Golden Dawn or Golden Twilight?

 

golden dawn3

Andrew Burgin from Crouch End Left Unity asks whether the arrest of the leader of the Golden Dawn movement in Greece will see the end of its political influence.

The arrests of Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos and other members on charges of heading a criminal organisation marks the first serious attempt by the Greek ruling class to crack down on the murderous activities of the neo-fascist party. The ruling elite have been pushed into action against Golden Dawn by the revulsion of the majority of the people in Greece to the brutal killing of Pavlos Fyssas, the popular anti-fascist rap artist. Pavlos was murdered by a Golden Dawn member.

Since the end of 2009 Greece has seen an unprecedented economic collapse. Its economy has been bailed out twice to the tune of 325 billion Euros and Greece now faces the prospect of needing a third bailout. The Greek economy is effectively under the control of the Troika; the EU, the ECB and the IMF. The strategy of the Troika is to drip feed the economy, sustaining the many international creditors, whilst demanding that the Samaras government implement savage austerity measures. The health system has been dismantled, hundreds of thousands have seen their jobs disappear and millions seen their pensions halved. Unemployment stands at 28% and youth unemployment is at 55%. Wages and salaries for those in work have been decimated. The Greece Solidarity Campaign in which I work has received requests from Greece that we concentrate our work on helping alleviate  the acute and growing problem of child malnutrition.

The rise of Golden Dawn

In the 2009 elections Golden Dawn received 4.500 votes, roughly 0.1 per cent. By 2012 their vote had risen to 440,000, 7% of the total vote. Recent opinion polls put them regularly at 12% and some polls put support for the fascists  at between 15% and 20%. Economic and social collapse in Greece is fuelling the growth of the extreme right.

Since the murder of Pavlos their support has collapsed back to 6-7% but they are still the third largest political party in Greece after New Democracy and Syriza.

The support for Golden Dawn has been built on a strategy of racism, anti-semitism and xenophobia There has been large scale immigration into Greece and the EU  ‘Fortress Europe’ policy has prevented many immigrants from moving on to other countries. Golden Dawn has scapegoated the immigrant community for all the ills imposed on Greece by the Troika. The EU has funded special detention camps for many immigrants in Greece where they are housed in appalling conditions and treated with the utmost brutality.

In the cities existing immigrant communities have been systematically attacked by Golden Dawn and many immigrants beaten up and sometimes murdered. Golden Dawn has ethnically cleansed the areas where they are strongest political force. They have set up Greek only food banks and entered hospitals and evicted immigrants seeking health care. Hand in hand with this has been a policy of physical attacks on the labour and trade union movement. Last week seven members of the Communist Party of Greece [KKE] were hospitalised after being attacked by a large gang of Golden Dawn thugs wielding crowbars. The LGBT community have also faced an alarming rise in attacks. At a recent rally  Golden Dawn parliamentarian Ilias Panayiotaras, launched into a homophobic tirade  shouting “Wrap it up you little faggots” and “Your time is coming”.

This civil war strategy against both the immigrant community and the labour movement and others has been accompanied by populist rhetoric against the memorandum agreement and the Troika.

Collusion of the State

Such is the depth of the economic and financial crisis still facing Europe that sections of the ruling elite in Europe are once again colluding with the far right. Right up until the murder of Pavlos the Greek state had turned a blind eye to the activities of Golden Dawn. This has now changed and some of those state officials who have supported Golden Dawn are also under investigation.  In recent days two security chiefs from the National Intelligence Service have been sacked and nine police commanders reassigned including the third most senior police officer in Greece. The popular demand is for a complete cleansing of state institutions from fascist infiltration –  the links between state and Golden Dawn go very deep.

There are verifiable reports that elements within the police and the army have been training and arming Golden Dawn paramilitary forces. There is video footage of Golden Dawn forces fighting alongside the police against anti-fascist protesters. In the 2012 elections it is reported that as many as half of all police officers voted for Golden Dawn. Anti-fascist protesters have been routinely tortured in police cells after being arrested.

greek special reservists

Golden Dawn has strong support not just in the police but also in the Special Forces reservists. The Special Forces have issued a call for the existing government to be replaced by one under military control. They were due to march in central Athens on September 28 calling for a military backed government to replace the Samaras coalition government but their march was banned. No doubt this ban and the arrests of Golden Dawn members are linked. Not even Samaras could countenance serried ranks of commandos marching through the capital calling for the overthrow of the government.

