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10:15 | 19.09.2013

International

Fascism in Greece: hundreds of attacks, one political assassination and a socio-political deadlock

by Maria Kalantzopoulou


It’s been more than a year (since the national elections of 2012) that an openly fascist – neonazi – nationalist organization, Golden Dawn, has risen to the status of a parliamentary party in Greece.  Golden Dawn is represented by leftover supporters of the military junta, encompassing admirers of the Nazis, even descendants, natural or ideological, of their collaborators during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

Golden Dawn was formed some years after the fall of the military junta but actually first tried to regain some social support during the early 1990s, at a time of a renaissance of nationalist ideals on the occasion of the debate over the naming of the neighbouring Federal Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as it became an independent state. It failed.

It tried again to penetrate society during the 1990s and 1900s, capitalizing on racist reflexes developed against several waves of immigrant influx (mainly from Eastern Europe at the time). By the end of the 1990s and during the early 00s up to the Olympic Games of 2004, immigrants represented a huge working force, indispensable to the construction boom of the time. Therefore, racist discourse became adequately and temporarily inappropriate. It was also substituted for a short time by appraisals of ‘multiculturalism’ (immigrants were all of a sudden part of that hip picture), a new trendy identity, especially for the city of Athens.

Soon after the Games, immigrants became literally obsolete as a labour force since theconstruction sector came gradually to a standstill. Even before the official announcement of the “crisis” in 2009, there had been a social explosion in 2008 due to the assassination of a 15year old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, by a policeman in downtown Athens. Golden Dawn, under the cover of the name of a citizens’ group from a particular downtown area of Athens, highly populated by immigrants by that time, was about to organize one of its first public gatherings informed by the notion “oust the migrants”. Timing was absolutely imperfect and, again, it failed.

Soon after that, and capitalizing on people’s rage against police brutality (provoked by the assassination of the youngster), it started developing links first exploiting (and cultivating) social reflexes claiming for “legality” and “peace”, then racist practices and discourse demonizing the “other” (namely the immigrant) as the source of all trouble in city life, later exposing its true fascist and even neo-nazi profile.

By 2012, Golden Dawn had managed to capitalize also on people’s despair and reaction against dramatically rising poverty, unemployment, insecurity and breaks in social cohesion. It also managed to deceive people into taking it for an “anti-memorandum” or “anti-systemic” political force. Of course, even before the national elections of 2012, its true criminal (even murderous), fascist and racist nature had been largely exposed on numerous occasions of organized attacks against carefully selected immigrants, antifascists and gays.

By the time of the 2012 elections, some of its candidates had already been officially accused for such attacks (some of them have by now been acquitted, some others still haven’t come to trial, overall none has been convicted so far).

A maybe even more substantial reason why Golden Dawn escalated to the status of parliamentary legitimization was that official parties in power (PASOK and Nea Dimokratia), their political alliances (smaller yet absolutely in-line political formations), hand in hand with their supporting media and large and corporate local capital, incorporated, supported and realized a large spectrum of its fascist-racist political agenda, elevating it to mainstream status.

Despite some criminally naïve projections on how Golden Dawn would come to its “democratic senses”  soon after it got into the “system” of parliamentary democracy, Golden Dawn just legitimized its agenda even more, supported by major government officials who all the more openly support the same views.  Systematic pogroms against migrants both unofficial (by Golden Dawn), and official (by government and police), have taken place on numerous occasions. By now Greece is notorious in handling foreigners’ human rights and has “gained” numerous convictions by all sorts of international bodies (for example check April 16, 2013, report of Niels Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights). There have been, murderous attacks, harsh intimidation and beatings of members of the LGBT community, etc., and all the more often attacks against antifascist groups and events (rallies etc). Police are either absent, watching, or even supporting the cause; either by protecting them, or by co-executing their own plan. It’s obvious and also sort of proven by the electoral results, that Golden Dawn has significantly penetrated the Greek police, and especially the riot police.

In the last few weeks, Greek society is facing anew the typical sort of blackmailing of the last 2 -3 years: either thousand of people lose their jobs,  or we don’t get the next tranche. This time, the people targeted are professionals in the public education sector, one of the most important social bearings in this time of severe socio-economic crisis. The public health sector workers will soon follow. And so on.

The momentum was perfect and adequate for all sorts of disorientation and provocative actions.

 

A few days ago, a mob of Golden Dawn supporters/members attacked some syndicated members of the Communist Party while the latter were posting posters calling for a demonstration in the next days. The attack was very well organized, they actually laid an ambush, and 9 people ended up severely wounded at the nearest hospital.

Largely in the same area, Golden Dawn mobs attacked again last night. And this time the result was one young man dead: a cut and clear political assassination.Last night, Pavlos Fyssas, an openly anti-fascist young man (worker in steel industry, hip-hop artist and antifascist activist), was trapped with a few friends by a fascist mob in Amfiali, a neighbourhood of Keratsini-Piraeus. Eventually, Pavlos was was stabbed to death by Giorgos Roupakias, a fascist who confessed to both the murder and his ideological and professional engagement with Golden Dawn.

All of this, as far as we know by now, happened before the very eyes of some 5-10 Greek policemen who refused to “interfere”.

Today, Greek police are ostensibly investigating central offices of Golden Dawn, whilst actually protecting full-force its offices all over Greece against numerous demonstrations that have already taken place, even attacking demonstrators without any provocation.

The mainstream media, along with the main government line, has already rushed into:

a) associating the assassination with non-political causes e.g. a dispute over football, b) depoliticizing the discourse alluding to an overall and conveniently “large” notion of “violence” which extends from public outcries and “moutza” (an insulting gesture, equal to “oust”) to criminal mobs’ practices of beating, stabbing, etc against immigrants, leftists and antifascists,

c) resort to an appalling and profoundly unreasonable “theory of the two extremes”, which is used to exculpate all (and they are many, many hundreds over only the last 3 years) neonazi criminal and murderous activities or messages as opposed to an orchestrated demonization of the “left”, which is systematically projected as populist, destabilizing of the holy status quo, even claimed as equally violent (which is absolutely false, and insinuated on purpose).

For all of us who come from all the anti-fascist, humanist, and democratic traditions ranging from genuine liberals or social democrats to anarchists, sharing at least some minima in terms of principles and human rights, what’s left is to actually stand up. To defend our lives and ideals, talk, write and spread the news and gain support inside and outside the country and fight, just fight the fascists down to their holes.

For all of you who are not familiar with the situation in Greece at the moment, you have to know that amidst a deep socio-economic crisis attacking each and everyone of us, we have to cope with personal despair for our future, shame for our openly or mute, yet essentially fascist compatriots, and intimidation for our most noble principles; principles such as antifascism, social freedom, equality of rights and so on. For principles which used to, or still seem, in mainstream rhetoric, to be prevalent, yet are systematically undermined, even cancelled in all spheres of sociopolitical life (public discourse, legal framework, official policy etc). Tolerance of whomsoever’s (not only coming from the GOLDEN DAWN, the official political representative of fascism) fascist preachings or practices equals to fair and square complicity. By now that’s more than clear. In this rather small country of ours, we are certainly not “anonymous”, yet, we do not forget or forgive either.

 

All in all, and for the time being, as a society we’re trapped in a socio-economic and political deadlock: We’re going back. We’re going wrong. We’re going black. But we don’t lose hope. Besides, we have no other choice.

Source: LeftEast

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