Golden Dawn: Can the Elite Kill the Monster it Created?
It seems that the Greek elite has decided to get rid of the neo-Nazi party following Pavlos’ killing. But can Pandora ever put the evil back in her box?
“Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave…”
And so, just a few days after the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas — a.k.a Killah P — by the murderous “blackshirts” of Golden Dawn, it seems that the Greek elite has decided to get rid of the party and its dark structures. But can Dr. Frankenstein ever kill the monster he created? And can Pandora put the evil back into her box?
Pavlos’ assassination was the last drop for Greek society. And it seems it has set in motion mechanisms that will lead to the criminalization of Golden Dawn, and maybe even to its dissolution. A few days after the murder, and with Greek society still in shock and taking to the streets massively to demand justice and the end of Golden Dawn, both the Greek media and the government seem to have started taking the issue seriously, removing their previous direct or indirect support for the neo-Nazi party.
All of a sudden reports with interviews of ex-Golden Dawn members have started to appear in the Greek media. Newspapers and TV channels that previously dedicated pages and shows to the actions and the MPs of Golden Dawn — even presenting them in lifestyle shows with fake reportages, like the one in which Golden Dawn appeared to be protecting poor old women withdrawing their pensions at the banks (it appears that the “poor old lady” they selected for the reportage was… the mother of a local Golden Dawn candidate) — suddenly started publishing reports on the party’s “dark side”.
One newspaper even published a picture of Pavlos’ last moments on its front page, in which he appears dying in the arms of his girlfriend, stabbed by Golden Dawn thugs with the title: “I don’t forget fascism”. Other newspapers featured confessions of former Golden Dawn members, in which they admit that they were trained in army camps by former and current army officers; that the organization is in possession of illegal weapons, to be used “when the time comes”; that current police officers – “a lot of them”, one ex-member said — are members of Golden Dawn and cover it whenever the party gets into trouble, even providing party members with official classified police documents, including the eyewitness reports of Pavlos’ assassination.
It also appears — according to the same reports — that Pavlos Fyssas was a target of Golden Dawn because of his antifascist songs, and that the decision for his assassination came from above, from the MPs and the leader of the party who were informed and were deciding (ordering would be more precise) everything, and to whom the lower-ranking members are blindly obedient. At the same time, the country’s TV channels all of a sudden also started showing their public interviews with former members of Golden Dawn admitting to its murderous actions.
After these developments, the Greek government also finally reacted. The minister of public order, Mr Dendias, submitted a full folder with 32 Golden Dawn attacks to the district attorney of Areios Pagos (the highest court authority in the country) to examine the assaults and decide whether there are grounds for taking legal action against the party. At the same time, Dendias ordered the police authorities to examine the accusations regarding the relation between Golden Dawn and police officers, which led to the resignation of two high ranking police officers already. The minister of defense, Mr Avramopoulos has also demanded the army chief to investigate the relationship between current army officers and Golden Dawn, a case which — rumor has it — is also being examined by the secret intelligence services.
But… hold on a minute! We already knew all these things, didn’t we? The Greek antifascist movement has been shouting it for years! Videos of policemen collaborating with Golden Dawn have been appearing on YouTube for the past three years, while even on the day of the demonstration following the assassination of Pavlos one such video went viral on the web. At the same time, even the Golden Dawn MPs themselves have openly admitted that more than 50% of the Greek police are Golden Dawn voters and supporters, while the doctors and immigrant rights organizations of Greece have never stopped shouting about Golden Dawn’s murderous actions that have already cost several immigrants’ lives in the past years.
Also very well known is the case of the army’s special forces chanting racist slogans during a military parade in Athens. Yet both the media and the Greek government turned a blind eye back then, and not just that, but they were also praising the virtues of Golden Dawn and its MPs. A number of “artists” have also expressed positive opinions about Golden Dawn and were of course massively promoted by the Greek media, while the same is true for certain neoliberal politicians like the former minister of foreign affairs, Dora Bakoyianni. And so the questions arises: why were they turning a blind eye back then? And why have they decided to take action now?
The second question is easier to answer: because Pavlos’ assassination has awoken Greek society from its lethargy and made the government realize that the people will not accept Golden Dawn’s murderous actions anymore. A good indication of this is that Golden Dawn has postponed the launching of its new offices in Drama and Kavala in direct response to the popular outcry, while it has closed down its offices in Ierapetra (Crete) and is hiding its signboards from others.
