THE verdict that Greece’s fascist Golden Dawn party is a criminal organisation is a huge victory for the Greek left and international anti-fascism.
It is a vindication of years of work to mobilise against fascism and isolate the neonazi party.
And it’s a win for popular pressure that forced a reluctant Greek state to take action – pressure symbolised by the thousands who rallied outside the courthouse today, and reluctance symbolised by the state prosecutor who recommended that the charge that Golden Dawn was a criminal organisation should be dropped and the specific crimes committed considered as the acts of individuals.
Those crimes are a showcase of the targets prioritised by fascists. The murder of the anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas. The attempted murder of an immigrant fisherman. The attempted murder of a metalworkers’ trade-union leader and communist.
The fascists had friends in high places: the communist trade-union leader Sotiris Poulikogiannis pointed during the trial to Golden Dawn’s co-ordination with shipyard owners who wanted its help in smashing the militant union in their workplace. Lawyer Thanasis Kampagiannis has described the back channels that existed between Golden Dawn and the mainstream conservative party New Democracy – which forms the current Greek government.
They were defeated not by Greek officialdom but by years of community organising and anti-fascist unity to build what Kampagiannis calls a “democratic wall” to stop them. That is why Golden Dawn lost every parliamentary seat it had last year.
That mobilisation will need to continue. Illegality is a serious blow to fascists, but these dealers in death were already criminals.
Street violence is part of the core strategy of fascism. Mussolini’s Blackshirts were identified by Hitler as the key innovation of the original Fascist Party. Golden Dawn’s now convicted leader Nikos Mihaloliakos spoke to this truth when responding to election defeat: “We return where we became strong, on the streets and squares, in the tough struggle against Bolshevism.”
Violence precedes and underlies all its forays into “official” politics – as in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP was formed as the political wing of the RSS Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisations. To this day they act as his boots on the ground, breaking up opposition meetings, setting on and killing political opponents as the murder last weekend of Keralan communist organiser PU Sanoop illustrates.
Internationally fascism is far from dead. India’s BJP, with its virulent xenophobia, bids to rewrite history to erase non-Hindus from the national story and routine use of violence, is the governing party in the modern world closest to the classic model of fascism. But the threat also exists elsewhere.
Germany, reeling from an anti-semitic attempted murder whose suspected perpetrator carried a swastika in his pocket, has been forced to disband its entire elite KSK military unit – the German army’s equivalent to the SAS – because of officers’ links to far-right terror.
In the United States, gun-toting white supremacists march against Black Lives Matter demonstrators: when they kill, as Kyle Rittenhouse did in Kenosha, Wisconsin, they receive warm words from a US president who has also called on the far-right Proud Boys to “stand by” in an election whose official result he will not commit to accepting. In Britain, racists block the roads from Dover and the Home Secretary panders to them by calling on the navy to keep out refugees.
The left internationally should look to Greece for our response. Liberal officialdom will appease and collaborate: the socialist left must organise against fascism as only we can, since socialists understand the real causes of the fears fascists prey on, which lie in the insecurity and misery created by the capitalist system. Yet understanding those fears and offering real solutions does not mean giving an inch to the fascists’ lies.
As Communist Party of Greece general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas quoted after the verdict: “Understand fascism – it will not die by itself. Crush it.”
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