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The middle classes have rushed to judge others less fortunate than themselves with shocking speed

T2020欧洲杯小组赛赛程he advance of coronavirus has upended our lifestyles with astonishing speed and intensity. Almost as quickly, a tide of moralism has swept the nation.

2020欧洲杯小组赛赛程Some commentators – in lieu of outdoor activities, perhaps – seem to delight in judging others; lambasting their fellow citizens who are still forced to use public transport to get to work, fuming over photographs of groups in nearby parks or wheeling groaning trolleys around supermarkets.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan took to the airwaves to criticise Tube passengers, after photos emerged of packed trains at rush hour. Khan’s hand-wringing is hypocritical in the extreme. Transport for London’s decision to cut down rail journeys had the predictable consequence of putting the remaining services under extra pressure when millions are still needed at work.

The NHS alone employs hundreds of thousands in the capital, before you include the army of street-sweepers, electricians, builders, teachers, couriers and other workers required to keep the cogs of the city in motion. Listening to the moralists of Twitter, however, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were travelling solely for their own amusement.

Class divisions drive much of this outrage. The elites of Islington and Stoke Newington evidently have little idea of what the poor look like, how they live – or that the coronavirus lockdown bears relatively lightly on the privileged middle classes.

M2020欧洲杯小组赛赛程any can work from home, stockpile wine in their cellars, plant their neat vegetable gardens, and pack their multiple chest freezers with mounds of food. Yet blue-collar work – by definition – cannot be done remotely, while poorer consumers, lacking storage space, must shop more. Garden-owners have urged the closure of public parks, apparently unaware of the crucial role these spaces play in the lives of those who lack green acres of their own.

The self-employed face a singularly agonising choice, between practising social distancing or losing their income. Many without substantial savings are facing ruin, thanks to the abrupt termination of every gig in their portfolio. Then there are all those people who rely on cash-in-hand work. For white-collar workers to insist on total subjugation from the most precarious sections of the economy has more than a ring of apocryphal Marie Antoinette (“Let them work from home”).

George Orwell identified a similar trend in The Road to Wigan Pier, in his portrayal of the unthinking middle classes2020欧洲杯小组赛赛程 unable to compute why their working-class counterparts insisted on eating tasty but less healthy meals. “Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread?” asked one critic. Today’s well-intentioned bourgeoisie shows a similar disregard for the trade-offs which inform their fellow citizens’ choices.

I2020欧洲杯小组赛赛程 am not arguing for a world devoid of moral judgments – shame is an important tool in changing behaviour. But the speed with which so many keyboard warriors have rushed to judgment on people whose lives are far less secure than their own is shocking. Perhaps our unforgiving “cancel culture”, the digital lynch mob permanently poised to ruin lives, has left Britain ill-equipped to cope humanely with the cultural impact of the coronavirus.

S2020欧洲杯小组赛赛程cratch below the surface of movements rooted in shame and you will often encounter the hectoring middle classes; from the Victorian temperance brigades to the sanctimonious Edwardian ladies proffering the white feather of cowardice to apparently able-bodied men in times of war. Occasionally, they would mistakenly hand out feathers to injured servicemen, failing to note the amputee’s wooden leg.

2020欧洲杯小组赛赛程There are lessons in this today – we simply don’t know who we may be judging. One colleague is “stockpiling” on behalf of five households – a total of 15 people, all either vulnerable or isolating, on top of her own family unit.

2020欧洲杯小组赛赛程Lives will not be the only casualties in the tough months ahead. The economy will be stalled as we accrue wartime levels of debt and enter a global recession. Personal liberty will – rightly – be curtailed as we endure sacrifices that, a few months ago, would have seemed unthinkable. Losing so much that we hold dear, it is crucial that we retain our basic decency.