postvirtual

Marching season under way

In Madrid, March on Brussels, Spain on 26 July 2011 at 23:54
Dear people,
I have a vague feeling, or rather a vision of our children as they study their history books. The 15M movement will be an important chapter. It will be much more widely discussed in the history books than it is being discussed now by the newspapers. Most probably one of the paragraphs will be about the Popular Marches.

Yesterday the Popular March from Madrid to Brussels departed from Puerta del Sol. And seeing all the enthousiasm around it, I think this will only be the beginning. Popular Marches might become very popular in the months and even years to come. And there are many reasons for that, which I have experienced myself.

Preparing for the March to Brussels in Puerta del Sol

First of all, it is relaxing to march. It’s an implicit protest against our society dominated by the clock, a society in which time is always scarce, a society which urges you to hurry, because time is money. But the more you hurry, the less time you have. It’s never enough.

When you are marching you have all the time in the world. You can engage in lengthy conversations, you can exchange ideas, you have time to think. These things alone are revolutionary, because in modern society the urge to hurry is aimed mainly at making sure that people don’t have time to think. The daily rat race exhausts them up to such a point that whenever they have a bit of time, they spend it on passive relaxation and shopping.

Marching opens your mind. And moreover it’s a fundamentally human experience. This is the way that our forebears travelled when they were still nomads. Through the mist of ages, deep out of our genetic heritage, an intense pleasure surfaces when you walk through the woods with a group of people who share a common destination.


In just a week time I have developed a strong bond with my comrades from the Northern March. During this very short period they were my ‘tribe’. It was such a successful experience that many of them have joined the March to Brussels. And many more will join it later. Once you experience the joy of marching you will have some difficulty to return to ‘normal life’, also because it makes you realise that normal life, when you think about it, is everything but normal.

So yes, we might see many more marches departing in the near future. While the people with their backpack where lining up for the photo shoot, I look for someone who can tell me about the route, the dates, other marches etcetera. But it’s of no use. There is no clear organisation. Like with life itself, you improvise the route along the way.


I walk up with them for a bit along the boulevards of Madrid. I’m very tempted to join them later on. It’s going to be wonderful, in the age of internet and cell phones and cheap carrier flights, that there are people who take over two months to travel from Madrid to Brussels, and who will talk to the inhabitants of all the villages they pass, face to face, about things that really matter.

Evening time. I go check out what’s happening at the siege of Congress. On the west side near Sol there is only half a dozen people present. The others are down at Neptunus, where there is a National Assembly planned to decide on how to give shape to the siege. Just hours before the Assembly I went by to see how the siege is developing urbanistically. The party tent was gone, and so was the customs barrier. There was a canvas attached to the lamp posts for shade. And there was a concert going on.

Concert on the third evening of the siege. Eastern side.

I’m impressed. There is no generator for the amplifier. It’s powered by two people on bicycles whose rear wheels are attached to a dynamo. This is us, the 15M movement, giving a demonstration of sustainability and good music.

Scenes from the third night of the siege. Western side.

Later on, when the National Assembly is held, there are still two people cycling to power the amplifier. The street is packed. The police officers behind the barrier joke among themselves. They are caught between two different assemblies. The one from the past, which they are protecting, and the one from the future, which is being celebrated right in front of them.

Scenes from the National Assembly outside of congress on the third night of the siege

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