Arras, October 1
Day 68 of the March on Brussels. From Acheux, 31 km.
Every march has its own spirit. It’s there in the beginning, with the people who start the march, and even though the participants might change, the spirit usually remains.
If the march is chaos in the first few days, it will probably stay that way. You can talk and talk, you can draw up perfect organisational schemes every now and then, but in practice they won’t work.
Our march is far from perfect. We are strong, we have lots of people walking, but we didn’t really try to integrate the people who joined us in Paris, just like we never really appreciated the experiences of the people from the Toulouse march. We are operating the same way we did when we entered France.
By now, it’s too late to try and change things. In a week we will already be in Brussels. Nevertheless we held an internal assembly yesterday, which was centered around the issue of convivencia.
Our march has known all the problems of society. Theft, violence, polarisation, conflict, free riding, anti-social behaviour, lying, threats, etc. The way to deal with this has been mostly to look the other way, and to talk about it behind people’s backs.
Yesterday, all these problems were to be discussed in public. At the beginning of the assembly, people who felt like they had something to confess where asked to speak up.
Complete silence. A bunch of angels. All of us. Except for one, our Greek comrade Marianne. She has been part of various commissions and working groups, most notably Communication. She admitted that she could have done more than she did. She’s so sweet.
After Marianne, all the others didn’t talk to confess something, but to self glorify themselves and accuse the others of lack of dedication. They didn’t dare to use names. After all we are decent and understanding, we only accuse in general, everyone knows whom people are talking about.
It was disgusting. For a moment I considered to propose that we declare our march a failure and that we all go home. Goodbye Brussels.
I didn’t do it of course. I went to my tent, and I heard the rest from there.
In yesterday’s assembly, our (ex-)comrade Felix was present. He had come to salute us, and he had come alone. People must have been very relieved, because instead of talking about ourselves and our sins, we could turn on him.
His drinking vices, the money, the story about the secession, it all came out again. The discussion about our internal social problems turned into a revolutionary tribunal, a show trial. A hand full of people led the attack, and the others followed. Many of those people had never even seen or heard about Felix and the Pretorians before, but now they were yelling at the top of their voices for him to be expelled and crucified. It was the beast that hides in every mass of people. It was the spectre of the forks and the torches.
Felix didn’t enjoy any of the guarantees that a fair justice system should offer. Presumption of innocence, the right to defense, etc. We definitely need to work on this before we change the world.
As a movement we are open and inclusive. We have never expelled anyone before, even though we should have. This time the wolves were crying blood, so once the accusation had stated its case and silenced the defendant, the moderator proposed the verdict.
Propositions in our movement are always formulated in a negative sense. Not ‘Who is in favour of…?’, but ‘Is anyone radically against…?’
Felix was saved, because two persons blocked the verdict. They argued indeed that as a movement we shouldn’t expel people but always try to resolve our problems internally. The funny thing is that the ones who blocked were not even a part of our march. They were bikers from the Mediterranean, and this morning they went away again.
Their intervention could have had grave consequences. Because when Felix was allowed to stay, comrade Charlie decided to leave, together with his van. It would have meant we had to carry our stuff, and the kitchen, on our shoulders.
There was a cheer when he reappeared this morning. It turned out that yesterday’s trial had been completely superfluous. Felix never intended to stay in the first place. He was already gone when people woke up. So we had our breakfast, we left our bags next to the van and started walking as if nothing had happened.