenged and then must be confirmed by popular vote. This was woe unto Rose Bird and to progressives generally in California. Per Wiki:

Bird was the first and remains the only Chief Justice to be removed from that office by a majority of the state's voters. California justices are selected by the Governor but must be regularly reconfirmed by the electorate; prior to Bird, no California appellate judge had ever failed such a vote.[7]

She was removed in the November 4, 1986 election by a margin of 67% to 33% after a high-profile campaign that cited her categorical opposition to the death penalty.[8] She reviewed a total of 64 capital cases appealed to the court. In each instance she issued a decision overturning the death penalty that had been imposed at trial. She was joined in her decision to overturn by at least three other members of the court in 61 of those cases.

Perhaps the Irish Judiciary might contemplate the possible consequences of a system such as that. But I sincerely hope that Frank does not need the services of an Irish court any time soon.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2017 at 07:05:22 PM EST
But I sincerely hope that Frank does not need the services of an Irish court any time soon

I have no intention of getting caught!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 5th, 2017 at 09:48:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Minister Shane Ross's proposed reform is nothing like as radical as that, merely that the panel selecting Judges have a majority of non-lawyers on it, and that it be chaired by a non lawyer.  Precisely how those lay people would be selected has yet to be debated in detail - presumably they would be experts in other fields - but they would be political rather than Judicial appointees.

In practice the political affiliations of a lawyer often influences their chances of appointment, and this is the main issue Shane Ross is trying to address. I'm personally not in favour of popularly elected Judges, but what we have now is the opposite extreme: Entrance to the profession and preferment within it is controlled by quite a small circle of private interests and institutions, with no accountability to any one, and it is virtually impossible to remove a Judge who has gone rogue.

Judicial independence is an important constitutional principle but that does not mean that Judges become should become a self-perpetuating and self serving elite.  Most have been fine. My difficulty is a systemic one: the financial incentives are all to postpone, extend, and complicate prosecutions and disputes - thus increasing the costs, exacerbating the harm done to victims, and reducing the possibility for timely, harm reduction remedies to be introduced.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 5th, 2017 at 10:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
complicate prosecutions[SIC] and disputes

  1. TRIAL: prosecutor and defense are adversary who litigate the facts of a disputed civil or criminal charge.

  2. MANY UNSCRUPULOUS PEOPLE AMONG US: I would argue the that the primary and most frequent cause for delays and deliberation of findngs of fact and law (e.g. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge... OMFG! WHAT DOES THAT MEEEEANN?!!) is not mutually beneficial remuneration anticipated by the advocates --especially in adjudication of um common criminal cases-- but firstly the intense probability any and all evidence presented for trial is false which is anticipated by the judge.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jul 5th, 2017 at 10:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"litigate the facts of a disputed civil or criminal charge" s/b "litigate the disputed facts of a civil or criminal charge".

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 12:06:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is when reading things like this one wonders how much we have improved the last 2500 years. Compare the current Irish legal process with the ancient Athenian:

Popular courts were made up from a pool of 6,000 dikasts (jurors); every Athenian citizen in good standing on reaching the age of thirty was eligible to become a dikast ; each tribe provided annually 600
dikasts , selected by lot from those who had submitted their names; the 6,000 dikasts were assumed to represent or to be the Athenian people; therefore, they were not held accountable at the end of the year and there was no appeal from their verdicts, but each took a dikastic oath; pay was equal to a half day's wage;
dikasts were divided into sections or panels in which each tribe was supposed to have equal representation, with panels of 200 for private suits, 500 for public ones; the large panels made bribery difficult; in the fifth century the courts met every day except for festival days-300 days a year.

