Economist.com | Pirates Piracy was as much about liberty as plunder. Isolated from the forces of law and order on their floating worlds, pirates created a new, more egalitarian society. Communal harmony was upheld by statutes: all booty to be carefully parcelled out, with the captain receiving no more than twice the ordinary share; all officers to be elected by acclaim; all members of crew to �stand by� one another in danger. There were rules for captives, too. Captains with reputations for brutality, or even those from cities that had recently executed pirates, were routinely killed, while others were cautioned and set free.