The arrest of Mihaloliakos is to be welcomed not least because it represents the pressure on the government by those anti-fascist supporters who took to the streets last week. Tens of thousands of trade unionists and anti-fascists marched on the Golden Dawn headquarters. Protests took place throughout Greece.

The arrests are also a belated recognition by the ruling elite in Greece that their interests and those of Golden Dawn are not yet interlocked. Maybe it was also understood that Golden Dawn, like the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930s, could outgrow its protectors. Certainly in recent months many New Democracy members and more importantly some political and financial backers had switched their allegiance to Golden Dawn.

Nevertheless Samaras and New Democracy continue to propagate the ‘theory of the two extremes’, accusing Syriza and the left of using the same methods as Golden Dawn. No doubt measures taken against Golden Dawn will be ‘balanced’ by measures taken against anti-fascists and others on the left. Already the spokesperson for Keerfa, one of the main anti-fascist organisations, Petros Constantinou, has been threatened with prosecution for defending the rights of immigrants. Recently Savas Michael the leader of the small Revolutionary Workers’ Party was prosecuted for ‘incitement to violence’ for calling for Golden Dawn to be smashed. And activists from the struggle against gold mining  in Halkidiki have been imprisoned.

The turn against Golden Dawn by the Greek state may be a temporary response to the popular reaction against fascism. So far the deputy leader of the party has not been arrested and the state prosecutor is promising a ‘fair trial’ which could become a soap box for Golden Dawn to make more propaganda. Arresting and even jailing fascist leaders does not destroy their political movement – that can only ultimately be achieved by providing an alternative solution to the economic and social crisis. In the meantime the fascist squads have to be driven off the streets.

.The economic crisis continues

This week did see the fascists confronted  by a mass movement bringing together many tens of thousands who oppose Golden Dawn. The growth of the far right has to be confronted both politically and economically.

The social and economic problems which fuel the growth of fascism are to be resolved by rejecting austerity and challenging the legitimacy of an economic system which is forcing millions into penury and despair. Greek workers have attempted through countless general strikes to drive the movement against austerity forward. It looked possible that the 2012 elections might lead to a workers’ led government. The massive increase in support for the Syriza  was due to the party’s promise to end the memorandum and lead such a government but the right gained a narrow victory.

This anti-fascist and anti-capitalist battle is being fought on a pan-European basis as well. The extreme right is gaining ground throughout Europe. In Hungary the anti-semitic Jobbik movement garnered 17% of the national vote in recent elections, in Finland the true Finns have become the third largest party and in France the Front National achieved its highest vote in the 2012 Presidential election. There is a call for a European anti-fascist movement based on the trades unions which deserves widespread support and the European day of action on November 14th 2012 which saw millions of workers throughout Europe take strike action against austerity was an important step forward.

Many in Greece are heartened by the arrests of the Golden Dawn leaders. The Greek people have a long and honourable history of anti-fascist struggle and the arrests are a product of pressure on the government from the people to take action.

Uniting the left

 In the 1930s the German labour movement, the most powerful ever built, was smashed by fascism. It was divided. In Greece today there are similar divisions. Syriza is the largest party on the left will stand at the next elections as will the Communist Party [KKE] which has strong support in many working class areas. The much smaller Antarsya grouping which is an important component of the anti-fascist struggle will also put up candidates even though their vote in June 2012 was miniscule. A sad situation with potentially tragic consequences.

Overcoming those divisions which exist not just in Greece but elsewhere on the European left is a necessary step to providing a real solution to the crisis of representation that the working class has faced for many decades.  The difficult task in Greece and elsewhere is to find the political basis, a united front strategy, to unify the left in order to fight both the extreme right and against austerity.

However there is no doubt that until the left resolves this question Golden Dawn will, despite the arrests today, continue to find fertile ground for they call their ‘socialist nationalism’. Fascism has to be pulled out by its social roots.

 

 

 

 

 


7 comments

7 responses to “Golden Dawn or Golden Twilight?”

  1. kevin o'connor says:

    Syriza is clearly moving to the right when it should be moving to the left.It appears to support the Greek membership of the euro and the EU which means acceptance of EU future austerity. Unless Syriza puts forward a bold socialist programme of widespread public ownership then Golden Dawn will probably continue to gain support
    Kevin O’Connor
    Islington left unity.

