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We’re living in a pornstar’s world Lockdown is creating an unjust, atomised and deeply inhuman society

Aella's law is leading to the shattering of life in common. Credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

Aella's law is leading to the shattering of life in common. Credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty


March 25, 2021   6 mins

The hawthorns were pale green when the first lockdown started, and we all clapped for carers. The grass was lush and everywhere full of flowers while the Westminster court press argued about Dominic Cummings driving to Barnard Castle, and cities around the world went up in flames in the BLM riots. The hedgerows were thick with fruit when the reign of Donald Trump came to an end (as did that of Dominic Cummings). The mud was ankle-deep, churned by hoofprints and frozen solid when Boris rammed the Brexit deal through at the eleventh hour, and not long afterwards a horned Nazi shaman invaded the US Capitol.

Lockdown days have a way of blurring into one another, but my year has been marked out by the changing of the hedgerows as I ran along endless miles of footpaths.

Reflecting on that year of Covid is like trying to grasp the layout of someone’s house by peering through the keyhole. It’s difficult to get any sense of perspective when we’re all confined to our homes, with only algorithmically-filtered online newsfeeds to supply information about the outside world. The temptation is to allow every perspective to fall away, save the most personal “I” and the most general “public conversation”.

It would be easy enough to write a review of the year from the “I” perspective: all hedgerows and emotion. It would be as easy to write a breezy roundup of the year’s public conversations, which have been loud (to say the least) and increasingly surreal. But there’s another story of the pandemic’s impact as well, that’s far harder to see in either of these frameworks. This has been the deliberate shattering, in the name of virus control, of what was left of our common life – and the asymmetrical impact this has had.

Between “I” as an individual, and “we” at the largest scale of national or international politics, lies most of human society: clubs, church groups, voluntary associations, the whole organic life of communities great and small. All of this relies on peer-to-peer social connection — and it was all abruptly halted by lockdown.

When the pandemic struck, there was a rash of hopeful articles (including some of mine) about how this crisis might strengthen civil society bonds, and make us more aware of how interdependent we are as a society. This all happened, to an extent. Mutual aid organisations sprang up, often with faith communities at the forefront, seeking to plug gaps and bring help to those struggling under lockdown. There were waves of volunteers to help the NHS, deliver vaccines and pick fruit. But against that newfound voluntarism, we must weigh the impact the last year has had on countless existing institutions, social settings and relationships.

For Covid has accelerated what I think of as the disintermediation of everything. Back in the 00s, when the internet first hit the mainstream with the launch of Facebook, eBay, and their ilk, I was involved in the startup world. There was lots of excited chatter at the time about “disintermediation” — the way groups of amateurs might use the internet to route round intermediate institutions. This, the apostles of the digital revolution believed, would impel a great democratisation and empowerment of smaller players against rigid gatekeepers of all types.

That was the theory. What it meant in practice was centralisation. Instead of local newspapers, now we have one virtual “local newspaper” — Facebook — whose monopolisation of the ad revenue that once went to local papers has made Mark Zuckerberg one of the richest men in the world. Instead of high-street antique shops, we now have one “antique shop” — eBay — that has devastated high-street sellers while it made its founder a billionaire.

As we’ve plunged deeper into the digital era, a pattern has begun to emerge. Not only do digital players centralise and then replace offline ecosystems, but winners and losers on digital platforms also follow a centralising trend. This was recently captured by OnlyFans superstar Aella, who posted a graph showing how much money porn stars on that website earn:

Aella herself ranks in the top 0.8% on OnlyFans, and in her best-performing month last year made $103,000. Others on the site may make very little, despite posting lots of content. This extreme asymmetry in who benefits from a platform eviscerates everything except the very top of the curve. I think of this dynamic as Aella’s Law – and over the past year, largely thanks to Covid control measures, it has made rapid incursions into real life.

This real world rollout of Aella’s Law was first visible in bricks-and-mortar businesses. Compelled to close by pandemic policy, by June 2020 over 11,000 small and medium-sized shops had gone out of business. One report estimates that 48 businesses closed for good every day in 2020. It’s not just high street shops, either: another report estimates that by September 2020, 240,000 small and medium-sized businesses of all types went to the wall.

But that didn’t apply evenly to all businesses – it fell disproportionately on smaller ones. Online grocery retailer Ocado saw 35% growth over 2020, while Amazon (which holds the kind of leading spot in e-commerce that Aella does in porn) saw 84% growth over the year. Aella’s Law doesn’t just affect groceries either; wherever in the world there were lockdowns, over the course of 2020 small businesses struggled and died, and big ones got bigger.

The assault extends to the voluntary sector as well. As donations have wavered and high-street charity shops been forced to close, one report estimates that even charities face a wave of consolidation, with smaller, more niche bodies folding their sometimes highly specific local remits into the more general one of larger organisations.

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Aella’s Law is even being felt in our churches. The Bishop of Manchester warned in January that Covid will accelerate the closure of yet more Anglican churches, as loss of collection income due to closures meets already-dwindling congregations to render the upkeep of ancient buildings unaffordable. Reports suggest the Church of England is now proposing to increase parish sizes and cull mid-ranking clergy in order to trim costs.

At an informal level, too, there have been many losers. The 10,000 pubs, bars and restaurants that closed their doors for good in 2020 aren’t just a business; each closure represents friends not met, milestones not celebrated with family, stories not exchanged, troubles not shared over a pint.

And here, again, Aella’s Law applies: those with happy marriages, kids and good social lives have limped through the last year with social bubbles and Zoom calls. But anyone without strong social connections, or who is reliant on social institutions for everyday human contact, found even that taken from them. A quarter of UK adults have suffered loneliness and mental health issues during lockdown, and those worst affected have been young people, single parents and the unemployed — in other words, those with the weakest existing support structures.

And nowhere has the shattering of life in common bitten more sharply than for those most in need of support. The last year has been tough on all children, shut off from social contact and struggling with Zoom school. But Aella’s Law is painfully visible in the concentration of worsening child mental health down the socioeconomic scale. And it’s also at work in the impact of remote schooling: children who were already disadvantaged may not just be missing the laptop (or the space, or the quiet, or the support) to engage properly with remote schooling — worse yet, one in five have struggled to concentrate due to hunger.

Lockdown has also gnawed at quality of life for all but the best-resourced and most well-connected elderly people. A massive 80% of respondents to an Alzheimer’s Society survey reported a dramatic decline in faculties as a consequence of isolation. And there are harrowing stories of the impact isolation in a care home has had, on people with advanced dementia deprived even of visits from loving relatives.

We’ve paid steeply to control this virus. The price has not just been in government borrowing but in the tattered warp and weft of our common life. Maybe the price has been worth paying: even under lockdown, a staggering 126,000 UK citizens died within 28 days of a Covid test over the last year. But the cost has been unfathomable as well, both individually and collectively — and it has not been evenly borne.

Over the past year, I ran more than a thousand miles. I counted my blessings with every step. Compared to many I have been lucky. I kept running as the hedgerows blossomed, greened, fruited and blew bare, and the world outside came increasingly to resemble a bleak and hallucinatory shadow-show. Even if everything else has seemed insubstantial, the paths under my feet stayed put: unchanged except by the seasons coming and going.

It’s easy to conclude that it’s all unreal, and to turn away. But the point is precisely that that out there is not a shadow-show: it’s an emerging new normal. It’s just difficult to see, because everything now, from our media to government lockdown policy, seems geared toward “just me” or “everything” — but nothing in between.

