Crackdown on the Golden Dawn

GD leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos under arrest
GD leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos under arrest

With the arrest of several party leaders the Greek government has begun a crackdown on the far-right Golden Dawn in the wake of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.

Submitted by Thrasybulus on September 28, 2013

A crackdown on the far-right Golden Dawn(GD) is under way in Greece. Party leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and several MPs and party members were arrested this morning with more expected. They are accused of participating in a criminal organisation and will go before court. The crackdown has two main targets. The first is the political party itself and the second target is its accomplices in the security services. All of this comes on the back of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas just over a week ago.

Along with Michaloliakos came the arrests of party spokesman Ilias Kasidaiaris and Giorgos Patelis who headed the Nikaia branch of GD, the same area where the murder happened. The documents presented to the court are said to consist of 33 charges amongst which are 10 counts of murder or attempted murder. The investigation into the security services has so far led to the resignation of several police generals, the removal of the head of the intelligence service and members of the Dias units. The head of the riot police units whose men were seen fighting alongside GD members in the riots on the 18th has also been removed.

It's the first time since 1974 that a party leader has been arrested in Greece and the crackdown has come as something of a surprise. Just over two weeks ago mainstream media were discussing GD's possible inclusion in a governing coalition. In the wake of the murder on the night of the 17th the media and government made a complete turn around and decided to attack GD head-on. This is not the first time that GD members have killed and the violent nature of the group has been evident for years. Many of the incidents for which GD and the security services are being investigated dated back much further than the last two weeks and the speed with which the case was prepared and presented suggest that the evidence has long been known in political and judicial circles. Question is why when the government did so little to stem the rise of GD for so long did they decide to act now?

One answer is that this time the government simply had to act. The murder caused great anger in Greece which quickly spilled over into rage on the streets. For the last ten days GD offices up and down the country have come under attack and antifascist protests have been constant. On the night of the 25th there were again protests in every major city in Greece with as many as 50,000 marching on a GD office in Athens alone. Early attempts by the media to portray the murder as the result of a brawl over a football match failed and so there was no way to down play this one. To not take some action would have but the fragile coalition government in the spotlight. By taking on GD the government has a shot at the limelight as the defenders of democracy.

Another possible reason for the crackdown could be fear. GD has recently risen to become the third most popular party in Greece and until the last few days nothing could seem to dent that popularity. Many of the voters who recently backed GD would in the past have been natural supporters of the right wing New Democracy(ND) the current leader of the coalition government. With much of GD's appeal being based on anti-systematic rhetoric ND may have despaired of ever being able to work with GD and decided something had to be done before they lost more votes.

The government may also have had its eye on the army. Collaboration between GD and the security forces has long been known. Part of the current investigation claims that members of the special forces have been giving GD members military training. A few days ago a statement by a group of special forces reservists called for the government to step down and make way for a national unity government with the army as its protector, in short it was a call for coup. Fearing that if they don't act soon they may lose control of the security services completely the government chose to act first.

After such a long period when the government ignored the actions of GD it's hard to take at face value their current claims to be the champions of democracy and justice. More likely is that ND are taking advantage of the rage caused by the murder of Pavlos Fyssas to curb a political rival. With thousands out on the street and the first drop in GD popularity the government took its chance and hopes that by imprisoning its leaders and possibly banning the party they can win back some of their lost voters. By criminalising the party all of those nationalist but hardly committed fascists who have flocked to GD may return to ND. When fascists were attacking protesters alongside police they were useful auxiliaries but once they started to become a threat to the ruling party itself they had to be reined in.

Even with the leaders of GD in prison and the leading sympathizers in the security forces removed this is far from the end of the far-right in Greece. Whilst the government may be able to win some sort of political victory from this the fascism that they fostered and allowed to grow has gone too deep to disappear in a few days. Any investigation of the police is likely to leave the majority of the 50% of the force who voted for GD untouched. By no means all of the hundreds of recorded racist attacks in Greece were committed by card carrying GD members. The influence the far-right has had over the young is unlikely to just evaporate, indeed the crackdown may only heighten this.

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. Those who attack immigrants and leftists will still have many sympathizers in the security forces and the population at large. Rather than marking an end to the rise of fascism the murder and the crackdown could led to an escalation of violence and a further polarization of society which could led us to a very dark place. At the back of many people's minds is the possibility that we may be on the road to civil war. The idea seems extreme and certainly there's a long away to go before that but such a catastrophe is no longer unthinkable.

Whatever the result of this political manoeuvre the fight against fascism in Greece will continue for a long time yet.

Comments

Thrasybulus

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Thrasybulus on September 29, 2013

If the seats of the mps become empty then there has to be byelections for those seats. In Greece this is unusual and it's possible that a full General election will have to be held, though the government wants to avoid this.

Ablokeimet

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ablokeimet on September 29, 2013

Thrasybulus is correct to argue that the crackdown on Golden Dawn is not the end of Fascism in Greece. The crisis of capitalism is generating widespread desperation and making the traditional political Centre untenable. Drastic solutions are called for and society is polarising to the Left and the Right. In these circumstances, Fascism becomes capitalism's last line of defence. Although they don't want Fascism, the capitalists want Communism less.

Another thing to keep in mind is that New Democracy is no friend of the working class and its crushing of Golden Dawn is not being done for the workers' benefit. Every repressive step that the State takes against Golden Dawn is a precedent for future action against working class organisations.

