March to Athens
Day 176-CII, Ελευσίνα.
'Falling down is permitted. Getting up is a must.'
Eleusis, May 1
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