The legal procedure may be summarized as follows: (1) the plaintiff accompanied by two witnesses summons the defendant; (2) plaintiff gives his complaint in writing to the magistrate who has jurisdiction; (3) a preliminary hearing (anakrisis) is held before the magistrate to check that the case is in order; the magistrate used to have full powers to render a verdict; (4) magistrate communicates with the
thesmothetai who set the day for trial and determine the size of the panel of dikasts; (5) magistrate presides over the trial to preserve order and make sure it is conducted properly; in the trials themselves, each litigant is allowed only a certain period for
speaking, timed by a water-clock (klepsydra); no trial could last more than one day; after the speeches, the
dikasts recorded their verdicts; the plaintiff had to receive at least one-fifth of the votes or be fined; if prosecutor won, there were two methods to determine the penalty; in one category (agones atimetoi) the penalty was fixed by law or decree; in the other type (agones
timetoi), each litigant proposed and defended a penalty, and then the dikasts voted for one of the two propositions.


by chumchu on Tue Jul 4th, 2017 at 11:00:05 PM EST
Sounds like quite an advanced system to me, and no one is earning a fortune by playing the system! The idea of set tariffs for set indictments might reduce the incentive to prolong and complicate the process as much as possible.  A Judge might still have discretion to increase the tariff, post trial, if s/he felt it was genuinely a very complex case.

The problem is that Judges currently have very inflated ideas of what constitutes a reasonable living for a lawyer, so some guidelines or even budgetary restrictions would have to be imposed. So for, for example, if there was a budget of €10M for High Court enhanced fees and at by the end of the year Judges had awarded €20M in increased costs, then lawyers would get only 50% of what they had been awarded.  

At the moment there is virtually no limit to what costs might be incurred, and that very fact intimidates smaller players from initiating or defending actions against them.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 5th, 2017 at 10:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"... no one is earning a fortune by playing the system!"

451 / 0 assembly on the motion of Pericles passes a law restricting citizenship to those, both of whose parents are Athenians. Some reasonable estimates for the population of Athens at its height in the mid-fifth century include: 350,000 residents of Attica, 175,000 Athenians, of whom approximately 40,000-50,000 were adult male citizens, 30,000 metics or resident aliens, and about 100,000 slaves. [09:10]

One of my favorite "key terms." See also Athenian Empire in the Golden Age/The Policies of Pericles, "The Citizenship Law of Pericles", An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander

Aristocratic men in particular had tended to marry rich foreign women [METICS], as Pericles' own maternal grandfather had done. Pericles' new law enhanced the status of Athenian mothers and made Athenian citizenship a more exclusive category, definitively setting Athenians off from all others. Not long thereafter, a review of the citizenship rolls was conducted to expel any who had claimed citizenship fraudulently. Together these actions served to limit the number of citizens and thus limit dilution of the advantages which citizenship in Athens' radical democracy conveyed on those included in the citizenry. Those advantages included, for men, the freedom to participate in politics and juries, to influence decisions that directly affected their lives, to have equal protection under the law, and to own land and houses in Athenian territory.

emphasis added. BWAH!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Jul 5th, 2017 at 11:54:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sortition  (also known as allotment or demarchy)
and its modern malapropism: "democracy," "direct democracy," "representative democracy," "democratization"
Athenian democracy

:: What Trump is thinking by naming names and taking social security numbers?
I promise you, no one but I would be more delighted were sortition (lottery picks, Wed. or Sat. night draft [!]) the only method of selecting public [!] representatives for state and federal offices.

What a hoot!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Jul 5th, 2017 at 10:11:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump election panel asks all 50 states for voter roll data

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 12:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Current Affairs recently discussed sortition.
Will the Sortition Congress actually be good at making laws? Who knows. Will they be worse at making laws than the Congress we have now? Is that even possible?
Pros and cons

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 08:16:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This essay is a simply brilliant discursion from the hidebound to the practical properties of inequality which freedom fighters have learned to love. 535 > 300M, because self-selection.

< wipes tears >

Love it. I am envious of the authors' talents and shall be giggling for no apparent reason for at least a week.

Thank you for bringing it to the fore.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Jul 8th, 2017 at 12:26:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Graeber's "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" had surely popped up in ET discussions several times. He had interesting thoughts about Medieval Irish (and many other) laws.

Somehow, these passages come to mind:

"Patriarchy" originated, first and foremost, in a rejection of the great urban civilizations in the name of a kind of purity, a reassertion of pa­ternal control against great cities like Uruk, Lagash, and Babylon, seen as places of bureaucrats, traders, and whores. The pastoral fringes, the deserts and steppes away from the river valleys, were the places to which displaced, indebted farmers fled. Resistance, in the ancient Middle East, was always less a politics of rebellion than a politics of exodus, of melting away with one's flocks and families - often before both were taken away [...]

