postvirtual

“We are all Individuals!”

In France, March on Brussels on 5 September 2011 at 22:13

Naintré, September 5

Day 42 of the March on Brussels. From Poitiers, 26 km.

View from my tent this morning

Dear people,

Autumn is approaching, and for us, people marching North, it’s approaching twice as fast. We start to notice it, the nights are becoming colder and our daily rhythm is changing.

It’s no longer reasonable for us to aim at getting up at six. People are usually on their feet around seven thirty, and we start to march between eight thirty and nine. Also, we have to schedule our assemblies earlier than we used to, in order for them to finish before nightfall.

In the meantime, we can do little else but march.

Minaret of the mosque in Poitiers

 

'Behind the wall'

Today, again, I rebelled against the official route. The road was too big on the map, and there was a small parallel route which followed the river. This time, not surprisingly, a group of about ten people followed me, blindly trusting my navigational skills. They were very happy with my guide through the small villages along the water. Only during the last ten kilometres or so, people became grumpy with me, because the road was too long.

“It’s because I don’t have the faintest idea where we are or where we’re going.” With a straight face. But they didn’t believe me.

Castle near Poitiers

 

Our expedition is just over half way, and I start to notice signs of exhaustion. I also have the idea that the social structure of our tribe is taking a more static form by the day. People know each other more or less and they have developed certain sympathies or antipathies. On the base of that, little groups have formed. And because the internal assembly is neither held regularly, nor very effective even if things are decided, the organisation comes down to the interaction of all different persons or groups, or the lack of it.

This is not necessarily negative. We are all individuals. And that’s how it should be. But with a heavy daily routine, recurring frictions and still a long way to go, people can get irritable. This can lead to a kind of laissez-fare where we confide in things to go ahead, without us as individuals being prepared to take an extra step for the benefit of the group.

On the top of that the white van has broken down. “It’s a complete disaster”, says comrade Alexis. I have my doubts, because we’re still here, and we will reach Brussels on foot, there’s no doubt about it. It’s the common goal that unites us. But the coming days are going to be critical for the logistical support team, to see if we can keep on going as before, or if we have load the kitchen and the bags on our shoulders.

Statue in Naintré

 

Monsieur le maire in popular assembly

While on the one hand we are faced with all our daily social and practical problems, the popular interest and support for our march keeps growing. In the small town where we arrived, a lot of mainly middle aged locals took part in our assembly. For the first time the mayor of a village sat down in our circle, beneath the banner which incites the peoples of Europe to rise up. It’s not completely illogical, because it’s mainly these villages in decline which have a lot to gain from a citizens’ revolution.

But also in the assembly political differences within our group keep surfacing. You have the partisans of horizontal assemblyism. They stress the fact that the 15M movement is open to private citizens and not linked to political parties, workers’ unions or associations of any kind. There are comrades who look for cooperation on the base of common objectives, and there are others who mainly speak about the love-peace-and-harmony side of the movement.

The great challenge of anarchism is to make sure that every single member of society can do his or her own thing, and to make it work out for all. We can do that, because we are good people, and we are conscient of the fact that as humans we have many things, the most important things, in common.

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