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If I ruled the world

Alain de Botton

Modern societies have evolved highly-detailed collective ideas about what a proper wedding is supposed to be like, right down to the specialised floral arrangements, seat covers, presents for bridesmaids and the correct order of the speeches. They are nonsense and do nothing to fulfil the true mission of a wedding: to contribute to the success of a marriage.


For a start, we need new vows. Vows are promises we make on behalf of people who don’t yet exist about circumstances that we can’t yet fully imagine. Still, they serve an important function in at least attempting to guide our responses to the tensions of the future. The problem with current vows is their optimism, which should be radically tempered so as to avoid rage and resentment. Vows should accurately anticipate what will make us want to get divorced—and confirm to us that our subsequent sadness will not be an unusual or personal curse. Here is a selection of vows that would be made by a couple in my utopia:

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In Prospect’s July issue: In her final issue as Editor Bronwen Maddox explores the legacy of former Prime Minister Tony Blair having spoken with him at a Prospect event on 24th May. She examines his domestic policy, the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and what the future holds for the Labour Party. The Chancellor George Osborne lays down his view on why the public should to “Remain” in the EU, and Ian Hargreaves takes a close look at what is happening at the BBC. Also in this issue: Former Conservative leader David Davis suggests he can see a very narrow set of circumstances that might push him towards running for the party leadership again, William Skidelsky writes about why tennis is the best sport and Vanora Bennett looks at Svetlana Alexievich’s extraordinary work recording Russia’s lost voices.

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