March to Athens
Day 145-LXXI, from Στράτος to Αγρίνιο, 12 km.
Agrinio, March 31
Three ridges of hills near the river bend were the site of ancient Stratos. From here, the citizens of this town controlled the plain and the entire hinterland of Akarnania until the Romans founded the city of Nicopoli.
What remains today is the theatre and the outlines of the agora. I sit on my rock in the morning sun, right between the two, when the tourist commission of the march comes walking up the hill for a visit.
This town bears the same name as the modern village in the valley, but that’s about as far as similarities go.
We enter the theater, we stand on the stage and comrade Jose Miguel, the archeologist, mic-checks the acoustic. They hear him loud and clear up above.
The theater is a ruin. The seats and stairs have gone, many rocks have been recycled, and the remainder has been invaded by the vegetation. All over the hemicircle where people used to sit and cheer, there are flowers growing by the thousands.
For me, and for others among us with a romantic soul, it couldn’t be better than this. But for José Miguel it’s different. He has studied too much antiquity already, his fingers are itching. He can’t help it. He would like to dig it all up, dust if off, and tell the story.
Alas, some stories are best when left untold.
The march breaks up camp and crosses the river into Aetolia. Today we go to town. The town is called Agrinio.
On the road we get honked almost continuously. The last time I witnessed something similar was when the Columna Norte was approaching Madrid. A car stops by, a window rolls down. “March to Athens?”
He gives a thumbs up and drives off. The voice of our march is spreading. It seems we have been on television after the demonstration in Preveza.
We enter triumphantly in Agrinio. Local anarchists await us. We take the square without any problem with police.
I pitch my tent and take a little tour of the city. It turns out to be an alienating experience. From the looks of it, there’s money going around in this place. All the brands are present, the bars are hip, and aside from that there is little else. The buildings are very recent, they are quickly puzzled together with prefab concrete. It all looks extremely fragile.
In a couple of months time, this city will be different. The brands will have changed, the bars won’t be hip anymore, the buildings will be replaced by new ones that will last even less, etc.
If Agrinio were to be abandoned tomorrow, it would take only a few years for the city to crumble. In a few decades you won’t recognise it as a city any more, and in two thousand years there will be nothing left but polluted soil covered by vegetation. Not even a theater will remain, not even the outlines of the agora.
Agrinio is just an example. Our whole civilization is as fragile as this. It is going to crumble.
When people ask us what we propose as a solution, we say we don’t have any. We don’t propose socialism, or communism or anarchism, or any other -ism. All we want is to exchange ideas with people and think about something completely new.