Who cares about local life, now our public conversation happens online, at colossal scale, in terms set by Chinese ambassadors and Ivy League social justice evangelists and massaged by algorithms? The answer has to be: us. We care. Even as it’s grown harder to see our life in common, we need it more than ever. The alternative is a future governed purely by Aella’s Law: an unjust, atomised, deeply inhuman place.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago

Probably the best article I’ve read on Unherd. I’ll admit that Mary Harrington is one of my favorite authors here–she has something to say and she can write.
If people want to recapture communal life at the local level, they have to make an effort. They have to switch off their laptops, head out to the pub/restaurant/cafe/community center/school and engage with their neighbors. This is not new. It’s just that the internet has provided us with an alternative to meeting real people, and the pandemic has forced us to rely on that alternative.
The more I think about the lemming-like rush to repeated and widespread lockdowns over the past year (especially in developing countries where the average age is in the twenties–hence few people are at serious risk from coronavirus), the more I’m convinced that something unfathomably wicked has been done to us.
Rather than complain on sites like Unherd, I think it’s incumbent on all of us in democracies to become activists in the cause of legislation that, in future, forces governments to consider and try every reasonable option before ordering national lockdowns. What has happened in this pandemic should not be treated as the precedent that justifies similar action in the future. It must be viewed as the cautionary tale from which we must learn.
And, yes, I know I’m being naively optimistic.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I agree with every word you write here. Unfortunately, I do think you are being optimistic. Outside of Unherd, and a couple of other websites, I don’t know anyone questioning the lockdown narrative. I’ve become the lead character in the 1950s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Nothing will happen until the comfortably well-off begin to feel existential unease.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Nothing will happen until the comfortably well-off begin to feel existential unease.
I disagree with only one word: existential.
Nothing will change until the comfortably well-off, sitting in their studies engaging in internet wokery, experience physical discomfort.
Here in America, lockdowns worked (to the extent they did) because many poor people, often illegal immigrants, went to work in slaughterhouses and other food processing facilities and kept the supermarket shelves stocked. The political left, so vocally concerned about injustice, were happy to let them do so.
When the supermarket shelves are bare, and governments don’t order workers to harvest food, we’ll see how keen people are on lockdowns, and we’ll see their true commitment to social justice.

Adi Dule
Adi Dule
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

People always have been hypocrites, but nowadays they are so stupid they do not realise they are

Prana
Prana
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Brian – I too say to myself that I must have woken up into some modern version of “body snatchers”. And like you, I find coming to Unherd somewhere where my own analysis and thoughts are affirmed. I used to be very sociable & chatty, but now I keep quiet. I’m still trying to make sense of why the majority of people have not questioned the official narrative [and why the policies have taken the path they have]. I am concerned about what is coming next as I don’t think we are out of the woods from this episode yet.

Tricia Durdey
Tricia Durdey
3 years ago
Reply to  Prana

It’s so good to read this, and other comments. I have felt very alone with my views, in small world where

Tricia Durdey
Tricia Durdey
3 years ago
Reply to  Tricia Durdey

I feel silenced, rather than argue and face the hostility.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Try lockdownsceptics.org To y Young has kept me sane this past year

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

AIER.com is very focused on refuting the overall Covid narrative. They were part of the Great Barrington Declaration. Free subscription. Worth the time.

Jim McNeillie
Jim McNeillie
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell

I believe you meant AIER.org.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell

The arguments I’ve had about the GBD still anger my sensibilities. Government took the easy thoughtless way to implement the lockdowns and a public cowed by fear allowed them. The current effort to vaccinate children with experimental vaccines defies logic but we ask for even more security.

George Carty
George Carty
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell

Indeed the reason it’s called the “Great Barrington Declaration” is because AIER is headquartered in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Too true. Realised this was all so like ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ as soon Sweden was scorned. Our masters have become and seem to delight in being Donald Southerland’s iconic finale SCREAM!

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“They have to switch off their laptops, head out to the pub/restaurant/cafe/community center/school and engage with their neighbors.”
I did – There was nobody there.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“Rather than complain on sites like Unherd, I think it’s incumbent on all of us in democracies to become activists”

In the last year, I have done everything I’m supposed to: worn my mask, stayed home when told, gotten my 2 shots. Having done that, I now demand a return to normal life. This will not be easy; particularly in America, our bureaucracy has enjoyed the power this pandemic has given them. Making people obey you is an endorphin rush for many people. But now our liberty will need to be clawed back. Fortunately, lockdowns and social distancing and mask wearing are all amenable to simple civil obedience.

At this point, I am not wearing a mask in a store unless pushed at least twice by store staff. And I’m keeping track of which stores push me and which don’t, data which will be a strong factor in where I shop in 2-3 weeks. That is how this must begin, but it will eventually need to be fairly widespread to work. So this is my suggestion:once you’ve had your shots, refuse to obey anymore. Demand a return to normalcy; and don’t do business, vote for, or otherwise or support anyone who insists normalcy is impossible.

The only way to get our liberty back is to make those who want to continue to deny it feel economic pain. If every Costco customer showed up tomorrow without masks, Costco would tacitly end it’s mask policy within hours. That’s what it will take to get our lives back.

Last edited 3 years ago by Brian Villanueva
Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago

In the last year, I have done everything I’m supposed to: worn my mask, stayed home when told, gotten my 2 shots.” – all you did was show those in power how complaint you were prepared to be. Now they know they can make you do whatever they like. Congratulations.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago

Brian, it’s too bad, isn’t it, that the very stores that would welcome us w/out masks (because they need the money) have, pretty much, all been shut down?
Now (and without going into the loss of community gathering places like churches, private schools, bars, libraries, restaurants, etc.) it’s a choice between one behemoth, Cosco, against another, say, Walmart, or Amazon. Corporations that have the political clout to demand vaccine ID before entry. And they will do that because the other unelected behemoth, Insurance, will demand it. Or else.
Freedom is such an unusual – even rare – phenomena in governance, really. Perhaps it can be regained … but it’s going to be an almighty struggle – especially w/the Harris/Biden administration having gained their perch – almost certainly nefariously.
I’d like to apologize for my bleakness, but I don’t think I can.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

Nefariously is surely correct. The fact you are not allowed to say ‘ellection fraud’ by the media oligarchs is all the proof you need.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

They got their wish they have reduced us to a modern version of feudal times. We have to keep to our own ‘patch’ while our overlords can go where they please. Most people are now reliant on the state for money ( instead of the old feudal lord ) as they aren’t allowed to work ,so must do as they are told.They have taken away most of the economically independent people and those that remain (people with private pension) are the ones most at risk of illness.Why they want a society like this I don’t know.

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago

Yesterday, I went on my weekly hike with four of my over the hill friends. I was asked repeatedly by the double masked, why I didn’t have my mask on. Ii replied that all the evidence that I trust says that it is almost impossible to infect others outdoors. On top of that, dear Dr Fauci has now concluded that we can safely social distance at 3 feet instead of six something that evidently has been known for months.
Almost all of the women have had their two shots . But that has not quelled their fear of this disease which is no wonder since it has been over a year since the MSM and the cable star Fauci have made it their sole business to scare us all to death. – Well not death exactly. Even at 80 that is exactly what we oldsters are running as fast as we can away from any mention of such a thing.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

You might be exercising your personal freedom by not wearing a mask in a shop, Brian, but you are causing concern to others.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

Almost everyone seems to want to be unconscious.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I don’t think the wickedness was “done to us”. I think we did it to ourselves. We were afraid. Fear is the most destructive, corrosive, morality destroying emotion of all.

Stuart McCullough
Stuart McCullough
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

We were made to feel afraid. Fear is one of the most potent human emotions. When it is addressed by the slick PR advisors and advertising gurus available to the government’s funding and when it is supported by the mawkish and over sentimental media such as our very own BBC, the unthinking become compliant. That should be the single biggest lesson of this whole sorry mess.

