I started this morning with an early walk to the river, an hour before the sun came up. The coldest time of day with yesterday’s snow still fresh and undisturbed. I had to move. The news at 5 am was Tunisia and there was no going back to sleep. Feeling a million miles away; a winter landscape in a backwater of the Imperial homeland knowing that out there, on another part of this turning earth, a people were furiously intervening in their own lives, making a history of their own. Like so many it has captured my imagination. How could I sit still?
There is a call from the past in every uprising, a point at which the generations meet; the defeats of the past, the struggles of the present and the will to the future. Justice for the dead, justice for the living, justice for those to come. This struggle is hardly over, indeed it has hardly begun and thinking about tomorrow is an anxious thought.
The images of Tunisia brought Victor Serge’s description of the combatants of the Barcelona commune in his The Birth of Our Power alive this morning. On a bridge watching the Huron River warming up with coffee as the day came to life in heavy gray I thought about this passage. It is one that I have read at memorials for comrades, I have come to know it by heart and whispered it to myself at moments in my life. Writing this now, back home and warm, Al Jazeera is on with more live reports; prisons on fire, road blocks, trouble at the top. Instead of doing homework this day will surely be spent with Tunisia. I don’t know what tomorrow brings in Tunisia and the Maghreb but a tremendous price has been paid, an example has been set, possibilities impossible only a month ago. Serge:
‘Very likely Dario, at the end of all this trouble we will be shot. I have doubts about today and about ourselves. You would laugh, Dario, if I told you this aloud. You would say, stretching out your great, shaggy, brotherly, strong hands: “Me, I feel able to win all the way. All the way.” That is how we all feel, immortal, right up to the moment when we feel nothing anymore. And life goes on after our little drop of water has flowed back into the ocean. In this sense my confidence is as one with yours. Tomorrow is great. We will not have prepared this conquest in vain. This city will be taken, if not by our hands, at least by others like ours, but stronger. Stronger perhaps by having been better hardened, thanks to our very weakness. If we are beaten, other men, infinitely different from us, infinitely like us, will walk, on a similar evening, in ten years, in twenty years (how long is really without importance) down this rambla, meditating on the same victory. Perhaps they will think about our blood. Even now I think I see them and I am thinking about their blood, which will flow too. But they will win the city.’