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15 mai 2012 2 15 /05 /mai /2012 19:25

Cleaning Syntagma

In #globalrevolution, Athens on 15 May 2012 at 11:25

Athens, May 15


Comrades Cansino and Aristocrates

Dear people,

The comfort of the squat is dangerous for the revolutionary spirit. Especially when there is little of it. It’s evening and we’re sitting together in the living room, a dozen marchers. In the small kitchen, Mami is cooking for her hijos de puta. The cloud of spicy smoke is so thick that it’s hard to read the writings on the walls.

It’s the first time that our clan has a roof, sofas, a kitchen, a shower to call our own. At least for the moment. After half a year of camping, people enjoy it. And no-one will deny that we didn’t deserve it.

But on the other hand, it’s 15M’s eve. Tomorrow we celebrate the first anniversary of our movement, and right now there is a handful of our people holding the square of Syntagma.

I have been there the first two nights, and I’ll be damned if I don’t join them now. So I rise up from the soft pillows of the sofa, I cut my way through the cloud of smoke, and I go. “Later, people. I’m going to see what’s cooking on Syntagma.”

It’s a twenty minute walk. When I arrive, I see we occupied the center of the square. People with sleeping backs and covers are gathered in a circle. I squeeze in, I lie down and I listen to humming of the conversation as I start to doze off.

Just when I’m about to get some sleep, police arrive. Two dozen officers in riot gear. Because of the blankets, this is considered camping in a public space, and we have to move.

We are not the only ones. All over Athens, thousands of homeless people are ‘camping’ as well. They are more every day.

We take away blankets and sleeping bags. We leave the cardboard. We lock arms and legs together and we humm. It takes as while, but in the end police retreat. We take our stuff again, and we stay in Syntagma for the third night in a row.

The third night in Syntagma

After the retreat of police

Occupy the tree

In the morning, at six, it’s police again for the wake up call. We have to move, seriously this time. The reason is that the sprayers come to clean the square.
We stay put. Riot police is deployed on two sides, and then they send in the cleaning car to put us pressure.

In a white cloud, the water vapour bounces of the tiles of Syntagma. The machine moves slowly towards the group. People start to evacuate, to try and safe their stuff. It could have ended right there. Indignados simply washed away from Syntagma as yesterday’s dirt.

This morning, 15M.

The sprayers arrive

But it didn’t end that way. The real heroine of the day was comrade Sabina from Belgium. She laid herself down in the streaming water in front of the spraying vehicle. And the firm look in her eyes said she wasn’t going to move.

It was the key moment. Max joins in and others follow. Comrade Cansino takes a bath straight in front of the vehicle and comrade Aristocrates plays the guitar. It’s a fabulous scene. And it’s true what they say. Our movement has an innate taste for drama and beauty.

Comrade Sabina, resisting the water

Comrade Cansino

Then police proceeds to evacuate, hesitatingly. They don’t really know how to handle us. If we were a band of hard core anarchists they would have just beaten us off the square and into the bus in ten minutes time. But these crazy foreign pacifists are different. They have to be handled with gloves. Plastic gloves to be exact.

The first people get dragged away. But just before they get to the police car, others come running in and piling up. Police have to start all over again. First, they surround the pile. Sabina got left out, but today she has revolutionary spirit for ten. She charges the police like a wild horse, demanding access to the circle.

Comrade Sabina charging the police

In the end the arrest took more than two hours. About a dozen people resisted, passionately. I didn’t add to their numbers. I preferred to document the scene and spread the news.

Today is the first anniversary of our movement. Here in Athens the marchers and locals on Syntagma marked it appropriately with a determined act of resistance. Not so much against police, but better, against the water.


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11 mai 2012 5 11 /05 /mai /2012 12:43


Democracy and Revolution

In Athens on 10 May 2012 at 12:57

Athens, May 10

Dear people,

While many of us keep chilling on the hill, or wandering through the desolate city, Agora Athens is going on, every day. Surely it’s not a big event, but it’s an event. We were told to nurture no illusions about it, so the fact that it exists is definitely positive.

It’s all thanks to the people who kept believing in this opportunity to meet and exchange ideas. They have been working on it for time, on the ground and on the net, and in the last few days they have been putting up manifestoes all over Exarchia.

The agora has attracted some attention from Greek activists, immigrants, and foreign travellers. It has addressed major themes like the debt, immigration, police violence, the dangers of tear gas, and the psychological effects of repression, with interventions by experts on the subject.

Yesterday the agora changed its usual meeting place in Syntagma with the quiet hill of Pnyx near the ancient stoa, meeting place of the philosophers of old. The topic would be direct democracy and self organisation.

The whole scene is like one of Plato’s Dialogues. In between the marble, the bushes and the trees, a few dozen people – mainly Greeks – are sitting in a circle on a hill. They are discussing the concepts of liberty, equality, solidarity, justice, democracy.

Far from Syntagma and the oppressing dailiness of the city all these words sound like perfectly unreal ideas, exactly like Plato himself would see them. This event is not going to change the world, but here on Pnyx, it has a very evocative aesthetic value.

Assembly on direct democracy at Pnyx

Athens is not one of the major cities of Greek tragedy, like Thebes or Mycene, but in the great Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylos, the city symbolically represents the triumph of reason and right.