Pauline Ivison
Pauline Ivison
3 years ago

Stuart. Absolutely spot on. I’m beginning to believe that those who, unquestioningly, accept the hyperbole spewed by the media, are people who have been poorly educated or/and are too lazy to bother thinking beyond the headlines and YouGov polls. The bribes (furlough) have made it far too easy for those who are happy to avoid contributing to society whilst accepting society’s money.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

I had to stop watching the BBC ,the pounding music the delivery of the news to drum up fear , then as you say the mawkishness towards our ‘beloved’ NHS. Our television aerial snapped and I didn’t get it mended and now feel a lot calmer without the visual media.intruding.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

However the press still use language oddly so DM says ‘Briain’s daily covid deaths plunge by another third’-so why the use of word plunge which is associated with disaster?

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

‘Nothing to fear, but fear itself’ was almost tailor made for this, or the vast majority of the world at least.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

Fear based on the complete inability to understand statistics. Yep, we did it to ourselves.

andy young
andy young
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

I remember seeing Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film in the 1980’s. It’s central truth moved me immensely & I wish I’d had the guts to do what I really, really wanted to do (sic!) & drape a huge banner over the front of the house: FEAR EATS THE SOUL.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

“The man who is not afraid of death will always be you master” as Seneca may/ might have said.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

Sage advised the government on techniques to instill fear. Also they had all the errors of their panicked project fear launched when they knew they might lose the referendum to know how to do it right this time!

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

I’ve upvoted you BUT I didn’t make myself afraid. My neighbours didn’t either. Its a result of incessant hammering on our consciousness from the media telling us to be afraid – be very afriad.

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
3 years ago

I met a front of line nurse the other day and she told me to be afraid. Now why would she do that?

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Josie Bowen

Because front-line nurses can be just as ignorant as anyone else.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

Unless, of course, it’s a rational fear, in which case it might keep you alive. That’s why fear evolved and why we have the capacity for it.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It’s not just the internet. When I was a kid, my generation was encouraged to get out of the house and play. My youngest brother’s generation was much more restricted, due to the huge increase in road traffic, and the fencing off and development of areas where we’d used to hang out. Today, what with gangs and paedophiles, as well as the traffic, many parents prefer their kids being at home with the internet to facing the risks of the world outside.

Stu White
Stu White
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

I agree, except I think todays is as safe as it was when I was a kid, at least outside the inner cities

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Stu White

Maybe, but more and more of us live in urban areas. I’m very hazy on the details, but I gather in the USA social services descend on you for allowing your kids to roam around unsupervised.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

That has little to do with the actual conditions which children encounter and a great deal to do with the new Puritanism. In the ’50s you had to have a spotless kitchen; now you have to have a spotless record and spotless children, and not forget that Big Brother is watching you.

renatojohnsson
renatojohnsson
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I’m also a fan. Have you seen her interviewed by Benjamin Boyce on youtube? It just cemented my regards to Mary’s thinking and philosophy

Christiane Dauphinais
Christiane Dauphinais
3 years ago
Reply to  renatojohnsson

Thank you for the recommendation.

Lee Floyd
Lee Floyd
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Well, more than 100 people on here agree with you, so maybe not so naive

Last edited 3 years ago by Lee Floyd
Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago

Excellent article. BUT- the pandemic did not start atomisation of society. For those interested I would strongly recommend The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch who traces the rise of me above us to several forces working at tandem over the 20th century- the deliberate destruction of the family unit, the doing away of the role of fathers in the family with the state stepping in to do badly what only a family can do well, the trivialisation of any notions of honour, chivalry, shame, the dumbing down of education, the glorification of mental pathology, the need to see sexual restraint as a breach of a human right rather than a necessary bond to strengthen relationships, the trivialisation of art from a high concept to Tracey Emin’s soiled knickers…
none of this started with the pandemic. The pandemic simply revealed that when you strip society of all things communal and shared (which must include shared values) then you are left with no defence against a massive vacuum that is left that nothing else can fill.

Martin Price
Martin Price
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Thanks for the book recommendation.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Funnily enough I read The Culture of Narcissism just last year. A good book although – like all such books – too long, and it finished with a slightly bizarre tirade about economics.
All that said, Lasch seems to have been very prescient in all his books and thinking across many areas of life, society and politics.
And, as you say, the authorities have simply seized on Covid to accelerate and entrench forces and pathologies that have been in play for many years. It’s not looking good.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

I agree with you 100%, Vikram! We are now content to put numerous costly sticking plasters on the wounds created, bit by bit, by the harms done to the family, education, health, sexual relationships and our culture which you have pithily described.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Capital has pushed beyond national boundaries and prejudices, beyond deification of nature and the inherited self-sufficient satisfaction of existing needs confined within well defined bounds, and the reproduction of the traditional way of life. It is destructive of all of this, and permanently revolutionary, tearing down all obstacles that impede the development of productive forces, the expansion of needs, the diversity of production and the exploitation and exchange of natural and intellectual forces.
Karl Marx

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

I’d also like to say thank you.

I wish I could connect my local library to Unherd for purposes of buying books – I can’t afford to buy all the ones recommended 🙁

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

I agree with you but also a lot of British Western society has very shallow roots. In order to get the workers for industrialization people like my grandparents left their families in other countries and moved to where the work was. They had a large family but most of them moved away to find work ,so there is not often a large multi-generation as back-up,so the state is an inadequate replacement. I was reading about the mining village my father grew up in and it is now in a dreadful way for problems with drink and drugs-but this is because it was only created to be viable when there was work and it was prosperous.

Hector Mildew
Hector Mildew
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

And thanks for a superb post which I wholeheartedly endorse.

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

“the rise of me above us to several forces working at tandem over the 20th century- the deliberate destruction of the family unit, the doing away of the role of fathers in the family with the state stepping in to do badly what only a family can do well, the trivialisation of any notions of honour, chivalry, shame, the dumbing down of education, the glorification of mental pathology, the need to see sexual restraint as a breach of a human right rather than a necessary bond to strengthen relationships,”
Could not agree more that these things have been happening, but I don’t understand how it could be deliberate. This would involve generations of governments on a global scale, wouldn’t it?

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Josie Bowen

‘Deliberate’ might mean ‘almost everybody wants it.’ It’s not a plot, it’s a common social agreement, a compact. They want it and then they whine about it when they get it. But the family unit wasn’t always so great, either.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Such is the influence of capitalism. But I doubt if going back to the old ways is possible, much less desirable.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

a horned Nazi shaman invaded the US Capitol.
Now he’s a nazi? Based on what? He was unarmed, attacked no one, broke nothing, etc etc. Can we raise the bar to Nazi status just a bit please.
Lockdown has also gnawed at quality of life for all but the best-resourced and most well-connected elderly people. 
Foreseeable consequences. There is no way anyone could have possibly ignored the negative outcomes of endless lockdowns. When you know the result but take the action anyway, then the result looks intentional. Of course, public officials would clutch their pearls at the idea that their actions deliberately harmed people, but what other explanation is there when they stubbornly cling to an approach that has harmed millions?

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yes, the Shaman wasn‘t a Nazi, but a professional protester who appeared on Green Extinction Rebellions as well as BML.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

The intelligentia-which includes journalism-is very superficial,they accept without question their lots group-think,so orange-man bad etc. It is virtually impossible to reason with them by showing them evidence which contradicts their views.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago

Yes, and Qanon’s conspiracy of the pedo’s does exist, it’s called Jeffrey Epstein. And we are watching how the official investigation is going nowhere fast.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  robert scheetz

It’s a lot bigger than merely Epstein! Pedophilia seems to always exist at the highest levels of depravity, and thus at the highest levels of power – what else do they have, having had all else. Q should not be just laughed at, smoke and fire and all that.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes, as appears he was running a MOSSAD honey pot. Which makes his Control an higher level evil, …pimping little girls in order to potentiate the theft of Palestinian, Syrian, and Jordanian territory and become the regional power.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

If he had been a black, habitual criminal since the age of 16, he might have be in line for a $27 million pay out.
Lucky chap.
,

phty7s6vzb
phty7s6vzb
3 years ago

“Aella’s law” is better known as the Pareto distribution, first noted by Vilfredo Pareto in 1909. I would be curious to know his thoughts on having his work renamed after a porn star.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  phty7s6vzb

His principle is also known as the 80/20 law, 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes.

