Day 53 of the March on Brussels. From Montlhéry, 26 km
We are camping near the gates of Paris. We have reencountered comrade Waldo who has meticulously prepared our arrival in this modest black-and-white suburb of the capital.
The walk over here was a strange experience. We didn’t cross the city and we didn’t cross the countryside. It was a hybrid. Old villages and modern flats interspersed with cornfields and vegetable gardens.
Half way towards the center of gravity, the urban matter thickens. We go from suburb to suburb over a bicycle lane through a green corridor of parks. The monuments we encounter tell the story of the division of general Leclerc, who received the honour to be the first to enter Paris in August 1944. While the soldiers were liberating the city, Ernest Hemingway was ‘liberating’ the wine cellars of the luxury hotels.
Since yesterday we are joined by a comrade from Barcelona, a veteran of the Mediterranean march. He confirms all the bad stories. I haven’t yet heard a single positive word about their march. Rumours had already reached us that they did at least three legs by car. It’s all true. They are a bunch of slackers.
What I didn’t know was that a French girl living in Barcelona joined the march in Montpellier, and grabbed power. The principles of horizontally were abbandoned in favour of dicatorship. She controlled everything, the assembly and the logistics. She imposed rules and punishments.
“Really?” I ask, “and did things go better after that?”
“No. The internal conflicts persisted. The only result was that people stopped participating and thinking for themselves, which are more less the two things we want to accomplish. Those who didn’t agree with the new regime packed their bags and left.”
Lady Blue Eyes, the Führer, was only once confronted with a rebellion, in Nimes. A minority of hard core marchers refused to go by car. But everything was already organised. A fait accompli. The rebels desisted. The march restarted from Lyons.
The only positive result of the coup was that the internal assemblies stopped being a lengthy waste of energy and time. They turned into informative meetings where the leader communicated her decisions to the group. The popular assemblies on the other hand were a theatrical piece that followed the exact same script every single night, interpreted by the same actors. “A farce.”
I recognise these tendencies. But in our march we never even got close to the extremes of the Mediterranean. And though we should all be sad about the failure of our comrades, a most human reaction to this news is one of self complacency. “We aren’t so bad after all, compared to those gilipollas of the Mediterranean.”
Unndoubtedly the most succesful march from a human and a revolutionary point of view is Toulouse. They were few and their organisation was minimal, but very functional. For the most part of the trip they didn’t have a support vehicle. They walked distances of 25 km max with their bagpacks on their shoulders and they hardly ever ate a hot meal. Only sandwiches. They didn’t have commissions, and they didn’t exhaust themselves with internal assemblies. Everything worked out naturally.
Even their communication was much better than ours. Their blog is serious, updated by one person only, and whenever they had a support vehicle at their disposal, the car went ahead to the villages on the route to distribute flyers and attach manifests announcing the popular assembly. By comparison, our Communication commission has counted up to eight people, about as much as the entire Toulouse march, and they hardly ever managed to do any difusion in the villages on the route, or to bring out the word of the march on the internet. One example says it all: the other day a member of our Communications commission came to me to ask if he could send an email to his family. They hadn’t heard from him in ten days, and he wanted to let them know that he was alive.
At Orléans our march has literally swallowed the Toulouse march. We treated them simply as another handful of marchers. We never did anything to integrate them, or to learn from their experiences. It’s one of our capital sins. Arrogance. ‘We are the March on Brussels, we come from Puerta del Sol, and we are going to teach the world the gospel of peaceful assemblyism.’
Some of the people from Toulouse have already left our march. The others don’t participate in the assembly, and rumour has it they are planning to secede after Paris and walk to Brussels the way they used to.
In the two speaches I held to the popular assemblies of Tours and Orléans I stressed the fact that there are many people who share our objectives. People who have been fighting for a better world for years. “We are conscious of this”, I said. “We also come here to learn from you. With all due humility.”
Comrade Vladimir, the only active participant from the Toulouse march summed it up in three words. For him, the movement of the indignados can only be aimed at one thing.
“Convergence of struggles.”