“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Winston Churchill.
I do not believe that the prospective setting up of an Australian branch of the Greek neo-fascist party Golden Dawn will divide or rupture the Greek community. After all the most vocal and active section of that community is overwhelmingly left-leaning, articulate and culturally conscious to an extent where the expression of alternative views, at least up until now, have been socially unacceptable. Should such extremist rear their ugly head, the organized Greek community will be quick to clamp down on them.
Yet it is this domination of the social and sub-cultural discourse that has forced more extreme views underground, into a pit of smouldering resentment and alienation – moreso by some disaffected second generation Greek –Australians who use their highly selective reading of history to construct an ideology of a racially superior nation beset by enemies and thus restricted from achieving the greatness which is its due. In many ways, it operates as a displaced paradigm of their own marginal lives. And unbeknown to many, fans of the contemptible Golden Dawn have been attempting to organise themselves in Melbourne, years before this marginal group of crackpots were, through a cruel accident of history elevated so undeservingly, to parliament.
To our would be Greek Australian fascists then, who delight in squads of vigilantes terrorizing the streets in search of immigrants to brutalise, who support card carrying Golden Dawn police officers torturing protesters and who relish attacks on gays in the street, there is much to say. Firstly, that they would not dare endorse such un-Australian conduct here. Secondly, if they take a glance at Golden Dawn’s first publication of 1980, they will find a stylized Swastika adorning the front page. They should therefore be reminded, not that they are supporting an ideology that caused millions of Jews to perish horrifically in the Holocaust or which provoked untold suffering that propelled Europe to the brink of destruction, for their narrow prejudices seldom allow them to sympathise with the plight of these groups. Instead, they should be advised that they are supporters of the Nazi tyrants who invaded Greece, dissolved its government, plundered its resources, burnt its villages and terrorized and starved its inhabitants. They should be told that as a result of the Nazi occupation which they so idolise, was responsible for the deaths of one fifth of the Greek population at that time. By supporting the Nazis, these people, who are so beset by hallucinations of conspiracy and traitors, should be told squarely and to their face that they Quislings and traitors, and do not deserve to be called Greek.
Let not Golden Dawn adherents deny they are Nazis. In a 1987 article of the Golden Dawn magazine, its party leader, the corpulent Michaloliakos published an article entitled "Hitler for 1000 years" in which he extolled Nazism and white supremacy. In particular, he wrote: "We are the faithful soldiers of the National Socialist idea and nothing else," and “WE EXIST, and continue the battle, the battle for the final victory of our race". He concludes by raving: "1987, 42 years later, with our thought and soul given to the last great battle, with our thought and soul given to the black and red banners, with our thought and soul given to the memory of our great Leader, we raise our right hand up, we salute the Sun and with the courage, that is compelled by our military honor and our National Socialist duty we shout full of passion, faith to the future and our visions: HEIL HITLER!". The man who penned these contemptible words, considering himself to be a successor to those beasts who slaughtered innocent Greeks in the villages of Lyngiades, Kalavryta and Kandanos, to name but a few, is a member of Greek parliament. He and his ilk deserve no respect whatsoever. Interestingly enough, in Distomo, scene of a Nazi massacre in 1944, Golden Dawn paradoxically received 6 per cent of the vote in the last elections. Are we to assume that the Greeks remember nothing and have learned nothing?
Would be Australian Golden Dawnists would be well served to learn that their Führer Mihaloliakos is a convicted felon, having been arrested for violence and illegal possession of explosive materials. It was while in prison that Michaloliakos met the disgraced and unrepentant leaders of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 that caused the invasion of Cyprus, that he laid the foundations of the Golden Dawn party. Remaining largely on the margins of far right politics until the Macedonia naming dispute, Golden Dawn made the news in 1992, when about thirty of its members attacked students at the Athens University of Economics and Business during a massive demonstration against the use of the name Macedonia by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Around the same time, the first far-right street gangs appeared under the leadership of Giannis Giannopoulos, a former military officer who was involved with the neo-nazi South African Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) during the 1980s –noted for its attack on black farmers.
