Rules and Ruloids: An (Incomplete) Bestiary

Rules come in many styles and flavors, they hide in many linings and disguises, behind various masks and makeups. Often, they wear the latest fashion. Sometimes, they just wear the emperor’s new clothes. And still, they keep being the same old limiting rules that we would like to identify, analyze and – if we deem it best – get rid off. Here are some of them:

Routines: These are the rules no aggrieved party ever agreed on, and that still make our days – as it turns out, generally not to the best avail.

“The System”: The biggest rule of all – and still so elusive. She’s easy to blame because she can’t defend herself; yet it’s not very helpful to chase her, because she’s harder to catch than the Himalayan Yeti.

Systems: Not to be confused with their megalomaniac great grandmother, these bad boys are often well-groomed, despite their excessive use of pomade. They can be helpful, but they are also quite unsympathetic, because they force us to cut ourselves into pieces only to fit their mold.

To Do Lists: These are the Chihuahua equivalent of rules. They bark, they yelp, they yap around – and if they can, they bite our calves. Thankfully, they are easy to get rid off, because even if we don’t manage to get all the things on them done, we can still tick them off when nobody is watching.

Dependencies: These rules are often friendly, as they allow us to drink coffee without growing, roasting, or even preparing it. They provide us with plenty of comfort and car repairs and ice-cream and entertainment. That often makes us forget their sucky side we get to experience when we don’t know how to change that tire on the emergency lane during an autumn cloudburst.

Sovereignty: She’s the beauty queen that never seems to get older, and everybody is dying to date her. Unfortunately, most people don’t even get her to answer their phone calls, because she’s way too smart and too self-determined to please everybody.

Careerism: Together with his brother Consumerism, this girl is part of our DNA nowadays. She’s always well-dressed and impressively annoying, because all she can think about is how to please her bosses and brush up her CV.

Consumerism: This rule drives fast cars and always brags with the latest gadgets, spending the money of his sister. Together with her, he’s said to be a direct descendant of “The System,” but apparently, nobody ever lives long enough to give a more detailed testimony.

“What-Will-The-Neighbors-Think”: The trickiest rule of all, this guy is always good for a joke at our cost, killing every even remotely interesting or unconventional idea that comes to our mind. Even though he appears to be witty, I’d recommend to stay away from him, because he smells just as funny as he looks.

Of course, this list remains incomplete, and I would love you to continue it. Maybe, during the course of your life, you have met some other family members and friends from the Rule Clan. Just think about Regulation, Directive, Order, Act, Law, Statute, Edict, Canon, Mandate, Command, Dictate, Decree, Fiat, Injunction, Commandment, Stipulation, Requirement, Guideline, Direction, Formal Ordinance, Procedure, Practice, Protocol, Convention, Norm, Custom, Habit, Precept, Principle, Standard, Axiom, Control, Jurisdiction, Power, Dominion, Government, Administration, Leadership, Supremacy, Authority, and Co.!

This is an extract from my upcoming book, Beyond Rules. We will look at some of these rules more in detail in the following chapters. If you’re interested, feel free to come back in a couple of days: Beyond Rules will be published for free here on The Friendly Anarchist on Tuesday, March 15th. Subscribe to the RSS feed to not miss any updates!

Image CC-BY-SA from the Wikimedia Commons! Thanks!


  1. That was so excellent.

    Knowing that this is just a small part of “Beyond Rules” makes me very anxious for March 15th.

    Love it!

  2. Looking forward to the book coming out Fabian.

    One to add to your list of ‘rules’ is the “I should’s” – I don’t know where these come from – morals, childhood, society – but wherever it is these are the ones that make us feel guilty and bad if we don’t do something we (often mistakenly) think we should.


    1. Steve, I only get to review my comments today, but I totally agree with the inclusion of “shoulds” into the row! :)

  3. I’m not sure why you lump Sovereignty in here with the rules and ruloids. My strong reaction to it is probably a good indicator that you are on to something… Thinking…

    Also looking forward to next week.

    1. Miss P, I am an advocate of personal sovereignty, even though I’m a bit critical of nation-state sovereignty. Hope it makes sense in the context of the book! :)

  4. Now I´m really looking forward to reading the new book! and releasing it free is genius my friend. have a good one.

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