The ‘Dekemvriana’ revisited? (A letter from Athens)

The ‘Dekemvriana’ revisited? (A letter from Athens)

On Wednesday, I tried to reflect “an island’s view” over whether the murder of two Greek neo-Nazis (members of the Chrysi Avgi, the Golden Dawn party) last week was a reminder of the days of the “Dekemvriana,” a December 1944 shooting at a left-wing rally which most historians consider as a prelude to the Greek civil war of 1946-1949.

Athens, these days, looks like Istanbul or Ankara in the early 1970s when extreme left- and right-wing “patriots” killed each other to make Turkey a “better country.” Luckily, the Greeks have not yet started, like in Turkey 40 years earlier, to gun down “traitors” because of the newspaper they read, the coffee shop they frequented, the neighborhood they lived in, the school they attended or of the shape of their moustache. They should not. 

I am not too unfamiliar with Greek politics, but not an expert either. Fortunately, an illuminating account of where Greek tensions stand today came into my inbox from X.F., an always knowledgeable friend in Athens:

“First of all, why is Chrysi Avgi (or X.A. as Greeks abbreviate it) [where it is]? Why does it exist? Some Greeks voted for X.A. to clear the streets of big cities of dark-skinned immigrants. Others did [so] as a reaction to the [establishment] parties, just as the Italians voted for Cicciolina a few decades ago. Others thought that X.A. would enter parliament and give a good (physical) beating to other parliamentarians. Yet others (the majority of half a million X.A. voters, perhaps) considered the X.A. members to be the only ‘innocent’ and ‘pure’ ones, having not participated in any scandals and money swindling; innocent of the economic crisis — largely the reason why SYRIZA (the main opposition party -- a coalition of left-wing and radical left) won such a high percent (nearly 27 percent in 2012), and also why the Justice and Development Party came to power in Turkey.

“Subsequently, however, after being voted by [roughly] 500,000 people, the X.A. members engaged themselves in activities that were neither so pure, nor so innocent. [People have] learned that X.A. was selling ‘protection’ to shop owners in a completely mafia style, was buying merchandise from illegal immigrants (the same ones they were supposedly after) only to resell it later at higher prices, and was swindling the money they received from fund-raising campaigns, buying personal items for their members and organizing beach-parties.

“Now we have a double murder and a person critically wounded, this time X.A. members [after the killing allegedly by a Chrysi Avgi member of an anti-fascist musician]. I think that the double murder will have no effect at all, because it wasn’t committed by any of the parties that play a role in Greek politics. This double murder has no known agent to accuse; and even if it turns out that they are extreme leftists, SYRIZA has taken precautions to distance itself already, for example by organizing a demonstration in downtown Athens ‘against violence.’

“Will the X.A. increase its share of intended votes, portraying [itself] as the victim? As long as none of the parliament-sharing parties can be accused, I don’t see why a significant percent would change their opinion. The [X.A.] has not been acquitted of its revealed sins just because two of its members were murdered.

“Will the murders continue, in a vendetta of sorts? I don’t think so. For the vendetta to continue (or get started), X.A. must make the next move. But, being cornered as they are (with two party leaders in jail for organized crime), I think this is highly unlikely. Also, they would prefer to capitalize on their [political gains by] posing as victims. Those who committed the double murder, if they are indeed the ‘children of November 17,’ they will take quite a long time before they make the next move, considering the fact that they killed two totally unknown members of X.A. and not some ‘bigwigs.’ The true November 17 would go after… some other well-known [names].”

Luckily, most Greeks despise both X.A. and any child of November 17, a Marxist urban guerilla organization that dissolved after a trial convicted its leaders in 2007.