Tipping Point

Sometimes one event can be the "straw that breaks the camel's back". Some examples

i) The Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)

"...Communism was considered invincible. Then the fall of the Berlin Wall start a domino effect that brought down six Soviet satellites in quick succession, and soon afterwards the Soviet Union itself..."

Timur Kuran as quoted by Virginia Postrel, 2017

Even though the negatives of communism were recognised, no one expected it to be vulnerable to street demonstrations; especially after the brutal crushing of dissent in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968).

"...Moreover, the members of communist-ruled societies had displayed a remarkable tolerance of tyranny and inefficiencies, to remain docile..."

Timur Kuran as quoted by Virginia Postrel, 2017

Despite all this submissiveness, the collapse of the Berlin Wall provided the catalyst to start successful uprisings.

"....in retrospect, all it took was a few thousand demonstrators calling for more freedom and a regime that signaled that it was afraid of overreacting..."

Timur Kuran as quoted by Virginia Postrel, 2017

Before long, fear changed sides. People who were silent in their criticisms as they had feared the consequences of their criticisms and/or supporters of communism joined the opposition. All of a sudden, it was not popular to be supporting communism, ie political perceptions were changing, owing to fear of being on the wrong side.

Before the Berlin Wall's collapse,  most people in the Soviet Union and its satellite countries were verbal supporters of communism. Once the Wall fell, the support for communism dissipated in these countries.

ii) Harvey Weinstein

His fall from grace is an example of an event that can change things drastically. He was an extremely powerful, successful Hollywood executive who was politically well-connected and appeared virtually untouchable. It was rumoured that he was predator on young women and that he was ruthless in his dealings with anyone who crossed him.

"...Once the press broke the story, people who had been afraid to speak lost their reticence. The outpouring of the revelations gave more victims the courage to speak out......silence was no longer an option......defending him was out of the question. Actors and actresses whose careers he had launched and promoted rush to condemn his behaviour..."

Timur Kuran as quoted by Virginia Postrel, 2017

Also, his fall from grace is linked with his loss of power, ie his production company had had a couple of bad years and he was ageing, ie in his mid-60s. Tellingly, some actresses he had launched decades earlier were now stars in their own right and had more influence now than when the incidents involving them occurred.

iii) Black Lives Matter (2019)

Killing of George Floyd by police in the USA gave rise to a world-wide movement condemning racial discrimination and police brutality

iv) Civil Rights (1960s)

Rosa Parks on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama - she refused to move from the area reserved for 'whites' and was subsequently arrested. This event triggered the civil rights movement in USA.


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