Thursday, August 2, 2012

Neo-Nazis in Greece: thugs for the oligarchs

Golden Dawn is a Greek neo-Nazi party founded in 1993 which gained 18 seats in the parliament during the June election. This once obscure group of thugs has deep connections to the police, uses venomous rhetoric & engages in frequent physical attacks against immigrants. The emerging prominence of Golden Dawn in Greek politics is something political activists around the world must study because it is a phenomenon that will be replicated elsewhere as economic crisis deepens. The political method employed is the classic & repugnant divide & conquer one of scapegoating immigrants. It has a long history in most countries, including (ironically & grotesquely) in the US--a nation of immigrants. Greece does have a huge population of undocumented immigrants. It is a main entry point to Europe for Asian, African, & Middle Eastern immigrants. Every year, over 130,000 refugees from economic collapse, poverty, & war enter mainly through Turkey to find work. Because of border patrols, many are unable to move further into Europe & end up unemployed & homeless in Greece. Greek media uses xenophobia to blame the problems caused by the IMF/EU austerity program on these immigrants, who own & control nothing, to deflect attention from the bankers, real estate magnates, & politicians calling the shots. The government launched a major crackdown on immigrants with hundreds of police deployed in sweeps of immigrant neighborhoods, harassing & hauling in hundreds for lacking residency papers, drug use, prostitution. What the rise of Golden Dawn makes clear is their essential service to the oligarchs in dividing working people, but also the weakness of progressive political forces in uniting working people. The only way to defeat them is to out-mobilize them. That begins with defending democratic rights, including those of the undocumented. That means mobilizing the undocumented along with working people to stand together under the banner of, “An injury to one is an injury to all!” In this foreboding scene, thugs from Golden Dawn are distributing free food in Syntagma Square, Athens after checking IDs to confirm recipients are Greek citizens. (Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP)

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