The Oresteia is the only complete trilogy that has survived. It is practically the oldest pieces of theater, but it has one of the most beautiful opening sequences that I know. It’s a simple summing up of names, as if it were a biblical geneaology. But with a little bit of imagination, those names become incredibly cinematographical. As if the intro were written for wide-screen 3D.

It’s told on stage by the introducing character. Troy has fallen, finally, after ten years of bitter strife. The Greeks are inside the citadel, the Trojan men are killed, the women and children are enslaved and the babies are thrown off the walls without mercy. The palaces are plundered, the city is in flames.

Those flames spell a message, a message by supreme commander Agamemnon, king of Mycene, to his wife Clytaemnestra. It says ‘Mission accomplished. I’m coming home.’

Opening credits. Burning Troy fades into the distance. On a hilltop far away, a guard notices the flames. He runs to pile up wood, he takes a torch and lights it.

The camera zooms out again over the nightly panorama of the Aegean. As the poet spells the names of land and sea, the light travels over islands, hills and forests like a telegraph. In every one of those places a man spots the light, and passes it on. Cut to space, you see all of Greece and Asia Minor, in the middle you see a red glow where Troy had been, and all around you see little white lights expanding over the earth to bring the news that mighty Troy has fallen.

At sunrise, the message reaches Clytaemnestra on her balcony of the royal palace of Mycene.

Cut to Clytaemnestra. Her eyes are dark. She is all but delighted by the news of her husband’s return. She hasn’t been faithful to him.

Agamemnon hadn’t been faithful himself either. He had claimed more than his fair share of female booty during the conflict. His greed had caused Achilles to retire from the war and almost brought complete doom over the Greeks. Finally, he wasn’t ashamed to bring one of his conquests home with him. She was called Cassandra, she had the gift to foretell the future, and she was cursed by the fact that no-one ever believed her.

When she crossed the treshold into the house, Cassandra started to scream. She cried doom, death and destruction over the house of Atreus. But people laughed at her impatiently, and told her to shut up.

Her cruel predictions came true when Agamemnon was killed in his bathtub by his own wife, with the complicity of her lover.

This is when the real story starts. The tragic hero is Oreste, son of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra. He has to avenge his father. And his perverted fate is that to do so, he has to kill his own mother.

In a certain sense the Oreste tragedy is a mirror of the tragedy of Oedipus. Oreste would do anything to avoid his fate, but he doesn’t have a choice. He asks the god Apollo for help, and the god confirms. However painful, revenge is a must, and only Oreste can do the job.

And he does. With a dagger, Oreste kills the woman who gave him life. At the instant she dies, the hero breaks down and he is attacked by clouds of black-winged goddesses of remorse, the Erinyes. They swirl around him constantly, hissing that he is the most despicable of all creatures, and that he has committed the gravest of all crimes.

Oreste flees, he is on the verge of going mad, he returns to Apollo, begging to liberate him from his sense of guilt. “I had to do it. You said so yourself. Why don’t you help me?”

And Apollo: “There is nothing I can do for you. You have to go to Athens. Run, boy. Run. In the sanctuary of Athena you will be judged.”

Oreste runs to Athens, to the temple of the goddess of wisdom. Athena herself presides over an assembly that hears the case of Oreste and the case of the Erinyes.

Oreste is absolved. And yet the Erinyes get their recompensation. While Athena orders them to stop harassing Oreste, she acknowledges their importance, she offers them a place in the pantheon and with it the right to be revered.

The piece ends with a triumphant parade to celebrate the victory of reason.

According to Pasolini, who made a splendid translation into Italian, the Oresteia symbolizes the transformation of ancient tribal society based on force to an urban society based on the law. It’s a hymn to Athens as founding city of democracy.

The concept of revolution, of revolt against the ruling system in the name of human principles, is buried even deeper in the human psyche.

It starts with Prometheus, the bringer of fire.

In Aeschylos’ Prometheus Bound, the son of man is nailed to a mountain in the Caucasus. He had brought light among men, he had tought them the arts and the crafts of the gods. And he alone would pay for it all.

Every day Prometheus’ liver is eaten out by an eagle, and every day it grows back again. Crucifixion and eternal torture is his share for stealing the fire.

While he is up in agonising pain, various visitors, gods and humans, try to persuade Prometheus to make his peace with Zeus and ask for forgiveness. But Prometheus sends them off with words of rage and folly.

Where Jesus on the cross stoically accepted his fate, except for a single lament, Prometheus remains defiant all the way, against all hope. He is the archetype of the revolutionary martyr, when he screams with all his fury…

“Go away, and kneel! Fold your hands in prayer and be the dog that licks the foot of power! I don’t give a damn about Zeus! Let him do whatever he wants with the world, his time is almost up! He won’t be the king of gods for long!”

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9 mai 2012 3 09 /05 /mai /2012 20:31


Expanding Darkness

In Athens on 8 May 2012 at 17:10

Shopping cArt

Athens, May 8

Dear people,

Days are slow in our camp on the hill. The heat signs the time. In the afternoon, people are snoozing on the steps of the theater in the shadow.

Most of us will be here at least until the 12th, or else until the 15th, the day the agora officially ends. Some will stay a little longer.