And we may not have too long to wait.

Steven.

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on September 29, 2013

Yeah, great blog, thanks. I agree with the conclusions. While Golden Dawn are a repulsive lot, this crackdown isn't for workers' benefit, nor will it dent fascism in Greece: it's not a positive move at all.

Tyrion

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Tyrion on September 29, 2013

It certainly wouldn't be unprecedented for the established ruling class to suppress an uppity fascist group; the Legion of the Archangel Michael experienced this in Romania under the Antonescu government, and the Arrow Cross Party under the Horthy government in Hungary. But, as Ablokimet and Steven wrote, this shouldn't be taken as any indication that ND is an ally of the working class or that fascism in Greece has been put down.

Josef Dodos

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Josef Dodos on September 29, 2013

What makes you think that it is not for the workers' benefit? GD apparently did not have any class consciousness at all and they were largely against unions and labour rights. As a gang of thugs they could be employed by bosses for breaking strikes and bullying workers. For example Golden Dawn grew in Perama (a working class area by the port and close to where the murder took place) by promising to put an end to the actions of unionists and communists who have "sent away the honest shipowners of Greece" in the past few years. In the same area a week before the murder they attacked 8 members of the Communist party in an attempt to win hegemony on the streets.

Of course fascism does not finish from one day to the next and I am not saying that workers will be in some way straightforwardly benefited by all this... But let us not be so conspiracy theorists and make the arrests once more to seem like the grand plan of capitalists to smash workers etc. I generally think that it was a positive development for workers and social movements in Greece and beyond.

Steven.

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on September 29, 2013

Josef Dodos

What makes you think that it is not for the workers' benefit? GD apparently did not have any class consciousness at all and they were largely against unions and labour rights. As a gang of thugs they could be employed by bosses for breaking strikes and bullying workers

That's not entirely true: they do support some workers' disputes like this one-
http://libcom.org/blog/greek-stalinists-welcome-fascist-involvement-workers-dispute-27022012

As I understand it, they try to present themselves as supporters of "Greek" workers, against foreign ones.

Of course fascism does not finish from one day to the next and I am not saying that workers will be in some way straightforwardly benefited by all this... But let us not be so conspiracy theorists and make the arrests once more to seem like the grand plan of capitalists to smash workers etc.

this is ridiculous. Who is being "conspiracy theorist", saying it is part of some "grand plan of capitalists"?

What the article above and posters are saying is that it is a conservative, anti-working class government opportunistically using a popular backlash against Golden Dawn to get rid of one of its parliamentary rivals. Which it is.

I generally think that it was a positive development for workers and social movements in Greece and beyond.

really? You think that the outlawing of political parties and arresting of dissidents is a positive thing? Can you point to examples where similar bans elsewhere have been effective?

As others have commented, this will not help combat widely held nationalist and racist attitudes in Greek society, nor will it stop racist violence. Driving them underground makes recourse to illegal activities such as violent attacks more likely. And it enables them to paint themselves as a genuine opposition movement, as opposed to the conservative lackeys of the bosses and the state that they actually are.

Josef Dodos

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Josef Dodos on September 29, 2013

As I understand it, they try to present themselves as supporters of "Greek" workers, against foreign ones.

Yes, but that does not have anything to do with 'class consciousness' as far as the latter is understood as international.

this is ridiculous. Who is being "conspiracy theorist", saying it is part of some "grand plan of capitalists"?

It is true you did not say anything like that. The comment was mostly referring to many left-wing commentators in Greece who repeatedly do since yesterday.

What the article above and posters are saying is that it is a conservative, anti-working class government opportunistically using a popular backlash against Golden Dawn to get rid of one of its parliamentary rivals. Which it is.

Again, I am not sure that this is the case. The government did not arrest Golden Dawn on its own, there has been huge public outrage that led to the decision to bring them before the law. Also the party is not 'outlawed' as you say, but several of its members are facing criminal charges- something that for me should have happened long time ago. Do you think that it should not? In any case, no one is sure about what will happen with the party at the moment.

Also, I am not 100% sure that ND will take GD's voters as many commentators note. In the imaginary of most of them ND are the ultimate traitors (who now are responsible for bringing GD before the law). I find it easier that these people go to the party called 'Independent Greeks' or even Syriza, parties which appear relatively more anti-systemic than ND. But these are all speculations and still everything is very open. In short, I do not think that we can draw very safe political conclusions based on what happened yesterday.

Lastly, of course racism wont disappear in Greece; it is stupid for someone to think that it will. State sanctioned racism is huge, manifested in all the concentration camps for immigrants that currently exist such as Amygdaleza. But I think that mafia-like racist attacks of the type of GD are less possible to continue, at least at the moment. I am not sure if this is can be thought as a positive development for all commentators, but it definitely is for the people who have been repeatedly the victims of these attacks.

Kureigo-San

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on September 29, 2013

Who're the balaclava'd heavies in the photo?

Steven.

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on September 29, 2013

Kureigo-San

Who're the balaclava'd heavies in the photo?

I assume the police

Kureigo-San

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on September 29, 2013

Thought they'd dress a little smarter than ski masks for high profile publicity government work

hellfrozeover

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by hellfrozeover on September 29, 2013

Kureigo-San

Thought they'd dress a little smarter than ski masks for high profile publicity government work

Austerity, innit.

