Greece: Golden Dawn – down but not out

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 236 December 2013/January 2014

On 1 November, two Golden Dawn fascists were assassinated in a drive-by shooting outside the party offices in Athens. The action was claimed by a hitherto-unknown organisation called the Militant People’s Revolutionary Forces (MPRF) as a direct response to the murder of left-wing hip hop artist Pavlos Fyssas on 18 September. The MPRF announcement declared that the commemoration of students who had died in an uprising against the military dictatorship in November 1973 was an appropriate moment to publicly launch an armed campaign to destroy the fascist organisation. The action highlighted the fears of both the Greek ruling class and European imperialism that the fight against Golden Dawn might spiral out of control and take on a revolutionary character. Such concerns forced the New Democracy government to crack down on Golden Dawn following Fyssas’s murder to ensure that it could not be tarred with a fascist brush when Greece assumes the EU presidency in January 2014.

Within two days of Fyssas’s murder the New Democracy (ND) government moved to have Golden Dawn tried as a ‘criminal conspiracy’ since the Greek constitution forbids the banning of any political party. The fascists’ parliamentary leadership was arrested along with 50 others. Further charges of illegal possession of firearms and money laundering were announced. Subsequent investigations by the police – who were proved to have been present at Fyssas’s brutal stabbing – showed direct contact between the fascist death squad and Golden Dawn leaders. Further police raids and investigations revealed arms caches in a Golden Dawn candidate’s home. One fascist-friendly businessman was holding 4,000 heavy weapons.

What had been common knowledge about police and fascist collusion was suddenly taken up by the press. Networks of support and corruption were exposed such as extortion of cash and goods from immigrant businesses by police. A police force rotten with Golden Dawn support, members and contacts was experiencing few problems in finding evidence to turn in their former neo-Nazi pals.

That the ND government needed sanitising in advance of January 2014 was evident: former open fascists now hold ministerial posts in the ND government, Golden Dawn has always polled highly in traditional ND strongholds and only two weeks before the murder of Fyssas, ND figures were proposing Golden Dawn as a future coalition partner. Now, however, it is safer to leave the routine rounding-up and criminalisation of immigrants and asylum seekers to the police rather than sponsor unofficial terror attacks by fascist auxiliaries as a way to divide the working class.

What matters now to European imperialism is that Greece honours its debts and continues to lay the burden on the working class. In early November, the troika of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund arrived for their monthly supervision of the implementation of their austerity budget. A leaked troika email proves that it is finance capital which is calling the shots: ‘We expect … the Milestone for receiving the next tranche in October … must be already finalised and adopted by the Parliament by the end of September.’ The Greek trade unions recently undertook their 35th general strike since 2008. Over this period wages and pensions have fallen by an average 40% and unemployment rocketed from 7.7% to 27.6%. Greece is the only developed economy since World War Two to be in continuous recession for six years, losing 25% of total production. 25,000 thousand jobs in education, health and the civil service are to be lost by December. The full target is 150,000 by the end of 2014. Staff and students in universities and schools who have occupied to defy cuts and closures now face eviction and military orders. In early November police violently cleared the former state media ERT building in Athens of workers who had occupied it since its closure in June 2013.

Although the ruling class has put Golden Dawn on a tight leash for now, state racism has not ended. Police round-ups of immigrants continue and thousands are held in squalid detention camps as the Greek state tries to destroy working class resistance through racist division. There can be no serious fight against austerity unless the mass of the Greek working class sides with immigrant workers against both the Greek state and its unofficial auxiliaries.

Michael MacGregor