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How Coronavirus Pandemic Is Bringing a Return to Feudalism

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many things, but also accelerated America’s descent into a new form of feudalism. The preexisting conditions of extreme economic concentration, inequality and reduced social mobility already were painfully evident before, but the pandemic has made them considerably worse.

Pestilence has often shaped societies, most notably in the Middle Ages, where populations were repeatedly decimated, particularly among the urban poor. Disease undermined societies and economies, obliterating trade and nurturing the influence of prelates linking pestilence to human sinfulness. Even as the upper classes, as today, departed disease-plagued cities, they also looked to consolidate control of now abandoned holdings.

As in the Middle Ages, some classes have emerged stronger from the pandemic. Clear winners have bolstered the technology oligarchs’ — the modern version of the medieval aristocracy — already rapidly growing stranglehold over the economy. With the shift to online retail, streaming services and greater surveillance, tech stock prices have soared as others have lagged.

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