I arrived in Arras yesterday together with comrade Alexis. He remained with the march, so far, and he tries to avoid Cowboy and most others where he can.
Alexis is not a vicious person or a slacker. He just makes himself impossible for most. Since he lost his faith in the march, a couple of weeks ago, he has become a bit more sympathetic. Now, instead of getting angry, he ridiculises things. Many people can’t appreciate that, but I can.
In Paris he has spent a couple of days with the Pretorians. To him, they must have seemed a gang of small time crooks from a Woody Allen movie. They were battering the cities and the towns, asking for money in name of the movement, but their booty didn’t ammount to much. In Paris they wanted to make their big move. They tried to open a bank account, where acampada’s could make deposits for the march.
It didn’t work. The word got out. But I would have loved to see it. The Cuban as the godfather, Felix as his little helper, and Legionario as the brainless muscleman. None of them speaking a word of French, in Paris, trying to set up a hoax.
This morning Alexis left with other two people who are fed up with the march, to take another route. We go on, but not after some people have been sowing fear in the group this morning.
Terrorism, far from being a threat to our contemporary way of life, is one of its most important pillars. It means control through fear. The average citizen is controlled and influenced through fear all day long. Fear for himself, fear for the safety of his children. Fear of his boss, fear of losing his job. Fear for his health, fear of losing his looks. Fear about his home, his property, his pension, his future. Terrorism is everywhere, and we call it advertising. It strengthens power and it sells products.
Terrorism has entered our march, not as a tool, but as a result of genuine fear. Today we go to Carvin, and when some people heard that name this morning, they began a rumour campaign. Carvin is supposedly controlled by the extreme right. People made it seem like the place was a nazi stronghold where gangs of skinheads roamed the streets and snipers fired at anyone who didn’t correspond to the description of blond hair and blue eyes.
The people who sowed fear were the same ones who were drinking and dancing the night before when comrade Abel repeatedly announced a meeting of the Route commission.
“You should have been there to talk about this. Now the route is made up, we are going to Carvin.”
Some people will go directly to Lille, and the rest made the summertime walk through Picardy.
In Arras the familiar signs of flemishness got stronger, in the architecture, in the beer and the fries, in the names of the streets and the faces of the people. Walking further North, we enter the miners’ district. A big agglomeration which goes far into Belgium, centered around Lille. You see impressive artificial hills in the land, to indicate the mines, you pass by village after village made of bricks.
Carvin has suffered much from having to adapt its economy from soil exploitation to debt slavery. There is a lot of unemployment, which might explain the surge of the far right of which people are so fearfully rumouring. But we don’t meet gangs, nor snipers. Only hospitable citizens and a man on the parking lot who lost his house after he divorced from his wife. He still has his job, but he has to sleep in his car. He is as indignado as the rest of us, and more.
With Christ in the morning I reviewed the state of the march. The positive news is that we will make it to Brussels. As for the negative news, there’s a wide choice. The ‘Logroño case’ is exemplary for certain human weaknesses in our group.
Lately, the Acampada Logroño has donated a couple of hundred euro’s to the march. They said they would like it to benefit the group, but they left the decision about the money to the three people from Logroño among us. These three didn’t hesitate to divide the sum among themselves.
As for two of them, I’m not surprised. The third person was our oldest comrade, Abdullah. He sold the respect and the moral authority he enjoyed for a fistful of euros to buy tobacco.
On the positive side, I can reveal that the grave things that had happened in Paris are resolved. We feared that in Paris we lost the so called ‘Book of the People’. It’s the notebook in which we have written down the problems of the villages and the propositions of the people which we want to bring to Brussels. It would have been scandalous if it had come out. What on earth are we doing this march for if we can’t even safeguard all the things we want to bring to Brussels? We were already planning a dissimulation, trying to gather whatever information we could get from the acts and from memory.
But yesterday, fortunately, Christ asked for a piece of scrap paper to one of our comrades.
“Here”, was the answer as our comrade ripped a piece of paper out of a notebook.
“Hey! That’s the Book of the People!”
“It is! Give it to me! I’m the official librarian of the march.”