The Leadership of the Golden Dawn is in prison. This is the moment that the party ceased to be acceptable, or defensible, or controllable, or useful as a parliamentary presence. Will these arrests lead to a decline of the appeal of the Golden Dawn? Part of the fascists’ drive is their self-perception as anti-systemic and the recent arrests will only fuel their conviction. But other things are also important in fascist ideology. Samaras acting by force has the capacity to act as the strongman that the fascists look out for, and at the same time as the guarantor of peace that the bourgeois classes dream of. This is what he is aiming for.
At the same time the Greek establishment as a whole is positioning itself as the guarantor of Democracy and Stability. But is the government, the media and the police really anti-fascist? Or are they using the arrests of the Golden Dawn leadership to whitewash their own record of direct and indirect links with the Far Right?
For the first hours after the death of Pavlos Fyssas on 18 September 2013, the establishment seemed keen to treat his murder as one more snapshot from fringe politics. This was another typical day in the pre-arrests politics.
Proof One: the Two Extremes theory. Only few days before the murder, Antonis Samaras in the most important speech in the prime minister’s annual calendar, had reiterated in length his favoured theory of the two extremes: the radical Left and SYRIZA sitting on the same branch of extremist politics with the Golden Dawn, the two ends feeding from each other. This is a popular but ahistorical theory, dating from the Cold War, that has always helped postwar Western governments to project themselves as guarantors of stability. Samaras and his nationalist allies have been using it for at least two years now. Few hours after the Fyssas murder, the MP Chrisanthos Lazaridis – Samaras’ oldest and closest ally – went on national TV to repeat the same theory, talking about ‘assault units from both sides’, blaming SYRIZA for producing the politics of tension that lead to such street battles and pronouncing the main opposition party as acting outside the constitution. The main enemy was still to be found in the Left.
Proof Two: the Police reaction. During the 18th September incident a DIAS specially-trained police unit was present – standing by. Dozens of witnesses talked about the unit’s inaction, which almost allowed Fyssas’ killer to go away. For the first hours the mainstream media ignored all these testimonies against the police that flooded the internet. Ultimately, however, the complaints did reach the police. And the police denied that a unit was present before the murder. Business as usual.
Within 48 hours the story was however out of the system’s control. Pushing towards that turn was a number of mainstreaming trends:
– Repeat antifascist demonstrations were announced throughout the country. People took the streets in volume and with rhythm.
– SYRIZA picked up the accusations against the police and produced a 5 points list of questions for the government and the police.
– The relevance of the ‘two extremes’ theory was widely criticised, even from the centrist wing of the ruling New Democracy.
Similar critical pushes have taken place in the past and the system showed no interest in giving away to them. But in this case it did not – or could not – resist. It did follow the trend, but in its own way. Constructing and riding a wave of moral panic, mainstream newspapers and TV stations started telling endless stories about how Golden Dawn was connected with the police and the army and what other crimes its members were responsible for. The police started laying off top policemen, making investigations, leading to the arrests of the Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and his deputies. All that in just less than a week from Fyssas’ murder!
Note that the arrest and the stories of the past days are connected only marginally to the Fyssas murder, but they refer to a wide range of other types and incidents of unlawful behaviour. So the question that follows logically is why now.
The swiftness of the reactions, shows that the facts were well-known and visible to all, like flowers ready to be picked. Journalists had them and the police had them. But for months and years nobody from the establishment was picking them. Until they decided it was time to do so, and then suddenly the journalists told the stories they knew, the police arrested those they knew they had blood on their hands, and the state implemented the laws the way it was always supposed to do.
Don’t all those who did not talk or act all this time remind us of Mafiosi trading in each other’s skeletons-in-the-closet? But they want to be hailed as dutiful heroes!
Will these arrests allow the country to forget its very recent past of free-roaming fascists, and to ignore the cultural and social realties that produced a 13% support for the Golden Dawn until recently? Will they pretend that all is well now? Will the systemic links of the fascists be forgotten? Hopefully not!
last edited: 29 September 2013