Lille, October 3
Day 70 of the March on Brussels. From Carvin, 20 km.
Our last stop in France, and finally we had an assembly like I remembered them in Spain. Lots of interested people, lots of signs and banners on the square, many appassionate interventions. Lille and the local indignados have prepared us the warm welcome we have been waiting for for a long time, in a fabulous panorama.
Entering the city we passed by a trailer camp inhabited by people from Montenegro. They have been living in France for many years, they have children born here, but they are not allowed to participate in society. The reason being that they don’t possess certain documents.
Lille is a charming city. Like many others, the center has been recently facelifted for the shopping pleasure of the middle class citizen. Now, the authorities want to clean up the outskirts as well. These people will have to go, their presence is anti esthetic. It brings down the real estate prices of the zone.
Tomorrow we enter Belgium. In the Route commission yesterday we decided to go through Flanders instead of Wallonia. The Mediterranean will already go by Mons, so there is no reason for us to go there as well. We will make a visit to the Popular Assembly in Gent. Still, some of the French were doubtful about Flanders. Worse, they were prejudiced. “Lots of fascists there.”
“Watch it”, I said, “I’m Flemish as well.”
It was a bit of an exageration, but the fact of the matter is that I can’t stand this kind of talk. The same thing happened that very morning when people were spreading fear for right wing radicals in Carvin. More than a dozen people went straight to Lille to avoid the friendly little town.
For the Intelligence Commission it was an occasion to gather valuable information about people’s rational and irrational fears, about the contagiousness of fear and its possible uses as a weapon. But most of all, it showed us whom we can count on in a case of emergency.
Another reason for us to opt for Flanders was the distance. It can be covered in four days. Or at least, that resulted from a route proposal that was send to us by ‘Brussels’. This way we would have one day off in Gent for preparations.
The proposal turned out to be flawed. The distance Lille-Waregem was presented as being 28 km. By simply looking at the map, you will notice that it’s much more than that. It’s 42 km.
The Route commission decided yesterday to stick with the long leg to Waregem, to save our day off. We have done these distances before, day after day. It was decided upon by six persons. Today a French communications comrade came to me to verify the route for publication in internet. I confirmed: Lille-Waregem-Gent-Gent-Aalst-Brussel. First leg 42 km.
The news went around quickly, and many of the people who had come directly to Lille by train were scared of this distance. They hadn’t been walking for two days and sure they wouldn’t walk tomorrow. A counterproposal was formulated. Divide the leg in two, and cut the full day in Gent. Comrade Canario vetoed it on the spot. “Out of the question. This is decided upon. Don’t be woosies.”
Tonight a campaign against the marathon distance was started. Up to forty people attended an improvised Route assembly to change it. They are still discussing at the moment of writing, but they will probably succeed.
The reason why I speak at length about something so futile as this, is because it presents a very interesting precedent from a legal point of view. It undermines our system based on consensus. If people can come together to invade a commission and overturn a veto, then our decisional structure is open to be changed.
It probably should. Consensus leads to paralysis. In the General Assembly of Sol they know what that means. The other day comrade Alexis told me about an assembly in Sol where someone bluntly said that the consensus system itself was never decided upon by the assembly in Sol. It’s used out of custom and inertia. And there’s no reason why any one single person should be able to block the will of everyone else to change it.
It’s late at night. The new route is official. Tomorrow we don’t go to Waregem. We go to Kortrijk.