Entdinglichung

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on September 30, 2013

some Greek fascists are looking for another occupation ... weren't there XA-members involved in Bosnia during the 1990ies (on the side of the Cetnicki)?

http://ww4report.com/node/12664

The idiotic sectors of the left that are openly shilling for Bashar Assad are in some very strange company. The Greek left-wing blog Glykosymoritis provides an English translation of the boasts in a far-right daily with the perverse name of Democratia that a "National Socialist" organzation calling itself Black Lily has dispatched a brigade to Syria to fight for Assad's regime. Black Lily came to the public eye with their recent fizzy-drink attack on Greek government minister Evangelos Venizelos in Paris. But the group's spokesman Stavros Libovisis told Democratia (awkward English in original) that volunteers now "are fighting alongside our Syrian brothers in arms is to help them defend the soil of a friendly nations people, showing our solidarity in practise against an age-old foe."

This foe is identified in terms that will warm the hearts of many on the "left": the "global dictatorship of the American-Zionist war machine" and the "the bloodthirsty imperialists that want to turn the country into a capitalist brothel and a market for the likes of McDonald's and Starbucks." Next comes the predictable appeal to Syria's besieged Christians: "Syrian orthodox are fighting in the front line for a free nationalist Syria and they are distinguished for their bravery on counter attacking the intoxicated addicts of the mercenary Salafists of Al-Qaeda." And the appeal to an ancient kinship with the Syrians because their country was (2,000 years ago!) part of "Great Greece" (Magna Graecia).

Another sign of a re-emergent "Red-Brown Alliance"?

Entdinglichung

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on September 30, 2013

wouldn't it be possible that the recent crackdown on XA was simply carried out because things became to messy (especially if you want to attract foreign investors) and uncontrolled and that the state needed to assert its monopoly on violence ... the Nazis in Germany had during the period of 1990-93 a lot of space to act (being especially utilized by CDU/CSU to put pressure on FDP and SPD to change the political asylum article in the constitution) but from late 1992 on, federal and state governments adopted a harder line after the pogrom in Rostock and especially after the arson attacks in Moelln and Solingen, banning most militant Neo-Nazi orgs because things became embarrassing and uncontrollable

ocelot

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on September 30, 2013

Also, let's not forget the EZ/Troika angle. Already voices were raised in Brussels last week that Greece should not be allowed to take its turn at the EU presidency until the GD issue was "sorted". I imagine there were some fairly stark ultimatums made through diplomatic channels from Berlin/Frankfurt, Paris & Brussels. The Greek government is at the moment trying to gather support for a writedown on outstanding debt (as backed by IMF and some others) as part of the next bailout. It's bad enough trying to overcome resistence from Schäuble (assuming he retains his post in the new government, which seems likely) and the German TV-viewing public, without the nightly news from Greece being wall to wall coverage of neo-nazi murders and rioting. In these circumstances the old-school strategy of tension thing can get counterproductive. Looks like they'll have to find a different set of dirty tricks to disrupt the Syriza vote (and at least in this latter project they can be assured of more unified support from the US and EU).

Nate

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nate on September 30, 2013

Steven.

it's not a positive move at all.

I don't understand. Are you saying it's a negative move, or a neutral one? As in, does this mean "it's not a step forward, it's a step backward" or "it's not a step forward, it's a step sideways"?

ocelot

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on September 30, 2013

more:

this crackdown isn't for workers' benefit, nor will it dent fascism in Greece

The evacuation at Dunkirk wasn't for the Nazis benefit either. Doesn't mean it wasn't a victory for them.

I'm not posing these events in as clear a win/lose light as that example (I broadly agree with Josef D, its too early to see full repercussions). But I am questioning the general logic of the argument. Sure ND are odious and cynical and therefore none of their acts are designed to be "for workers' benefit". But it does not follow that it is not the result of pressure from popular outrage from the streets.

The problem with the one-way "class struggle as capitalist conspiracy" logic that sees every move by the class enemy as yet another advance for it, is that it deprives the working class of any agency and the class struggle of being a two-way fight - and ultimately any chance of progress in any direction other than the bosses' chosen one, never mind eventual victory.

What the article above and posters are saying is that it is a conservative, anti-working class government opportunistically using a popular backlash against Golden Dawn to get rid of one of its parliamentary rivals. Which it is.

Here "opportunistically using" means that even the possibility that they might have been forced into it against their will, is dismissed apriori. The assumption that obviously the only "radical" interpretation starts from position that the class enemy can never be forced into anything - is an argument to never resist, to never campaign, to never go on strike.

Also - while it's certainly not the end of anything, I suspect having all their leaders locked up and their legal immunity lifted (or even just temporarily impaired) actually will "dent" GD's operations for the next while. In fact it already has, in terms of locales shut down, demos cancelled etc.

Movements that rely on the leadership to do all the thinking and the followers mainly for muscle, are quite vulnerable to decapitation. Also, as AFA demonstrated time and again, the appeal to youth that the appearance of invulnerability gives, loses a lot of its potency when first punctured. Even if it turns out to be a temporary set-back, I'd be surprised if it didn't knock them back a bit in the short-term.

