The Black Death: The pandemic that changed the world

Date: Saturday 30th October
Time: 15:30 - 17:15
Speaker: Josh Holroyd

The Black Death resulted in up to 200 million deaths in the 14th century, making it the deadliest pandemic ever recorded.

To many at the time, the plague seemed like the end of the world. What we now know is that it was not the world that was ending, but the decrepit feudal system, which was dying on its feet even before the plague hit.

Out of the contradictions and class conflicts that were ruthlessly exposed by the Black Death there later arose momentous uprisings of the poor and oppressed. These set the final seal on serfdom in many parts of Europe, setting in train a process that would culminate in the rise of the bourgeoisie and the birth of capitalism.

In this talk, Josh Holroyd will trace the impact of the Black Death on society and the developments that gave rise to the death of feudalism, drawing out the parallels between the 14th century plague and the COVID-19 pandemic today.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the bankruptcy of capitalism and the need for socialism. Already, out of the horror and barbarism of capitalism in decline, inspiring movements are rising up to challenge the system. Ultimately, the only way to put an end to this barbarism is to overthrow capitalism.

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Recommended reading: The Black Death - the pandemic that changed the world

Recommended watching: The Marxist view of history - Historical materialism