Aella, ‘the porn star’s law’, today looks to be a far bleaker prospect than what he came up with over a century ago sadly.

zmqam6whau
zmqam6whau
3 years ago
Reply to  phty7s6vzb

Its more of a 1|99% split, which is worse.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  zmqam6whau

What I was going to say. That chart isn’t a Pareto curve. It is to a Pareto curve what a log-normal distribution is to a bell curve.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Actually, Aella’s Law was expressed more poetically about 2,000 years ago: “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” I used to think that this was terribly unfair; now I realise that it’s the way the world works.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

That doesn’t mean it isn’t unfair. The gods are permitted to be unfair; it’s up to humans to provide fairness, if they so desire, and are willing to tangle with the gods.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Pretty simplistic and self-serving if you don’t mind me saying.

If that’s indeed the way the world ‘works’ then no-one can complain if it is taken away from them by fair means or foul can they?

‘Fair’ distribution and security of allocation has as much to with the rule law as it has to do with risk, effort and reward.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

An excellent essay and as you say the future maybe:
“an unjust, atomised, deeply inhuman place.”

Why? Because as Bertram Russell put it so appositely
“Most people would rather die than think, and most do”.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I didn’t know Russel had said that. I recently came up with something similar:
‘By the time most people understand anything they are dead’.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Who said that gem?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I did, a few weeks ago.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Splendid!
May I have your permission to ‘plunder’ it for future use?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

I don’t usually go overboard with compliments anywhere – but Mary is one of the very best writers out there at the moment.
Other Unherd writers are up there – I enjoy Tom Chiver’s well-researched missives, Douglas Murray’s skewering, Paul Embry’s frequent exposures of the faulty thinking on the left today.
But Mary’s articles are an excellent blend of moderate thought (understanding both sides), research and novel ideas.
It feels a bit daft writing something so positive – but given the rest of the compliments here I think praise is deserved. Well done Mary and UnHerd.

Bill Eaton
Bill Eaton
3 years ago

Excellent article, I agree that this is one of the best yet on Unherd. Sadly I also have to agree that you are preaching to the converted and that we are a minority. Maybe, just maybe, a growing number will come to realise what has been done to them.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill Eaton

I tell people how this will all be seen as the greatest self inflicted wound of all time and our panic response will do far more harm than the disease. They remain polite but retain their fear in a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. (Just realised the irony as Sweden is one of the few places not full of fear.)

Richard E
Richard E
3 years ago

Excellent article. Nothing more to be said, except that it was all for nothing.
Lockdowns don’t work. They delay things. The countries that locked down early just delay their first wave. Even Australia and New Zealand will find that out in the end. But they don’t reduce deaths, over not locking down. It was all pointless. Also bear in mind, it was a fairly mild virus for people who were not frail or ill already. You wasted a year of life for 67 million, and you can;t even believe the death figures anyway when you’re including everyone who dies within 28 days of a positive test, and 95% were sick already.
Maybe we should count the deaths within 28 days of getting the vaccine.
But sadly we deserve it, and everything that is coming – riots in the streets, economic problems & currency/banking/debt crisis’s caused by the shutting down of economies and ‘printing of money’, the impact on pupils of closing schools, the impact of shutting down the hospitals etc, because the public backed it.
I felt like I was one of say 5-10% who disagreed with lockdowns and I had to watch in utter bewilderment when the morons were outside on the Thursday nights clapping the closing of the NHS to all conditions bar Covid.
We will reap what we sow. We really will. There will be real geo political turmoil because of what we and the west have done. I really think the 2020’s and 30’s could very well resemble the 1920’s and 30’s. All the ingredients are there.
But I still can’t get away from the fact that the average person on the street has been an utter imbecile and moronic throughout the whole Covid 19 crisis. So I almost relish us getting our just desserts.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard E
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard E

Yes indeed, well said. The pleasure at witnessing the retribution that is come will be exquisite in the extreme, sheer nectar in fact
I only hope that I’m not sunbathing in the Elysian Fields and miss it!

Kate H. Armstrong
Kate H. Armstrong
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard E

“I felt like I was one of say 5-10% who disagreed with lockdowns and I had to watch in utter bewilderment when the morons were outside on the Thursday nights clapping the closing of the NHS to all conditions bar Covid.”
A policy which will, I fear, see enormous “retribution” .. the term used by a specialist dermatologist whom I was forced to use privately due to the total ‘lockdown’ and self-preservation of my usual GP practice.
That consultant also sees NHS patients. “The latest NHS waiting list will take 5-7 years to clear” and she added: “Only if, the legions of lazy, furloughed, administrators and certain medical staff afraid of what their job might entail (like meeting a patient), are stopped languishing at home, and are legally required to do the job for which they are being paid”!!

Vasiliki Farmaki
Vasiliki Farmaki
3 years ago

I did not buy a word from the first moment.. In the ‘50s when my parents were kids they would go to the well to bring water along with neighbors and friends helping each other in the heat and cold. Their transport were a pair of cows or donkeys. Big intergenerational teams were cultivating the fields with their hands and axes, chatting and having lunch together sharing bread. In the evenings they gathered in houses for cooking, embroidery/knitting, laughing, chanting and storytelling: nature and animals, love and death, marriage, birth and harvest. They were the authors and owners. They were smelling the earth, the sweat, the breeze, the herbs, the sea, wood and food.. I am crying of the innocence and the beauty of it!.. then
 electricity, machinery, telephones, water pipes and TV claimed that we can do all by ourselves.. we do not need each other but instead
 call the professional to fix it.. Easiness and speed, this is how they caught us in chains, this is how they are making us dull, weak and cowards… and misleading words such as progress. If you have headache take a pill with poison instead of laughter with friends..! Then they took from us the animals because they are smelly, dirty, and very hard work
although we have been doing exactly that for eons .. Hold on a moment!.. don’t you see what they are doing?.. they are taking from us everything. Land and food, animals, know-how, innovative ideas, art & culture.. because this is creation and freedom. They took our souls..and they put us in schools and universities to educate us??.. It is time to think seriously of how much we have lost.. My grandfathers did all by themselves, teaching each other within family and community.. I am so sorry of the countless skills and talents are lost.. Community was not meant for fun only.. It was there to support and cry together in every bad moment. Is it not corona that opportunity to claim back authorship and ownership of all.. because it all belongs to us.. not to corporations, banks, political parties and their fake institutions, IMF.. not to facebook.. not the UN.. We are the ambassadors, the agents, we are the creative force, we are a powerful net, connecting to each other with thinking, feelings and actions.. Internet is a cheap imitation, stealing our thoughts, know-how, skills, talents, techniques, DNA, voices, anatomy etc.. they are giving our Wisdom to AI.. and this how they are already telling us that we are inferior.. I know, you disagree but corona is being controlled, is like a biological weapon.. they release it when they think is the right time, as much they need to make their numbers.. and immobilize/ hypnotize us while watching their Magic on flat screens. They are not controlling any virus but Us.. Corona makes me See the evil dishonest thoughts of politicians, the weakness of confused parents to protecting their children from the teachers and school –unfortunately-, the absence of innovation in business, the sins of the church/priests, the limits of science and technology that cannot accept and turn into superstition, doctors wishing everyone to be sick, and too many weak individuals.. because we have no control on anything.. I read on the WHO website: 2 million+ +Reported deaths.. In other words, nobody has confirmed those deaths are from corona.. they need to make autopsy. Corona brings catharsis.. take back your life, they will never give it to you regardless of dozens of shots
vaccine is only the chain.

