We’ve been fascinated since childhood with the rise of National Socialism in Germany.
Throughout most of the 1920′s, following their brief attempt to seize power at the peak of hyperinflation in 1923 — when a bushel basket of thought-mark notes wouldn’t buy a loaf of bread, the Nazi’s were a small party on the fringes. But the Wall Street crash sent numbers soaring, leading less than four years later to their capture of the chancellorship and subsequent imposition of dictatorship.
The Nazis seized power after the once-dominant Social Democrats lost power and a series of shaky right-leaning coalition governments inevitably collapsed, leaving the dangerous precedent of ruling by decree when parliamentary majorities couldn’t be raised.
Today, Greece hasn’t seen hyperinflation since the crash of 2008, but the once mighty social democrats of PASOK have been reduced to a pitiful remnant in a coalition government dominated by the Right.
Like the Nazis, Golden Dawn voices contempt for the conventional Right and mobilizes anxiety triggered by economic collapse to focus blame on aliens within and immigrants [Hitler’s first major deportations were of immigrant Polish Orthodox Jews].
Golden Dawn shares with the Nazis a salute, a fondness for the Horst Wessel Song, and the mobilization of the angry to physically assault their chosen scapegoats.
And so we watch Greece with great interest.
Since the eruption of the crisis precipitated by the murder of an anti-fascist rapper by a self-identified Golden Dawn activist, he response of the coalition led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been to prosecute party leaders and ban the party itself.
Both were tried in Germany, something which Samaras and his colleagues should keep in mind.
We’ll have more on the Greek crisis in our final Headlines of the day post, but for now consider an image and a video.
First up, from Carlos Latuff and featuring Prime Minister Antonis Samaras:
Next, consider an interview that makes the same critical point.
Jaisal Noor of The Real News Network discusses the rise of Golden Dawn and the government’s suppression efforts with political economist Costas Lapavitsas of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies
Gov’t Crackdown on Golden Dawn Won’t Defeat Greek Fascism
The program notes:
Costas Lapavitsas: The only way to defeat the Golden Dawn and Greek fascism is through popular mobilization that persuades Greek working people and the middle class that democracy and social change can create a just economy
And an excerpt from the transcript:
There are three reasons why Golden Dawn has emerged as a genuine political popular force. The first is, of course, terrible social conditions–unemployment, loss of income, and a sense of destruction of everyday life. Golden Dawn talked to ordinary people and basically argued–falsely, but it did–it argued that immigrants are to blame, policies of the IMF and so on are to blame, and they were going to change things–Greece for the Greeks. That’s the first thing.
The second reason why Golden Dawn became so powerful is because of corruption. Corruption has been endemic in Greece, and there was a widespread sense of the political system being incredibly corrupt. Golden Dawn spoke to people about this again and promised them that it would bring a state of clean hands about. They themselves were clean, and they were going to clean up Greek politics.
The third reason why Golden Dawn has become powerful is because of a sense of national humiliation that has prevailed in Greece. Greece has been humiliated the last three years. People feel very keenly that they are beggars, that they’ve been spoken to very, very badly by the rest of Europe. And Golden Dawn has appealed to them by–to people by talking to them about the flag, traditions, and so on, and touched a rich vein of national feeling.
For these reasons, Golden Dawn, which is actually a fascist party, has managed to establish itself as a genuine political organization in Greece. This isn’t just a criminal organization. Anyone who thinks of it as a criminal organization doesn’t quite understand it. This is a popular movement, and it will not go away very easily.