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.
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.
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.