Cooked

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Cooked on September 30, 2013

Have no way of verifying this but

Authorities apply 'criminal organisation' clause, used in Golden Dawn arrests, to prosecute anti-gold mine activists in #Skouries | #Greece— Menelaos Tzafalias (@tzaf) September 30, 2013

Entdinglichung

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on October 1, 2013

from http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.article&id=1511

It seems that the police are not only active against Golden Dawn and, since the crackdown on the neonazi party, there have been a number of so-called sweeps in central Athens targetting migrants. Last night, in an operation in the Agios Panteleimonas and Omonia areas, police detained 483 people, arresting 46 of them for the possession of false documents and violations of the immigration law. Those arrested will be led before a prosecutor today.

Α crime godfather, pimp and extortionist – this is how the he country's secret service identified Golden Dawn MP Yiannis Lagos from as early as 2011 – but nothing was done about it. According to a report seen by daily Ta Nea, the National Intelligence Service (EYP) had evidence that Lagos was involved in protection rackets, blackmail, trafficking of women for prostitution and in moneylaundering.

it's of course not new, that fascists are into pimping & protection rackets

ocelot

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on October 1, 2013

For anybody interested in following the mediatized public spectacle of the GD "investigation" in English, the Eleftherotypia anglophone website is doing daily blow-by-blow live-blog coverage at
http://www.enetenglish.gr/

one bit worth noting from today's blog

11.20 It seems that the police are not only active against Golden Dawn and, since the crackdown on the neonazi party, there have been a number of so-called sweeps in central Athens targetting migrants. Last night, in an operation in the Agios Panteleimonas and Omonia areas, police detained 483 people, arresting 46 of them for the possession of false documents and violations of the immigration law. Those arrested will be led before a prosecutor today.

And for laughs, pix from the GD deputy leader Chrisos Pappa's gaff
http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&lang='..'&perform=view&id=32506&Itemid=1171&lang=

Ablokeimet

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ablokeimet on October 1, 2013

ocelot

The problem with the one-way "class struggle as capitalist conspiracy" logic that sees every move by the class enemy as yet another advance for it, is that it deprives the working class of any agency and the class struggle of being a two-way fight - and ultimately any chance of progress in any direction other than the bosses' chosen one, never mind eventual victory

Ocelot is quite right. This denies working class agency and is a bad way of reasoning. When I said that crushing Golden Dawn wasn't being done for the workers' benefit, that doesn't mean that it is, in itself, a defeat for the working class. It is an analysis of the Government's intentions. Whether it is a victory for the workers or a defeat depends on how the working class understands what has happened and responds. If the workers gratefully embrace New Democracy as a protector of their rights against Fascism, this will be a defeat for the workers. if, on the other hand, the working class concludes that the Government was caught between a rock and a hard place and has acted to save its own skin, it will be a victory for the workers.

ocelot

Also - while it's certainly not the end of anything, I suspect having all their leaders locked up and their legal immunity lifted (or even just temporarily impaired) actually will "dent" GD's operations for the next while. In fact it already has, in terms of locales shut down, demos cancelled etc.

Movements that rely on the leadership to do all the thinking and the followers mainly for muscle, are quite vulnerable to decapitation. Also, as AFA demonstrated time and again, the appeal to youth that the appearance of invulnerability gives, loses a lot of its potency when first punctured. Even if it turns out to be a temporary set-back, I'd be surprised if it didn't knock them back a bit in the short-term.

This is also quite correct. The Government has acted to crush Golden Dawn, with spectacular pictures of GD's Nazi regalia being splashed all over the media. In a country which suffered massively under Nazi occupation during WWII, this will hurt GD very badly and perhaps be a death blow.

Finally, an essential point. Even if Golden Dawn is wiped from the face of the Earth, that does not put an end to the danger of Fascism in Greece. As I mentioned above, the objective situation is deteriorating and the political Centre is disintegrating. In these circumstances, society polarises to both Left & Right. Fascists will be a last line of defence for capitalism. And if Golden Dawn does not exist, some other organisation will emerge. It should be remembered that historically, Fascism in Greece has been anti-German (and therefore pro-British). Fascists who hark back to General Metaxas will find their propaganda falling on more fertile soil than those who glorify the Third Reich.

Josef Dodos

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Josef Dodos on October 2, 2013

Steven.

...this crackdown isn't for workers' benefit .... it's not a positive move at all.

OK, you can rest assured, finally some good news for the workers. Today three of the most notorious GD MP's are released and are back in their positions.

Uncreative

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Uncreative on October 2, 2013

Josef Dodos

Steven.

...this crackdown isn't for workers' benefit .... it's not a positive move at all.

OK, you can rest assured, finally some good news for the workers. Today three of the most notorious GD MP's are released and are back in their positions.

Congratulations on understanding people's points so well.

Josef Dodos

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Josef Dodos on October 2, 2013

Uncreative

Josef Dodos

Steven.

...this crackdown isn't for workers' benefit .... it's not a positive move at all.

OK, you can rest assured, finally some good news for the workers. Today three of the most notorious GD MP's are released and are back in their positions.

Congratulations on understanding people's points so well.

What is it exactly that I do not understand? Please help me find out and in case I misunderstood I will gladly recall.

Mike S.

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike S. on October 3, 2013

If some sort of actual communist "revolution' in Greece was on the horizon the state would let the dogs loose. I think the arrests may be to keep things from boiling over. I'm not from Greece so I can't really comment on the situation with certainty. Historically speaking, as we all know, capital uses the far right to combat communism or the threat of communism becoming even a legitimate threat. The threat of becoming a legitimate threat....aint that something.

teh

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by teh on October 4, 2013

ocelot

Looks like they'll have to find a different set of dirty tricks to disrupt the Syriza vote (and at least in this latter project they can be assured of more unified support from the US and EU).