At the same time, according to the latest polls, Golden Dawn’s popularity is in free fall, having collapsed to 5.8% from the almost 12% it was scoring just a few days before Pavlos’ assassination. Therefore it is easy to understand that Golden Dawn is now a “burned card” for the Greek corporate elite and political establishment (let’s not forget that the Greek newspapers and TV channels belong to a small number of conglomerates, many of which have family relations with — surprise, surprise — the country’s main political parties).
The first question is more difficult to answer, though: if the Greek media and government knew about the murderous actions of Golden Dawn, why did they decide to turn a blind eye to it until today? I argue that there are basically three reasons:
First, let’s not forget that only two years earlier, with the process that was set in motion with the occupation of Syntagma and the other squares of Greece, Greek society was radicalized to an unprecedented extent, endangering the representative two-party political system as well as the neoliberal policies promoted by successive governments. In its place, the movement of the squares demanded autonomy, horizontality and direct democracy. Neighborhoods all over the country experienced this “dream” through numerous neighborhood assemblies, while a number of local and national movements put the neoliberal policies of the Troika and the Greek governments into question. Golden Dawn played the role of stopping and distracting this radical process and re-directing it towards the struggle against fascism, which became the number one priority for the Greek left over the past two years.
Second, Golden Dawn appeared on numerous occasions as the protector of the owners’ interests, at times — like in the case of the shipyard workers of Perama — directly and violently attacking the left-wing workers’ unions. With a rhetoric of protecting “Greek” investments as long as “our ship-owners” keep employing Greek workers instead of immigrants, they have terrorized the Greek Workers’ Unions and have, in their own way, helped safeguard the political and corporate elite and push forward their neoliberal agenda.
Third, Golden Dawn was there to terrorize all free voices that were being raised against the country’s neoliberal and fascist downslide. As former Golden Dawn members have said in their interviews, Pavlos Fyssas was a target for his antifascist songs. And it is true that in the past years there was a sentiment of fear all over the country when it came to criticizing Golden Dawn. I have to admit here that even in the case of my little hip-hop group and our upcoming album, which has a number of antifa songs in it, we were concerned that we might become a target of or face threats by Golden Dawn.
It seems that after the assassination of Pavlos, though, the Greek elite has decided that Golden Dawn is not useful to them anymore, and has abandoned its former ally. At the same time, while the main opposition party of the left (SYRIZA) appeared to be surpassing the ruling conservative party (Nea Dimokratia) in the polls, it seems that the latter has decided to abandon its plan of forming a coalition with Golden Dawn — which they have admitted they had been considering — and dissolve the party instead. In order, of course, that they may take the credit for cracking down on Nazism, while stealing away the right-wing votes.
However now it is too late.
If the country’s elite and government had decided to counter Golden Dawn earlier — and they did know about its criminal actions way before — many human beings wouldn’t have been brutally beaten up in the streets of Athens and other cities of Greece. Many antifa activists wouldn’t have been tortured in the police headquarters and others wouldn’t have been injured by the fascists or their collaborators in the police during antifa demonstrations or direct actions. At the same time, the Greek left-wing movement would have been able to develop further its radical direct democratic proposition, and many neoliberal policies that led to the loss of jobs and lives (suicide rates have skyrocketed in Greece in the past years) may have been overturned. And, above all, Shehzad Luqman and Pavlos Fyssas would be alive today…
And one more thing: I don’t know to what extent it is still possible to overturn a process that both the government and the elites allowed to develop and reach deep into Greek society. I am talking here about Golden Dawn’s penetration into the police, the army, and the working-class neighborhoods of the country’s main cities. Even if the government dissolves the party and punishes its leaders, the bases of fascism are still there. There will still be numerous people poisoned by Golden Dawn’s murderous ideology, a development that will be very difficult to reverse.
The daughter of the party’s leader already wrote an open letter to its members asking them “to what extent they are ready to sacrifice themselves for the movement, to give their life.” At the same time, there are certain circles within the Greek police that are not very happy with the latest developments, and I am sure the same is true for the army. How are they going to react? And is Golden Dawn going to go down without a fight? At the end of the day, is it possible for Dr Frankenstein to kill the monster he created? And can Pandora put the evil back into her box?
These are questions that Greek society will have to answer. And the answers will not be easy.
Leonidas Oikonomakis is a contributing editor of ROAR Magazine, a rapper with Social Waste, and a PhD researcher at the European University Institute. He was also a friend of Pavlos.