50.000 march on Golden Dawn headquarters in Athens

by Jerome Roos on September 26, 2013

Post image for 50.000 march on Golden Dawn headquarters in Athens

As the antifascist left stages an impressive show of force and numbers, the government finally embarks upon a belated crackdown on the neo-Nazi party.

A week after antifascist hip-hop singer Pavlos Fyssas was murdered in cold blood by a gang of Golden Dawn thugs, tens of thousands of antifascist protesters staged an impressive rally and marched on the Golden Dawn headquarters in Athens to confront the rising threat of fascism head on. Clashes briefly broke out after riot police prevented the march from reaching the party’s offices and began firing tear gas at protesters to disperse the crowd. Some molotov cocktails were thrown, some trash bins burnt and some bank windows thrown in, but overall the march remained mostly peaceful.

Today’s impressive show of force and numbers came amid a growing wave of popular outrage over the government’s continued insistence on austerity and its wilful reluctance to stem the rise of violent fascism this has produced. It also comes immediately on the heels of a 48-hour public sector strike against further budget cuts that will lead to the sacking of at least 12.500 civil servants in a country where unemployment already stands at 28% — higher even than the 25% peak experienced by the US during the Great Depression in 1933.

The new wave of social mobilization triggered by the murder of Pavlos Fyssas appears to have finally galvanized the ruling coalition into a much-belated crackdown on the openly neo-Nazi party and its sympathizers within the state apparatus. The government has announced its intention to charge any politicians involved in the attacks under anti-terrorism legislation and has proposed cutting off state funding for their parties. It also ordered the anti-terrorism unit and secret service to investigate Golden Dawn’s infiltration of the police and army.

Eight senior police officers were already sacked to guarantee the “objectivity” of the investigation — some of them accused of failing to give arrest orders for Golden Dawn members following their violent attacks — and two more resigned, citing “personal reasons”. Meanwhile, fascist sympathizers within the armed special forces now stand accused of clandestinely training Golden Dawn militias in the mountains and countryside. In a recent interview, one former Golden Dawn member claimed that the party has at least 3.000 men on standby — fully trained and armed with weapons “for when the time comes.”

This in turn raises fears over what would happen if the government were to move ahead in its crackdown. Even if its criminalization of Golden Dawn’s violent actions — perpetrated with the acquiescence and probably even under direct orders of party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos — may eventually lead to its institutional dissolution, the question is what the party’s supporters will do. Of the 500.000 people who voted for Golden Dawn in last year’s elections, most will probably vote for the ruling conservative party of prime minister Samaras or the other far-right party, Independent Greeks, but some hard-core supporters may refuse to go down without a fight.

There are already some troubling signs that a further escalation of social tension might lie ahead. In a public statement, the daughter of Golden Dawn’s party leader publicly asked its members “to what extent they are ready to sacrifice themselves for the movement, to give their life.” But despite the fascist belligerence coming from the party’s leaders and its thugs, today the Greek left — both institutional and extra-parliamentary — showed its resolve in the face of the fascist threat and further increased the pressure on both Golden Dawn and the political establishment to stem the rising tide of fascism.

As official investigations by the Financial Crimes Unit show that Golden Dawn is actually being funded by a group of wealthy businessmen, ship-owners and priests, the party’s popular support is rapidly collapsing. One poll now indicates a 5.8% approval rating in the immediate wake of last week’s killing — down from its peak of 15% just a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Golden Dawn has also been driven onto the defensive in its grassroots battle for control over the streets and neighborhoods. It was forced to postpone the launching of its new offices in Drama and Kavala while closing down its offices in Ierapetra and hiding its signboards from other offices throughout the country.

Today’s massive antifascist protest and the recent convergence of labor struggles in the public sector seem to mark the start a new wave of popular resistance to both neo-Nazism and the increasingly authoritarian neoliberal state under which it arose. But the fight against fascism is by no means over and unpredictable outcomes still lie ahead. With Athens in flames and the government increasingly under pressure, it is clear that some of the worst of Greece’s protracted crisis — which had already been confined to the dustbin by some — may still lie ahead.

Check out ROAR’s previous coverage and analysis of Golden Dawn, Pavlos’ murder and the antifascist backlash:

Golden Dawn: can the elite ever kill the monster it created?

Thumbnail image for Golden Dawn: can the elite kill the monster it created?
by Leonidas Oikonomakis September 25, 2013

It seems that the Greek elite has decided to get rid of the neo-Nazi party following Pavlos’ killing. But can Pandora ever put the evil back in her box?
Read more…

Pavlos’ mother to media: “you made them kill my son”

Thumbnail image for Pavlos’ mother to media: “you made them kill my son”
by ROAR Collective September 22, 2013

Mother of Pavlos Fyssas tells how her son was murdered by a Golden Dawn assassin and how police are wilfully withholding video evidence of the attack.
Read more…

Golden Dawn and the extremism of the center

Thumbnail image for Golden Dawn and the extremism of the center
by Jerome Roos September 21, 2013

The real extremism is not of the far-left and the far-right, but of the fascist center. Golden Dawn’s strategy of tension ultimately benefits the elite.
Read more…

Pavlos Fyssas: “I won’t cry, I won’t fear”

Thumbnail image for Pavlos Fyssas: “I won’t cry, I won’t fear”
by ROAR Collective September 18, 2013

These defiant lyrics by Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, murdered by Golden Dawn thugs last night, display the fearlessness and hope he carried within him.
Read more…

For Pavlos: the antifascist rapper killed by Golden Dawn

Thumbnail image for For Pavlos: the antifa rapper killed by Golden Dawn
by Leonidas Oikonomakis September 18, 2013

Last night, Greek activist and artist Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death by a gang of neo-Nazi thugs. Leonidas Oikonomakis pays tribute to his friend.
Read more…

Greek antifascist musician murdered by neo-Nazi thugs

Thumbnail image for Greek anti-fascist musician murdered by neo-Nazi thugs
by ROAR Collective September 18, 2013

Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing activist and hip-hop artist, was stabbed to death by Golden Dawn supporters in the Keratsini district of Athens.
Read more…

Golden Dawn and the deafening silence of Europe

Thumbnail image for Golden Dawn and the deafening silence of Europe
by Jerome Roos October 31, 2012

With a neo-Nazi party on the rise in Greece, it seems that even a Weimar-like scenario might be tolerable for EU leaders insisting on further austerity.
Read more…

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Rolf Auer September 26, 2013 at 07:11

These gang-murderers are cowards. They should be locked away for all of their lives. Maybe they’ll come to finally realize what is the responsibility of being human.

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Leftway September 26, 2013 at 09:35

Antifascist fight of the present gives meaning to the supreme sacrifice Pavlos Fyssas has made. Well done comrades! Fascism never again!

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Kia Mistilis September 26, 2013 at 13:40

I appreciate your reporting on Greece, for English speaking audiences world wide, but people should know that Athens is not “in flames.” I live in Athens, I attended the rally in the late afternoon, and was on the streets last night. Inaccurate statements like these (and it’s not the first time) are sensationalist and detract from otherwise excellent reporting and analysis.

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Jerome Roos September 26, 2013 at 13:49

Thanks Kia. I live in Athens too, we were there at the demo. Of course not all of Athens is in flames — it’s a figure of speech to refer to the broader social unrest gripping the country anew. But I did count at least 30 trash bins in flames around Alexandras Ave, where the smoke was so thick one could barely breathe normally.

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Michael Kenny September 26, 2013 at 15:31

The great beneficiaries of all this are the two main parties, Nea Dimokratia and Syriza. People are demonstrating against Golden Dawn, not against austerity. That suits ND inasmuch as it provides a convenient diversion and it suits Syriza inasmuch it needs to get rid of its “loony left” faction if it is to replace PASOK as the mainstream socialist party. If the loony left goes spiralling off into marginality, screaming about Golden Dawn and defending foreign immigrants, whom Greek workers see as taking their jobs, none will be better pleased than Alex Tsirpas!

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Daniel September 27, 2013 at 06:12

Bringing out 50,000 combative and brave people to march together against fascism is loony to you?

Standing with immigrants as workers and human beings is loony to you?

Fuck you.

Also, note that many of the people drawn to this protest are relating to and participating in the mass strikes and organizing to respond to all political questions. Moreover, the “loony left” held its own against the Tsipras leadership, getting over 30% of the vote within SYRIZA when they held their convention and the leadership demanded a mandate to make them disband their parties–not a majority but enough to prevent the leadership from actually making them give up their independent organizations within SYRIZA

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