Why do you think that the US and EU are trying to disrupt Syriza's vote?

Ed

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on October 4, 2013

Josef Dodos

Uncreative

Josef Dodos

Steven.

...this crackdown isn't for workers' benefit .... it's not a positive move at all.

OK, you can rest assured, finally some good news for the workers. Today three of the most notorious GD MP's are released and are back in their positions.

Congratulations on understanding people's points so well.

What is it exactly that I do not understand? Please help me find out and in case I misunderstood I will gladly recall.

Well, you seem to be implying that Steven thinks that freedom for the Golden Dawn MPs is "good news for the workers". That wasn't his point. His point was that in Greece (and under capitalism in general) the battle isn't left vs. right or workers vs. fascism and therefore just because something hurts the biggest fascist party doesn't necessarily mean it's good for the workers.

For example, if the state strengthens itself by attacking a far-right party this doesn't improve the situation that the far-right party thrived in (either by reducing racism or increasing class struggle). What it does do, however, is increase the power of the state over society as a whole.

To certain extent, and correct me if I'm wrong, it could be that during the high point of struggles in Greece from 2007-2011 that the GD were useful to the state. Now that those struggles have waned a bit, maybe now the GD are a bigger threat to Greece's political class than the workers' movement and are now just a pain in the arse for them (killing people that spark riots, building up their own structures in competition with the state's monopoly of violence etc)..

So yeah, no one's campaigning for "Freedom for the GD 3!" or whatever, just seeing that the struggle is against the state as well as fascism.

Ocelot

And for laughs, pix from the GD deputy leader Chrisos Pappa's gaff

Wow, yeah, that guy seems like he likes fascism quite a lot..

Josef Dodos

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Josef Dodos on October 4, 2013

Well, you seem to be implying that Steven thinks that freedom for the Golden Dawn MPs is "good news for the workers". That wasn't his point. His point was that in Greece (and under capitalism in general) the battle isn't left vs. right or workers vs. fascism and therefore just because something hurts the biggest fascist party doesn't necessarily mean it's good for the workers.

Of course no one knows what will happen in the future, so it does not necessarily mean that is a bad thing either. In fact, when an openly criminal, racist, anti-workers, anti-immigrant organization is decapitated and goes to jail one can at least assume that some weak, potentially revolutionary, groups of the population can be empowered. Sans papier will be able to go out for a walk for example without the constant fear of attack. Saying straightforwardly that "it's not a positive move at all" closes off the discussion, implying that the opponent has already planned everything in advance i.e. that the crackdown was consciously brought forward only to crash the workers movement (when GD was around and strong a common view among many anarchists/ leftists was that they exist only to crash the workers movement. Claiming after the events that "yes, they used them then and now that they do not need them they threw them away" does NOT offer a convincing interpretation. If they were so effective why not keep them to crash the workers in the first place with whatever political cost?). In short, if we presuppose that the "rulers" always have full awareness over what they are doing (and that's why "it is not for the workers benefit"), we diminish contingency and, for me, agency, the capacity to tactically intervene upon the things and open spaces of possibility.

In fact, the fact that the opponent has NOT planned everything in advance is spectacularly manifested in what happened the following days of the arrest. The day before yesterday three notorious MP's, among them Kasidiaris, were released. Yesterday, after huge public outrage and rumors that the government will collapse under the threat of a fiasco, the trial examiner sent the leader, Michaloliakos, to jail. Someone could similarly interpret all these, and there were many who did so, as predetermined moves of an opponent who knows very well what they are doing. In reality what we saw was a government in panic, which had little control over the situation.

To certain extent, and correct me if I'm wrong, it could be that during the high point of struggles in Greece from 2007-2011 that the GD were useful to the state. Now that those struggles have waned a bit, maybe now the GD are a bigger threat to Greece's political class than the workers' movement and are now just a pain in the arse for them (killing people that spark riots, building up their own structures in competition with the state's monopoly of violence etc)..

From 2007-2011 GD were a small insignificant party of 0,0+. They were born out of the crisis and the resistance to it, expressing a particular strand of ethno-populism that largely existed in Greek society before. It was a little before and mainly after 2012 May elections that they became so strong.

ocelot

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on October 4, 2013

teh

ocelot

Looks like they'll have to find a different set of dirty tricks to disrupt the Syriza vote (and at least in this latter project they can be assured of more unified support from the US and EU).

Why do you think that the US and EU are trying to disrupt Syriza's vote?

Because that's what I'm hearing from people in the know. By which I don't mean lefties but people who work in areas that deal with this sort of thing. One of the advantages of Ireland being such a small country, so densely connected by family networks, is that the informal circulation of information reaches sources that would be closed in other countries.

The reason that information doesn't surprise me is that it seems fairly obvious (at least to me) that the current situation in the Eurozone is such that the powers that be, at least in the EU, would find the election of an anti-memorandum party completely unacceptable. From the US perspective, that it would be a - from their perspective (Obama's a quasi-socialist from their perspective, remember?) - dangerously left-wing and anti-NATO* party, would be unacceptable as well. The whole point of "There Is No Alternative" is that not even the appearance of an alternative to neoliberal austerity - or rather that people might be able to opt for an alternative - can be allowed to pass. TINA says "No pasaran!" to alternatives (even ones we communists might dismiss as illusory ones). The example might give other people ideas. And that would be A Bad Thing.