For those Australian Golden Dawnists who take great pains to emphasize their adherence to Greek Orthodoxy, it is also worthwhile to point out that up until recently, their party embraced Hellenic Neopagan beliefs, praising the Twelve Olympians and describing Marxism and liberalism as "the ideological carriers of Judeo-Christianity." In short, because Christianity was an offshoot of Judaism, it was unacceptable to 'true Greeks.' Today rather opportunistically and in an inept and unsuccessful attempt to gain legitimacy by soliciting support from the Orthodox Church, the party now claims that Byzantine orthodoxy preserved the values of the ancient Greeks. One is tempted to ask which ancient values the Golden Dawnists prize - in particular, whether democracy or homosexual love are included.
Fledgling Aussie neo-fascists could also be enlightened by knowledge that some of their brethren have been actively involved in the perpetration of crimes of genocide. A number of Golden Dawn members participated during the Bosnian War in the Greek Volunteer Guard, which was part of the Drina Corps of the Army of Republika Srpska. A few Greek volunteers were present in Srebrenica during the Srebrenica massacre, and they raised a Greek flag at a ruined church after the fall of the town. Spiros Tzanopoulos, a Greek sergeant who took part in the attack against Srebrenica, said many of the Greek volunteers participated in the war because they were members of Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn members in the GVG were even decorated by war criminal and international fugitive Radovan Karadžić.
Strident Greek Golden Dawn patriots can also feel proud of the fact that prominent party member, Antonios Androutsopoulos has been convicted for a triple murder attempt against three left wing activists. They can equally feel proud of the fact that the Golden Dawn member of parliament for Serres, member Artemis Matthaiopoulos, was the frontman of the Nazi punk band "Pogrom" singer of the song "Auschwitz" featuring such antisemitic lyrics such as "fuck Anne Frank" and "Juden raus.” Considering that Anne Frank was just fifteen when she was murdered, Golden Dawnists can feel proud of the fact that they are affiliated to persons who advocate paedophilia as a form of artistic expression.
The Greek economic crisis, an ancillary to a deeper spiritual and social crisis afflicting Greece in a globalized world, has unfortunately, granted undue prominence to the scatologists and hater-mongerers of Greek society. The corrupt political culture created by politicians charged with bringing the country away from the last failed fascist experiment of 1967-1974 in order to institute a viable constitutional democracy is greatly to blame for the Greek people’s apparent increase in support for marginal groups bereft of all or any substance. It is easy for Golden Dawnists to beat their chests and threaten to reconquer Constantinople or the Black Sea, as Michaloliakos does. It is a much more difficult proposition to create a liable, prosperous and harmoniously pluralistic society, as this requires discretion, discernment and respect for all. The Greek people need to trust their instincts – there never has been an easy way out of their problems and time and time again, (as if this should ever need explaining) fascism has proved to be the disastrous option.
When I was in Greece last, people would transform the final H in ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ, Golden Dawn in Greek, into an A, on whichever walls these hateful words were scrawled, revealing ΧΡΥΣΑ ΑΥΓΑ –golden eggs. Golden Dawnists everywhere should be exhorted to ‘sit on their eggs,’ as the Greek idiomatic expression goes, lest they be exposed for the geese they truly are. And here in this harmonious land, the Greek community should resolve a zero tolerance policy toward the misguided proponents of such a poisonous ideology, the propagation of which, in this country, will do much to undo all we have striven for, in the construction of our place in a tolerant, multicultural society.
As a parting shot, Golden Dawnists everywhere may be interested to learn that even the name of their party is a sham, it being taken from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a magical order active in Great Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which practiced theurgy and spiritual development, through the study of the Hermetic Qabbalah, attracting such luminaries as the poet Yeats.. Rumour has it that Michaloliakos originally opted for the appellation “Golden Shower Party,” became enamoured of the idea that if he waved his magic wand, he could position himself up there with the fairies, whereupon he could shower his followers with his refuse. It’s time they all grew up.
First published in NKEE on Saturday 20 October 2012.