A Sledgehammer Called Reality

March to Athens
Day 165-XCI, from Δελφοί to Αράχωβα, 12 km.

Internal assembly in Delphi

Arachova, April 20

Dear people,

We could have seen it coming, and many of us did, but only since yesterday it’s official. As far as Athens goes, we don’t have any illusions any more.

Our comrades organising the International Agora have been very silent lately. And even though in general ‘no news is good news’, Greece is different. News or not, it’s bad. And yesterday evening comrades Getafe and Laurentina showed up in Delphi to bring us the bad news in person.

There is no Agora Athens. For two months, ever since they left the march in Salerno they have been trying to organise something, together with local movements. Yesterday they admitted defeat. Reality has dealt them the final blow.

Athens is a city of five million inhabitants. Many of them are depressed or even desperate. It’s a city under shock. If we had arrived last summer, when Syntagma was occupied and there were oceanic demonstrations in front of parliament every night, we would have found it to be a warm bath. Now we are only the distant echo of a movement whose brief season has already ended here last autumn.

From a different perspective

People don’t believe in popular assemblies or demonstrations or peaceful resistance any more. They have no hope, and if they take the streets to demonstrate it’s mainly for the adrenaline kick.

In two weeks time, when our march will arrive, hardly anyone will notice, and those who do will shrug their shoulders. Especially with elections being held the day after, we definitely won’t make any difference.

Our liaison comrades, and others before them, told us that there is no lack of resistance movements in Athens. In fact, there are far too many of them. According to Getafe, twenty-five different anarchist movements have been trying for two years to establish common objectives. By now only five of them are still talking to each other, the others have gone their separate way. And that is just the anarchists. The fragmentation among communists and other groups is much worse.

Pacifism is frowned upon as useless by most movements, even if relatively few of them actively profess urban guerilla. Those who do are invariably manipulated by the mainstream media. On tv the acts of violence are highlighted at the expense of the underlying motives.

All we can do in this giant maelstrom is what we always do. We go, we take a square, and after that, we improvise.

With hindsight, the auspices for the organisation of an ‘international agora’ hadn’t been favourable from the start. In Belgium or in Italy, the word ‘agora’ may recall the ancient public square where people met and exchanged ideas, but in new Greek agora means ‘market’. It might be a bit confusing for some.

Dark clouds over Arachova

All the while the march is in the mountains. Today we had another 500 meters of ascent to do. Looking up from Delphi, we see the town of Aráchova high above, guarding the mountain pass. In the early evening, when dark clouds gather around the peaks, the town sounds and seems a bit like the gate to Mordor.

Even without hope or illusions, we will have to pass.

Me personally, I’m a bit relieved. The march is one thing, Athens is another. We need to concentrate on the road now, show strength and carry on. Cueste lo que cueste.

Yesterday I talked about the situation with comrade José Miguel, the archaeologist. He has been with us every day from Rome, he has put up with all the shit that has happened along the way, and he always kept working for the group, cleaning the square, doing difusion with charm and with a smile.

“How do you manage?” I ask.

“Look,” he says, and he takes a business card out of his pocket. “This is from a mister Georgios Kristopoulos. He has a jeweller’s shop here up the road. Just now I told him about our march. I gave him our flyer, and he cried. All because of this lousy piece of paper which explains our reasons for marching. He cried out of gratitude for what we’re doing. That’s why I’m still here. I’m doing this march for mister Georgios Kristopoulos.”

On the square in Arachova


9 Comments on “A Sledgehammer Called Reality”

  1. Mickey says:

    As a person involved in the educational process, I like to say, “even if it’s only one person you can positively influence, then it’s a battle won” , so keep walking to Athens. And if not only for Mr Georgios Kristopoulos, then perhaps also for the 77 year old Mr Demetrios Κristoulιas, who took his own life amidst the Square opposite the Parliament on April 4, where the Agora would take place last summer.

