Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A belated repudiation of fascism in Greece

[Originally posted at NOW]

After getting away for more than a year with intimidating journalists, slapping women on live television, inciting both anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry, and carrying out hundreds of armed assaults on immigrants, the fun may finally be coming to an end for Golden Dawn, the hitherto ascendant Greek party-cum-gang whose logo, as Michael Weiss put it, “doesn’t even try not to be a swastika,” and whose modus operandi has more often been paramilitary than parliamentary.

What moved the Greek authorities – who have been conspicuously soft on the baldly fascist movement, even reportedly colluding in their toxic violence to some extent – to belatedly shut them down was the fatal stabbing on 17 September of Pavlos Fyssas, a leftist rapper, by a self-professed member of the party. Perhaps because Fyssas was Greek, unlike most of Dawn’s previous victims, this set in motion a crackdown that culminated last weekend with the arrest and indictment of the group’s leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, along with his inner circle on charges including murder, heading a criminal gang, extortion, and money laundering. Thus have the 21st-century’s most accomplished neo-Nazis – with 18 elected MPs and a reported 15% of voters behind them until this month – seemingly been incapacitated (and not a moment too soon).

Of course, this is hardly the end of Greece’s problems. The incumbent prime minister himself is known to be fond of attributing a wide variety of ills to “illegal immigrants”; the sort of diagnosis that meets with approval in his right-of-centre ‘New Democracy’ party, which over the past year had tended to view Golden Dawn as a perhaps unruly but ultimately useful check on the common leftist enemy. And the economic immiseration that was arguably the seedbed of the fascist revival in the first place is only deepening, with no amelioration in sight.

Nonetheless, encouragement can be drawn all the same from the public repudiation, in the land that first produced the democratic alternative to tyranny, of those who would undo the inestimable achievements of their forefathers, and send Europe once more down that darkest of roads.

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