Ne’er-do-wells are a common feature of rural society and have long existed. Before the establishment of new political authority in 1949, constraints on ne’er-do-wells came mainly from endogenous customs and leaders of the ruralities. After 1949, with unprecedented penetration of state authority into the countryside, those endogenous control mechanisms underwent profound changes. In Village A in Shanxi during the collective era, brigade and commune organizations representing the authority of the state served as important checks on unruly behavior by village ne’er-do-wells. Since the coming of the Reform period, traditional checks no longer exist while the authority of the collective state has dissipated. The new village self-rule entities have not enough authority, while the township governments operate under “reversed accountability” (to those above and not those below), leading to “passive inaction” toward the ne’er-do-wells. The result is a nakedly exposed social order, while ne’er-do-wells, ruffians and rogues thrive.