Apart from our camp on the mountain we can dispose of a squat in the center of Exarchia, for showers, electricity, internet. People move up and down, but most of us prefer to camp in the public space. Lots of different people in a squat leads to trouble.

On Syntagma things were pretty quiet. Many cameras but no field battles or demonstrations. A thematic assembly on immigration was organised as a part of the agora. It’s a very weighty matter in Greece, it was well organised, but it didn’t catch a lot of attention from the locals.

It’s early evening. My mom is here for a revolutionary visit, together with a friend of hers. We walk through Exarchia, on the way to the hill. I tell them to be careful.

“There are anarchists on the loose here.”

“They don’t bite, do they?”


Tourists waiting to capture the change of the guard at parliament

On the central square of Exarchia, by pure chance, we encounter the comrades who suspected José Miguel of being an infiltrator. They had abbandoned the squat before the march arrived and they hadn’t shown their faces to anyone. They are about to take the plane and leave. Two other comrades from the march to Brussels who had come here to organise the agora had already left.

They look pale and tired. The city has worn them down, both physically and mentally. They go back. It has been a delusion. I hope Spain will give them new strength.

A day earlier I had encountered Timo the flamboyant Finn on Syntagma. He has been here about as long as our other comrades, but he is not thinking about going away. He adores this place.

Athens is grim. You have to be able to cope with that, Timo explains. ‘The dream of the Greek middle classes is over. And with it, the bourgeois way of life. This attracts a whole different type of people.’

Many of them are concentrated in Exarchia. Artists, squatters and punks from over the world in a maelstrom of drugs, repression, resistance, creation and destruction. And no hope.

It’s fascinating to see. The years of the big boom are definitely over. This is a city in full decline. You don’t even have to walk through the streets to notice it. You can see it from above, from the mountain of Exarchia.

At night, the city fails to shine. It’s no happy blanket of lights, like you would expect a metropolis to be. You can see patches of darkness, especially in the neighbourhoods of the center.

For the moment only the Acropolis is still immune against the expanding darkness. She remains a golden rock, suspended in the air while the city around her loses its exuberance, and lights are dimming, every day.

Acampada teatro


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7 mai 2012 1 07 /05 /mai /2012 14:47

Moon over Exarchia

In #globalrevolution, Athens on 6 May 2012 at 23:36


Athens, May 6

Dear people,

At dawn we were woken up by police. We had to take down the tents that we had put up a few hours earlier. Once we did that, we could sleep on.

It was a bad start of the day. People are nervous, tired and angry. Some of us still try to get some sleep, others want to discuss and resist.

At eight o’ clock police say we have to go. The first tourists are about to arrive, and they don’t want them to see a band of hippies camping.

So just like the night before, we get escorted for a couple of hundred meters into the desolate inner city hell of Athens.

Retreat from Thisio




We decide to return to Syntagma. We park our shopping carts there, we occupy our angle, and we crash in the grass to get some more sleep.

That’s more or less how the day went by. It was the second day of Agora Athens. Most of the things that were planned never took shape. Only the preparatory assembly for a march to Palestine attracted the attention of some locals, activists and marchers. For now it’s only a crazy idea. If there are people crazy enough to join, it might become a reality.

I’m quite skeptic on the subject, and I don’t really see the point of it, other than the desire to keep marching.

Two routes are being considered. The northern one would leave from Greece and pass through Turkey up to the border with Syria. The southern one would leave from Tunis, cross all of Libya and Egypt up to the Suez Canal and the Gaza strip. In both cases it’s very unlikely that the march will arrive at its destination.

The Turkey route is hard, but practically feasible, and likely to be overwhelmingly beautiful. The North African route is impossible unless the march adapts itself to the circumstances of the land and transforms into a kind of old style caravan with camels, mules and Arabs. It has hundreds of kilometres of deserts and uninhabited lands to cross along the southern shore of the Mediterranean. It must but an incredibly boring walk. But from a revolutionary point of view it’s the most interesting route, because it touches the three countries that were at the root of the Arab Spring, starting from Tunis and passing by Tahrir square before arriving directly on the border of Israel.

Return to Syntagma


While we are relaxing under the trees in Syntagma, the Greeks are voting. We don’t really care about it. ‘If elections would change anything they would be outlawed’. The only worrying thing we heard is that the neo-nazi party can legally take part for the first time, and they are set to take a lot of votes.

And so they did apparently. The nazis have entered parliament, and when evening falls police presence around the square goes up. They are expecting the nazis to come celebrate in Syntagma, and the anarchists to pick a fight with them.

We don’t want to be caught in the middle. We decide on a strategic retreat to Strefi, the mountain of Exarchia. It was the place that the Greeks recommended us for camping. We won’t be visible there, but at least the place is defendable. Police are unlikely to send us away, because they would have to enter the anarchist quarter to do so, and that could lead to street fighting.

Palestine assembly


Veterans of the march in Athens

It’s almost midnight when our caravan arrives in the park on the hill. It’s a great place for camping. We occupy a stone theater between the trees. A few meters further up the hill you look out at the citadel and the gold lit Acropolis. The full moon is high. There is quiet all around.

‘So here we are,’ I think. ‘Why did we come here? And where are we going next?’

