Sunday, November 25, 2012

Golden Dawn and the rise of fascism in Europe

A recent post (here) featured the views of Richard Evans (a leading historian on the rise of Hitler and the Nazis) who draws parallels between the current situation in Europe and the circumstances that gave rise to Hitler and the Nazis during the 1930's.

In Roar Magazine Jerome Ross takes up the theme and warns of the rise of fascism in contemporary Greece, as exemplified by the ascendancy of Golden Dawn, the far right neo-Nazi party which is now the third most popular political party in Greece.

Golden Dawn attracts around 20% of the Greek vote, a level that is comparable to that of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party in 1930, three years before rising to power and setting the world on course for WWII.

Golden Dawn has a high profile and prescence on the streets in Greece and is actively involved in attacks and violence directed at immigrants and Greek citizens. It has also infiltrated Greek institutions, particularly the Police Force. Ross reports that Golden Dawn is supported by 60% of the Police Force.

Ross questions why the European political and economic elite have been so silent about the rise of fascist groups such as Golden Dawn.

Never again, we used to say. Never again. How much more blatant does the situation need to get for Europe to at least express its concern and admit that the problem exists? How is it possible that a Nobel Peace laureate simply ignores the rise of violent neo-Nazi elements in its midst? Perhaps the answer is simply that European leaders realize how deeply implicated they are in the rise of Golden Dawn. Perhaps they prefer to stay silent because they know that admitting the resurgence of fascism on the continent could greatly complicate the austerity agenda they are pushing unto the European periphery. Perhaps, then, even a strong flavor of fascism might be tolerable — as long as Greece continues to service its debt.

Ross writes:
For clarity’s sake: the comparison made between National Socialism and Golden Dawn is by no means an exaggeration. We are talking about an extreme-right organization whose emblem deliberately resembles a swastika; whose leader publicly gave the Nazi salute upon his election to Parliament; whose magazine regularly features articles and pictures of the Führer himself; whose spokesman recently assaulted two female rivals on a live TV show; whose manifesto pledges to raid all immigrants out of hospitals and all non-Greek children out of kindergartens; and whose MPs actively participate in racist pogroms against Greece’s immigrant population. (Oh, and by the way, Golden Dawn’s favourite band is called Pogrom, known for such hits as “Auschwitz” and “Speak Greek Or Die”. Incidentally, its former bassist is now one of Golden Dawn’s 18 MPs.)

No surprise, then, that even the mild-mannered BBC is now making eerie comparisons with the early days of the austerity-stricken Weimar Republic. It is happening again. Fascism is once again on the rise in Europe. And what do EU leaders have to say about this? Nothing, it seems. As neo-Nazi militia run amok in the streets of Athens, Brussels and Berlin remain forever shrouded in a deafening silence. The only thing European leaders seem to care about is that Greece repays its debts. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law have all been relegated to secondary concerns — to serve financial interests, even a strong flavor of fascism now appears to be tolerable.

Earlier this month, Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panayiotaros was caught on video during a mob attack on a theatre, hurling homophobic abuse at the director of a critical play, beating up anti-fascist protesters trying to protect the theatre and a journalist trying to do his job, and finally freeing an arrested fellow fascist from a police van. All this time, police officers stood by and did nothing. No wonder: Golden Dawn proudly claims “60 percent support” among the police force. Not only do officers deliberately ignore criminal complaints and emergency calls by immigrants and activists; it is now commonly known that they actively refer Greeks who have “problems” with immigrants to Golden Dawn. As the Greek state crumbles under the weight of its debt repayments, Golden Dawn has stepped in to fill the void.

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