* NATO? I know, *so* 1980s, right? Except... if you think the US doesn't care about NATO (and NATO in the Mediterranean) the way it used to back then, think again. Ask the Turks...

ocelot

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on October 4, 2013

Josef Dodos

In short, if we presuppose that the "rulers" always have full awareness over what they are doing (and that's why "it is not for the workers benefit"), we diminish contingency and, for me, agency, the capacity to tactically intervene upon the things and open spaces of possibility.

Word.

S. Artesian

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on October 5, 2013

Ocelot, that may be, but Syriza has stated, or stated during the last elections that intends to keep Greece in the EU and "honor" the debts.

I don't doubt the US will do what it can to disrupt a vote for Syriza-- US worked to overthrow Allende, Goulart, Arbenz etc. etc.

The US may think Syriza is unacceptable, and a "threat,"-- but that doesn't make it a threat-- no more than Blum was a threat in France; no more than Allende was in 1973.

I would think that left-coms, lib-coms, com-coms would not endorse the New Democracy expelling and arresting Golden Dawn, as we left-lib-com-coms know that such an action by New Democracy is a sham-- not because of collusion and conspiracy-- but because the government can do nothing to remedy the underlying predicament of capital that spawns the GD.

The government actions, more likely than not, are taken to pre-empt the organization of a response by the working class-- that is to say, using this opportunity to create committees for defense-- defense of immigrants, defense of strikers, defense of the poor. Such committees would undertake the dispersal of Golden Dawn under its own authority, linking it to part of an overall program calling for the cancellation of the debt, and all agreements to service the debt, immediate expulsion of EU/IMF "oversight" (monitors, auditors, etc.), withdrawal from the EU, etc. etc. etc.

Entdinglichung

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on October 10, 2013

from http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article29996 ... the author belongs to the OKDE-Spartakos (orthodox left wing of the USFI)

While many European politicians and business leaders followed with interest the use of this armed gang to try to rein in the anti-Troika and therefore anti-capitalist protests, part of the European bourgeoisie considered as unwelcome and even dangerous the growth of a para-state group which might later on make the traditional bourgeois parties regret having played with fire. The fact that Greece is due to take on the next presidency of the EU has apparently led to some pressure on the Samaras government in this regard.

The same contradictions exist among the Greek employers. Although it has been proved that the “hordes of horror” have been financed by industry and shipowners, and in some cases for a long time, the statement of the leader of the Greek employers after the murder of Fyssas sounded like an order to the government: to put Golden Dawn and SYRIZA on the same level is not only unacceptable but anti-democratic. Apart from the fact that there several months ago there was a meeting a meeting between it and Alexis Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA , it seems that the leadership of the Greek employers refuses at this stage the development of a real mafia acting for itself and only partly for big business.

So on Saturday we had the pleasure - but also the anger, because it happened after so many well-known crimes – of seeing the Nazi leaders and several cadres of their party arrive at police headquarters, handcuffed and escorted by the anti-terrorist units. At the same time, let us not dream: one of the leaders, a psychopathic thug, was able to use his mobile phone while in custody to send instructions to his henchmen. Nevertheless, the charges on the basis of which the court has ordered the arrests are much more serious than just a publicity stunt by the Greek government to reassure its European colleagues.

For three days , Greece has been discovering that this gang of killers is a veritable mafia (protection racket centred on shops, arms trafficking , exploitation of immigrants in various forms of commerce ...), and a real little terrorist organization: the anti-terrorist units are at present looking for the arms caches that this criminal network had begun to organize in the country. And we can see another possible reason for the scale of the operation against the Nazis: the forces of repression had begun to be so infected by Nazi sympathies, with discreet training in military camps, that the government feared it might eventually lose control over the state apparatus!

Without overestimating the real strength of this band of assassins - and of course the fact that the mainstream media has suddenly shifted from giving free publicity to Golden Dawn to adopting an almost anti-Nazi position that makes them dramatize the situation excessively - it is obvious that a dynamic was underway, with the complicity of many police officers, that encouraged all the advocates of violence against workers and immigrants to believe that they had a free hand to do as they liked.

The question that could be posed, three days after the arrest of the leaders of Golden Dawn, is whether the government and the judiciary are determined to go all the way, and whether the killers who have been arrested will be given serious prison sentences. Knowing who Samaras is, with his far-right past, we may doubt it. The other question is whether Golden Dawn has received a mortal blow in terms of its organization. In the last two days, it was good to see that only 150 to 200 morons had responded to the call of the Nazi leadership to mobilize everywhere. The probability of the party being characterized as a criminal group opens the door to a possible ban on it, but for the moment its members of parliament are holding on to their positions and now want to provoke a political crisis ... on the pretext of their so-called fight against the Troika.

Chilli Sauce

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on October 10, 2013

Re: Syriza.

FWIW, I think that while, of course, there is no real chance for a truly liberatory revolutionary movement to develop from Syriza, the US still wants to keep in power government which are going to be as amenable to US interests as possible.

And, despite the fact that capital would still exist under a Syriza government, that doesn't mean that US policy planners don't have an irrational fear of a "leftist" government coming to power within an austerity-wracked country.