The world's Holy Books - the Old and New Testaments, the Ko­ran, religious literature from the Middle Ages to this day - echo this voice of rebellion, combining contempt for the corrupt urban life, sus­picion of the merchant, and often, intense misogyny.

A culture war against liberals thousands of years ago?!

Further, citing Gerda Lerner:

... What remained problem­atic was how to distinguish clearly and permanently between respectable and non-respectable women.
This last point is crucial. The most dramatic known attempt to solve the problem, Lerner observes, can be found in a Middle Assyrian law code dating from somewhere between 1400 and 1100 BC, which is also the first known reference to veiling in the history of the Middle East  - and also, Lerner emphasizes, first to make the policing of social boundaries the responsibility of the state.


between the push of commoditization, which fell disproportionally on daughters, and the pull of those trying to reassert patriarchal rights to "pro­tect" women from any suggestion that they might be commoditized, women's formal and practical freedoms appear to have been gradually but increasingly restricted and effaced.

And then Greece:

"The poor," as Aristotle succinctly put it in his Constitution of the Athenians, "together with their wives and children, were enslaved to the rich."


Already by the age of Socrates, while a man's honor was increasingly tied to disdain for commerce and assertiveness in public life, a woman's honor had come to be defined in almost exclusively sexual terms: as a matter of virginity, modesty, and chastity, to the extent that respectable women were expected to be shut up inside the household and any woman who played a part in public life was considered for that reason a prostitute, or tantamount to one. The Assyrian habit of veiling was not widely adopted in the Middle East, but it was adopted in Greece.

by das monde on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 05:57:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brilliant comment...

Given that women were effectively their men's chattels, surely "commoditization" was almost a liberation, enabling them to live relatively independently as traders or whores in a city away from their family if required.. "Respectability" was defined by being the exclusive property of one man?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 08:05:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Debt relations define much of the social status. Being screwed by a financial-governing system is not that much fun - ask indebted college graduates. My impression is that (comparatively) egalitarian growth is more characteristic of the "axial" bullion phase of the credit/bullion cycle.

Eventually, urban centers tend to fall and whither at some overshot stage, while rural outskirts carry on with their culture. That could be a very important civilization cycle.

by das monde on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 09:25:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ch. 2
Afterwards it came about that a party quarrel took place between the notables and the multitude that lasted a long time. [2] For the Athenian constitution was in all respects oligarchical, and in fact the poor themselves and also their wives and children were actually in slavery to the rich; and they were called Clients,1 and Sixth-part-tenants (for that was the rent they paid for the rich men's land which they farmed, and the whole of the country was in few hands), and if they ever failed to pay their rents, they themselves and their children were liable to arrest; and all borrowing was on the security of the debtors' persons down to the time of Solon: it was he who first became head2 of the People. [3] Thus the most grievous and bitter thing in the state of public affairs for the masses was their slavery; not but what they were discontented also about everything else, for they found themselves virtually without a share in anything.

See also Politics, discursion from common to private property and back again, as the hobbits are said to have said by generations of translators.

In connection with this we have to consider the due regulation of property in a community that is to have the best political institutions: should property be owned in common or privately? This question might indeed be considered separately from the system laid down by law with regard to the children and the women: [1263a] [1] I mean, even if there be separate families as is now the case with all nations, is it better for both the ownership and the employment of property to be in common. . . ,11 for example, should the farms be separate property but the farm-produce be brought into the common stock for consumption (as is the practice with some non-Greek races); or on the contrary should the land be common and farmed in common, but the produce be divided for private use (and this form of communism also is said to prevail among some of the barbarians); or should both farms and produce be common property?
for instance in Sparta people use one another's slaves as virtually their own, as well as horses and hounds, and also use the produce in the fields throughout the country if they need provisions on a journey. It is clear therefore that it is better for possessions to be privately owned, but to make them common property in use; and to train the citizens to this is the special task of the legislator.
if Socrates [Plato, Republic] intends to make the Farmers have their wives in common but their property private, who is to manage the household in the way in which the women's husbands will carry on the work of the farms? And if the property and the wives of the Farmers are to be common . . .