Last edited 3 years ago by Vasiliki Farmaki
Bertie B
Bertie B
3 years ago

Is this not a continuation of what has been going on for hundereds of years. Ok the lockdown has accelerated the most recent society changes, but pubs were closing beforehand, the highstreet has been in decline for decades with small businesses going to the wall or merging.
A general amalgamation of facilites really accelerated in the 60s and 70s with supermarkets usurping local shops, before that it was the deparment stores of the 1920s and 30s.
Change happens, when it does lots of people will see that change as the goose thats going to lay them a goldern egg – but for most it wont. There are always those who see things more clearly then others, act faster, are more nimble.
Index (the catalouge shop) was a major player in the UK highstreet while Amazon was selling a few books out of a garage. The deparment stores of the early 2000’s clothed the entire nation while BooHoo and ASOS were unherd [sic] of.
Change happens, when it does there are winners and losers but the important thing is that history shows us that the winners of tomorrow have a chance (at least a small one) of coming from the losers of the present.

Last edited 3 years ago by Bertie B
Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

I liked your comment about change. Change being the only constant in the universe & all that. I try to live by that philosophy myself and accept that change is here to stay. That does not mean succumbing to every new fad that comes along (resisting being vaccinated atm) but accepting that there are many who do not agree with my point of view & understanding their perspective too.
However the realty is that the minority will be swept up along that with change that the majority bring about whether we like it or not.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

I was about to make much the same point. How much has the pandemic caused these changes, and how much has it merely accelerated them?

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
3 years ago

On this site, Mary, you are preaching to the converted.
Countrywide no one cares. The reality is that all our raving and ranting about the current state of the world falls deaf on the government (who is saying it is actually listening to public opinion) . So the let’s face it, majority probably do not have the same views as us.
Even in the parliament a couple of dozen might object to extend the Covid laws but the majority of the conservatives will STILL side with the government, not to mention all other parties.
All the events you did not think possible, happened and we watched in disbelief!
The only saving from this would be when the nation TRULY unites to show dissent country-wide. Do you REALLY think that we can fight this?

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago

Governments have created a pyramid of power for Covid and those in it never want it taken down.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lindsay Gatward
Cynthia Neville
Cynthia Neville
3 years ago

I echo J Bryant here. Powerfully written, trenchantly au point. Your work is a pleasure to read.

Friedrich Tellberg
Friedrich Tellberg
3 years ago

Thank you for putting these thoughts into words. This helps me to understand. After pulling down most existing social structures, you get centralisation and a reinforcement of the most powerful. The real long term risk of a pandemic and extended lockdowns.

Edward Hamer
Edward Hamer
3 years ago

Excellent article.
The best analogy I’ve been able to find for our current mess is that the lockdowns, social distancing etc. are like chemotherapy: deliberately giving the patient poison in the belief that the patient will survive but the cancer won’t. The patient suffers harm (sometimes lasting harm) from the treatment, but survives.
The trouble is that our society was never going to “die” from Covid. It’s nasty but it has never been an existential threat, so just as chemotherapy would not be an ethical treatment for a non-fatal illness, abandoning all our norms and suppressing the life of our society for an extended period was not an ethical response to this disease.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Lockdown has also gnawed at quality of life for all but the best-resourced and most well-connected elderly people. 
Foreseeable consequences. There is no way anyone could have possibly ignored the negative outcomes of endless lockdowns. When you know the result but take the action anyway, then the result looks intentional. Of course, public officials would clutch their pearls at the idea that their actions deliberately harmed people, but what other explanation is there when they stubbornly cling to an approach that has harmed millions?

vkk6tthb4n
vkk6tthb4n
3 years ago

Well said Mary. The thinking population should take heed and begin to act in the human individual scale. Not in the utilised cog mechanic we have become.

Ceelly Hay
Ceelly Hay
3 years ago

After the 1st British lockdown ended, I remember an interview with a British epidemiologist who commented – ” Covid would have been eliminated with only a few more weeks of lockdown”. But maintaining no Covid cases needs controls on international travel and trade – this would hurt big business. Big business is doing so well because their interest seems to be considered more important than local communities’.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ceelly Hay
DenialARiverIn Islington
DenialARiverIn Islington
3 years ago
Reply to  Ceelly Hay

Except that we know now full well that this view was simply not true unless you decided to stop all travel to anywhere, ever. You may wish to think this but in the modern world that view makes absolutely no sense at all.

Ceelly Hay
Ceelly Hay
3 years ago

The consequences of unrestricted international travel are the never-ending lockdowns deemed necessary to control COVID when there is no vaccine, which cripples the local community ( and business).

Graham Wilkinson
Graham Wilkinson
3 years ago

Interesting article. However, the Anglican Church is worth $9 billion and is the 5th richest church in the world. https://eafeed.com/richest-churches-in-the-world-net-worth-2020-2021/. With assets like that one would suspect they could, with good financial management, ride out the current storm without closing churches and culling staff.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

An infinitesimal amount of that $9 billion, should be used to complete the central tower of the otherwise almost incomparable medieval wonder, otherwise known as Beverley Minster.

Situated a little to the north of Kingston upon Hull it is was one of outstanding Churches of Medieval England and still remains unfinished after nearly five centuries of Anglican ownership……a national scandal if ever there was one.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago

When the Anglican Church decided to get rid of daily Evensong because the timing coincided w/the wildly popular series, “Upstairs, Downstairs” it made a Big Mistake. They (along w/every other Christine denomination), then and now, appear committed more to pandering and people pleasing than to saving souls.
I say this not to bash institutionalized religion, which I love, but this closing and culling seems more of the same sort of business model practiced by corporatists than by clergy. It’s awfully sad.

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
3 years ago

Mary, in lockdown you have done what my entire car dominated community has done: rediscovered the seasons and nature, its own neighbourhood. And its inhabitants. I hope that does stay on. Note the word ‘hope’. Our village hall committee met on Google this morning with the express intention of keeping our Hall in good condition ready for it to be used again. We live in hope. Meantime our John Lewis is going to close so our regional community is busy petitioning and making a case for it to stay open. I hope they succeed. Many groups and societies use Zoom etc in the hope that by staying active, they will be able to meet in a hall again. There is an awful lot of pessimism in the posts today. Stay hopeful and when the time comes, and it will, put your hopes into action. It is up to us. Mary’s perceptive article should remind us of what we can and should do.

David M Pelly
David M Pelly
3 years ago

All the effects and casualties of covid and lockdown (the plandemic), you and everyone else complain about, are exactly what the sociopathic planners want. It is deliberate, it is by design. The people who have been doing their home work, know well who the planners and puppet masters and parrot masters are. And know that every word that is heard on MSM and parroted by governments and health officials are lies.
But it appears that you, Mary Harrington, have not done your homework and have been well duped by the planners.