    • mikems says:

      It is not ‘moving to the right’ on these issues because it has always supported remaining in the Euro and the EU.

  2. VN Gelis says:

    In the space of six months we have gone from the ban of strikes to the indefinite closure of the state broadcaster ERT, to the mass sackings of 25k state employees (which is a breach of the Greek constitution) and now the unnanounced banning of elected parties.

    The media oligarchs who have big interests in Greece like Bobolas who owns Ethnos newspaper and Aktor the company involved in the extraction on behalf of El Dorado Gold this week was instrumental in arresting 27 citizens on trumped up charges (they are languising in gaol) were instrumental in ‘exposing’ GD.

    When mass strikes erupted lass time in February 2012 and conflict ensued in Sindagma Sq we had the then leader of the far right LAOS (like UKIP) party Karatzaferis join the Troika govt thus ensuing their departure from the political scene. The collapse of the Papadimos govt opened up the way for the meteoric rise of both Syriza and GD due to the collapse of the PASOK vote.

    Subsequently we had the rise of the Samaras govt backed by PASOK and the LAOS of the Left in the form of Kouvelis-DEM Left joining the coalition. Now faced by a collapse in the polls of Samaras ND, (disintigration of both PASOK and Dem Left) we have Syriza holding out and GD hovering around 15-20%, thus hovering around becoming the 2nd biggest party.

    The bonapartist measures imposed by the Troika on the Greek ruling elite in banning parties opens the door to bans on the Left (who are the main target in times of severe economic and social meltdown) for the ‘anti-terrorist’ police enters centre stage and the lies of Samaras of a coup by Special Forces reservists was only made to conceal his own real coup. Heading towards a third bailout and a new round of wages and pension cuts the mythology of the current administration that it is weeding out ‘crimininality’ at the same time as letting Tzohatzopoulos loose or allowing Papakonstantinou to walk free is not lost on the people.

    • Patrick D. says:

      VN, good analysis, but can we stop using the term bonapartist?

      At the time of writing the communist manifesto in 1848 it was a term that ordinary people would immediately grasp – it was a mainstream ideology in those days. But it is now 2013 and Napoleon died 192 years ago, and no one in politics today would associate themselves with the term “bonapartist”.

      • VN Gelis says:

        Banning parties (18 GD MP’s) means opening the way for either new elections (if the MP’s are removed as they were this morning from turning up into Parliament) or delaying elections till the end of the year due to alleged constitutional irregularities.

        The fact of the matter is that this Parliament is a rump, they make shit up as they go along, there are no rules of engagement anymore.

        The ideal solution of course would be no Parliament just administrators no electoral considerations etc. But the ideal to exist one has to erase history, tradition etc. For now Greeks are observers of the pantomime and the arrest of GD and this implies that no one can protest about anything anymore for the Troika state decides what is correct and what is wrong as evidenced in Halkidiki where the protestors were held on the same category as GD as being ‘criminal elements’

        The murdered Fissas and his father worked in the KKE shipyard zone of Perama. The KKE just fired its most talented journalist and the Ethnos newspaper its most talented journalist Delastik (member of Antarsya) who wrote a piece which essentially argued who profits who gains from this event implying indirectly the govt. It has the most to lose and the most to gain.

        How they resolve the constitutional issues, the banning of GD without it being a formal ban, the collapse of their vote, the road towards a third catastrophic bailout etc is anyones guess. Just like with the closure of ERT they are making it up as they go along. If elections are allowed to be held (Troika dont want them) then the 18 seats up for grabs would ensure Syriza had a clear chance of wining as the difference in the last elections between them and ND was only around 1%…

        In response to Patrick. The word has been a mainstay of the language of trots…as evidenced below:

        “The question of our attitude toward govt measures ostensibly against fascism is highly important.

        Since bourgeois democracy is basically bankrupt, it is no longer in a position to defend itself on its own ground against its enemies on the right and the left. That is in order to maintain itself the democratic regime must progressively liquidate itself through emergency laws and administrative arbitrariness. This self liquidation of democracy in the struggel against the right and left brings to the fore the Bonapartism of degeneration, which needs both the left and the right danger for its uncertain existence in order to play them off against one another and to progressively raise itself above soceity and its parliamentarism. The Colign regime has seemd to me for a long time to be a potentially Bonapartis regime.

