Shocked into…

Mike Abrams

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Blog diary a month in lockdown

It’s Friday and News 24 tells me I have been in lockdown for 35 days 12 hrs and 7mins. Eish, I never thought that was possible, that I would stay inside and be able to manage my high levels of energy. But here I am, a 60+ facing a few more months and doing ok…ish. Trying to manage the pain and frustration of the stories of conflict and hunger, while I try to keep work and self alive by zoom bombing my brain.

As I reflect back on the first four weeks of lockdown it seems as if the violence in our country continues alongside the community mobilization: the rise of hunger, unemployment, GBV and clashes between citizens and armed forces all growing alongside the CAN movement and other forms of community mobilization. It feels as if there is a deep symbiotic relationship between the violence burnt into our souls and our ability to reach out and connect with each other in moments of crises. Between negative forms of resilience and positive forms of connection; generations of dispossession normalizing violence as part of the national culture and creating an epidemic of intergenerational trauma alongside 1000s of people mobilizing rage into action for social justice. Eish what a thought…the places one’s mind wonders off to in lockdown….How to manage the dialectic and contradiction….

With this thought in mind I went searching for readings and ways to understand what I was feeling and thinking. My search brought me to Noami Klein and the Shock doctrine. Often in moments of intense crises the trauma of the event and the potential triggering of ongoing intergenerational trauma can create levels of confusion and dislocation and we seize the ideas lying around to help the return to “normalcy” and control.

Watch this video featuring Naomi Klein before reading on….

Ideas that are lying around…like it is OK for some armed forces to use the sjambok to force people to get inside overcrowded houses? Or forcibly remove people from their homes…

Ideas that are lying around…that it is OK that men who practice toxic masculinities + are short of booze can be violent to partners and families

Ideas that are lying around…like selling off SOEs? Break national wage agreements with civil servants? Due to need for money to fight the pandemic. Called privatization?

Ideas that are lying around…like building strong working class organisations to end social injustice

Ideas that are lying around…like building a grassroots movements and alliances against GBV that enters every home in SA?

Ideas that are lying around…that trauma has been weaponized for century’s in our land leading to a silent almost invisible pandemic called intergenerational trauma which we pretend is not there…

Sitting here and reading what I have written I feel strengthened by my memories of mass struggles over the last 50 years. South Africans can organize!!And struggle pushing forward under the most difficult of circumstances. That’s the lesson I have learnt.

BUT can we unite as people fighting for emancipatory education and social justice NOW?

CAN we mobilize the rage brought on by GBV, Unemployment and hunger into peaceful energy of transformation and social equity?

I feel somehow that the next 6 months will answer this question in a deep and profound way