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6 mai 2012 7 06 /05 /mai /2012 15:14


Syntagma at Last

In March to Athens on 5 May 2012 at 23:58

March to Athens
Day 180-CVI, from Περιστέρι to Αθήνα, 6 km.

May 5 2012. Foto by comrade Juanito.

Athens, May 5

Dear people,

The tents are packed, the shopping carts are loaded, the sun is high. We have no more time, we have to decide where to go.

The answer was obvious all along. There was only one place where the March to Athens could end. At Syntagma square.

The only real issue was the road that would take us there. We narrowed the options down to two. Either we’d pass by the tourist area of Thisio near the ancient Agora, or by the anarchist quarter of Exarchia.

People’s preferences were clear on this. We would pass by Exarchia. And comrade Mami would take us there. She is in charge of the map.

Getting ready to depart from Peristeri

After Madrid, Paris, Brussels and Rome, the march has reached the outskirts of the European Union. This is Athens.

In all the other capitals the march had entered with defying confidence, but this time we are really far from home, in one of the black holes of the crisis. We heard a lot stories about this city, maybe too many, and you can sense that people are a bit nervous.

We paint our faces, like custom. We prepare to make noise with pots and pans and flutes and drums. And when the time has come, we march for the last time, all together.

Along the way we are escorted by one police car. Before we left, they warned us. “Tonight no free camping.”

Passing Omonoia square

We walk and we try to combine our shopping cart parade through the city with a jam session.

In Exarchia we find a burned out Mini and we turn it into a drum and base. It’s like rocking in an urban jungle.

The wildlife of the zone opens windows and eyes to see who has come to disturb its habitat.

It’s the March to Athens. “Hipipipeeeooo!




On the little square we halt. People are surprised and dressed up in various shades of black. We mix with them and we drink beer. There’s sudden tension because of the tv-camera that came to follow us. The camera soon disappears, and it only returns when we exit the quarter half an hour later.

The march in Exarchia

It’s the last metres to the square, along the artery where the big demonstrations pass. Mami is ahead with the map. She has been very diplomatic in the preparation of our arrival. To avoid troubles with comrade Mimo she wanted the members of the junta to be the first to enter the square.

Field Marshall Mimo

At the last turn we are welcomed by the heavy cavalry. A batallion of Greek indignados on motorbikes. Their honking and the humming of their motors is the soundtrack of our entry in Syntagma.

Here we are. We drop bags, we park prolleys and we abandon ourselves to collective and individual embraces. This is the final square.

On Syntagma at last

The bikers

Music, immediately. The beat is good. The square is ours and it feels like home. All ages and styles come by, and many of them keep hanging around. The comrades who organised the agora had put up a little exhibition with fotos from the march, and the locals brought food and drink.

Police didn’t interfere in any way. They simply warned us that we can’t put up our tents.

Assembly in Syntagma

A welcoming assembly is celebrated. We exchange courtesies and emotions in Greek and English. It’s a satisfying scene on an impressive stage, and it goes on and on. Darkness falls and then comrade Mimo decides that the time is right. He reclaims his position of supreme commander, he puts up his tent and he takes the square.

Field Marshall Mimo occupying Syntagma.

The generals of the junta gather around him, they toast to victory. Among other marchers, tensions go up. Fear for police is high. If we have to believe what we have heard, they are worse than animals, they are monsters.

Three officers have taken note of the tent. Soon, from the southwest corner, a dozen police start to move up to block the stairs on the side.

Syntagma is like a giant pool. From the upper side it’s easy to control. Even though they are only few, the presence of the officers causes a shock. For many of us, but not for the natives. The Greeks in the square don’t even notice the police. Young boys keep whizzing past the officers on their skateboards with complete disregard.

Mimo lifts his tent. An emergency assembly is called for to decide if we stay, if we move or if we camp.

Emergency assembly

Many people don’t bother to participate in the assembly. They have scattered in small groups on the various lawns to enjoy the evening. They don’t see what all the trouble is about. After the tent was lifted, the officers had taken off their helmets and stepped back.

The assembly tries to find a difficult consensus between resisting here, heroically, or going elsewhere to try and get rest. Most of the Greeks gave us the advice of going. They wouldn’t stay here with us, but in other places there would be many people to support us.
Field marshall Mimo was soon fed up with it, and he planted his tent, again. This time he wouldn’t lift it. He was going to sleep in his headquarters on Syntagma.

The second time it wasn’t even necessary for the cops to arrive in order to create tension. Nothing was moving, but the cry of “they’re coming” had immediate effect. After that, it was Mami herself, together with the other members of the junta, who forced Mimo out of his tent, and folded it up.

The second occupation of the square, comrade Mami and general Ollie plotting a revolt against the field marshall

The supreme commander cried treason and hurled threats around, but Mami set him straight with one of her devastating explosions of fury. She is the smallest of us all, but she’s dangerous.

So the field marshall was betrayed by his own generals. Deeply embittered, he picked up his tent, he put me in charge of the square, and he left for the squat in Exarchia.

I walk around. I check the angles of Syntagma. Everything is okay. Little groups of people are smoking weed on the green. Others are passing by. A never-ending assembly is going on. I take a piece of cardboard, I put it next to the fountain in the center of the square, and I sleep. Like the first days in Puerta del Sol.

