# What percentage of people can break laws as they desire before society resides into Chaos?

My question is based on the thought process that if a single individual breaks traffic law, for example jumping the red light, it may not cause much harm or accident, but If everyone does it, things get chaotic. So what percentage of people can break a law before the soceity becomes Chaotic?

• Is this chaotic: 100% of population come out to do backflip in order to set Guinness record or just Kim Jong-un standing in the middle of a road in Washington DC? – user6760 Nov 13 '15 at 12:02

You seem to assume that all laws have the same effect on society. Consider how different these three cases are:

1. Making copies of music files is illegal, but how many people have done so, and how many times per person, all across the world? Has the world descended into mayhem and madness?
2. Consider the national conventions on the use of nuclear weapons. If just a handful of people detonate a nuclear explosive, the area surrounding the blast would be thrown into physical chaos (briefly) and a little further away, less physically chaotic but socially disordered. Of course, this act of aggression can also lead to conflict that spirals out of control. In this case, one broken law, committed by one person or a handful of people, technically throws the world into chaos.
3. Consider how, in Islam, the consumption of pork is bad and punishable. However, even assuming that all Muslims ate pork, they would find themselves at a loss should they try to enforce the punishment they believe to be just for that violation.

You can't just ask what percentage of society can break laws without causing a collapse of the system without considering the gravities of the different laws. Additionally, the effects of those laws and their violations are not always apparent, either in the immediate geographical area or in the immediately subsequent time periods. At most, you can ask what percentage of society can break one law without causing chaos in the immediate area.

One point that you may have spotted in my examples is how enforcement is a critical element of whether the breakage of law causes the lapse into chaos as you imagine. If the act of enforcement causes society to break (imagine imprisoning all music, movie, and game pirates, including downloaders, as certain Big Media parties want), then it leaves society at large wondering whether it is worth it.

• True, while all laws are meant to preserve order and avoid chaos, laws are fairly specific and breaking them will only break the particular order the particular law was meant to preserve. Copyright is a good example of a specific order. It was designed to prevent established printers from business failure caused by rapidly increased competition. While the given rationale has changed to protecting the rights of creators the laws really haven't and the maximum effect is still capped to business disruption of the industry by exposing established players to rapidly increased competition. – Ville Niemi Nov 13 '15 at 10:33

If you're looking at a mathematical relationship, you could almost use the consequences of crimes at the moment to compute a value:

$$P \propto \frac{1}{\text{length of jail term}}$$ $$P = \frac{k}{\text{length of jail term}}$$

That is, the number of people who can commit a crime before society descends into chaos is inversely proportional to the length of the jail term imposed as a result of committing the crime today (or equivalent jail term, if the punishment is of a different nature).

The actual value of $k$ depends on a number of things, including how close you want to be to chaos at $P$.

• The severity of the judicial system as very little impact on the criminality. – Vincent Nov 13 '15 at 14:57

In many areas there are archaic laws which are still technically valid even if not enforced. In England for example until 1960 there was a law requiring men between 17 and 60 to keep a long bow and practice their archery regularly, but it had been ignored for centuries.

If everyone ignores a specific law that is not causing a break down in society, rather a breakdown in that particular law. Trying to enforce laws that are viewed so dimly that most people ignore them is likely to bring laws in general into disrepute, and possibly that might bring about some break down in society.

@LiveMynd already hinted at one aspect, which is the question which law is broken or ignored.

Another important factor is the way society looks at the respective law: While society in general may only frown mildly at someone who ignores a red light as a pedestrian, things are already different for motorized traffic. This, too, stems from the potential impact of breaking this law.

Other laws and regulations are more of a cultural setup: In most parts of Europe, drinking alcohol in public is perfectly fine, but it will be frowned upon in the mornings. Some regions will frown upon a glass of beer or wine over lunch, in others this is perfectly normal.
In some Islamic countries, drinking alcohol is completely prohibited, in others you are supposed to keep it private, and others again have a liberal view of the topic.

So, for some rules, breaking them will be frowned upon, for others, or other regions, there will be punishment, in times severe.
Yet, if for example the laws about drinking alcohol are eroded, the result is not chaos but a different order. In this case, a society that drinks more, but still respects the new rules.

Or, as a summary: Your basic premise is too general: There is nothing near a fixed number, and even if 100% of the population break some rules, there will still not be chaos, while other rules will lead to chaos and anarchy after a small percentage of the population decides to break them.