I’ve written earlier than about discovering the concepts of economics in works of fiction. I’ve additionally described how I discover F. A. Hayek’s distinction between legislation and laws to be a key perception in understanding how the world works. On this system, laws is the written, articulated, intentionally constructed rule guide, whereas legislation is the unwritten, developed, unarticulated (however not inarticulate!), tacitly understood guidelines which information conduct.
So are there any examples of this distinction to be present in fiction? Delightfully, sure. Leo Tolstoy wrote about it effectively in his novel Struggle and Peace. He describes a scene the place a younger lieutenant, Boris, is coming to talk to Prince Andrei, who’s the son of a well-known basic and serving as a captain within the military. Tolstoy writes:
When he entered, Prince Andrei, his eyes drooping contemptuously (with that peculiar expression of well mannered wariness which plainly says ‘if it weren’t my obligation I’d not discuss to you for a second’), was listening to an outdated Russian basic with decorations, who stood very erect, virtually on tiptop, with a soldier’s obsequious expression on his purple face, reporting one thing.
“Very effectively, then, be so good as to attend,” mentioned Prince Andrei to the overall in Russian, talking with the French intonation he affected when he wished to talk contemptuously, and noting Boris, Prince Andrei, paying no extra heed to the overall who ran after him imploring him to listen to one thing extra, nodded and turned to him with a cheerful smile.
At that second Boris clearly realized what he had earlier than surmised, that within the military, moreover the subordination and the self-discipline prescribed within the navy code, which he and the others knew within the regiment, there was one other, extra necessary system, which made this tight-laced, purple-faced basic wait respectfully whereas Captain Prince Andrei for his personal pleasure selected to talk with Lieutenant Drubetskoy. Greater than ever Boris resolved to serve sooner or later not in line with the written code, however underneath this unwritten legislation. He felt now that merely by having been advisable to Prince Andrei he had already risen above the overall who on the entrance had the facility to annihilate him, a mere lieutenant of the Guards.
Right here, in discovering the existence of this “different, extra necessary system,” Boris was discovering how the unwritten legislation of the navy was completely different from the written laws present in official guidelines and laws. The legislation wasn’t one thing that could possibly be regarded up in a guide, and it wasn’t ever explicitly described and even absolutely understood by everybody. And the legislation had a flexibility and evolving character to it which the official laws lacked. Boris realized that one of the simplest ways ahead for him was to behave in accordance with the unwritten legislation, somewhat than the written laws.
Having spent practically a decade within the Marine Corps, this undoubtedly displays my expertise. As you achieve expertise within the navy, you begin to acknowledge the distinction between what the laws say, and the way issues are literally completed. A typical supply of amusement was laughing on the expense of “boots” (a moniker often signifying somebody contemporary out of boot camp with no actual expertise) who nonetheless do every little thing “by the numbers” – that’s, who do every little thing in line with the official guidelines and laws.
If you come out of boot camp, you’ve had these guidelines and laws drilled into your head, and it’s most likely not an exaggeration to say no one is aware of the official guidelines higher or extra completely than somebody freshly graduated from boot camp. And that is additionally why boots have been considered as being comically ignorant – as a result of all they knew have been the written guidelines, which in actuality meant they knew nothing. To very badly paraphrase John Stuart Mill, he who is aware of solely the official guidelines of a system is aware of little of that.
After all, this isn’t distinctive to the navy. In each job I’ve had since then, there have all the time been unwritten guidelines permeating the background. Studying and understanding these guidelines have all the time proved essential to being profitable. Chances are high you, pricey reader, have additionally observed one thing related in your experiences as effectively. In that case, do share some examples within the feedback – it’s all the time fascinating to have the ability to see what’s behind the veil.