When I wake up, people are already preparing to retreat. Thirty odd police officers in riot gear entered the square from the side. With or without tents, they want us out.

It would be too much effort to arrest us all, so they just say we have to take our trolleys and they force us down, out of Syntagma.

We put up some lamentful vocal resistance, and we let ourselves be guided down to Monasteraki where there’s the saturday night crowd drinking in the square.

Visually, it’s quite a scene. The cops leave us in an urban desert of graffiti and bankrupcy, where people try to be hip in the bars that remain hip, even if decadence is fashion. The illuminated Acropolis is hovering over it, and we are in the middle, passing through traffic with our trolleys at half past one in the morning.

We move down to Thisio. In the park next to the ancient agora we put up our tents. The march is over, and it has already transformed into something else. But for now we are too tired to realise it.


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6 mai 2012 7 06 /05 /mai /2012 11:56





Publiée le  5 mai 2012 par vnousis

Πλατεία Συντάγματος 5.5.2012
Οι οδοιπόροι του March to Athens μόλις έφθασαν στην πλατεία.
Ξεκίνησαν από την Νίκαια της Γαλλίας πριν 6 μήνες και περπάτησαν πάνω από 1700χλμ κάτω από δύσκολες καιρικές συνθήκες

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5 mai 2012 6 05 /05 /mai /2012 16:13

Following the Current

In March to Athens on 4 May 2012 at 23:47

March to Athens
Day 179-CV, from Δάφνι to Περιστέρι, 6 km.


Peristeri, May 4

Dear people,

In Dafni field marshall Mimo had subtracted a pipe from one of the newcomers, and he used it as the symbol of his position as supreme commander. From early on in the morning he walked around with the pipe and with a mug of whisky, making sure that everything was under control, inciting his generals to do a good job on the route.

The members of the junta elaborated various proposals for our entry into the city. As the day advanced, the supreme commander accepted every one of them as the best option and kept requesting more routes and more whisky.

Within the group, people shrugged their shoulders. But finally Mami decided that she had enough of it, and she seized the map. Initially the field marshall nominated Mami as one of his generals and ordered her to advice him on a new route, but she wouldn’t have anything of it.

Hijos de puta! We have our entry into Athens to prepare, damned! Time to play is over!”

So the junta came to fall, and it was mamicracia again.



Washing dishes

Mami verbally maltreats anyone for any reason all day long. But if you know how to close your ears, you will have no problems with her. She usually goes ahead to prepare the square, and once we arrive she supervises the food collection and distribution. She is a driving force of the group, and she always complains that people don’t appreciate her.

This time she moderated the assembly, something which she hadn’t done before as far as I can remember. She showed a lot of patience. It surprised me, because I didn’t know she had any. But nevertheless it was obvious that the assembly wasn’t going anywhere.

We are one day away from our arrival in Athens and we don’t know yet where we will camp, how we will enter the city, if we pass by Syntagma, etc. After hours of discussion the only thing we tried to decide on was if we should decide right away, or the day after.

Both options were blocked. There is going to be no decision. We are on a ship and we pretend to decide together where we’ll go, but in practice it’s the current that guides us.

Comrade Max


Comrade José Miguel

Today we march into the city. More people have joined us, from France, from Spain, from Canada. And from Athens, the comrades that took their distance from the attack on José Miguel. Still we aren’t many, just over thirty, but we keep growing.

It takes less than two hours, we walk through the suburb of Chaidari to the central square of Peristeri, guided by one of the locals. Police escort us with one vehicle. When we arrive, they let us take the square without problems.

Walking into town


On the square of Peristeri



The square was abbandoned to the hot sun. Only in the early evening it starts to fill with people old and young, and with the participants in the popular assembly of Peristeri. They gave us a warm welcome and they brought us a wide variety of delicious home made food. We improvised a little assembly with them and they shared their knowledge about Athens city center and their advice on where to camp.

It didn’t help us reach a decision however. Until late at night we held an assembly of the march to decide on our primary destination. Syntagma, Exarchia, or Thisio, the site of the ancient agora.

Once again all three options were blocked. Tomorrow we march for the last time, we don’t know where we’re going and we don’t know how to get there. But I’m not worried. This is our way of doing things. And besides, Jesus Christ has joined us for the last leg. Now we only need to have faith, and everything is going to be alright.


Late night assembly in Peristeri



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4 mai 2012 5 04 /05 /mai /2012 15:08



In March to Athens on 3 May 2012 at 22:45

March to Athens
Day 177-CIII, from Ελευσίνα to Δάφνι, 14 km.
Day 178-CIV, Δαφνί.


Monastery of Dafni, May 3

Dear people,

In Eleusis three of our French comrades took control of the Route commission. I ceded them the maps, I gave them all requested clarifications, and I was actually relieved that it was out of my hands.

We had crossed the hills in two legs to be at Eleusis on the 30th, hoping that our comrades from Athens would be there, so that we could decide on our entry in assembly all together. They didn’t show up, and what’s more, some of them insulted one of our comrades.

‘If you touch one of us, you touch us all,’ is what we sing to police. And the same goes for anyone who betrays us. It left a scar on the march.