and on and on and on with the expiation of inequalities which Plato and Aristotle enjoyed.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Jul 8th, 2017 at 01:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More from Graeber's book, on Plato:
Not seven years before, he had taken an ill-fated sea cruise and wound up being captured and [...] offered for sale on the auc­tion block at Aegina. [...] A Libyan philosopher of the Epicurean school, one Annikeris, happened to be in the market at the time. He recognized Plato and ransomed him. Plato felt honor-bound to try to repay him, and his Athenian friends assembled twenty minas in silver with which to do so, but Annikeris refused to accept the money, insisting that it was his honor to be able to benefit a fellow lover of wisdom. As indeed it was: Annikeris has been remem­bered, and celebrated, for his generosity ever since. Plato went on to use the twenty minas to buy land for a school, the famous Academy. [...] even Plato wasn't especially happy about the fact that his subsequent career was, in a sense, made pos­sible by his debt to a man who he probably considered an extremely minor philosopher - and Annikeris wasn't even Greek! At least this would help explain why Plato, otherwise the inveterate name-dropper, never mentioned Annikeris.
Fact check
by das monde on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 02:25:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bad link (503) not in service.

There is this though.

So yeah. My go-to (online) to validate any of the various characters, rarely the famous and always the obscure, resurrected from European antiquity by modern public intellectuals with designs usually is Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The site supplies succinct biographical and epistemological information, a narrative index of terms, if you will.


In this case --being handicapped by literacy in only one language --I needed to collect additional reference points to triangulate my inquiry. yahoo! dumps Anniceris in the Free Dictionary article Cyrenaics. I read this, glibly conclude, Ah! Plato fanboyz; note with interest association with Plutarch, arch-enemy of Herodutus! and the article's primary source, in particular, Aristippi et Cyrenaicorum fragmenta* ; *so begins Athenian Constitution; and return to Stanford Encyclopedia search engine.

Then I will read each of the results returned as time permits. For the articles typically cross-reference biographical details in context of the philosophical critique as in the case of Plato, "An Athenian citizen of high status...", who eventually hit the skids too late to redeem his haughty airs.

In the case of Annikeris/Anniceris, the obscure, samaritan, emancipator, had the term obtained I would attenuate my Standford bibliography by opening each file and performing a simple keyword search "Annikeris", "Anniceris", then bookmarking only those articles obtaining the lengthiest related passages preferably containing quoted matter (concerning slavery or debt, perhaps) with citations.

Alas. I turn to my primary source go-to Annikeris,OOPS.


Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Anniceris >> Book I, fn. 12;

Book II, Ch.8, "... Slavery and freedom, nobility and low birth, honour and dishonour, are alike indifferent in a calculation of pleasure..."
Book III, Ch.1, debt? BWAH!

on this occasion Dionysius, the son of Hermocrates, being on the throne, forced him to become intimate with him. But when Plato held forth on tyranny and maintained that the interest of the ruler alone was not the best end, unless he were also pre-eminent in virtue, he offended Dionysius, who in his anger exclaimed, "You talk like an old dotard." "And you like a tyrant," rejoined Plato. [19] At this the tyrant grew furious and at first was bent on putting him to death; then, when he had been dissuaded from this by Dion and Aristomenes, he did not indeed go so far but handed him over to Pollis the Lacedaemonian, who had just then arrived on an embassy, with orders to sell him into slavery. [...] And then Charmandrus, the son of Charmandrides, indicted him on a capital charge according to the law in force among the Aeginetans, to the effect that the first Athenian who set foot upon the island should be put to death without a trial. ... There is another version to the effect that he was brought before the assembly and, being kept under close scrutiny, he maintained an absolute silence and awaited the issue with confidence. The assembly decided not to put him to death but to sell him just as if he were a prisoner of war. [...]  Anniceris the Cyrenaic happened to be present and ransomed him for twenty minae--according to others the sum was thirty minae--and dispatched him to Athens to his friends, who immediately remitted the money. But Anniceris declined it, saying that the Athenians were not the only people worthy of the privilege of providing for Plato. Others assert that Dion sent the money and that Anniceris would not take it, but bought for Plato the little garden which is in the Academy....