The other thing to be said is that large sections of the bourgeoisie often mistake the self-proclaimed representative institutions of the working class for actual grassroots resistance. I mean, despite the obvious mediating capabilities of trade unions, most employers still fight tooth-and-nail to keep them out. The belief is that the mere presence of unions will enable effective resistance. I think something similar could going on with Syriza.

backspace

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by backspace on October 11, 2013

To respond and expand upon Chilli Sauce's points, I don't think the leftist leaderships (the activists and cadres maybe) involved in Syriza believe it poses an immediate revolutionary threat, but that it might enable Greece to exit the eurozone, thereby threatening the fragility of the present holding actions preventing further international crisis. From there it could prove a domino effect if similarly inspired electoral platforms arise to power in the countries that really matter to the global economy - Spain, Italy etc. I'm relatively sure this is the leftist strategy.

The problem it seems to me, is this - the economic policy Syriza represents - ie. real 'keynesian' policy (with the political backing to enact the more 'left' aspects, and not just the superficial inverted 'keynesianism' we've seen placed into practice so far) - is still being championed by some as a potential capitalist solution to the crisis. We like to read various marxian arguments about why this would fail, but the reality is that it can't entirely be predicted; it might in fact prove successful at patching up this ongoing crisis of capital.

As a result, the danger (in the context of communist strategy) is that any 'grassroots left party' such as Syriza, would be taking power partly with a mandate to administer stability, and hence would see the deployment of such policy; fail to do so and they will see themselves voted out or removed from power. Whilst they may provide a path toward rebuilding workers consciousness and class organisation, their ability to deepen the crisis whilst doing so would be extremely short limited. It may cause further short term crisis, but it could equally present capital with a path to recovery.

The question as always, is to square the pursuit of large scale growth in workers consciousness and organisational power with the task of deepening the existing contradictions - it is a sad combination of utopianism and opportunism that believes solving a crisis for capital to be a legitimate path for the development of class power.

I completely agree that a rival proposed solution to the crisis is enough to provoke an intense response from state organisations, particularly the US.

jef costello

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jef costello on October 13, 2013

Golden Dawn are now becoming more dangerous and less useful to the ruling classes so they have been stepped on.
This crackdown doesn't make the immigrant safer Josef, this crackdown is an aim to decapitate GD (at best) so that it will return to its place. Just because they are not wanted in a coalition does not mean the government doesn't want them helping police to attack demonstrators. If they turned a blind eye to the massive involvement in crime why would they care now. This crackdown is very partial and targeted and is largely based on information that is old, some of these cases have been pending for several years. I am not sure how the legal system works but it seems that the authorities have been holding these prosecutions back to use as leverage against Golden Dawn or to provide scapegoats if needed.
We oppose fascism, not individual fascists (in a political sense) so a move that will target some fascists while leaving the situation and organisation largely intact is not helpful.
The idea of a murderous Golden Dawn leader in prison doesn't upset me in the slightest, but I don't see it as a victory because it is linked to their power struggles. In the same way as I may be opposed to the CEO of my employer but if he is ousted by the board of directors I don't expect any improvement to my conditions.
If we want to take the analogy to Germany, we could look at the various attempts (as mentioned above) to control the nazi street organisations, culminating in the night of the long knives. I don't care if they executed Ernst Rohm as part of an internal struggle, althouth it might have brought me some personal satisfaction it wasn't the result of class struggle or power.

Entdinglichung

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on October 15, 2013

from http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2013/10/11/greek-anti-fascist-movement-grows

The left (mainly SYRIZA) should realise that the defeat of fascism will not be done by delegation from the bourgeois state. The election results in Nikaia and Redi were indicative: SYRIZA 25.09%, KKE 14.39%, Independent Greeks 11.4%, Golden Dawn 9.02%, ND 9.01%, PASOK 7.99%, DHMAR 5.83%, Greens 3.38%, ANTARSYA 1.21%. Results were similar in Keratsini and Perama. So the question is how in the area where the left polled over 40% and Golden Dawn under 10%, the streets were won by Golden Dawn.

ocelot

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on October 16, 2013

Because votes ain't worth shit in a street fight. Particularly when the other side have the support of the cops. AWL are idiots.

Entdinglichung

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on October 17, 2013

I think, the question was a rhetorical one and the author of the text knows the answer

some more from Enet ... not really surprising stuff:

Three lawyers present information that they say points to 'long-term penetration of and activities of the Nazi criminal gang' of Golden Dawn within the secret services and the police

Enough indications exist of a close relationship between Golden Dawn and elements in the state apparatus, specifically the secret service and police, to warrant an investigation, three lawyers involved in serious criminal cases against Golden Dawn have claimed.

In a statement, the lawyers – Takis Zotos, Thanasis Kampayiannis and Evgenia Kouniaki – call on the authorities to fully investigate the allegations of links between the neonazi party and the National Intelligence Service (EYP) and the police.

Zotos and Kampayiannis are involved in the case of Shehzad Luqman, the 27-year-old Pakistani migrant worker fatally stabbed in January. Two Golden Dawn supporters have been charged with his murder.

Kouniaki is involved in the trial of three Golden Dawn members accused of stabbing an Afghan man in September 2011. One of the accused is Themis Skordeli, Golden Dawn's leading official in a central Athens district. Her trial has been postponed eight times, on the strengh of psychological reports provided by a fellow Golden Dawn member who is employed as a psychiatrist in a state hospital.

