"There are times in history when sudden events — natural disasters, economic collapses, pandemics, wars, famines — change everything. They change politics, they change economics and they change public opinion in drastic ways. Many social movement analysts call these “trigger events.” During a trigger event, things that were previously unimaginable quickly become reality, as the social and political map is remade. On the one hand, major triggers are rare; but on the other, we have seen them regularly in recent decades. Events such as 9/11, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and the financial crash of 2008 have all had major repercussions on national life, leading to political changes that would have been difficult to predict beforehand.
COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic, is by far the biggest trigger event of our generation. It is a combination of natural disaster and economic collapse happening at the same time. Topping it off, this public health crisis is coming right in the middle of one of the most consequential political seasons of our lifetime.
Trigger events can create confusion and unease. But they also present tremendous opportunities for people who have a plan and know how to use the moment to push forward their agendas. These agendas can be reactionary, as when conservatives and fascists pass harsh austerity measures and spread xenophobia — the type of activity documented in Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine.” Yet, this type of response need not prevail. With a counter-agenda rooted in a commitment to democracy and a deep sense of collective empathy, communities can flourish, even amid a crisis.
In fact, we can find many examples in history of how progressive and solidaristic impulses have come to the fore in response to trigger events." (https://wagingnonviolence.org/2020/03/coronavirus-historic-trigger-event-needs-movement-response/?)
How progressive and solidaristic impulses have come to the fore in response to trigger events
"The New Deal’s emergence as a response to the Great Depression of the 1930s is one example, as is the more recent Occupy Sandy’s mobilization in New York City to support hurricane-ravaged communities in 2012. Rebecca Solnit’s 2009 book “A Paradise Built in Hell” contains myriad more examples of humane, collective efforts that responded to disaster.
Today, as we face the prospect that hundreds of thousands of people in the United States — and millions around the world — may die, the only way we can prevent some of the worst tragedy and destruction is with such a response.
In my writing on social movements, I have argued that triggers create liminal spaces that mass protest movements can use to mobilize the forces of grassroots democracy. In the wake of such an event, organizers often find themselves in a “moment of the whirlwind,” in which the standard rules of how politics works are turned on their head. Many of the great social movements of the past have been born out of these moments. But these moments require skillful navigation, the ability to use “prophetic promotion” to spread a humane vision, and the faith that mass mobilization can open new avenues to change that, at the outset, seem distant and improbable.
In order to craft a people’s response to the pandemic, we should draw both on the possibilities of new technology that allow for decentralized action and some time-honored lessons from past social movements." (https://wagingnonviolence.org/2020/03/coronavirus-historic-trigger-event-needs-movement-response/?)