Waiting to leave Eleusis

In this situation, with no first hand information to go on, one route or another doesn’t matter. It was going to be a surprise for everyone.

There were two important reasons for the junta to stage a coup. One was the desire to take a day off in nature before entering. We didn’t do so in the mountains, so this would be the last opportunity. The other reason was to counter certain ‘manipulations’ of the march by people who had accepted an invitation of the assembly of Peristeri to go there as our last stop, without discussing it in assembly.

The junta consists of comrades Nicolas, Mimo and Ollie, of which Ollie is one of the two persons who did the entire march from Nice. As far as I know they never made the route before.

Yesterday they would have guided us to a lake, or to a place on the coast where we could take a holiday. Nicolas and Mary departed as vanguard in the morning to localise the place. In the afternoon, the group would follow.

It became an infernal day. We marched along the highway under the hot sun to a rendez-vous spot without any shadow. All along the way we had to bear the stench of the refineries. No place here to camp in the green.



Deciding where to go


Comrade Max, one of the supposed ‘manipulators’, was enraged with the Route commission for not doing a good job, but it would have been hard anyway. They took control of the route at the most difficult moment. I wouldn’t have done a better job myself.

In the end, after frying for hours on the contaminated coast we decided to move inland to the Byzantine monastery of Dafni. We found a park, hills and fresh water. The place is in a gorge along the main artery leading into Athens, and it’s located exactly at the entrance of the metropolis. On the one side, there is nature, on the other side the first houses.

We put up camp, we start cooking and exploring the surroundings. It’s already dark when four jackals on motorbikes arrive. Police. They ask what we’re doing here. We’re camping, we come walking from France and we go to Athens.

They go, and fifteen minutes later they return with reinforcements. Four bikes, eight officers this time. They say it’s illegal to camp, we have to show id, and we have to go immediately.

We explain who we are, and that we have been camping all over Greece.

“This isn’t Greece. This is Athens. Things are different here. You must go, now.”

So we put up our little piece of theater. We call an assembly, and we start with lengthy translations into four different languages to speak about what to do and put their patience to the test. All the while some of us keep calmly discussing with the officers. Police make phone calls to head quarters, and they go.

Frying potatoes next to the monastery

The tension remained. They could have come back to arrest all of us, and here we don’t have the advantage of the square. No-one will see us. We have to know how to act.

I stand in the middle of camp with comrade Mimo.

Mimo has emerged as the strong man of the junta. He has his history of carjacking, violence and schizophrenic tendencies, but he has joined the revolution with all his inphantile enthusiasm and he was miraculously cured at Easter in the church of Eratini. At this crucial moment, to protect our principles of horizontality, Mimo has adopted the title of ‘supreme commander’ and the rank of field marshall.

Among all the other things, he has also done the military.

As we are waiting for the cops to return, he explains the situation to me.

“We have to retreat to the edge of the forest. We form a first line of strong people. With four or five of them we immobilise one of the flicks and we take his gun. Then we fire a shot in the air. The other cops will be running like rabbits to get reinforcements. At that point we take the hills. We will dominate the battlefield from above, and we will start a guerilla.”

“With one gun?”

“Gun? What gun? No, no, no. We are non violent. Taking the hills would be a strategic error. Look, there are two paths that connect the monastery to the road. When police arrive, we have to secure at least one of them. We would take the highway and block the entrance of all traffic into the city.”

Field Marshall Mimo is in charge of all the maps. To avoid any further manipulations, they are only accessible to the members of the junta. And even though I knew about these ‘manipulations’, Mimo has appointed me his ‘first councillor’ with the rank of general. My task is to advice him on our advance to the center of the city.

It’s going to be fun. But contrary to what I said before, we will not be alone. We don’t need the support of our former vanguard, we have the support of all the Greeks we met along the way. From Preveza, from Agrinio, from Misolonghi, from Patras, from Itea, from Thebes, from Kriekouki. They made us feel at home when we arrived, and after we left they have come to visit us when morale was low, they brought us gas when we couldn’t cook, they brought us food, drink and joy. I’m sure that many of them will come to meet us in Athens.

They are more than comrades, they are friends.

Internal assembly in Dafni






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2 mai 2012 3 02 /05 /mai /2012 14:14


In March to Athens on 1 May 2012 at 17:14

March to Athens

Day 176-CII, Ελευσίνα.


'Falling down is permitted. Getting up is a must.'

Eleusis, May 1

Dear people,

The day started off great. With a small group we went to see the ancient town of Eleusis. The site was closed for May day, but one of the locals knew how to get in and gave us a clandestine tour.

The site is on a hill in the center of town. It’s an oasis of tranquility. There are bushes, trees, ancient rocks and buzzing insects. We sit down in the shadow, looking out to fair Salamis while our guide tells us about the Mysteries of Eleusis.

This place was probably the most important center of ancient Greek religion. From all over Greece, and from all over the Mediterranean, the faithful came here to be introduced into the secrets of life and resurrection.

Participation in the Mysteries was open to all people, to kings and slaves. But no-one was allowed to reveal anything of the rites, under penalty of death.

It’s a testimony to the force of the Mysteries that they lasted throughout antiquity, and that during all that time nobody ever said a word. Mysteries they were and Mysteries they will remain.

