In Greece, attempting to destroy democracy from within

by Georgia Logothetis, Managing Director, HALC

Another day, another instance of Greece’s right-wing extremists embarrassing themselves on camera. The hate-group turned political party Golden Dawn — which, in a disgrace to democracy, holds 17 seats in Hellenic Parliament — is featured in a new video by Dimitris Psarras and Yannis Baskakis.

Οι πρωταγωνιστές του βίντεο ακούγονται να παραδέχονται την ιεραρχία, τη στρατιωτική δομή της οργάνωσης, τη ναζιστική ιδεολογία και την απέχθεια προς τη δημοκρατία και το Σύνταγμα. Ομολογούν επίσης ότι η Χρυσή Αυγή έχει στρατιωτική δομή, κάθετη ιεραρχία και λειτουργεί με απόλυτη πειθαρχία. Μάλιστα, βλέπουμε τον αρχηγό να παραδέχεται ότι σκοπεύουν να εγκαθιδρύσουν και στην Ελλάδα το καθεστώς που «ακολούθησε μετά τη Βαϊμάρη», δηλαδή το εθνικοσοσιαλιστικό καθεστώς του Χίτλερ.

The protagonists of the video are heard admitting to the military structure of the organization, their Nazi ideology and their dislike of democracy and the Constitution. They also confess that Golden Dawn has a military structure, a vertical hierarchy, and operates with absolute discipline. Indeed, we see the leader admit that they intend to establish in Greece the regime that “followed after Weimar”, Hitler’s national-socialist regime.

In his high-pitched, almost cartoonish voice, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos is featured explaining the black heart of their philosophy: “Εμείς πιστεύουμε στην πατρίδα και όχι στη δημοκρατία, για να είμαστε ειλικρινείς. Αν είναι να σωθεί η πατρίδα, ας πάει στο διάολο κι η δημοκρατία.” (“We believe in the nation and not in democracy, to be honest. If we are to save the nation, let democracy go to hell.”)

He’s also featured saying he didn’t swear to uphold the Constitution when he was sworn in to Parliament because he doesn’t believe in it.

The views compiled in the video are simultaneously eye-rolling and stomach-turning. These fascists think they will take over Greece with their Nazi salutes and podium pounding rants. Luckily, a recent survey confirms that almost all Greeks find the Nazi regime and its ideology to be repulsive. Every society however is not immune from having its fair share of village idiots, and in Greece, they happen to play Nazi dress up and wear tight black shirts.

They’re heard on the video boasting about being an “army” and about their “military” structure and discipline in an attempt to project a sense of strength when, in fact, the genesis of the entire movement is weakness and fear. Fear of change, fear of progress, fear of foreigners, fear of facts, etc. These Greeks even fashion themselves as “new Spartans.” Their earnest attempts at cosplaying courageous Greeks of history would be funny if it wasn’t so embarrassing for Greece and if their ideology didn’t include a commitment to violence.

Four years ago this week, Greek anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas was beaten by a gang of dozens of Golden Dawn supporters with bats in Athens and stabbed to death. With his dying breath, he identified Giorgios Roupakias as his murderer. It was one in a series of attacks by Golden Dawn supporters. The government cracked down, designating the group a criminal organization and arresting dozens. Two years later, the trial is still ongoing, and the accused murder Roupakis, along with Golden Dawn’s leadership, was released last year after serving the maximum of 18 months in pretrial detention. In the meantime, Golden Dawn’s members still hold seats in Hellenic Parliament and European Parliament.

There was a time back in 2013 when Golden Dawn’s support peaked at around 14%. In the years since, it’s steadily been between 7–8%. It should be 0%, but no society can boast 100% rationality and morality among its members.

For the near future, it appears that Golden Dawn will continue to maintain a certain low baseline of support — a residual, stubborn stain on democracy that will take years to remove. Commemorations honoring Golden Dawn’s victims, like those that took place this week in Greece, play an important role, as do videos like the one above. Sunshine, as they say, is the best disinfectant, and the more Golden Dawn’s attempts to destroy Greece come to light, the faster their movement will fade from memory.

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