Official Seal of the Republic of Bookland The Way We Do Things in Bookland

Social Norms Instead of Laws

For most of the history of human social organization, behavior has been regulated by more or less official sets of norms. Violators would be dealt with at the whim of a monarch or his agents, frequently in an arbitrary manner.

Sharing of power with legislatures begat the rule of law. We Booklanders hold the rule of law as the highest principle of government.

At the same time, we believe that systems of laws in many countries are so comprehensive that they deliver the message that one can and should do whatever is legal. Legal technicalities are invoked to justify what should be considered avarice. Rampant fraud, corruption of public discourse through the exercise of self-serving "public relations," and prurience are the result in many "developed" countries.

In an optimocracysuch as Bookland, the commissions are responsible for both laws and official social norms. The difference between a law and a social norm is that the latter prescribes no punishment for violation but rather puts forth a standard of behavior that should be observed by residents and visitors. The only sanction against violation of a social norm is social pressure. And it works.

Social norms replace most laws, but not all. Click here for an overview of our Constitution and Statutes.

A Sampling of Official Norms

1. Avoidance of Waste

The climate controlled portion of residences in Bookland may subsume an area as follows:

Basic dwelling for one adult occupant:                75 square meters
Second adult occupant, additional                      50 square meters
Each additonal adult occupant                           35 square meters
Each child                                                       22 square meters

Families with disabled members or other exceptional requirements may require more space. There are no specific guidelines and certainly no forms to be filled, fees to be paid and permits to be issued. If your neighbor is violating the letter and spirit of the standard you are entitled - and expected - to say something about it. That is the beginning and end of the sanctions.

This of course means no bureaucrats reviewing permit applications. For that matter we have a rule in Bookland: jobs that can be done by software shold be done by software; it is demeaning and dehumanizing to have humans doing such jobs. This has reduced government office space to a total of 50 square meters.

To avoid the economic problems experienced by other nations [link to WSJ story about over-leverage, the thrift disaster, etc.], Bookland requires all students to pass courses, economics.

Bookland Economic Education Curriculum

Our Values

1. Marriage

Click here to see whether you're married to a Booklander.

In Bookland we try to keep the drunken driver and his ilk from having their way:

'The Drunken Driver Has the Right Of Way'

by Ethan Coen

The loudest have the final say,
The wanton win, the rash hold sway,
The realist's rules of order say
The drunken driver has the right of way.

The Kubla Khan can butt in line;
The biggest brute can take what's mine;
When heavyweights break wind, that's fine;
No matter what a judge might say,
The drunken driver has the right of way.

The guiltiest feel free of guilt;
Who care not, bloom; who worry, wilt;
Plans better laid are rarely built
For forethought seldom wins the day;
The drunken driver has the right of way.

The most attentive and unfailing
Carefulness is unavailing
Wheresoever fools are flailing;
Wisdom there is held at bay;,
The drunken driver has the right of way.

De jure is de facto's slave;
The most foolhardy beat the brave;
Brass routs restraint; low lies high's grave;
When conscience leads you, it's astray;
The drunken driver has the right of way.

It's only the naivest who'll
Deny this, that the reckless rule;
When facing an oncoming fool
The practiced and sagacious say
Watch out — one side — look sharp — gang way.

However much you plan and pray,
Alas, alack, tant pis, oy vey,
Now — heretofore — til Judgment Day,
The drunken driver has the right of way.

Excerpted from The Drunken Driver Has The Right Of Way by Ethan Coen.

Copyright 2001, 2009 by Ethan Coen. Reproduced by permission of Random House / Three Rivers Press.

About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | 2006 Republic of Bookland