About a week ago -- following the recent murder of antifascist musician Pavlos Fyssas -- Greek police arrested eighteen leading members of the neonazi Golden Dawn party, including party head Nikolaos Michaloliakos, on charges of participating in a criminal gang. A new law was passed cutting off government funding from parties whose parliamentary deputies are being prosecuted. The crackdown also targeted Golden Dawn's allies in the security services, as several high-ranking police officials either resigned or were fired or suspended.
|Pavlos Fyssas, antifascist Rapper and left activist was killed by fascists in Piräus - Athens. 19.09.2013. This photo shows the Red Stuff Antifa store mural in Berlin Kreuzberg. Photo by Seven Resist.|
Fyssas's murder followed years of physical attacks by Golden Dawn members and supporters against immigrants, refugees, leftists, LGBT people, and others -- attacks carried out largely with the state's acquiescence or active support. As I have discussed before, GD has enjoyed a close relationship with the police and has helped create political space for more "moderate" parties to implement their own anti-immigrant policies. A recently reported Financial Crime Unit investigation shows that GD has been funded largely by members of the ruling class, including several ship-owners (in Greece's most successful industry), other businessmen, and Orthodox bishops (major landowners). In return, despite its anti-establishment rhetoric and occasional support for militant workers, Golden Dawn has threatened and attacked labor unions, voted for government subsidies to big business, and, of course, helped deflect popular anger away from the capitalist system and onto dark-skinned immigrants.
So why a state crackdown against Golden Dawn now? Thrasybulus, writing on libcom.org, identifies several factors: massive popular protests at Fyssas's murder, a desire by New Democracy (the conservative party that leads Greece's coalition government) to curb a political rival, and concerns about a potential coup d'etat by GD's friends in the military (as proposed recently by a group of special forces reservists). One commenter suggested that pressure from the European Union and International Monetary Fund (which are pondering a third debt bailout for Greece) may also have been a factor.
Leftist observers disagree on how serious the government's moves are or how severely they will affect Golden Dawn. Jerome Roos of ROAR Magazine writes that "arresting its leaders will undoubtedly cripple Golden Dawn's hierarchical organization and may temporarily paralyze the party's official actions," but Christoph Dreier on the World Socialist Web Site argues that "The court's decision to release leading Golden Dawn officials makes clear that the government's aim was to curb, but not to end Golden Dawn's criminal activities." Both agree that the crackdown is much too limited to uproot the extensive network of Golden Dawn supporters in the state apparatus, including both the police and armed forces.
Even an effective crackdown may have negative consequences. Thrasybulus notes, "If the party is banned out right its anti-systematic standing will only increase with its leader urging supporters to fight on from behind bars. Freed from the pretence of being a respectable party GD hit squads may be given license to increase the violence." And Dreier warns, "the state will seize upon the precedent set by measures against Golden Dawn, including a possible ban on the party, to prepare stepped-up attacks on the democratic rights of the entire population, above all, the working class."
In any case, fascism in Greece extends beyond Golden Dawn alone. In recent weeks, English-language reports have emerged about another Greek neonazi organization, known as Black Lily, which claims to have "a whole platoon of volunteers" fighting in Syria for the Assad government. Brian Whelan on Vice.com reports that Black Lily is part of the European Solidarity Front for Syria (ESFS), an international network of far-right groups that has organized protests in support of the Assad regime. Claiming that "a massive part of the [Syrian] population is of Greek extraction," a Black Lily spokesperson praised the pro-Assad fighters of "heroic Hezbollah" while denouncing "the intoxicated addicts of the mercenary Salafists of Al-Qaeda" and "the expanding global dictatorship of the American-Zionist war machine."
Like other groups in the ESFS network, Black Lily embraces a third positionist version of fascism, emphasizing anti-capitalism and direct action. The Black Lily website features work by national-anarchist Troy Southgate and European New Right theorist Aleksandr Dugin, as well as photos of mystical and "left" fascist forefathers such as Julius Evola, Gregor Strasser, Corneliu Codreanu, and Francis Parker Yockey. The group has also expressed solidarity with the North Korean government and Venezuela's late president Hugo Chavez. These affinities set Black Lily apart from Golden Dawn, which upholds a more traditional brand of fascist politics. Black Lily condemns the crackdown against Michaloliakos and his followers but also criticizes Golden Dawn as a "right wing nationalist" effort to "invade [the] Nationalist/National Socialist movement to change the course and to impose its own views."
Related posts on Three Way Fight:
Golden Dawn's fascist ideology, 24 October 2012
Golden Dawn violence and police collaboration, 12 October 2012
White nationalists praise Golden Dawn, 8 October 2012