In the wake of the arrest of 18 leading members of the fascist party Golden Dawn over the weekend, legal hearings on their detention began Tuesday. The parliamentary deputies and leaders of the party were charged with the formation of a criminal association, manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and blackmail. They were also charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, and money laundering.
While five members of the party will remain in custody for now, two others have already been set free, although they are not allowed to leave the country. Today, Golden Dawn’s chairman Nikos Michaloliakos will be brought before a judge, having been given time to prepare his defence.
On Monday, Greek intelligence published the transcripts of telephone conversations, which allegedly took place between Golden Dawn leaders on the night of the murder of hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas and the days after. This provides further proof that the murder was planned and involved people at the highest levels of Golden Dawn. Firearms were found at the homes of several Golden Dawn members. The police also reported that they received information about an illegal weapons cache close to Athens.
The action taken against Golden Dawn is without precedent since the end of the military dictatorship in 1974. These measures, however, have nothing to do with the defence of democratic rights or an anti-fascist struggle. In fact, they are aimed at strengthening the authoritarian structures of the Greek state and the intimate ties between the police, army and fascists.
Moreover, the precedent set by branding a party as a criminal organisation, illegalizing its activities and arresting its parliamentary representatives will be used in the future against the working class and genuinely left-wing opponents of the government and Greek capitalism.
The murder of Fyssas provoked mass protests, combined with strikes and demonstrations against social cuts. The government concluded that workers could lose all confidence in the state and begin to take matters into their own hands to fight the fascists and social cuts raising the specter of a social revolution.
Therefore, state officials organised the raids and arrests, and suspended a few leading police officers. However, the far-right networks in the police and the army, which Golden Dawn formed and systematically trained and protected, remained untouched. They will continue to serve as a basis for the repression of political opponents and protests by the working class and migrants.
Only a few hours after the raids on the neo-Nazis, the police organised a massive crackdown on immigrants in the Athens city centre. They arrested 483 people and held 46 of them in custody, accusing most of residing in Greece illegally. Those arrested will be interned in one of the new detention camps and deported as soon as possible.
In collaboration with Golden Dawn thugs, the police have also attacked anti-fascist demonstrations over the past week. In Thessaloniki on Saturday, the police cleared a former care home, which had been occupied by anarchists and arrested 30 people.
Representatives of the conservative governing party New Democracy (ND) repeated their denunciations of the “two extremes” in Greek society. At a meeting in New York, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stated, “There is no room in the democratic world for neo-Nazis, and there is no tolerance for them or any other kind of extremism undermining democratic institutions. Fascism can have many faces. There is absolutely no tolerance for any of them”.
This formulation was deliberately chosen to criminalise any form of social opposition against the austerity dictates and anti-democratic measures of the government. While Golden Dawn is merely to be reigned in temporarily to be unleashed later, the full weight of state repression will be brought down upon the working class.
Nine universities continue to remain closed as rectors protest massive cuts to administrative staff. After widespread strikes in the public sector, a majority of mayors are refusing to submit their budget plans to the government. The European Union (EU) is now demanding further cuts, particularly mass layoffs in the public sector. This is why Samaras is building up the powers of the police and state apparatus.
In this highly unstable situation, various pseudo-left groups like the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) and their political satellites have rushed to support the government and promote illusions in the democratic pretentions of the state.
Although Syriza representatives have repeatedly noted that they reject the theory of “two extremes”, they have defended the measures taken by Samaras and supported the reactionary police forces. Last week they called on the police to arrest all members of Golden Dawn.
According to the Greek newspaper To Vima, last Tuesday Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras told a meeting of the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Police (POASY) that only a “small minority” of the police support the criminal activities of Golden Dawn. In fact, during the last elections, more than half the police voted for the fascists.
On the arrests of Golden Dawn members, Tsipras declared Sunday, “The intervention shows that our democracy is standing firm and it is healthy”. Such a statement is aimed at stifling any independent political initiative and mobilisation of the working class and preaching reliance on the very political institutions of the corporate and financial elite, which is waging a war against the social and democratic rights of the working class.
Tsipras’ “healthy democracy” has spent the last several years imposing the brutal austerity dictates of the EU, which have led to mass unemployment, poverty and social misery. It has enforced this by banning three major strikes and forcing strikers back to work under martial law.
As Tsipras’ remarks make clear, Syriza is positioning itself to serve as a force for law-and-order and a reliable tool of the capitalist state. They have repeatedly called on New Democracy to cooperate with all parties in a “joint struggle against the fascists”. Such an alliance would be nothing other than the preparation of a Syriza government, which would impose the dictates of the EU on the backs of working people with the aid of police repression.
In such a scenario, Syriza would be able to rely on the various small pseudo-left tendencies, which in some cases have already dissolved themselves into Syriza while others still operate independently. The state capitalist Socialist Workers Party (SEK) is an example of the latter. The party is part of the alliance Antarsya, which provides Syriza with external support.
In a public statement, the SEK backed Syriza’s line and hailed the police. “The apprehension of Michaloliakos, Kasidiaris and the other leaders of Golden Dawn is a victory for the magnificent anti-fascist movement, which took to the streets after the murder of Fyssas. This finally breaks the provocative immunity of the neo-Nazi murderers, and those who protected them are forced to pretend to be late-coming persecutors. We celebrate this development and we organise the next steps”.
Taking a somewhat different tact, the Communist Party (KKE) stated that the police were ill-equipped for a struggle against the fascists—as if more arms and repressive powers would do the trick. Instead the KKE promoted illusions in the trade unions, which are closely tied to the state and have played a key role in the suppression of the class struggle and imposition of social cuts.
None of these organisations has done anything to even protect their own members from the attacks of the fascists and the police, let alone the working class. Instead, they call for the state apparatus to take action. This only underscores the fact that these organizations speak not for the working class, but privileged layers of the upper middle class who are seeking the protection of the capitalist state. They fear the independent mobilisation of the working class and socialist revolution much more than fascist and police terror.