Burning & Looting: ‘law enforcement’ in Maritzburg lockdown style


This short reflection was prompted in the first instance, by a couple of disturbing actions by elements of the state in CLP’s hometown of Pietermaritzburg. It seems terribly important to highlight them, and to expose them. But perhaps more deeply, we want to flag an ‘activist’ tendency to externalise ‘enemies’ rather than thinking from “our collective complicity in the situation that produces injustice” – and also a broader social tendency to scapegoat and/or technicise what are essentially “crises our society is being crippled by” and that actually require “changing our collective ways of being and doing so we stop reproducing the crises at all”.
We conclude that: “It is clear that both incidents show a level of planning, authorisation and coordination that is deeply sinister. It is clear that both show levels of officially-backed and widely-supported xenophobia and bullying thuggery that is toxic. It is clear that both deal with issues of social inequality, economic vulnerability and environmental catastrophe that structure the very life, and indeed death, of our town, Pietermaritzburg. The way forward out of these multiple and overlapping crises should not be to imagine we can outsource them to armed thuggery. No, we need to be thinking together, in humane, clear, honest and principled ways, about how to overhaul the very basics of how we organise our lives and how we relate to each other and to the environment/s we share.”