3 Points 4 Me

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 02:25:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In conclusion, neither Aristotle nor Plato objected much to the virtue or moral value of debt and slavery for others. They would quibble details of the conditions applicable for each element of the social hierarchy that described their ideals of the "unity" or "constitution" of polity; Athens being center of the universe.

This attitude is obvious in the body of work left by each to posterity. One ought read these manuscripts in their entirety in order to apprehend better moderne um interpretations of classical politics. Anachronism abounds.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 02:48:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
noun: anachronism; plural noun: anachronisms

    a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.

How very odd, in a piece about a fifth century BC philosopher!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 03:59:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I refer to the faults of modern translators. Consider for instance this passage in Athenian Constitution as its is also pertinent to the discussion here about the alleged calumny and greed of lawyers needing remedy.
This then was the nature of his reforms in regard to the offices of state. And the three most democratic [!] features in Solon's constitution seem to be these: first and most important the prohibition of loans secured upon the person, secondly the liberty allowed to anybody who wished to exact redress on behalf of injured persons, and third, what is said to have been the chief basis of the powers of the multitude, the right of appeal to the jury-court--for the people, having the power of the vote, becomes sovereign in the government. [2] And also, since the laws are not drafted simply nor clearly, but like the law about inheritances and heiresses, it inevitably results that many disputes take place and that the jury-court is the umpire in all business both public and private. Therefore some people think that Solon purposely made his laws obscure, in order that the people might be sovereign over the verdict. But this is unlikely--probably it was due to his not being able to define the ideal in general terms; for it is not fair to study his intention in the light of what happens at the present day, but to judge it from the rest of his constitution.

Of course there are more! but none more memorable to me than the one in "Ethics", iirc,  where gods is rendered "God".

Returning to Graeber: A spurious characterization of Plato's predicament and relation to debt is an "translation" error of greater magnitude. Read Plato, Letter Seven, wherein the proto-pauline [ANACHRONISM ALERT?!] issues with excruciating omissions how he did not temporarily become a slave, or prisoner of war (according to diogenene legend). Some familiarity with historical antipathy among Athens, Corinth, Syracuse, and Sparta is needed to appreciate Plato's boasting.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 10:53:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regime change is tricky!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 10:58:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And it appears that only the editors of the online OED translate the prefix ana- as "backwards". How novel.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 11:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
or What crime was Sean Fitzpatrick charged?

In short, defrauding shareholders (owners) and bondholders (creditors) of Anglo Irish Bank wherever on earth they may reside, in particular, and ultimately NAMA, representing the citizens of Ireland, which guaranteed €29B value of those securities outstanding including Mr Fitzpatrick's personal debts.

The 68-year-old of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow had pleaded not guilty to more than two dozen offences under company law including making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and furnishing false information between 2002 to 2007.

To what matter of law ("finding of") did the judge refer upon dismissing the prosecution of Mr Fitzpatrick before trial arguments closed for deliberation by jurors?

In short, prosecutors were unable to produce material evidence of Mr Fitzpatricks's guilt.

"I've made a decision in a matter of law that the prosecution has not established a sufficient case to go to the jury."
The judge said: "The thrust of what I've decided is that there was an investigation of the charges against Mr FitzPatrick which fell short of that which an accused person is entitled to."
He added: "There are shortcomings in the evidence ["finding of facts"] in relation to each of the charges which meant that there was an insufficient case."

The first case collapsed in 2015 after it was disclosed that documents held by the ODCE had been shredded by one of its officials.

Mr FitzPatrick was previously found not guilty by a jury after being charged over multi-million loans that Anglo gave to major clients, known as the Maple 10, to buy shares in the bank as its stock market price collapsed.

Sean FitzPatrick told he is a free man as Anglo Irish Bank trial collapses

Readers therefore ought conclude: earned income of all parties involved is wholly responsible for this outcome of procedural litigation and discovery over  according to the laws of the republic. The constitution must be emended to limit remuneration of court officers in order to facilitate speedy discovery of criminal conduct.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Jul 8th, 2017 at 03:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too long or too long and complicated? You be the judge.
Tolkien's Estate Settles $80 Million Lawsuit Against Warner Bros.
Bonnie Eskenazi, an attorney for the Tolkien estate, wrote in an email, "The parties are pleased that they amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 01:36:20 AM EST

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