Last edited 3 years ago by David M Pelly
George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago

Was this not touted quite a while back – like ten or more years ago – as the winner takes all concept?
So much more than in the past, the top players or maybe even just player gets almost all that is going, the rest scramble for a share.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

This is going to sound very odd. Within a short few decades, algorithmic technologies have transported humanity into a ‘hall of mirrors’, and are showing us myriads of reflections of ourselves, some distorted, some from angles and viewpoints we never guessed even existed. But all of them forcing us to confront truths about our nature that were unknown, or if guessed at, swept under the carpet. It’s disconcerting for multiple reasons. This is the first time in human history we are all, simultaneously, forced to acknowledge that all our past perceptions of ourselves were just plain wrong, at pretty much all levels – because the proof of that is demonstrable. Not comfortable. It steals our past by marking it a sham, and forces us to confront a future potentially without the prospect of being able to superimpose meaning. One perfectly legitimate reaction is to reject all that, because we cannot, after all exist in a state of intellectual nihilism that is self-terminating. I would class that reaction as an attitude that, in line with that old quip about nationhood, says: “My reality, right or wrong”. It rather defensively says, “I’m happy with this version of reality, what’s your problem?”. And the answer of course is: nothing. Anyone can as legitimately say that of any version reality that fits their temperament. But once you have seen the mechanics an an illusion, there is no way of unseeing it. You know, deep down, if you nevertheless actively fly into the comfort zone of the illusion, you are embracing that illusion despite yourself. It legitimises any means of embracing any illusion – drink, drugs, VR, Twitter, QAnon, anything. But one thing: now we see ourselves as we never have before, well that creates feedback loops – humans eventually alter themselves in reaction when confronted with information, especially about themselves, and being altered then allows us to alter some more. This is still playing out. Lets just give it some time to see where it all settles.

This is the big one, said Ford. This is the one I came back for. Do you realize I never saw it all through? Always I missed the end. I saw half of it again the night before the Vogons came. When they blew the place up I thought I’d never get to see it. Hey, what happened with all that anyway?
Just life, said Arthur, and plucked a beer from a six-pack.
Oh, that again, said Ford. I thought it might be something like that. I prefer this stuff, he said as Rick’s Bar flickered on to the screen.

Last edited 3 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Vasiliki Farmaki
Vasiliki Farmaki
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Very well said..

Last edited 3 years ago by Vasiliki Farmaki
Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I’m not sure this is a new thing. Past people have called it being ‘born again’ or ‘enlightenment’ – the hall of mirrors has always existed.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
3 years ago

If Aella plotted her graph on a semi-logarithmic scale it would most likely exhibit the power-law tail which is the defining trait of a Pareto distribution – so Pareto’s Law really. Also called the “Matthew Effect”, after the gospel-writer:
For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
Time for Tom Chivers to get going with some analysis of the data concerning the OnlyFans income distribution!
Great article, by the way!

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago

 It’s difficult to get any sense of perspective when we’re all confined to our homes” – I’ve not been confined this past year. I’ve been biking, hiking, running, kayaying, hugging, loving and shaking hands. If you’ve been confined then you did it to yourself.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago

What a wonderful, wonderful heartfelt article. Among the very best ever on Unherd.

Kevin Ford
Kevin Ford
3 years ago

Thanks for this excellent piece. The tide flowing towards atomisation into individual market units has been flowing strongly for years. We do need to act to protect our common humanity. Life is not sitting safely in a sealed box and consuming products and services via the internet. We are creatures of blood and skin and we need direct human contact or we wither away.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago

I agree with the author’s analysis of the effects of the epidemic on society. I also would have speeded up the route out of lockdown and certainly don’t favour any extension of the restrictions.
But contrary to some of the posts here, the article does not say specifically that the lockdown policy was fundamentally misconceived. It’s far more that the virus – not the lockdowns – has had these impacts on society. There never was a realistic alternative scenario of relatively low deaths and serious illness whilst everyone got on with their daily lives (apart from a few vulnerable people who could be easily isolated). It’s simply a biological fact that prolonged exposure to many other people, very largely indoors, is going to increase infection rates and at some point the NHS would be unable to treat new cases. In this scenario, people start taking defensive measures themselves, which have a lot of the effects of a lockdown, including the undesirable social ones Mary Harrington cites here. To a significant extent, the lockdowns simply reinforce and formalise what most people are already doing, which is why both the March 2020 and January 2021 lockdowns both started at almost exactly the peak of the wave.

J. Hale
J. Hale
3 years ago

It’s another sign of our decaying society that a theory about Internet centralization (Aella’s Law) is named after a porn star.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  J. Hale

The next’ll be named after a virtual porn star, an algorithmic avatar.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago

Brava, and thank you for such a compelling read.
After finishing Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “Young Stalin” I’m in the midst of reading his book, “Stalin, the Court of the Red Czar”.
The enforced, inhumane, collectivization of people and property, not started, but continued — and severely ramped up — under the cover of Covid (this time under the auspices of impersonal Socialistic Crony Capitalism) has been done before under Communism w/absolutely disastrous results.
Now, the free West, under similar totalitarian tech driven collectivization of minds and assets as practiced by the distorted brand of capitalism in Communist China (basically, all that’s bad about Capitalism w/none of the good) appears to have succumbed. The process isn’t new; it began in the West in the 60’s – with continual erosion of individual rights and liberties (and the moral structure supporting same) … I hope it isn’t so, but we very well could be in the final stages of paving the way for China to take over as world collectivizer.

Last edited 3 years ago by Daisy D
Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago

I started by thinking “a country diary of an unherd nwriter – how nice”

As I read on my thoughts changed to “ouch”. Very good summary on the last year.

Excellent article.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

I wish people in the West could see what lockdown has done to Africa. Poverty, death and dismal desolation on a grand scale. Quicksmart lesson in economics when there is no fat in the economy. So many have zero logic, zero understanding, zero imagination and don’t realize that of course the chickens will come home to roost.

David Fitzsimons
David Fitzsimons
3 years ago

I wish people in the West could see what lockdown has done to Africa

Could you give us a precis, or be more clear about the pain points, because we genuinely don’t know (which doesn’t mean we don’t care)? Honestly, the only news we see is that covid death rates in African countries are better than ours and that’s about it – in other words, our impression is that you’re coping.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

The very poor (and there are a lot of them) lost what little they had, are hungry, scrabbling around in the dirt and resorting to crime. The people who were a little better off – the poor – have become very poor and desperate. The people previously keeping heads above water, have become poor and don’t have a future. This is not unexpected. I’m very surprised that you say people don’t have the understanding or imagination to figure this out. A version of this is coming your way.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Lesley, I agree. When looking at the devastation in Kenya alone, it is heartbreaking. So much of their economy depends on tourism and without it, their economies are devastated.

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
3 years ago

Beautifully written piece of prose.
Thank you.

Mark Luterra
Mark Luterra
3 years ago

A great and thought-provoking article that captures some of the larger trends of our current moment.
“Disintermediation” is a word I use often, though usually in a positive context. I work with a nonprofit that aims to facilitate “disintermediation of the local food system”, which in that context means convincing people to buy directly from local farmers instead of buying commodity food from big box stores.
This article helps me to understand that disintermediation can be either community-destroying or community-building, depending on the nature of the intermediary being removed.
I would also like to add that I have observed notable exceptions to the accepted wisdom that small businesses have suffered and large businesses have thrived under lockdown. Small businesses that benefit from disintermediation have – at least under the less stringent USA regulations – done well. These include farms that sell direct to consumers, seed companies that sell to gardeners and small farmers, and craftsfolk who sell through platforms like Etsy.
Concern about fragile global supply chains has prompted a renewed interest in local/regional resilience and self-sufficiency, which has in some ways benefited small businesses and helped to build community. This is admittedly much more effective in rural areas than in cities. But overall, like Mary here, I am lamenting the loss of social interaction over the past year and am wishing for our government to call an end to the restrictions as soon as possible.

idazbiro
idazbiro
3 years ago

An excellent article! I fully identify with all the issues presented by the writer! The problem is that not many people question the lockdown policy. There are countries where the society demands from a government to be locked down, believing that this is the best way to protect themselves and their parents and grandparents from CoViD19.

Last edited 3 years ago by idazbiro
hellred02
hellred02
3 years ago

Hasn’t this always been the same whether it’s looking at wealth concentration, pyramid selling schemes… Doesn’t this have a ? law term already? albeit all these things may have concentrated further during pandemic, it pre-dated it – like all the pre-existing inequalities – just brought it into sharper relief or recognition but all the behavioural, marketing and economic rules still applied?

