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In a couple of years, the world will emerge from the pandemic - but what are the consequences? In the past, epidemics have led to both uprisings and economic booms.
The most devastating pandemic in history occurred in the 14th century. In 1347 - 1353 the bubonic plague passed through Europe, which, according to some estimates, destroyed up to 50% of the population (somewhere more, somewhere less), more than 25 million people in total. Some areas of Italy, France, Belgium, England and other countries were completely depopulated, and the corpses lay there for years.
Got a "pestilence" and to Russia - "black death" seized in the early 1350s. Pskov, Suzdal, Smolensk, Chernigov and Kiev, and then reached Moscow. The chronicler wrote in 1366: "People in the city of Moscow and in all the volosts of Moscow are a pestilence." She did not spare anyone's illness - neither kings (the kings of France and Navarre died there), nor princes (Simeon the Proud and his two sons died), nor ordinary people. The church argued that only prayer would save humanity, but this, of course, did not help.
The epidemic has had serious consequences. The victims looked for those responsible for the catastrophe and found them: there were Jewish pogroms and conflicts with priests, all this was accompanied by massive religious psychosis and the flourishing of sectarianism, mystical rumors, etc. caused economic devastation.
After the plague, the prices for plowing land, mowing hay, grazing and transporting goods doubled, while the price of land fell several times. The feudal lords were in dire need of new peasants, but where to get them? I had to hire and for a good pay - and this is not at all the same as being on a leash, as before. The hour of retribution of the common people has struck - the people "broke" the prices for their labor, feudal relations were gradually replaced by market ones. The poor peasants responded to attempts to prevent this with widespread riots, and the feudal nobility had to retreat. Thus, the extinction of millions of Europeans from the plague created additional prerequisites for the emergence of the bourgeoisie - and therefore modern society.
Another interesting consequence of the epidemic is an increase in the consumption of food and meat in particular. First, after the plague, which did not affect livestock, there was simply more food per capita. Secondly, the share of livestock raising has increased, since cattle grazing requires less labor than agriculture. As a result, the average height and general physical condition of Europeans in the 15th century. and the subsequent time became much better than before the "black death".
It is not for nothing that the epidemic was followed by a demographic boom (nevertheless, it took Europe more than three centuries to fully recover). And finally, the plague has undermined the absolute trust in the church. Some interpreted the plague as "the avenging sword of the Lord", others - as the machinations of the devil and the end of the world. Thinkers had to look for answers themselves, since the church was completely helpless. This search then led to the Reformation, the first forerunners of which (like John Wycliffe) did not accidentally appear in the 14th century.
Plague and cholera riots
Epidemics also caused serious consequences later. A typical example is the "plague riot" in Moscow in 1771. The plague came from the south with troops and turned out to be terribly deadly. At its peak, almost 20 thousand people per month died, Moscow streets were covered with dead people. Panic and unworthy flight of the nobles from the closed city (for bribes, of course), dissatisfaction with sanitary measures, which, if unsuccessfully organized, seemed useless, provoked the anger of the people against officials and doctors. There were rumors that doctors were poisoning people on purpose.
In August, Doctor Shafonsky was almost killed in Lefortovo, then the crowd knocked the soldier's head with a stone, and in September they tore apart Archbishop Ambrose - he forbade processions of the cross and some rituals so that people would not gather in large numbers (the people, on the contrary, hoped for prayers). It got to the bloodshed - on September 17, troops killed about a thousand people on Red Square, suppressing the riot of the people. Then four more were hanged.
The situation repeated itself on a larger scale in 1830-1831, when cholera broke out in Europe. The epidemic, as in Moscow, exposed social inequality and exacerbated political conflicts. In France, about 200 thousand people died from cholera, while in Paris the poor suffered the most, while the rich took refuge in country villas.
Of course, this caused not the most friendly reaction and riots. Popular anger agitated the country for several more years, France experienced a number of upheavals, including the uprising of 1832: it was provoked by the deaths of cholera by Prime Minister C. Perier and the Republican General Lamarck, after which secret republican societies revolted against the monarchy; blood was shed again - the king suppressed the rebellion by force of arms.
Cholera riots took place in those years in other countries - in Great Britain, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia … In Russia, the people resisted quarantine and suspected governors and doctors of poisoning. In 1830, pogroms of police stations and hospitals began, and officials were killed. Riots took place in Sevastopol, Tambov and Staraya Russa, in 1831 - in St. Petersburg. In the course of these events, about a hundred people died.
The risk of exacerbation of social conflicts is also increased by modern epidemics, including the current one. IMF analysts recently conducted a study of five 21st century epidemics, including Ebola in 2013-2016, and concluded that a couple of years after their end, they led to a serious increase in violence and increased social protest. It is quite possible that we will have to go through something similar.
The other side of the plague medal
As in the case of the Black Death, later large-scale epidemics also had unexpected positive consequences. For example, after the terrible London plague of 1665, the English capital also experienced a population explosion (doctors thought that the plague had a strange "cleansing" effect, supplanted other diseases and increased the fertility of women). After the same cholera in the early 1830s. there was an economic recovery in France.
The 20th century has repeatedly demonstrated economic and demographic growth after various disasters. In difficult times, people prepare for the worst, stay at home and spend less money - this is how savings appear (of course, this applies mainly to developed countries with market economies). This is exactly what was observed around the world in 2020.
The British behaved in the same way during the smallpox epidemic in the early 1870s, the Japanese during the First World War, and so did the Americans during the monstrous "Spanish flu" in 1919-1920. and World War II (household savings by 1945 were estimated at a colossal amount of about 40% of GDP). In the 1920s. in the United States, the number of opened businesses has sharply increased, people risked more often - after hundreds of thousands of deaths and everything they have experienced, the risk of losing money no longer seems so terrible. The demographic and economic boom followed the Second World War, and it is characteristic that it occurred in the 1950s, in the second half of the 1940s, people still behaved cautiously - out of habit and just in case.
The coronavirus epidemic should spur automation and teleworking to boost productivity; the business will try to fill the niches that have appeared on the market. According to The Economist magazine, IMF experts predict a post-pandemic boom in developed countries in the coming years. Will they be right - we'll see soon.