Entering ancient Eleusis

All we know is that they were based on the story of Demeter and Persephone, and infernal Hades.

Demeter was the godess of the grain. She sowed the land and brought abbundance to man kind all year long. Her daughter Persephone was a happy girl who used to trot around in the meadows picking flowers. While doing so, one day she was abducted by Hades, god of the Underworld.

Her mother looked all over for her daughter, she was so sad that she forgot to sow the land, and so great famine was the result.

She finally found her daughter in the abysses of hell, and pretended to take her back up to the light. But Persephone had eaten the fruits of the Underworld, which meant she forever had to stay with Hades.

The case was brought before the Council of the Gods. To satisfy all it was decided that Persephone would spend half the time of the year in the Underworld, and the rest of the year on earth.

During the time she is down with Hades, Demeter weaps her daughter’s absence, and to express her grief, the land doesn’t bear fruit. Then when Persephone returns to the light, her mother’s joy brings spring, and the circle of life starts again.

Looking out over modern Eleusis

When we descend back into the modern town of Eleusis, we see that our comrades who went to Athens yesterday night have returned. The expression on their faces spell tempest. Especially José Miguel.

It’s a long story. I can only tell it from the perspective of the march, and it goes something like this.

In Delphi two of our liaison comrades came to say that we shouldn’t expect anything from Athens.

That was fair enough. I’m sure it’s difficult to get something off the ground in Athens, so I didn’t blame them.

But even with no agora at all I was convinced that they would give us all possible support for our entry in Athens. It turned out that I was wrong.

We would have expected them to be at Eleusis yesterday and today, to share with us all useful information on the entry into the metropolis and the space where to camp. We shouldn’t even have to ask for that. But we did. I sent a message, strongly urging them to be here with details on various specific matters, especially the existence of a plan B in case our entry turns into a full scale catastrophe.

The answer came soon. It said more or less to fuck off. There is no plan B, there is no plan A. There is no nothing.

They have given up. It seems the only person who keeps on trying to make something out of this damned Agora, with unabiding revolutionary spirit, is comrade Marianne.

So while people are dropping in one by one from all over Europe and Greece to join us, the only ones we’re missing are the people of our own vanguard in Athens, a 30 minute bus ride away.

I was deeply disappointed. But the worst was still to come. This afternoon, José Miguel, Chino, Mami and others who were there told me what happened in Athens yesterday evening.

Maybe it’s the oppressing atmosphere of the big city, maybe it’s the continuous and intimidating police presence, maybe it’s simply contagious paranoia, but as I understand it, our comrades in Athens have gone out of their mind.

A small scale event was organised in the anarchist quarter of Exarchia to support the agora. Upon arrival comrade Chino was welcomed by someone from Spain he didn’t even know. “You have a problem. Because your friend is with the police.” He indicated José Miguel.

The guy was lucky that Chino didn’t chop him up. But they were serious. They asked José Miguel for his identification. I repeat: they asked José Miguel for his identification.

Usually only police themselves ask for ID.

That was the end of it. We are alone. With this gesture, our former vanguard in Athens hasn’t only insulted José Miguel, but also Max, Nicholas, myself, and pretty much the entire march.

On the other hand, maybe they are right. Maybe police did come to José Miguel to say to him: “Listen, why don’t you go walking along with these hippies and try to speak to people about self determination and revolution, try to organise popular assemblies, try to raise moral when people are down, and for heaven’s sake make sure you always leave a clean square and a good image. If you do so, you be will doing us, the police, a great favour.”

Maybe this is the truth, but I have a very hard time to believe it.

Not only José Miguel was suspected of infiltration and manipulation. The names of comrade Leonidas and myself were mentioned as well.

During the march, Leonidas has been our liaison comrade with popular movements of the lands we crossed, most notably the No-Tav rebels in Italy. He speaks good Greek, and he did his best to make use of it by trying to establish a connection with the locals.

As for me, of course I’m an infiltrado. It’s as obvious as can be. I’m spewing information almost every day. All the shit is out in the open. If police want to know anything at all about our march, they read my blog.

There are many more things I didn’t talk about. Maybe I can sell all that info to the Mossad, or the CIA, or MI5, and finally make a profit out of all this marching and writing. But the sad fact of the matter is that no-one would buy…

If we are really convinced that police would infiltrate a band of hippie gipsies or a bunch of frustrated foreigners in a squat in Athens, then we are thinking much too highly of ourselves and our revolutionary importance. And if we let this conviction influence our behaviour, then we are just plain paranoid.

So that’s the welcome we got from our own comrades after six months of marching. A stab in the back.

I sit under a tree on the hilltop of old Eleusis, and I think back to the early days of the revolution in Puerta del Sol. It was all a big cloud of love. Nobody did anything for him- or herself, we all worked together for the common good, and it made everyone incredibly happy. Those first few weeks were spent in a state of collective revolutionary drunkenness.

It was magic, and I went along with it completely. Only in a few rare occasions I had a moment of clarity, and I thought: ‘This can’t last. Every revolution has its life cycle. I wonder when this one will begin to degenerate by itself.’

In our case, I fear it has begun.

