Threat becomes chaos when social and ethical norms are abandoned.
That simple equation applies particularly to business, especially as business decisions can have a huge impact on the lives of those who rely on how they discharge their obligations, how they choose to treat others less powerful than themselves.
In the case of JD Wetherspoon — 900 bars and 43,000 employees — that truth rings all too loudly.
Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin, the chain has said it will not pay its British or Irish suppliers until pubs reopen after the pandemic.
Should every business adopt this devil-take-the-hindmost policy then threat would indeed become chaos. The economic legacy of the pandemic would be far more challenging than it need be.
Martin, a proud and very generous supporter of Brexit, knows this but his behaviour suggests a toxic indifference.
Other businesses, hopefully not too many, may adopt a similar position.
As Martin predicts, the pandemic will pass but the sour taste his contempt provokes will linger.
Lest we forget, as he might say.