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The pandemic

Covid has shattered our “common life”

Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty Images

Our successful efforts to control Covid-19 have come at a huge cost: the shattering of “what was left of our common life”, says Mary Harrington in UnHerd. How? A recent tweet by a porn star called Aella showed how only a few top performers on OnlyFans, the site where she posts, make fortunes. Most make very little. This extreme asymmetry “eviscerates everything except the very top of the curve”. I call this Aella’s Law – and, thanks to the pandemic, it’s everywhere.  

By September 2020 it’s thought that 240,000 small and medium British businesses had gone bust. Ocado and Amazon, however, grew by 35% and 85% respectively last year. Instead of high-street antiques shops, we have eBay, which “has devastated high-street sellers”. It’s the same story in our locked-down churches, with collections drastically reduced and the Church of England proposing “to increase parish sizes and cull mid-ranking clergy to trim costs”.  

Aella’s Law also has wider society in its grip. Those with happy families, good social lives and money have weathered the pandemic. But for anyone reliant on wider social institutions for human contact, education and safety, “the shattering of life in common has bitten more sharply”: young people, single parents, the unemployed, the elderly, the home-schooled children who “have struggled to concentrate due to hunger”. 

This is the “emerging new normal”. But even as the pandemic has made it harder to see the life we have 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.” 

Read the full article here