In a statement, the three lawyers raise the following points:

1. The director of EYP's third counter-intelligence division, Dimos Kouzilos, who was responsible for telephone surveillance of Golden Dawn, was forced to resign on 27 September over, what the media claimed, links to that party. The lawyers say that neither EYP nor the public order ministry have issued a statement clarifying why Kouzilos had to go. The also point out that on the morning he was dismissed, he chaired a meeting on the state's moves against the party.

2. According to press reports, Dimos Kouzilos is a relative of Nikos Kouzilos, Golden Dawn's MP for the central Piraeus constituency and the party's spokesman for shipping issues. Golden Dawn, on its website, claims that Kouzilos was sacked from his position after disagreeing with the public order ministry's decision to "monitor a legitimate political party".

3. Kouzilos' appointment in 2012 even caused reactions from government coalition partners Pasok and Democratic Left (Dimar) and main opposition party Syriza. In a parliamentary question tabled in December 2012, Syriza and Dimar MPs questioned whether recent EYP appointments, including Kouzilos', had been carried out on the basis of meritocracy. Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias responded by saying that "the appointment of Greek police officers to EYP was made ​​after they were selected by EYP's director general".

4. EYP's director general was then and remains Theodoros Dravillas, a confidante of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, former general secretary of the culture ministry under Samaras, and former deputy director of his New Democracy party. Dravillas was appointed head of EYP in July 2012, following the installation of the new government. The lawyers also note that the two deputy director generalships were given to Samaras associates: Panayiotis Kontoulis, a lawyer, and Yiorgos Kamarinopoulos, former chairman of the Attica Police Officers Association and the Panhellenic Federation of Police Officers. Both are from Samaras' native prefecture and constituency of Mesinia. The lawyers say the appointments were viewed as favoritism in the media.

5. Kouzilos had previously served in the Attica drugs squad, the antiquities division and, most recently, was director of the new financial police. He was then seconded to EYP, to take up a position once held by Yannis Dikopoulos, who once served with him in the Attica drugs squad. As a lieutenant general, Dikopoulos was forced to resign as inspector general of police for southern Greece on September 23, following the "negligent investigation" of the Golden Dawn offices in Halkida, Evia.

6. In the summer of 2005, Kouzilou (in a subordinate position) and Dikopoulou (as head) were both serving in EYP's third counter-intelligence division when EYP was accused of organising the kidnapping of 20 Pakistani immigrants living in Greece at the request of the British intelligence services on suspicion of involvement in the July 2005 terrorist attacks on the London underground. Among those abducted was the chairman of the Pakistani community in Greece, Javed Aslam.

7. According to some sources, Kouzilos maintained contacts with officers in Piraeus who are now under investigation for having links with Golden Dawn. These press reports claim that the head of Nikea police station, Dimitris Giovandis, tipped Golden Dawn off about police work and himself participated in criminal activity. The lawyers point out that the Golden Dawn official accused of directing the party's illegal activity in Piraeus is MP Yiannis Lagos. As far back as 2011, EYP secret reports claimed Lagos was involved in protection rackets, extortion, trafficking and prostitution, but no action was ever taken.

The lawyers said: "We believe that this information provides an overview of the long-term penetration of and activities of the Nazi criminal gang within the EYP and the police."

They say that even though the Supreme Court prosecutor investigating Golden Dawn. Haralambos Vourliotis, obtained much of his information from EYP, mainly from EYP's third counter-intelligence division, they have "good reason to believe" that the agency may have more information but that this could have been concealed by Golden Dawn "collaborators and informers" within the state apparatus.

They call for full and independent access to be provided to EYP's archives in order to fully investigate Golden Dawn's crimes.

ocelot

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on October 18, 2013

Interesting article from Macropolis - Golden Dawn draws support from surprising sources to retain popularity

Although there is no surprise in the poll’s findings that three quarters of the group’s supporters are men, there are a number of other discoveries that will cause eyebrows to be raised.

For instance, the survey indicates that the party's core support is not young unemployed Greeks. In fact, the jobless make up just 17 percent of followers. In contrast, salaried private sector employees account for 24 percent, freelancers 23 percent and pensioners 16 percent.

Backing among young Greeks (under 25) is also weaker than expected, reaching 14.1 percent of overall support. The strongest support for the party is among those aged 25 to 40, which accounts for 43.8 percent of its backers at the moment. In contrast, and perhaps also a little unexpectedly, Golden Dawn's support is relatively low among older Greeks, who are traditionally more conservative and right-wing in their views. The extremist party pulls in just over 15 percent of its backing from those aged over 56.

The GPO survey also hints at the difficulties other parliamentary parties face in trying to counter Golden Dawn’s attraction on ideological grounds. Polls have consistently shown that the main reason Greeks back the neofascist party is as a protest against the political system and Greece’s economic plight. The GPO survey indicates that a minority of the party’s supporters see themselves as being aligned ideologically with Golden Dawn’s beliefs. Four in 10 of those who say they support the extremist party classify themselves as centrists, while less than a third position themselves on the far right of the political spectrum.

This suggests that marginalising Golden Dawn as an extremist party but not addressing the underlying problems that have fuelled its rise will have only a limited impact on its popularity, as is evident from its opinion poll ratings so far.

Also, more Father Ted-style Nazi shrine silliness, via Enet. (What kind of a name is Edward Pringle-Stacey, I ask you, dodgy fucker...)

Tian

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Tian on November 1, 2013

Two Golden Dawn members assassinated today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24780379