GOLDEN DAWN, 1980-2012. THE NEONAZIS’ ROAD TO PARLIAMENT

425.000 Greek voters sided with a neonazi political party in the last election. Though Golden Dawn is implicated in a surge of violent attacks, and while its views range from the ridiculous to the downright racist, its popularity is rising by the day. What exactly is Golden Dawn, where does it come from, what is its true nature? What is the extent of their relationship to the police? And who are the people that vote for them?

“The political party of the crisis par excellence”. This is how Golden Dawn is described by Efthymis Papavlassopoulos, a political scientist and pollster.  And Christophoros Vernardakis, another political scientist and pollster, says: “It is the only political party that is clearly rising in popularity”.[1]

Golden Dawn is a neonazi organization, upgraded to a crowd-pleasing political party by riding on the wave of popular discontent with the established political system

In response to this rising popularity, the principals of Golden Dawn have made some effort recently to disguise the nature of their party. Especially after their electoral successes, they have attempted through a series of public statements to pass their organization off as a “nationalist” party that is honestly interested in the well being of Greek citizens and has taken up the struggle against the austerity policies imposed by the Greek governments at the behest of the troika.

They are not being truthful in the least: Golden Dawn is a neonazi organization, upgraded to a crowd-pleasing political party by riding on the wave of popular discontent with the established political system. Like their original source of inspiration –the German nazis– the neonazis of Golden Dawn have held views as varied as they are laughable, including mystical beliefs in the ancient Greek god Pan and other gods of Mount Olympus, as well as satanist beliefs dressed up in the theatrics of Black Metal music. They have also subscribed to wildly irrational or conspiratorial views, such as that the once no2 in the German nazi party Rudolph Hess was of Greek descent, or that Adolph Hitler roamed the streets of Berlin for forty days after his apparent suicide, only to ascend to the heavens at the end.

Golden Dawn members have been repeatedly connected with assaults, racial violence, beatings, extortion, and attempted murder

Unfortunately, again like their source of inspiration, they can by no means be dismissed as plain charlatans, though charlatans they certainly are. In addition, however, Golden Dawn is responsible for a web of intimidation and fear that is ever intensifying, and its members have been repeatedly connected –though few of them convicted– with assaults, racial violence, beatings, extortion, and attempted murder.

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A DANGEROUS LIE: THE “TWO EXTREMES” OF THE GREEK CRISIS

Among the many narratives that seek to regulate public discourse on the Greek crisis, a particularly persistent one is that which posits that there are two “extremes”, one on either side of the political spectrum, a “Far-Right” and a “Far-Left” one, both equally detrimental to democracy, which can only therefore be safeguarded by those currently in power. This narrative is not only false, but it  conceals a sinister operation…

Among the many narratives that seek to regulate public discourse on the Greek crisis, one is particularly persistent, tirelessly propagated by the Greek mainstream Media: this narrative posits that there are two “extremes”, one on either side of the political spectrum, a “Far-Right” and a “Far-Left” one. What is implied, but also quite often spelt out, is that these two “extremes” are alike, meaning that their tactics –which are after all what “really matters”– are identical, even though they profess to employ them with differing aims. Furthermore, the narrative goes, these tactics involve the use of violence for the achievement of political ends, a fact that not only makes them both equally detrimental to democracy, but also betrays a fundamental kinship: since both these “extremes” use violence for political ends, they cannot be as different as they proclaim.

ACCIDENTAL TOTALITARIANISMS

The “two extremes” narrative conveniently leaves the totalitarian expressions of capitalism such as Pinochet’s Chile, Pahlavi’s Iran or Suharto’s Indonesia outside the scheme, simple accidents of history. The obvious beneficiary is Western liberal democracy, which remains, to paraphrase Hardt and Negri’s charming formulation, always dedicated to peace, although continually bathed in blood.

Of course, this narrative was by no means discovered in Greece in the last three crisis-ridden years. On the contrary, it has a history within liberal-democratic discourse. Not to stretch too far back, the two “extremes” were equally condemned in the European Parliament resolution of 2 April 2009 on “European conscience and totalitarianism”. Reading the resolution, it is not too hard to discern that communism is a little more of a target than nazism –the European Parliament obviously considering nazism to have been sufficiently condemned in the past. Here, however, one should take account of the specificities: these are particular geopolitical circumstances, in which the current political and historical expression of Europe identifies itself –as a “united” political entity– with the winning side of World War 2 and draws on the outcome of the Cold War, thus incorporating in its European Union identity-building the countries of the former Soviet sphere of influence. Further support for this reading is provided by the fact that the precursor of the resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism is the Prague Declaration for European Conscience and Communism of June 2008.

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