"[what we used to casually call the 'dark ages']
We've seen how plague became the reason,
just like terrorism today, for social regulation, for saying how children must behave,
for taking away a worker's right to choose what work he wanted,
for deciding which of the poor are worthy of help and which are just wastrels.
Plague enforced frontiers that were otherwise wonderfully insecure,
and made our movements and travels conditional.
It helped make the state a physical reality, and give it ambitions."
from The Edge of the World