Yesterday I’ve seen a ‘Le Deuxieme Souffle’ movie. It was about a criminal who had escaped from a prison and returned to the previous life. He was depicted as a man with strong sense of honor, friendship and rules of the underworld. And after watching the movie I think I’ve finally got the idea why it’s so important for those people to have such rules. They are emphasized in almost every film about criminals!

Normal people are controlled by governments. There are armies of bureaucrats that formalize people’ relations and define punishments for violations. The result is less conflicts between citizens – since most of interactions are formalized they are predictable and perceived as fair. In criminal society there are no bureaucrats – you do what you want – just don’t get caught. This means no guarantees, no stability in relations and as a result more primitive life style. The only way to stand out in the absence of government or other ruling party is to build a personal reputation. And the only way to build such a reputation is to live by rules, rules of the underworld in their case. To this extent such criminals resemble medieval knights: laws were weak so a good reputation complemented and sometimes substituted the law. And maybe that’s what makes such movies interesting – we see strong characters that make their rules by living by them, not merely obeying rules enforced by others.

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