by The Leftist Review.com
In the year 1347, the Black Death arrived on the shores of Europe. Chances were, if you fell ill, you'd die within the week. Fatality rates ranged from 25% to 50% of the infected population. The Black Death ended Feudalism and undermined the people's faith in the church. But it did something else, which is far more relevant today. It illustrated that civilization and society are voluntary organizations. There are no requirements to join; we do so for the common good, the collective good.
An eye-witness to the Black Death, the Florentine writer Giovanni Boccaccio, put it this way:
[S]uch fear and fanciful notions took possession of the living that almost all of them adopted the same cruel policy, which was entirely to avoid the sick and everything belonging to them. By so doing, each one thought he would secure his own safety.
Some thought that moderate living and the avoidance of all superfluity would preserve them from the epidemic. They formed small communities, living entirely separate from everybody else. They shut themselves up in houses where there were no sick, eating the finest food and drinking the best wine very temperately, avoiding all excess, allowing no news or discussion of death and sickness, and passing the time in music and suchlike pleasures. Others thought just the opposite. They thought the sure cure for the plague was to drink and be merry, to go about singing and amusing themselves, satisfying every appetite they could, laughing and jesting at what happened. They put their words into practice, spent day and night going from tavern to tavern, drinking immoderately, or went into other people's houses, doing only those things which pleased them. This they could easily do because everyone felt doomed and had abandoned his property, so that most houses became common property and any stranger who went in made use of them as if he had owned them. And with all this bestial behaviour, they avoided the sick as much as possible.
In our modern society, husbands abandon wives and children, children abandon parents. Some Americans think working hard and keeping their noses to the grindstone will protect them; others fall into hedonism; morals, laws and social conventions collapse, because the people feel they are all doomed. Now look at any major city in the United States. In Baltimore, Maryland, there are over 7,000 abandoned, derelict homes. In Detroit, 50% of the adult population is chronically unemployed. Then there is Youngstown, Toledo and Cleveland Ohio; cities in ruins with only enclaves of the financially healthy, adopting the same cruel policy to entirely avoid the sick and everything belonging to them. By so doing, each one thought they could secure their own safety.
Currently, there are at least 34,700,000 unemployed, underemployed and displaced Americans. The number of family members living with relatives is now nearly 20% of all American households. The largest increase has been in the 25 to 34 yrs age group, making up two-thirds of the total number.