COVID-19 is impacting activism, organizing, and civil resistance movements worldwide. This series aims to help movements adapt in a strategic way while laying the foundation for a post-COVID-19 future. It also examines how movements worldwide have responded during natural and human-made disasters more broadly, as a way to enrich our collective insights during this unprecedented historical moment.
Peopleless protests are a viable alternative to traditional demonstrations whenever social distancing is the order of the day, as during a pandemic or a curfew, as well as whenever people are permanently socially distanced (such as rural communities scattered around a country or, for that matter, people placed under house arrest by a repressive regime). At the same time, peopleless protests are one approach to minimizing subjugation to social media algorithms and the exclusiveness of the Internet. […]
Such a long period of lockdown, dominated by social distancing, fear of the virus spreading, and the omnipresence of state leaders in mainstream media all certainly represent challenges for movements. Holding demonstrations would present health risks and/or are outlawed, and alternative forms of protest do not draw as much media and public attention. Have movements disappeared? […]
People worldwide are alert to the ramifications of COVID-19, and many are already organized and taking action to seize this crisis for the better. What remains to be seen is whether these fragmented efforts coalesce into collective power. Our ability to harness this power will determine whether we are able to leverage this pandemic in a way that transforms oppressive social, economic, and political systems. […]
The pandemic came as a shock for many activists and movement organizers. They’ve been questioning their governments for years, mobilizing people to hold traditional powerholders to account. Now it seems the tables have turned. Public mobilization and gatherings are seen as irresponsible by a majority of people and measures adopted to slow the spread of the virus are being used by governments to clamp down on dissent. […]
Choosing to repurpose one’s movement toward community needs in times of crisis has short- and long-term strategic value. In this article I share a few thoughts about how movements can build power by serving their local communities—immunizing their movements from losing momentum with a “vaccine” of constructive programs and obstructive strategies. […]
In this article I offer a big-picture framework for how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting activism, organizing, and civil resistance movements. I hope this article, which defines four main phases I've observed, is helpful as movements make sense of this moment, analyze where they want to go from here, and begin planning a transition to the post-COVID-19 period. […]