  2. Niki Dimitriadi says:

    Hello Oscar and fellow marchers!
    Maybe I wasn’t there but I want to tell you some things from Athens.
    It is true we musn’t have illusions. It is true that during the elecions nobody will care for the agora, it is true that in Greece there is a completly different reallity, that many international people will be in their home for the 12 May and Agora is not good prepared. But please, don’ say that there is no Agora, don’t start morning and prejudging what there will be. You have talked a lot about the problems, let me talk about good news!
    First of all there are quite a lot of people who are talking about the global 12-15 days….That WILL BE a part of the Agora. Secondly, the autoorganised coffe House “Academia of Platonas” called us and proposed us to organise something together during the weekend 12-13 and mabe the days afterwords. They are organising an event with marcket of interchange, workshops, music and they are open to more ideas. That IS AGORA TOO.
    Other news, Germans are organising a march from Patra to Athens, 2 to 11 May and there will be cyclists, greeks and europeans coming for the 12 May, as well. All that will absolutly be part of the Agora.
    Now if we want to do samething morem have a simple programme and do some basic defusion, the most important thing is to stop with defeatism, stop saying that “there will be nothing, there will be nothing” because in this case, for sure it will be this way… We mustn’t have ilusions, but WE HAVE TO keep hope and keep trying up to the end.
    So please, I will do my best these last weeks in order to prepare something very small but good. The only thing I’m asking from you is a little bit of positive energy!

    See you all soon! I’ m coming to walk last day with you!

    • wanagiyata says:

      i agree ! one person with the right intentions can change so much ! so lets all keep up what we started it for … the cyclist will be there and so will i … because as someone i love said to me.. lets show life, our intention 🙂 and believe it makes a difference 🙂

    • Come on guys!! It’s not time to give up… Some of us will be with you in Athens!
      Remember what happened in Rome… It was quite a similar situation, but we managed it… None of the traditional movements gave a sight on us… But we occupied Vatican, we blocked the city for a situationist carnival… We made the biggest acampada in Rome since the beginning of the movement… You won’t be feel defeated unless you remember that you’re part of the world, and you have to play your act in it the best way you can!!

  3. E.K. says:

    Improvisation wont work. Programming is impossible.
    what is the solution?
    No appreciation has happened for last year….no critique. Maybe this should be a good start.

  4. Sarah says:

    [Note by the blogger: English further down]

    Kijk, ik vind dat flauw. In Italië zijn er zoveel groepen dat ze onmogelijk allemaal van elkaars bestaan kunnen weten. Een deel is dat ook cultureel denk ik. Het is wat het is en gaat zoals het gaat.
    En dan de agora in Rome. Wisten jullie op voorhand wat daarvan te verwachten was?

    Ik wil niet zeggen dat de voorgroep in Athene geen juiste inzichten heeft. Sommigen zijn er maanden, en ik weet dat het intelligente en strijdbare mensen zijn. Als zij zeggen dat er geen interesse is en dat er te veel versplintering is, geloof ik dat.

    Maar wat ik flauw vind, is dat ze het niet eens gaan proberen. En, als ze oprecht vinden dat het in de huidige omstandigheden geen zin heeft iets relatief grootschalig te ondernemen, dat ze dat dan zo laat laten weten. Juist deze groep van mensen. Zoveel zijn weggegaan naar Athene omdat ze het onaanvaardbaar vonden zonder plan en zonder perspectieven verder te stappen.

    Hoe meer ik erover nadenk, hoe teleurgestelder ik ben. Niet omdat er geen agora zal zijn – het is waar wat je zegt: de mars zal wel iets improviseren – maar wel door de flauwe manier waarop het aangekondigd is. Ze hadden de moeite moeten nemen iets van zich te laten horen. Ze hadden misschien wel gewoon de moeite moeten nemen zich aan het besluit te houden tenminste te proberen iets te organiseren, hoe slecht de omstandigheden ook zijn. Nadenken over politiek is geen alternatieve hobby die stilvalt wanneer het tegenzit

    Kom, kom, laat jullie niet ontmoedigen. Als ik op de interne vergaderingen was, zou ik erop aandringen het heft in eigen handen te nemen en meer te doen dan ter plaatse alles improviseren. Als dat mogelijk is, ik weet het wel. Maar zeg niet te snel wat onmogelijk is, vooral jullie niet.

    Contacteer de individuen die in Athene zitten. Waar is de Flamboyante Fin, hoe zit het met het individuele perspectief van Getafe, waar is De Amerikaan of een van de anderen die recent vooruitgereisd zijn?

    Zijn er nog Grieken in de groep die meegaan tot Athene?
    Heeft het geen zin een groep samen te stellen die op voorhand gaat? Zoals in Italië ook altijd gebeurde bij grote steden, dacht ik. Héél veel is er niet nodig op voorhand, uiteindelijk is het inderdaad voornamelijk praten en dat kan wel geïmproviseerd worden. Maar bekendheid geven aan jullie aankomst op voorhand, dat zou ik er wel echt uit proberen te halen.