        IN this highly critical period the main enemy of Bonapartism remains of course the revolutionary wing of the proletariat. Thus we can say with aboslute assurance that as the class struggle deepens all emergency laws extraordinary powers etc will be used against the proletariat.

        After the French Stalinist and Socialist voted for the administrative disbanding of paramilitary organizations, that old scoundrel Marcel Cahin wrote in l’Humanite approximately as follows “A great victory…. Naturally we know that in capitalist society all laws can be used against the proletariat. But we will strive to prevent this etc” The lie here is the word “can” What should have been said was ” We know that as the social crisis deepens all these measures will be used against the proletariat with tenfold intensity” There is a simple conclusion to be drawn from this: We cannot help build up the Bonapartism of degeneration with our own hands and supply it with the chains it will inevitably use to bind the proletarian vanguard’

        January 13th 1936
        Trotsky

  3. Clive P says:

    I take it that the comrade is pleased at the action by the Greek government thorough his comments “Many in Greece are heartened by the arrests of the Golden Dawn leaders…the arrests are a product of pressure on the government from the people to take action.

    I think it is a disturbing development and I also think that the final comment is very reminiscent of the comments that many foolishly made when the Muslim Brotherhood was recently overthrown in Egypt – ‘ok, it was the army who did it but it’s ok because people pressure is behind it.’

    A turn to such measures is to be condemned, What if Syriza develops a spine and is doubtless seen as ‘acting illegally; by the Greek state?

  4. VN Gelis says:

    Banning parties (18 GD MP’s) means opening the way for either new elections (if the MP’s are removed as they were this morning from turning up into Parliament) or delaying elections till the end of the year due to alleged constitutional irregularities.

    The fact of the matter is that this Parliament is a rump, they make shit up as they go along, there are no rules of engagement anymore.

    The ideal solution of course would be no Parliament just administrators no electoral considerations etc. But the ideal to exist one has to erase history, tradition etc. For now Greeks are observers of the pantomime and the arrest of GD and this implies that no one can protest about anything anymore for the Troika state decides what is correct and what is wrong as evidenced in Halkidiki where the protestors were held on the same category as GD as being ‘criminal elements’

    The murdered Fissas and his father worked in the KKE shipyard zone of Perama. The KKE just fired its most talented journalist and the Ethnos newspaper its most talented journalist Delastik (member of Antarsya) who wrote a piece which essentially argued who profits who gains from this event implying indirectly the govt. It has the most to lose and the most to gain.

    How they resolve the constitutional issues, the banning of GD without it being a formal ban, the collapse of their vote, the road towards a third catastrophic bailout etc is anyones guess. Just like with the closure of ERT they are making it up as they go along. If elections are allowed to be held (Troika dont want them) then the 18 seats up for grabs would ensure Syriza had a clear chance of wining as the difference in the last elections between them and ND was only around 1%…

    In response to Patrick. The word has been a mainstay of the language of trots…as evidenced below:

    “The question of our attitude toward govt measures ostensibly against fascism is highly important.

    Since bourgeois democracy is basically bankrupt, it is no longer in a position to defend itself on its own ground against its enemies on the right and the left. That is in order to maintain itself the democratic regime must progressively liquidate itself through emergency laws and administrative arbitrariness. This self liquidation of democracy in the struggel against the right and left brings to the fore the Bonapartism of degeneration, which needs both the left and the right danger for its uncertain existence in order to play them off against one another and to progressively raise itself above soceity and its parliamentarism. The Colign regime has seemd to me for a long time to be a potentially Bonapartis regime.

    IN this highly critical period the main enemy of Bonapartism remains of course the revolutionary wing of the proletariat. Thus we can say with aboslute assurance that as the class struggle deepens all emergency laws extraordinary powers etc will be used against the proletariat.

    After the French Stalinist and Socialist voted for the administrative disbanding of paramilitary organizations, that old scoundrel Marcel Cahin wrote in l’Humanite approximately as follows “A great victory…. Naturally we know that in capitalist society all laws can be used against the proletariat. But we will strive to prevent this etc” The lie here is the word “can” What should have been said was ” We know that as the social crisis deepens all these measures will be used against the proletariat with tenfold intensity” There is a simple conclusion to be drawn from this: We cannot help build up the Bonapartism of degeneration with our own hands and supply it with the chains it will inevitably use to bind the proletarian vanguard’

    January 13th 1936
    Trotsky


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