Jethro Bodine
Jethro Bodine
3 years ago

This social atomization isn’t something that started with Covid, it’s just been accelerated and intensified by it. It started with the Web itself. The Web has changed society, culture. It’s not just a tool, as its technophilic fans have always claimed. Air conditioning also changed culture, as have many technological innovations. I’m not defending the Web. The changes it’s brought sadden me. Many Web lovers don’t care, and I don’t care to make them care. We have our differing perspectives.
I’ve never done Zoom, Skype or other video conferencing. It doesn’t appeal to me. I can’t see anything worthwhile, for me, coming from it. I prefer face to face discussions. Somehow, and I can’t explain it, they seem more efficient and like they have the potential to “go somewhere”. The vast majority of Web discussion, either through the keyboard or the camera, yet again for reasons I can’t explain or prove, seem like dead ends, or merry go rounds. Face to face discussions aren’t about sentimentality and touchy-feely, there’s a certain hardheaded efficiency to them, a certain productivity, that nobody seems to recognize.
I’ve tried joining Meetup groups and even started one. Absolutely no interest. I don’t understand the apathy. But with a little thought, I suppose I do. The internet is crack cocaine for the idea junkie, and I include myself among them. It’s ironic that the place where Web skeptics complain and bemoan the Web is the Web itself. The paradoxical feature of the Web is that it’s full of really good things, but it’s way, way, way, TOO MUCH, of a good thing. It’s Too Much, Too fast, Too Often, 24, 7. Again, it’s crack cocaine for the idea junkie, the stimulation junkie, the instant gratification junkie. We’re caught like rats in a high tech trap, and WE let it happen. Most don’t even care, at all.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jethro Bodine
corustar
corustar
3 years ago

That pay distribution probably follows the pareto principle the 80:20 split. As well as the point that those who have something eg money, find it easier to make more.

Also I think Peter Thiel has warned/spoke/invested in the idea that digital companies create natural monopolies.

The days of the Internet being a crypto-anarchist paradise seem to be a dream of the 90s.

Adi Dule
Adi Dule
3 years ago

I remember an interview of Mary – at Lockdown TV when the first lockdown started. She said that she didn’t go out much anyway so as long as she was allowed to go running all was fine for her. And i though -the people that are suppose to express worry about what is happening and the consequences do not have a clue

Larry Murphy
Larry Murphy
3 years ago

Another example of where we are headed with a population collapse.

arthur brogard
arthur brogard
3 years ago

Yep, lovely. The article shows how the populace has been depersonalised, dehumanised.
But the irony is that it only happened because the population was already there inasmuch as the population failed to keep abreast of what was happening, failed to remark the mishandling, failed to employ democratic methods to control their ‘masters’ and make something else happen.
In other words, we got what we deserved and we’re going to continue to get it: downtrodden and freedom and rights deprived.

Matthew Grainger
Matthew Grainger
3 years ago

Excellent article. Pleased with my subscription to Unherd which is my only online media subscription. Articles such as this make it very worthwhile.

Michael Hanson
Michael Hanson
3 years ago

Ditto!

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

Good article. The government has made many bad decisions and we have lost much. The chinese state should not be forgiven for releasing this plague on us.

Oliver Steadman
Oliver Steadman
3 years ago

One of the joys of my Lockdown has been discovering Unherd and specifically Mary Harrington’s exquisite writing.

Sam Charles
Sam Charles
3 years ago

For a counter-argument try this about the ‘long tail’ – https://www.wired.com/2004/10/tail/

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

I’d like to think this is an unintended consequence of the virus panic but that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Never mind there being no genuine evidence for the efficacy of “lockdown” for the under 60s, look at the bad actors filling their boots: Bill Gates wants to blot the sun out and freeze everyone, the greenies say the virus is a good thing and God/Gaia’s punishment, Boris is playing the role he gave to Churchill in his biography – history shaped by (white) men on horses with swords and the cross of St George, the FAANGS are egging the fake scientists like quitty and ferguson on because they know every life destroyed is $s for them. Say what you like about the woke SJWs – i too think they are very misguided but at least in some places, eg Portland and Bristol, they are standing up for those vistimised by the scamdemic.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

The violent thugs in Portland and Bristol aren’t standing up for anyone or anything. They, like all habitual rioters, have always considered themselves above or beyond the law or community norms anyway, so have no objection to draconian lockdowns forcing the decent, job-holding, tax-paying and law-abiding to stay in their homes or wear humiliating masks and stand on circles everywhere. I think government knows this too; lockdown restrictions have never been about controlling the criminally antisocial who always do what they want anyway.

Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
3 years ago

Wow. Just, wow.

Last edited 3 years ago by Corrie Mooney
Clay Trowbridge
Clay Trowbridge
3 years ago

Writing from the land of anti-metric measurement, some successful plans for our destruction approach it in inches, some in yards. One way or another, COVID-19 is making progress toward a world described by both Huxley and Orwell. Sixty years ago or so when I first read “Brave New World ” and. “1984”, I was naive enough to think that they can’t both be true. Wrong! The brave new world may be brief, but it will be joyful. H. Kissinger, “Yes, many people will die when the New World Order is established, but it will be a much better world for those who survive.” (Who could be so selfish as to deny such an existence to others.) And then there is the Trilateral world of Orwell and Brzenzinski. By employing the two, David Rockefeller has succeeded so far, but the sellout of our country to Maoist Marxist China may bring it all down. The reasons will become obvious.

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
3 years ago

The “warp and heft of our common life”has been fraying at the edges for decades and Covid has only accelerated the process.
The Church of England, despite the criticism it’s received (mostly unfair), is in a good position to help with healing our communities.
Much is made of “dwindling congregations”, but nothing is said about the many vibrant and growing congregations. We hear the “doomsters waffling on about the imminent demise of the Church of England as it closes churches, sacks clergy and withdraws its presence in communities by tearing down the parish system. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York published a statement in the Spectator recently in which the following points were made: “there are no plans to dismantle the parish network……throughout our history some churches have closed, some have opened…it is not new…….the suggestion that all we do is cut back on clergy numbers is not only untrue and unhelpful, it creates unnecessary anxiety. We need more clergy and they are coming forward in record numbers”.
The Church of England is in a position, as it has always been, to strengthen our community life once again by offering opportunities to worship, make friends, engage in family activities such as “Messy Church”, receive support in times of crisis and need and engage in learning and reflecting on the really important things in life and eternity.

Last edited 3 years ago by Michael Whittock
Arable Land
Arable Land
3 years ago

Brilliant article .

jp358
jp358
3 years ago

Very good article indeed!

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 years ago

Yes. It was obvious that this would happen and that the corporations and central governments would accrue more wealth and power to the centre, bankrupting and disempowering individuals and local groups in the process. Soon we’ll be digitally stamped from cradle to cradle, our very thoughts accessible to the anonymous centre who will control us at less than the flick of a switch. All for our health, safety and security of course. Scanned, jabbed, measured, probed, examined and tracked. Infantilised and disempowered human freedom looks doomed. Yet history suggests that in the end the centre however powerful becomes hollowed out and collapses under its own contradictions. How will it play this time when it will be an unprecedented technocracy on the global scale; the glittering global elite? We don’t know of course, but there will be much suffering on the way.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
3 years ago

I am puzzled by the recurring mantra of people claiming to be ‘confined to their homes’ for the past year. I have seen no sign of this since the brief ‘lockdown’, that in the UK occurred for two weeks in March/April 2020. Do people repeat it just because they think they ought to, or to keep those forced out of jobs or locked out of their businesses from protesting, or am I missing something?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

It follows along with directives from people like Anthony Fauci in the US about what people are and are not allowed to do. He was on the news this morning talking as if he lived in outer space about how people may be able to travel by July 4th, as if the airports are not jammed full already. About how you can not wear a mask at home with your family after you’ve been vaccinated. He sounds like a lunatic who can’t face the reality that no one is listening to him anymore. The lockdown nonsense is over in the US, unless you live in a nanny state. And sorry if you do, but hey, it’s your own fault. Thank god the federal government has no power to mandate mask wearing or national lockdowns. Long live the republic.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Graeme Archer
Graeme Archer
3 years ago

What a great piece.

Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott
3 years ago

Mary,
I enjoy your articles so any implied criticism please take constructive:

  1. “We’ve paid steeply to control the virus.” We have paid steeply, I agree. However, if controlling the virus leads to over one hundred thousand deaths, our most fundamental human rights being taken away and not returned a year later and to this country’s moral authority regarding freedom and rights, built up over centuries, being totally destroyed then one shudders in terror thinking of what “not controlling the virus” would be like. That must look like one of the Max Max movies, at best. By the way, not the first movie where there was some sort of order still in place in a remote part of Australia. You need to watch the sequels to see a society where COVID-19 went uncontrolled.
  2. You appear to be obsessed with pornography or, more accurately, the porn industry. Linking the plight of the Alzheimer’s Society and school children with a website that profits from digital prostitution is extraordinarily creative on your part. However, I am sorry to tell you that the phenomenon you call “Aella’s Law” is not unique to OnlyFans. It has been observed in many other collective human activities. For example, there is a woman up in Scotland who has become incredibly wealthy writing books about some sort of magic child. She is to writing stuff what Aella is to digital prostitution. I am an avid consumer of pornography but I try not to let it become the dominant theme of the work I am paid to do.

Your general point is a good one. There are many good points to be made about a whole range of issues that can be made without using the characteristics of OnlyFans as the sole basis of one’s claims. Charles Darwin did manage to get his point across some years prior to OnlyFans going live. It can be done.

Last edited 3 years ago by Marcus Scott
robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago

“But the point is precisely that that out there is not a shadow-show: it’s an emerging new normal.”
I think we’re still a long way from even an “emerging” now normal. Consider the hopeful side of the equation. The prevailing bourgeois consumerist world and its landscape of white noise retail consumerism and forbidding and sterile glass and steel cathedrals inhabited by high priests, –Jamie Diamond, Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump, Mark Zuck, & Co.- presiding over our theocracy of Mammon, desperately needs to be swept away. Viewed constructively, the pandemic may eventuate the destructive phase of the transition to the socialism that is the only path for survival of the species.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  robert scheetz

The concentration of private wealth and power presages the demise of private wealth and power? It’d be nice to think so, but where are the forces that’ll sweep them away and replace them with something better?

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins
  1. The comprehensive corruption of all the systems and institutions of the body politic by big capital: business, gov’t, judiciary, military, press, university, …
  2. Nat’l Sec. State cannibalizing the Federal Treasury crowding out all the things (healthcare, housing, police, education, clean and water, reliable, efficient and cheap basic utilities, safe food and drugs) that make for a safe, healthy, educated, dignified community.
  3. The bellum omnium of identitarianism.
  4. The gross personal corruption of the elite as evidenced especially by the Epstein case, the colossal thieving exposed by the ’09 banking collapse and Obama bailout, etc..
  5. The increasing systems collapse brought on by zoonotic pandemics and the rapid ecological degradation.

The ruling elite of the US and all its institutions are held in contempt by a significant majority of the population. The real significance of the ’16 & ’20 US presidential elections was the rising power of populism -Bernie & Donald. The elite had to cheat to defeat them. Brexit, the Yellow-Vests, Poderemos, … and now the failure to deal effectively with the most basic of reasons for gov’t, the public health crisis caused by the pandemic, are all parallel expressions of the generalized collapse of the Neoliberal Consensus.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  robert scheetz

Those are good reasons for sweeping them away, but where are the forces that’ll do it and replace them with something better?

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

The most recent black swan caused an iron curtain to be raised circling the Capital. The next one or the one after, …the proximate cause is always a crisis. Then it will get worse before it gets better. And when the dust settles…?, hopefully socialism.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
3 years ago

For the six hundredth time, a novel coronivirus that hasn’t finished mutating could still overwhelm hospitals and very nearly did. It’s not the total number of deaths, tragic those are to their family, it’s whether we are fine with a certain untreated death toll- after all who cares how many elderly people die with flu every year? We just didn’t care if it didn’t affect our loved ones. So much for this ‘community’ we all belong to. Most of us are indifferent. If we have a network of 10 acquaintances then only 1.25m Brits know anyone that’s died from Covid. Again, for the six hundredth time-medics on the other hand have experienced repeated trauma and are completely exhausted. Are we blind to that? If you don’t know a medic at yhe end of their tether most people aren’t bothered. The article talks about community and communaliity. This is laughable-like some absurd clapping for medics- self pitying and whinging and blind to how the NHS has been bent to near destruction. This is all talk though- the organism will blindly mutate ( the South African variant is highly resistant to Astra Zenica, for example. Johnson and politicians and columnists should have woken up to the fact that a novel virus can’t be rhetoricised away. We are incredibly lucky vaccines have been developed but it hasn’t finished with us yet. Any fool knows that HIV (which luckily isn’t respiratory) still can’t be vaccinated for- again, who cares, if I don’t know anyone who’s had it?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

For the 601st time, just because Covid is serious it doesn’t mean that lockdown isn’t accelerating the centralisation of society into the hands of the technocrats and enabling yet further the surveillance state. If you’re happy with that bravo, but many are not. There used to be more important things in life than avoiding SARSCov2, now it seems millions are happy, even keen, to exchange their freedom for an illusion of safety.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

“This is laughable-like some absurd clapping for medics- self pitying and whinging and blind to how the NHS has been bent to near destruction.”
This is a normal state for the NHS though. Even flu season sees it collapsing every year. An inherent weakness in the NHS is not a reason for everyone to stay home.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
3 years ago

Forget Aella. Consider the Queen.
God save the Queen, and Boris’ government, along with Biden’s .gov and the other networking entities that dispense vaccines to this wounded world. They will deliver the vaccines that turn this lockdown around and deliver us into a new normal that has little need of porn queens and poppycock social media.
Because mankind will voluntarily, of its own accord, of its own anthropological propensity, GoTo (an old BASIC function) to our human nature of somehow finding community, civility, God, governance, the Queen, the President, showers in April, flowers in May and hey hey hey we’re back on our way to bobbies on bicycles two by two, Westmister Abbey, tower Big Ben and the rosy red cheeks of the little children, along with the rosy brown cheeks of the little children.
And don’t be surprised if the “church” has much to do with such a renewal of community. Faith is, in the big picture, a stronger component of human motivations, community and history than . . . mere intellect. Faith is founded upon one person who died a criminal death and then lived to tell about it, thus overcoming the curse of disease and death itself.
But you gotta believe. To hell with the lockdowns. We’ll zoom past them and come out the other side.
Consider the nazi bombings on London back in the big war. Who would’ve have thought that, years later . . . well, you know. . .
Human inclinations to reconstruction are evident throughout our history. This is just the phase that we happen to be living in, not the one we read about in the history books . . .
although someday our children and grandchildren will read in their etablets about the Great Plague of 2020.
History rhymes you know. Our Great Plague of 2020 rhymes with the Great Plague of 1918, not to mention the bubonic and the blahblah and the blather of the British Empire, upon which the sun never sets. N’est-ce-que pas?

tayyabatdp
tayyabatdp
3 years ago
Reply to  LCarey Rowland

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Last edited 3 years ago by tayyabatdp