Internal assembly in Eleusis



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1 mai 2012 2 01 /05 /mai /2012 15:21

On the Edge

In March to Athens on 30 April 2012 at 17:48

March to Athens
Day 175-CI, from Παλαιοχώρι to Ελευσίνα, 17 km.


At the tavern

Eleusis, April 30

Dear people,

We are veterans. We have withstood all challenges. And crossing another ridge of hills is no problem for us. We took them head on and passed into Attica in only two days.

Still, after yesterday’s long leg to a non-existing place, some people had wanted to slow down and take an unscheduled day off in the meadow.

They didn’t convince the group. It wouldn’t have been a good idea for us to spend our last resting day in a meadow while we have our entry into Athens to prepare.

Before we left, we all gathered around the old lady of the tavern. We are her little babies, and she wanted to give us some advice before we wandered on into the wide world.

Respect, love, hope and faith. We don’t have to lose any of those. If we do, it’ll be the end of the revolution.

Little shrines at the garden center

We descend towards the sea, and oh! Only the people who have witnessed it can imagine the joy to see fair Salamis at large! I cannot help but think of the Persians.

All the Greek tragedies we know of speak about mythological or legendary subjects. All but one. The oldest surviving play, The Persians by Aeschylos, is inspired by a historical event.

More than historical, at the time it was first represented, the subject was contemporary. Aeschylos himself had participated in all three decisive battles against the Persians.

The Persian invasions of Greece happened at the turn of the fifth century BC. There were two of them, ten years apart. The first one was massive, it was led by king Darius. And even though his army was many times bigger than that of the Greeks, the invasion was repelled at the battle of Marathon. A messenger was sent out to bring the news to Athens, forty-two kilometres down the road. The inhabitants of the town were preparing for the worst, they were ready to flee. Then the messenger arrived, running, he had just enough breath left to yell ‘Victory!’, before dropping dead on the ground.

The second invasion was led by Darius’ son Xerxes. If the first one was massive in size, the second one was astronomical. According to Herodotus, the Persians numbered in the zillions. And they were not only Persians. They came from Babylonia, Egypt, Assyria, Cappadocia and every other nation that the Persians had conquered.

To make all those soldiers cross into Greece, Xerxes ordered a floating bridge to be built over the Dardanelles, connecting Europe to Asia. But the sea was wild, and the storms made it difficult to pass. They say that Xerxes wanted the sea to be lashed for not obeying his will.

The Persian army was much too big to be resisted. Nevertheless, three hundred Spartans tried to do so at the pass of Thermopylae in northern Greece. It was complete madness, but there was no alternative. A Spartan soldier may never surrender and never retreat. He may only win or die.

So they died, fighting. Up until this day there stands a sign at the Thermopylae which says ‘Stranger! Go to Sparta! And tell that we have died here, to obey her laws.’

One day I’ll go to Sparta. And even if there is no-one to hear it, I will bring the news that three hundred brave sons of Sparta died at the Thermopylae.

The Persians marched on south. They conquered Boiotia, they conquered Athens and they completely destroyed it. The only thing the Athenians could save was their navy, the ‘wooden walls’ of the city.

The Persians would have marched on to the Peloponnese. But their army was so large that it could only move if its supply lines were secure. For this, they depended on the Persian navy.

The Oracle had foretold that mighty Salamis would be the scene of Greece’s resurrection, and so it was.

With a strategem, the Greeks lured the entire Persian fleet into the narrows between the island and the mainland. Then they closed the entries and attacked. The huge numerical advantage of the Persians was cancelled out at once. Their navy had no space to manoeuver. They were caught in a trap and completely annihilated.


Salamis is a pivotal event in Greek and western history. After the battle, the bulk of the Persian army retreated. The remainder was defeated a year later at Plataea.

Aeschylos’ play is centered on the battle of Salamis. It couldn’t have been a hymn of victory, because then it wouldn’t be a tragedy. But anyway the point of view from which it is narrated is remarkable.

The protagonists of The Persians are the women in the royal palace of Susa. They are waiting for news from the front. Somewhere on the far western edge of the empire, their husbands, sons and fathers are subdueing a tiny rebellious province. They should be back soon.

Then the news of defeat comes in. Many of the men have found a sailor’s grave in the narrows of Salamis. They will never be back. At that point their world crumbles, and the Persian women join together in a heaven shaking lament of despair.

It’s a beautiful piece. It breaks your heart.

And yet, on his tomb stone Aeschylos, one of the founding fathers of theatre, didn’t want to be remembered for his plays, but for the part he played himself in the battle of Salamis.

We arrive in the mysterious town of Eleusis, at sea. We can’t see the metropolis yet, because it’s hidden by a low ridge of hills, but we can sense it’s there. The matter thickens.

In Eleusis the ancient city has turned into old rubble, and the modern city is suffering decline as well. Along the main street I count sixteen shops and bars that have gone out of business, almost half of the total. In the other streets around it, the situation isn’t very different.

When we take the square, various people come to talk to us. One of them is a girl who has finished more than one study. She speaks English and Italian. But she doesn’t have a job, and neither does she have the prospect to find one.

“I am twenty-six years old, and I don’t have any dreams.”

It’s one of the saddest things I heard since we arrived in Greece.

Acampada Eleusis


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