1000’s collect outdoors a Greek court docket for the conclusion on the leadership of the considerably-ideal Golden Dawn occasion in Athens, Greece on October 07, 2020. [Ayhan Mehmet/ Anadolu Agency]
“Golden Dawn is a legal organisation,” declared an announcer from the top rated of the Court docket of Appeals in Athens on Wednesday, making public the landmark verdict in the greatest demo of self-professed fascists considering that Nuremberg. 1000’s of anti-fascist protesters who experienced collected outdoors the court docket burst into cheers, hugging just about every other in celebration at a conclusion they experienced been waiting for for a lot more than five decades. The mood, nonetheless, swiftly turned bitter as law enforcement unveiled tear fuel and utilized drinking water cannon to disperse the group.
The brutal law enforcement response that followed the verdict was indicative that the anti-fascist struggle in Greece is however considerably from above. Indeed, the leaders of Greece’s neo-Nazi occasion, which terrorised the country for decades, will be guiding bars. Indeed, the party’s name will be erased from the Greek political scene. But its harmful, divisive and often deadly ideology is however properly embedded in Greek society.
Golden Dawn was born from the ashes of the Greek army junta (1967-1974) in the early eighties. The party’s founding leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, a Holocaust denier and Hitler admirer made a cult of persona and charmed those people who leaned towards the considerably ideal and felt like their views ended up not represented by Greece’s political get-togethers by promising to make their voices heard. His phrases ended up the legislation for the party’s users.
Just after silently growing its membership base for decades, Golden Dawn was recognised as a political occasion in 1993. The Greek political elite and media, viewing the occasion as a caricature doomed to stay on the considerably-ideal fringes of Greek politics, refused to consider it critically. Even so, the party’s users educated like an military for decades and continued to broaden their get to. For the duration of the working day, they organised food stuff distribution networks and blood donation functions – of system only for ethnic Greeks. At night time, they terrorised underdeveloped neighbourhoods of Athens, attacking absolutely everyone who did not in shape into their racist beliefs.
Greece’s devastating economic crisis was what finally allowed them to gain enough public help to become section of mainstream politics. As the economic devastation discredited Greece’s recognized mainstream get-togethers, they utilized the growing public anger towards political elites to safe eighteen seats in the country’s three hundred-seat parliament in the June 2012 elections.
Just after getting into the parliament, they tried to disguise their neo-Nazi roots by portraying themselves not as violent racists, but Greek patriots. They made a narrative in which they ended up correct patriots, ready to give their lives for the motherland and stand up to those people who “ruined” the country with their pro-EU, remaining-wing or liberal views. They offered themselves as white, Christian nationalists who will do anything at all to defend the Greek people today and Greek culture from exterior influences.
Even with these attempts to revamp their picture, nonetheless, they under no circumstances tried to disguise their despise for any one who did not in shape their definition of an “Ideal Greek”. They continued their assaults on migrants, who they think do not belong in Greece, and leftists who they accused of “not loving their country enough”.
In reality, Golden Dawn’s election success, which produced them the 3rd strongest occasion in the country, inspired its users to unleash even a lot more violence on the so-identified as “enemies of Greece”. Just after all, thousands of Greeks, by casting a vote for Golden Dawn, experienced legitimised the party’s said target of ridding the country of all non-Greek people today and “unpatriotic” tips.
Only a couple of months immediately after the election, on January seventeen, 2013, two Golden Dawn users killed Sahzat Lukman, a Pakistani migrant, on his way to function. Nine months afterwards, anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas was murdered. His loss of life sparked a lengthy investigation, which led to the begin of the Golden Dawn Demo in 2015.
Greek media in the beginning tried to portray Fyssas’s loss of life as the consequence of a struggle among soccer hooligans. But the Greek anti-fascist movement refused to enable this transpire. By means of the hashtag #antireport on Twitter, as properly as other on line platforms, they told the authentic story – Pavlos Fyssas was killed by Golden Dawn. They organised protests, campaigns and functions on a daily basis right until the working day the authorities arrested the leadership of the neo-Nazi occasion.
As before long as their legal routines grew to become public, Golden Dawn misplaced political ability and supporters. The ones who claimed to defend Greeks from foreigners experienced killed a Greek – albeit an anti-fascist Greek. Instantly the group’s supporters realised they would be stigmatised if they continued to stay affiliated with a violent, fascist occasion. Golden Dawn no more time represented the Greek great. They ended up criminals. Golden Dawn was no a lot more.
Ideologies, nonetheless, do not die with political organisations that characterize them. They often find themselves other facades.
This is just what happened in Greece. Just after Golden Dawn’s fall from grace, other groups adhering to fascist ideologies popped up – groups that promised to defend the country from the “refugee invasion” groups that claimed they would consider revenge for Macedonia groups that said they ended up performing to continue to keep Greece as the homeland of Greeks and no one else. They refrained from making use of the name “Golden Dawn” even while many of their users ended up former users or supporters of the occasion. In the meantime, some well known users of the disgraced political occasion, which include Michaloliakos’s henchman Ilias Kasidiaris, fashioned new political get-togethers. And, probably most alarmingly, regardless of Golden Dawn leaders becoming branded criminals and murderers, Golden Dawn’s rhetoric has been adopted by many in the Greek political and media elite. The ideological stances that produced Golden Dawn attractive to a substantial segment of the Greek public – its anti-immigration rhetoric, jingoism, Islamophobia and racism – have become the new regular in the country.
So Wednesday’s verdict could be the remaining nail in Golden Dawn’s coffin, but the ideology that when allowed the occasion to enter Parliament is however properly embedded in Greek society. The Greek fascism represented by the occasion can however find its way into the parliament beneath distinct banners and as a result of other “patriotic” users of Parliament.
If we are to find out one lesson from the limited heritage of Golden Dawn, it is this: Fascism will be defeated not in courtrooms or parliaments, but on the streets. Golden Dawn was brought down many thanks to the relentless attempts of the Greek anti-fascist movement – they exposed the party’s crimes, its ideology, and violent mother nature when absolutely everyone else chose to seem away.
Court docket rulings, as crucial as they could be, can remove political get-togethers and groups, but they are unable to remove ideologies. If Greece is to absolutely rid itself of fascism one working day, it will be as a result of the righteous wrestle of Greek anti-fascists.
The Greek anti-fascist movement, regardless of its criminalisation by the Greek media and certain political elites, under no circumstances stopped the struggle. They have been and will keep on to be, the initially line of defence towards fascism and the most vocal supporters of refugees, migrants and staff in the country.
Golden Dawn could be no a lot more, but the Greek anti-fascist wrestle proceeds.
The views expressed in this post are the author’s personal and do not always reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.