Greece, black alert

Greece, black alert

In the context of shameful European indifference, Greece is getting dangerously close to a social and racial explosion.

In the streets of Athens, refugees and immigrants are scared. They are de-facto banned from entire districts where local militia of the neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, prowls the streets, regularly organizing racial attacks.

Racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist declarations have become increasingly frequent, especially from high-ranking political leaders. The president of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights recently compared immigrants to cockroaches, amid general indifference. The Golden Dawn’s spokesman was able to quote the famous anti-Semitic hoax, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” in Parliament and receive no condemning reactions for it.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras persists in protecting the presence of Eleni Zaroulia, the neo-Nazi who recently declared that immigrants were “sub-humans,” at the Council of Europe.

The journalists who denounce this situation are regularly intimidated.

Faced with the rise of racism, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism, democratic institutions guiltily malfunction.

First, the police are showing a record level of corruption as well as an extremely strong collusion with the neo-Nazis: 30 to 50 percent of police officers voted for the Golden Dawn and many of them belong to the party.

Countless racist attacks are taking place. When the victims come, bleeding, to the police stations, they are forced not to press charges. They are threatened, not helped.

Then, the legal system: even though the number of declarations and acts are soaring, there is no prosecutor to initiate any legal proceedings and no condemnation of the aggravating circumstances of racism that have been pronounced since 2008.

This rise of racism can also be explained by the fact that, since May, the neo-Nazis have never been defeated. They have never come up against the boundaries imposed by democracy. They act in total impunity.

The very recent creation of a branch of the Golden Dawn in Italy shows that they set a strong example for neo-Nazi movements and parties in Europe, from Hungary to Latvia, and from Denmark to Austria.

Unlike those who tried a communication strategy of “de-demonization,” they have never pretended to give up anti-Semitism as their structuring ideology or racism as their main line of thought. They combine legal actions – running for office – and illegal actions – physical assaults in the streets – efficiently. Thanks to the resignation of the democrats, with the Greek democratic parties and the EU on the front line, they receive the permission that they need for their actions. They have now been active for months, empowered by the feeling of being all-powerful.

The EU, Germany in particular, has a heavy responsibility in the rise of neo-Nazism in Greece.

Indeed, two European dogmas create the conditions for this rise:
First, imposed under the strong pressure of Germany, the dogma of austerity leads to an unbearable social situation as the people, especially the youth, have no other outlook than the unreachable horizon of debt repayment.

This creates an environment of decay for society and its traditional social structures. In this context, the speeches that blame scapegoats and praise belonging to a group, even when this group is a racist one, have a strong power of attraction, especially for young people.

The substantial cuts imposed by the troika in the security budget directly results in a lack of police to cover the whole territory, leaving entire districts under the control of the Golden Dawn. Its gangs provide “security” to the people that they consider “racially Greek.” By giving up the monopoly of its power – a key condition of the existence of the rule of law – the Greek state allows neo-Nazis to establish a large part of their electoral success.

Secondly, the dogma of a “European Fortress” establishes the outsourcing of entry and exit to EU territory on the border between Turkey and Greece, imposing the latter to be the main entrance point of refugees and immigrants to Europe.

This dogma is the result of a victory of the far right, which has managed to impose the rejection of all immigration as a leading ideological paradigm when indeed Europe needs immigration.

This creates and unbearable situation for Greece, because if the number of immigrants and refugees entering the country is desirable for Europe, it is something that Greece can’t manage alone if it is isolated from the rest of Europe.

The situation which is thus imposed on the country offers the extreme right wing an opportunity for all kinds of manipulation.

The position of Germany can just let one wonder.

At a time when its national superego, composed of the survivors of the Shoah, is disappearing little by little with the last of these, Germany defends positions that push Greece, the founding father of European democracy, to collapse or be expelled from the eurozone or even from Europe.

This temptation or attempt to murder the founders of the European nation as we know it is fuelled by an energy which, if it happened to be freed by the effective eviction or collapse of Greece, would generate immeasurable violence whose current rise in neo-Nazism is only a warning signal.

In light of this perspective, it is urgent that democrats get involved throughout Europe, because Greece today is the front line of a great and beautiful struggle for democracy.

The political project recently crowned with the Nobel Peace Prize wouldn’t recover from a defeat of the democrats in front of their relentless enemies. It is the responsibility of political leaders and societies to engage in the making of the European dream of a truly democratic continent, one rid of racism, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism.

*Benjamin Abtan is the President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM).