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

by Leonidas Oikonomakis on September 25, 2013

Post image for Golden Dawn: can the elite kill the monster it created?

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?

“Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave…”

And so, just a few days after the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas — a.k.a Killah P — by the murderous “blackshirts” of Golden Dawn, it seems that the Greek elite has decided to get rid of the party and its dark structures. But can Dr. Frankenstein ever kill the monster he created? And can Pandora put the evil back into her box?

Pavlos’ assassination was the last drop for Greek society. And it seems it has set in motion mechanisms that will lead to the criminalization of Golden Dawn, and maybe even to its dissolution. A few days after the murder, and with Greek society still in shock and taking to the streets massively to demand justice and the end of Golden Dawn, both the Greek media and the government seem to have started taking the issue seriously, removing their previous direct or indirect support for the neo-Nazi party.

All of a sudden reports with interviews of ex-Golden Dawn members have started to appear in the Greek media. Newspapers and TV channels that previously dedicated pages and shows to the actions and the MPs of Golden Dawn — even presenting them in lifestyle shows with fake reportages, like the one in which Golden Dawn appeared to be protecting poor old women withdrawing their pensions at the banks (it appears that the “poor old lady” they selected for the reportage was… the mother of a local Golden Dawn candidate) — suddenly started publishing reports on the party’s “dark side”.

One newspaper even published a picture of Pavlos’ last moments on its front page, in which he appears dying in the arms of his girlfriend, stabbed by Golden Dawn thugs with the title: “I don’t forget fascism”. Other newspapers featured confessions of former Golden Dawn members, in which they admit that they were trained in army camps by former and current army officers; that the organization is in possession of illegal weapons, to be used “when the time comes”; that current police officers – “a lot of them”, one ex-member said — are members of Golden Dawn and cover it whenever the party gets into trouble, even providing party members with official classified police documents, including the eyewitness reports of Pavlos’ assassination.

It also appears — according to the same reports — that Pavlos Fyssas was a target of Golden Dawn because of his antifascist songs, and that the decision for his assassination came from above, from the MPs and the leader of the party who were informed and were deciding (ordering would be more precise) everything, and to whom the lower-ranking members are blindly obedient. At the same time, the country’s TV channels all of a sudden also started showing their public interviews with former members of Golden Dawn admitting to its murderous actions.

After these developments, the Greek government also finally reacted. The minister of public order, Mr Dendias, submitted a full folder with 32 Golden Dawn attacks to the district attorney of Areios Pagos (the highest court authority in the country) to examine the assaults and decide whether there are grounds for taking legal action against the party. At the same time, Dendias ordered the police authorities to examine the accusations regarding the relation between Golden Dawn and police officers, which led to the resignation of two high ranking police officers already. The minister of defense, Mr Avramopoulos has also demanded the army chief to investigate the relationship between current army officers and Golden Dawn, a case which — rumor has it — is also being examined by the secret intelligence services.

But… hold on a minute! We already knew all these things, didn’t we? The Greek antifascist movement has been shouting it for years! Videos of policemen collaborating with Golden Dawn have been appearing on YouTube for the past three years, while even on the day of the demonstration following the assassination of Pavlos one such video went viral on the web. At the same time, even the Golden Dawn MPs themselves have openly admitted that more than 50% of the Greek police are Golden Dawn voters and supporters, while the doctors and immigrant rights organizations of Greece have never stopped shouting about Golden Dawn’s murderous actions that have already cost several immigrants’ lives in the past years.

Also very well known is the case of the army’s special forces chanting racist slogans during a military parade in Athens. Yet both the media and the Greek government turned a blind eye back then, and not just that, but they were also praising the virtues of Golden Dawn and its MPs. A number of “artists” have also expressed positive opinions about Golden Dawn and were of course massively promoted by the Greek media, while the same is true for certain neoliberal politicians like the former minister of foreign affairs, Dora Bakoyianni. And so the questions arises: why were they turning a blind eye back then? And why have they decided to take action now?

The second question is easier to answer: because Pavlos’ assassination has awoken Greek society from its lethargy and made the government realize that the people will not accept Golden Dawn’s murderous actions anymore. A good indication of this is that Golden Dawn has postponed the launching of its new offices in Drama and Kavala in direct response to the popular outcry, while it has closed down its offices in Ierapetra (Crete) and is hiding its signboards from others.

At the same time, according to the latest polls, Golden Dawn’s popularity is in free fall, having collapsed to 5.8% from the almost 12% it was scoring just a few days before Pavlos’ assassination. Therefore it is easy to understand that Golden Dawn is now a “burned card” for the Greek corporate elite and political establishment (let’s not forget that the Greek newspapers and TV channels belong to a small number of conglomerates, many of which have family relations with — surprise, surprise — the country’s main political parties).

The first question is more difficult to answer, though: if the Greek media and government knew about the murderous actions of Golden Dawn, why did they decide to turn a blind eye to it until today? I argue that there are basically three reasons:

First, let’s not forget that only two years earlier, with the process that was set in motion with the occupation of Syntagma and the other squares of Greece, Greek society was radicalized to an unprecedented extent, endangering the representative two-party political system as well as the neoliberal policies promoted by successive governments. In its place, the movement of the squares demanded autonomy, horizontality and direct democracy. Neighborhoods all over the country experienced this “dream” through numerous neighborhood assemblies, while a number of local and national movements put the neoliberal policies of the Troika and the Greek governments into question. Golden Dawn played the role of stopping and distracting this radical process and re-directing it towards the struggle against fascism, which became the number one priority for the Greek left over the past two years.

Second, Golden Dawn appeared on numerous occasions as the protector of the owners’ interests, at times — like in the case of the shipyard workers of Perama — directly and violently attacking the left-wing workers’ unions. With a rhetoric of protecting “Greek” investments as long as “our ship-owners” keep employing Greek workers instead of immigrants, they have terrorized the Greek Workers’ Unions and have, in their own way, helped safeguard the political and corporate elite and push forward their neoliberal agenda.

Third, Golden Dawn was there to terrorize all free voices that were being raised against the country’s neoliberal and fascist downslide. As former Golden Dawn members have said in their interviews, Pavlos Fyssas was a target for his antifascist songs. And it is true that in the past years there was a sentiment of fear all over the country when it came to criticizing Golden Dawn. I have to admit here that even in the case of my little hip-hop group and our upcoming album, which has a number of antifa songs in it, we were concerned that we might become a target of or face threats by Golden Dawn.

It seems that after the assassination of Pavlos, though, the Greek elite has decided that Golden Dawn is not useful to them anymore, and has abandoned its former ally. At the same time, while the main opposition party of the left (SYRIZA) appeared to be surpassing the ruling conservative party (Nea Dimokratia) in the polls, it seems that the latter has decided to abandon its plan of forming a coalition with Golden Dawn — which they have admitted they had been considering — and dissolve the party instead. In order, of course, that they may take the credit for cracking down on Nazism, while stealing away the right-wing votes.

However now it is too late.

If the country’s elite and government had decided to counter Golden Dawn earlier — and they did know about its criminal actions way before — many human beings wouldn’t have been brutally beaten up in the streets of Athens and other cities of Greece. Many antifa activists wouldn’t have been tortured in the police headquarters and others wouldn’t have been injured by the fascists or their collaborators in the police during antifa demonstrations or direct actions. At the same time, the Greek left-wing movement would have been able to develop further its radical direct democratic proposition, and many neoliberal policies that led to the loss of jobs and lives (suicide rates have skyrocketed in Greece in the past years) may have been overturned. And, above all, Shehzad Luqman and Pavlos Fyssas would be alive today…

And one more thing: I don’t know to what extent it is still possible to overturn a process that both the government and the elites allowed to develop and reach deep into Greek society. I am talking here about Golden Dawn’s penetration into the police, the army, and the working-class neighborhoods of the country’s main cities. Even if the government dissolves the party and punishes its leaders, the bases of fascism are still there. There will still be numerous people poisoned by Golden Dawn’s murderous ideology, a development that will be very difficult to reverse.

The daughter of the party’s leader already wrote an open letter to its members asking them “to what extent they are ready to sacrifice themselves for the movement, to give their life.” At the same time, there are certain circles within the Greek police that are not very happy with the latest developments, and I am sure the same is true for the army. How are they going to react? And is Golden Dawn going to go down without a fight? At the end of the day, is it possible for Dr Frankenstein to kill the monster he created? And can Pandora put the evil back into her box?

These are questions that Greek society will have to answer. And the answers will not be easy.

Leonidas Oikonomakis is a contributing editor of ROAR Magazine, a rapper with Social Waste, and a PhD researcher at the European University Institute. He was also a friend of Pavlos.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Thalia Arzoglou September 25, 2013 at 10:22

Thank you so much for this honest and courageous analysis and thanks for writing it in English… I know lots of people all around the world who have been asking me about this movement and who will be very interested in your article! I’m sharing it right away!

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Jim Markou September 25, 2013 at 14:44

Thalia is indeed right. Through the English language the people around the globe will understand the situation.

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Leonidas September 25, 2013 at 18:36

Thank you Thalia!
It is very important for these things to be said -especially outside Greece!

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Antiochus Epiphanes September 26, 2013 at 12:16

What about all the Greeks who have been murdered by your beloved immigrants, you scum!

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Leonidas September 26, 2013 at 16:51

@Antiochus Epiphanes
Thank you for your ‘kind’ words. As far as I know there’s no immigrant organization killing people in the streets just because of their country of origin, color of skin, religious or political beliefs. The only such organization I know is Golden Dawn.

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Michael Theodosiadis September 29, 2013 at 10:48

It’s utterly hubristic that Greek nationalists use ancient Greek nicknames and fetishize themselves with ancient Greece aiming to declare how proud they feel for being born in a country that has culturally and politically nothing to do with the past whilst systematically ignore the deepest meaning of the Greek Golden Age: direct democracy and autonomy; freedom to despise and call norms, laws and institutions into question, interaction, plurality and worldliness, rather than militarism and racism (characteristics of the non-political/non-Greek world).

As far as “the Greeks who have been murdered by your beloved immigrants”… well Greece provides very little asylum comparing to other European countries. If the Greek government would not have stolen all the public money and instead had invest them to promote social well-being, there would be much less poverty and migrants would be less favour to resort to crime. Stop blaming anybody else for Greece’s immigration problems. Open your eyes and smell the coffee. You cannot always take take take and do nothing. Immigration problems is not connected with financial crisis. It is at 100% Greek people’s fault and nobody else’s.

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Desmo October 2, 2013 at 02:27

While Golden Dawn is what it is, the problem here is that your leftist ideals and the past that it conjures up is also a dead end. What you describe about neighborhood assemblies, ad nauseum, to any student of history it is the exact same thing as what happened in 1917 Russia. We all know what that ended up being and is worse than anything GD has done.
What happens with every leftist movement is that once you gain power you become the ones who murder and kill en masse anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Stalin, Mao and countless leftist movements have shown this over and over.
You know this and if you’re intellectually honest you’ll admit it as well. Human beings have been let down consistently by the right and left. It is time for a new paradigm of thinking that eschews both ways of thinking and comes up with new ways to tackle societies ills.
What are these? I don’t know…but anything that keeps the right and left out of power would be a good start.

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Jerome Roos October 2, 2013 at 14:05

The paradigm you are describing is called anarchism.

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Alkis December 31, 2013 at 17:31

I totally agree!

The only “ideology” that says simply: “freedom for everybody, of all colours, of all genders, of all topos. A freedom though that has one cost: individual participation and not consumeristic elections.”

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jkelvynrichards October 2, 2013 at 14:34

IS REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY IN GREECE FIT FOR PURPOSE?
THE RISE OF FASCISM
Jerome,
I have revised recently submitted articles.
I am a European citizen, who came to live in Greece in 2006.
I want to argue that the rise of the Fascist movement has been directly associated with the bankruptcy of the Greek Government, the economic collapse of industry, and the emergence of austerity.
During the time that I have lived in Greece, it has been in a state of humiliation: a ‘bankrupt’ appealing for bailouts to enable the Treasury to confront its debts, and to organize itself to become solvent. And yet at the same time rejecting the help offered as unnecessary interference!
Its creditors, the so-called Troika [the EU, the IMF, the World Bank] have insisted on the adoption of austerity measures and the severe reduction of spending, and costs.
As a result of spending cuts, many workers have lost their jobs. Civil servants have not only lost their jobs, they have lost their privileges. Anyone who still has a job has to come to terms with lower wages and no pensions.
During this time, the privileged elites of the rich and millionaires have been able to freely move their monies from one investment centre to another so as to protect their wealth and to maximize their profits. They have been actively avoiding paying tax by placing their money in tax havens. They have been the direct targets of the Troika, who are determined to increase tax income for the government and the EU.
During this time, these privileged elites have pursued campaigns against the EU, the IMF, and the World Bank. They have been concerned to emphasise the viability of Greek entrepreneurs, and the superiority of the Greek culure. Economic collapse has prompted political nationalism.
In a society in which the government has failed, and gone bankrupt, several times and been subject to constant criticism and ridicule by the Germans, and French, Spanish, Italians, these campaigns have led to the emergence of Fascism against the Socialists, and anti-German attitudes. The collapse of employment and the rise of unemployment within many Greek communities has given rise to anti-immigration politics and racist actions against any ‘foreigners’.
The development of fascism in Greece is directly linked to the imposition of austerity and the punishment of the bankrupts! It has been further emphasized by the necessity for the coalition ‘to do as they have been told’! if they want to be given the bailout loans.

In the last few days, the ruling coalition has moved against, and arrested the MPs of the new Fascist Party, Golden Dawn.
Their actions raise a number of issues concerning the nature of democracy in Greece.

If one is living in a society ruled according to a legal framework in which anyone and any group is free to stand for Parliament, and say what they want, and do what they wish, then it is to be expected, even acceptable, that Nazis/fascists/communists/racists/anti-equalitarian/ anti-homosexuals and any extreme group will be voted to Parliament. It would be normal for such groups as ‘Golden Dawn’, a nazi/fascist group to have representation.

But Greece is not that sort of Democracy. It is a constituent member of the European Community, the European Union.
The EU has set up a legal framework in which extreme right-wing and left -wing groups are formally illegal, and any support for the Nazis, the purveyors of hatred and war, is prohibited. Overt expressions of Nazi ideas were prohibited in European countries after 1945 following the defeat of the German Nazis, and the cessation of the Holocaust and the murder of millions of Jews, Slavs, Romanis; disabled, and homosexuals. It is not surprising that any Nazi groups will deny being ‘nazi’ but proclaim that they are fascist.
Greece is intended to be a democracy in which all official political groups are open, democratic, power sharing and not war-mongers. The emergence of Nazi parties is not to be allowed.
The ‘Golden Dawn’ party should not have come into existence. However……..
It came into existence…….. in the wake of the bankruptcy of the country; the imposition of austerity by the EU led by the Germans, French, Italians, Spanish.; the humiliation of the peoples of Greece through debt, and unemployment.

On reflection, it has become clear that the governments of the day [2005 -2013] did not feel confident to rule a country through economic collapse in the face of the opposition of political nationalism. On the other hand, by a twist of fate, the governments have managed the economic collapse by organizing the support of political nationalism by means of the help of the Golden Dawn, a Nazi party. The Golden Dawn was supposed to be part of the solution but have become the problem! when that party refused to cooperate, and started to attack and murder its opposition, openly declaring its criminal intentions.

The ways in which the coalition governments have incorporated the fascists into the government, leads us to ask whether the coalition governments of Greece are fit for purpose? In operating a democratic government by promoting right wing fascism has threatened the very basis of representative democracy.
The next steps it has taken has challenged the whole concept of voter representation. The present government has arrested and imprisoned fascist MPs. In this way it has re-structured the House of Representatives and returned to the days of the Junta when MPs were voted for by the electorate, and then further selected by military forces.
If the coalition government had ruled according to democracy then the rights of citizens would have been upheld and extreme repressive groups kept out of Parliament The fascists would not be allowed to form political parties. Even now, in their attempts to remove extremist politics, by arresting MPs, the coalition has resorted to anti-democratic actions and called into question their ‘fitness to rule’.
In a democracy the arbiters of power are the voters, not the voted.
But we have to confront the ‘catch 22’ situation that is operating in Greece at the moment whereby anti-democratic groups are well organized to gain democratic power and challenge the coalition government, and render the country bankrupt, If the coalition called an election now it may have to confront more rigid austerity, and more street violence!
The coalition government has to work to resolve the financial future of Greece without sacrificing the people to the demands of creditors.
Alternative economics is essential for a viable future.

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Christos Kotakis November 24, 2013 at 01:48

Dear Leonidas,

we would like to invite you for a talk during spring 2014 in Patras.
Please contact with me for details.

yours,
christos

ps: http://www.trise.org

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Jonas Kauder January 2, 2014 at 01:49

The role of Golden Dawn in the square movement is by far not as simple as you describe it and I don’t think that this movement is to be glorified. We should not forget that there was a division of the square movement in a rightist/nationalist (upper Syntagma) and a more liberal part. The toleration of nationalist propaganda (among them Golden Dawners that did for several reasons not appear as such) was also expressed by a patriotic consent, the notion that Greece is the great victim of an international conspiracy. Nationalist symbols and approaches were present all across Syntagma and the reason why lots of radical forces (anarchists, libertarian socialists and communists) abandoned this movement. So if you write that
“Golden Dawn played the role of stopping and distracting this radical process and re-directing it towards the struggle against fascism”
we should first ask why antifascism was not a minimum consent of this movement. In this sense, the square movement had to my eyes (in the long run) the effect that nationalism got a new (grass-root) faces that could easily be exploited by Golden Dawn and expand its support base.

Here we could continue with Syriza that prefers to play the same nationalist card in order not to loose potential voters. There was as well not something like a ‘Greek antifascist movement’ before Fyssas died. The attacks on migrants did initially not spark any collective self-defense – except of the anarchist/anti-fascist bike patrols. Furthermore, the fascist threat was (and still is) long time underestimated. Golden Dawn was almost never stopped when they took to the streets.

I agree with most you said, but if you want to draw an objective picture of the situation, you should admit that the Greek left is in a sense as well ‘part of the monster’ since it can not restrain from nationalism. To illustrate Syriza as the great hope for direct democracy in Greece is more than questionable.

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Leonidas January 2, 2014 at 12:34

Dear Jonas,

Thanks for your comment. Let me clarify a few things in order not to be misunderstood:
a) Regarding the movement of the Squares, of course it should not be glorified but on the other hand we should not forget that this is the most massive, popular, horizontal movement this country has ever known in many many decades. And that should not be ignored, neither should it be accused for the rise of GD: If we take a look at the opinion polls (take a look at this for example: http://www.avgi.gr/article/1087928/oste-ftaine-oi-plateies-e- )we’ll see that GD did not start growing until a whole year AFTER (March 2012) the Squares, and only after a government had fallen (with that financial coup we all remember) and a SECOND memorandum had been voted. And of course after they had started being -disproportionately- promoted by the Greek media. As for the division between the so called ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ Square, I don’t think it was that clear-cut, neither that the ‘upper’ Square (which was a street in fact, not a square) was where GD was fishing supporters. Surely it was more populist, surely there was a nationalist sentiment present (you would indeed see Greek flags, but ALSO Spanish, Argentinean, Egyptian, Tunisian -nobody speaks of an internationalist sentiment there though) but there was no clear division between the ‘upper’ and the ‘lower’ square. There were people who were present in both, others who were ‘protesting’ in the ‘upper’ and participating in the assembly in the ‘lower’ etc.
And btw, antifascism WAS the a minimum consent of this movement. With the decision of the assembly of the 26th May 2011, the very second day of the occupation of Syntagma, “everyone is welcome except for fascists and racists”. (from the Syntagma Popular Assembly minutes)
b) Regarding the antifa movement, you are right that it did not become massive until after Pavlos was murdered. But at the same time it was not insignificant before either. On 19 January 2013 for example there were 10 thousand people protesting in Athens after the assasination of Shehzad Luqman. But yes, it is true that the overall population did not wake up until Pavlos -a Greek- was assassinated, AND THE MEDIA started showing the REAL face of GD. Until then they were not doing so, quite the contrary (and who controls the Greek media? the Greek economic elites…)
c) As for Syriza, I don’t think me or ROAR ever projected them as the “great hope for direct democracy in Greece”. Quite the contrary. Take a look at this article of mine for example:
http://roarmag.org/2013/11/syriza-greece-party-movements/
Or this, which was -unfortunately- rather prophetic although nobody paid attention:
http://roarmag.org/2012/05/greece-argentina-movements-austerity-piqueteros-syntagma/

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