In March on Brussels on 28 August 2011 at 21:03
Montlieu la Garde, August 28.
Day 34 of the March on Brussels. From St. Vincent de Paul, 42 km.
Up until now I have limited myself to walking the march and documenting it. I haven’t been active in it’s organisation. I waited until the march was such a mess that people came to me to ask if I wanted to play a role. So yesterday evening we sat in McDonald’s, the only place where we found access to internet, and we were plotting. The internal assembly isn’t working, so the idea surfaced to form a junta and to take things into our own hands. Nothing outside the principles of the movement of course, because there exists a concept called ‘liberty of action’, and you can stretch it as far as you like.
Wake up call in St. Vincent de Paul
This morning it turned out it wasn’t necessary to take far reaching measures. Something had changed overnight. As if we all felt that something had to be done, discipline had returned, and the marching spirit came with it. In retrospect I think the rain we experienced in Bordeaux had helped a lot. Instead of turning the march into a disaster, it brought us together. Apart from that the menace of rain scared away the hippies, and that’s a good thing. The people who remained were determined to bring this march to a good end.
Crossing the bridge
We departed around eight this morning. The route we fixed the evening before was the longest up to date, marathon length. We arrived twelve hours after we left. We went in group, all the way. Almost everyone joined in, the supply along the route worked out perfectly, and despite the crazy length it was a great walk.
First thing we crossed the Dordogne in the mist, and while we walked the bridge, the fog lifted, the sun came out, and the East bank appeared in all its beauty. It was a good sign. We will reach Paris, we will reach Brussels, and we will be strong. After all, we are the arrowpoint of the revolution, and we are conscious of that.
Fog lifting over the Dordogne
It’s a great adventure, dear people. Long marches have been undertaken before, both military and civil. But we are different. We don’t have a leader, everything is self organised. We are anarchism in practice, and we’re proving it can work. Not only in an acampada, but also in a march, with all the practical and social problems it brings.
Today we brought a map, and that was a fabulous improvement. We took the old abbandoned roads and while we’re starting to make headway into central France, we are discovering a parallel infrastructure that leads through a phantom country.
Ever since the motorways were built, the small villages of France have been languishing. There was a time that all the traffic came through these villages. The bars and the taverns flourished. Now you can hardly recognise the old signboards bleached by the sun. The windows are blinded, the roofs fall apart. There isn’t a living soul on the streets and you can walk for miles without ever encountering a car.
Through the vineyards
The last part of our walk leads through the pine forests. The road goes on and on. But today the moral is stronger than the fatigue. The supply car brings us a hot meal in the middle of the woods. It brings us safely home.
We arrive just before sunset in Montlieu. Most of the tourists seem to have gone home. Once again, we are the March on Brussels, and today we showed character. I am proud of my revolutionary brothers and sisters.
In March on Brussels on 27 August 2011 at 21:01
St. Vincent de Paul, August 27
Day 33 of the March on Brussels. From Bordeaux, 18 km.
Today we had a little stroll through the sleepy suburbs of Bordeaux on the right bank of the Gironde. It was a ridiculously short leg, considering the distance we have to cover to get to Paris. I have the impression that the route commission is improvising and losing time. We are going to have to do something about this.
Crossing the Gironde
Still we enjoyed the walk. With four comrades we seceded from the group that was following the national road and we went village hopping up to today’s stop on the left bank of the Dordogne river. The rain only briefly interupted us. On our way we encountered a military dump store and we considered renting a tank. It would be an excellent support vehicle. But as comrade Perro rightly commented, there is a slight possibility that it will be misinterpreted. If we arrive in Brussels with a tank then maybe people won’t take our claim of being pacifists very seriously.
Yesterday evening I received a lesson from one of the hard core walkers, comrade Abdullah, the Methusalem of the march. “You think you’re documenting this march, but I have the idea that you are reasoning with your feet. Don’t you have eyes in your head? Don’t you see what’s happening?”
He gave me his analysis of the first few days in France, and why it went wrong, according to him. In Bayonne the few people that received us had put their hopes on this march. We were their heroes, the Spanish indignados. We had made a real change all over Spain, and now we were coming to France. When they saw that we lost hours and hours in an internal assembly trying to decide if we should deploy our tents or not they were a bit disillusioned. I remember that scene. The police had forbidden us to camp, but some of us wanted to make a statement. The rest just went to sleep under the stars. Very late at night the few people that remained in the assembly decided to camp. But as they didn’t want to wake up the rest, they desisted.
In Tyrosse, the next leg, Abdullah claimed that we lost the support of the French intellectuals and the civil society. The assembly that evening was visited by many people from social organisations and unions. They came to offer their support. Bluntly, and a bit arrogantly, we explained to them that we do not associate with any organisation, only with individuals. They could have helped us with organisation, diffusion and logistics, because the civic associations are very well organised in France. Abdullah denounced a leaping lack in sense of strategy within our movement, and I fear he is right.
The result was that on our third leg, in Dax, we were received, under a bridge, by the local marginados. Because the fact of the matter is that many of the French indignados are people at the margin of society. People from the street, junkies, outcasts of all kind. The middle classes don’t want to be associated with them. Also the creative class of educated twenty-somes, which form the backbone of the movement in Spain, are fearful of embracing the movement because of the bad image of the remaining indignés.
Abdullah is worried about the remainder of the march and the direction that things are taking. Me too. We are picking up more and more ‘tourist of the revolution’ that come camping along with their hippie vans, turning the march into a kind of travelling circus.
“I have been talking to people here. And if I find a right opportunity, I might just take it.” Abdullah wants to create a social community of people willing to work towards a common goal. “I’m 63 years old, and I think the time has come for me to start thinking about what I want to do with my life. Some people already start worrying about that when they’re twenty. Can you imagine?!”
I really like the old man. It would be a shame to lose him, but in the end, each of us has to follow his own road, and this march is only one short leg of life in which we’re walking together.