A Sledgehammer Called Reality
In March to Athens on 20 April 2012 at 17:41
Day 165-XCI, from Δελφοί to Αράχωβα, 12 km.
Arachova, April 20
We could have seen it coming, and many of us did, but only since yesterday it’s official. As far as Athens goes, we don’t have any illusions any more.
Our comrades organising the International Agora have been very silent lately. And even though in general ‘no news is good news’, Greece is different. News or not, it’s bad. And yesterday evening comrades Getafe and Laurentina showed up in Delphi to bring us the bad news in person.
There is no Agora Athens. For two months, ever since they left the march in Salerno they have been trying to organise something, together with local movements. Yesterday they admitted defeat. Reality has dealt them the final blow.
Athens is a city of five million inhabitants. Many of them are depressed or even desperate. It’s a city under shock. If we had arrived last summer, when Syntagma was occupied and there were oceanic demonstrations in front of parliament every night, we would have found it to be a warm bath. Now we are only the distant echo of a movement whose brief season has already ended here last autumn.
People don’t believe in popular assemblies or demonstrations or peaceful resistance any more. They have no hope, and if they take the streets to demonstrate it’s mainly for the adrenaline kick.
In two weeks time, when our march will arrive, hardly anyone will notice, and those who do will shrug their shoulders. Especially with elections being held the day after, we definitely won’t make any difference.
Our liaison comrades, and others before them, told us that there is no lack of resistance movements in Athens. In fact, there are far too many of them. According to Getafe, twenty-five different anarchist movements have been trying for two years to establish common objectives. By now only five of them are still talking to each other, the others have gone their separate way. And that is just the anarchists. The fragmentation among communists and other groups is much worse.
Pacifism is frowned upon as useless by most movements, even if relatively few of them actively profess urban guerilla. Those who do are invariably manipulated by the mainstream media. On tv the acts of violence are highlighted at the expense of the underlying motives.
All we can do in this giant maelstrom is what we always do. We go, we take a square, and after that, we improvise.
With hindsight, the auspices for the organisation of an ‘international agora’ hadn’t been favourable from the start. In Belgium or in Italy, the word ‘agora’ may recall the ancient public square where people met and exchanged ideas, but in new Greek agora means ‘market’. It might be a bit confusing for some.
All the while the march is in the mountains. Today we had another 500 meters of ascent to do. Looking up from Delphi, we see the town of Aráchova high above, guarding the mountain pass. In the early evening, when dark clouds gather around the peaks, the town sounds and seems a bit like the gate to Mordor.
Even without hope or illusions, we will have to pass.
Me personally, I’m a bit relieved. The march is one thing, Athens is another. We need to concentrate on the road now, show strength and carry on. Cueste lo que cueste.
Yesterday I talked about the situation with comrade José Miguel, the archaeologist. He has been with us every day from Rome, he has put up with all the shit that has happened along the way, and he always kept working for the group, cleaning the square, doing difusion with charm and with a smile.
“How do you manage?” I ask.
“Look,” he says, and he takes a business card out of his pocket. “This is from a mister Georgios Kristopoulos. He has a jeweller’s shop here up the road. Just now I told him about our march. I gave him our flyer, and he cried. All because of this lousy piece of paper which explains our reasons for marching. He cried out of gratitude for what we’re doing. That’s why I’m still here. I’m doing this march for mister Georgios Kristopoulos.”