    Komaan. Jullie zijn zoveel crisissen doorgegaan om die stomme datum vast te leggen. Buit hem nu ook uit dan. Jullie zijn geen duizenden kilometers vooruitgegaan, alle soorten moraal gepasseerd en alle mogelijke ruzies uitgevochten om nu met een sisser en zonder verwachtingen aan te komen op het eindpunt.

    En dat agora markt betekent, kom op. Dat doet een vergadering van tien dagen niet staan of vallen.

    Update: And Niki is coming back! And I thought I would be the only one to react – I didn’t even make the effort to translate in English – but look. We’re all counting on you. Don’t spoil it in the very last moment by saying it should’t have worked out.
    (and here in Italy I met fairly enough people planning to come – even, even, it’s becoming a catastrophe out of lack of interest, organize something for us, the over Europe spread crowd of supporters)

    Because yes, you’re changing peoples and lives. I totally met by accident the march in Rome, at the first agora (see that agoras matter?). I started to realize that I could do something with the ever-lasting feeling of ‘something is going wrong. Actually I’m not agreeing with what’s happening. But I don’t know how to change it.’ I started to realize that’s worth it to talk and to think about politics and that not only well-known and more or less experienced politics but every citizen is able to organize communities, society and lives. I never clearly said to one of you how energic I always feel when walking for a few days. Even in bad morals there is always at least one person reminding why it’s important to continue.

    Hey, do you realise you’re about to finishing a unicum? This march is walking from France to Greece for almost seven months because they’re convinced something has to change and that it is possible to do it now, this generation, this years. Lots of respect to the former marches, but this is still a level higher in my opinion (seven months! and started without any security there would be a big event to walk to). And though lots and lots changed, it also never was a one-man-operation, far away.

    I’m looking forward to meet all of you and I hope in good morals. Hopalla!

    • Dear Sarah,

      Thanks for your passionate appeal and revolutionary spirit. You can rest assured. Nothing fundamental has changed. The march is still here. We will be in Athens, and something will happen.

      If anything, the bad news lifted a burden off our shoulders. If we arrived at our destination with false illusions, that would really be a bad way to finish this march.

      Now we go with open visor, we will improvise, and that’s good. I’ve said it before, and I’m convinced that it’s true: improvisation is one of the basic the strengths of this movement. Everything we did, from the first tent that was planted on Puerta del Sol, to this whole march, was improvised.

      Now we’re here, we won’t stop. We have shaken up consciences on a wide scale, over all six continents, and on a small scale, in the tiny mountain villages of Italy and Greece. We will shake more of them, in Athens and beyond, like you got shook up yourself in Rome.

      Personally, I don’t blame our vanguard in Athens. Imagine yourself arriving in a metropolis where you don’t speak the language at first. It won’t be hard. This metropolis carries thousands of years of history, and during all that time, one way or another, people got screwed. By the church, the state, the banks, etc. As a result of this, people are depressed, disillusioned. Then you come with a bagpack full of ideals and all the good will of the world, and you want to organise something.

      It must be hard, really hard.

      A lot of things have happened in Athens during the last two months, both in the city, and between our liaison comrades themselves. I only know the version that was referred to us by ‘Getafe’ and ‘Laurentina’. And I appreciate it that they came to tell it to us in person.

      There will be an agora, sure, but for the moment it’s not the issue. We march on like we have been doing for a long time, with our heads up high. Thanks again for your positive spirit. I hope you will share it again with us in Athens, and beyond.

      Take care,

  5. 21 janvier 93 says:

    the end of the post is “grandioso” !

  6. 21 janvier 93 says:

    Billet du camarade Oscar

    Un coup de massue appelé “Réalité”

    Marche vers Athènes
    Jour 165-XCI, de Δελφοί (Delphoi/Delphes) to Αράχωβα (Arachova), 12 km

    Arachova, le 20 avril

    Chers camarades,
    C’était possible de le voir venir, et beaucoup d’entre nous le voyaient venir, mais depuis hier c’est officiel. Aussi loin qu’Athènes se trouve, nous n’avions plus d’illusions.

    Nos camarades chargés d’organiser l’Agora internationale à Athènes étaient très silencieux ces derniers temps. Et même si en général, « pas de nouvelles, bonnes nouvelles », en Grèce c’est différent. Des nouvelles ou pas, c’est mauvais signe. Et hier soir, Laurentina et Getafe sont montés à Delphes pour nous apprendre la mauvaise nouvelle en personne.

    Il n’y aura pas d’Agora à Athènes. Depuis deux mois, depuis qu’ils ont quitté la marche à Salerne, ils ont essayé d’organiser quelque chose, avec les mouvements locaux. Hier ils ont admis leur échec. La réalité a fini par avoir raison d’eux. [En fait, il y aura une marche allemande du 2 au 11 mai, des manifs pour les 12 et 15 mai, et l’Académie de Platon accueille l’Agora.]

    Athènes est une ville de cinq millions d’habitants. Beaucoup sont dépressifs ou désespérés. C’est une ville sous le choc. Si nous étions arrivés l’été dernier, quand Syntagma était occupée et qu’il y avait des manifestations « océaniques » devant le parlement chaque nuit, nous serions tombé dans un bain bouillant. Maintenant, nous sommes juste comme un écho lointain d’un mouvement dont la brève saison s’est terminée l’automne dernier.

    Les gens ne croient pas aux assemblées populaires ou aux manifestations ou à la résistance pacifique. Ils n’ont pas d’espoir, et s’ils descendent dans la rue pour manifester c’est principalement pour la montée d’adrénaline.

    Dans deux semaines, quand notre marche arrivera, pratiquement personne ne sera au courant, et ceux qui le seront hausseront les épaules. Surtout avec les élections le lendemain, nous ne ferons aucune différence.

    Nos camarades de liaison, et d’autres avant eux, nous avaient dit qu’il n’y avait pas un manque de mouvements de résistance à Athènes. En réalité, il y en a beaucoup trop. Selon Getafe, 25 groupes anarchistes différents essaient d’établir depuis deux ans des objectifs communs. Actuellement, seulement cinq d’entre eux continuent de se parler, les autres continuant leur propre route. Et ce ne sont que les anarchistes. L’émiettement des communistes et des autres groupes est encore pire.

    Le pacifisme est inutile selon la plupart des mouvements, même si peu d’entre eux professent activement la guérilla urbaine. Ceux-ci sont invariablement récupérés par les grands médias. À la TV, les actes de violence sont expliqués par des raisons cachées.

    Tout ce que nous pouvons faire dans ce maelström est ce que nous faisons toujours. Nous arrivons, nous prenons une place, et nous improvisons.

    En y repensant, l’Agora internationale était placée dès le départ sous de mauvais auspices. En Belgique ou en Italie, le mot “agora” rappelle l’ancienne place publique où les gens se rencontraient et échangeaient des idées, mais dans la Grèce moderne, agora signifie « marché ». Cela prête légèrement à confusion.

    Et avec tout ça la marche est dans les montagnes. Aujourd’hui nous avions 500 mètres d’ascension. En regardant de Delphes, nous voyons la ville d’Arachova tout en haut, gardant le col. En début de soirée, quand des nuages sombres s’accumulent sur les sommets, la ville ressemble un peu à la porte du Mordor.

    Même sans espoir ou sans illusions, nous devons passer.

    Personnellement, je suis un peu soulagé. La marche est une chose, Athènes une autre. Nous devons nous concentrer sur la route maintenant, montrer notre force et avancer. CUESTE LO QUE CUESTE (coûte que coûte !).

    Hier j’ai parlé de la situation avec le camarade José Miguel, l’archéologue. Il est avec nous chaque jour depuis Rome, il a affronté toutes les merdes qui sont survenus sur la route, et il a toujours travaillé pour le groupe, nettoyant les places, faisant de la diffusion avec charme et avec le sourire.

    « — Qu’est-ce que tu en penses ?
    — Regarde », me dit-il, et il sort une carte de visite de sa poche. « C’est celle de monsieur Georgios Kristopoulos. Il possède une joaillerie là, sur la route. À l’instant, je viens de lui parler de la marche. Je lui ai donné notre tract, et il a pleuré. Juste à cause d’un petit bout de papier qui explique nos raisons de marcher. Il a pleuré de gratitude pour ce que nous faisions. C’est pour ça que je suis là. Je marche pour monsieur Georgios Kristopoulos. »

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