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- Philip Christopher on the upcoming Hellenic Issues Conference and the East Mediterranean Partnership
- Economic Outlook, April 2019
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Defeating Golden Dawn
At the tail end of what turned out to be a long period of surveillance and investigation, the government of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras finally took decisive action against the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, executing arrest warrants on its leadership. Too many people criticized the arrests as an “undemocratic” reaction to Golden Dawn’s assassination of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas on September 18 or as an attempt by the government to stem Golden Dawn’s rise in the polls. It turns out that the government had been building its case against Golden Dawn for months.
As many have already noted, this is just the beginning. Golden Dawn – which could never crack 1% prior to austerity – was indeed the result of economic dislocation and the failed policies of austerity. Unfortunately, the rise of this “party” said plenty about division in Greek society and the ability of those who govern Greece to gain the trust of its people. Golden Dawn used the tactics of street gangs and Hamas (which also carried out food drives for Palestinians). They capitalized on the hopelessness of a large part of the Greek polity by campaigning on the worst fears of people. But it also revealed troubling flaws in the public debate in Greece. That some could celebrate “fascism” (with the excuse that it is not Naziism), openly by anti-Semitic (when the Hellenic alliance with Israel is the most positive regional development in years for Greece), or venerate dictators of the past shows how much Greek public debate still needs to advance. Supporting (or even sympathizing with) Golden Dawn is tantamount to betraying the Hellenic values of democracy and humanism, the historic struggle of Hellas against fascism and Naziism, and the present national interests of Greece.
Kudos to the Samaras government, but now for step #2: those who robbed the state need to be pursued with the same vigor. They played too great a role in forcing Greece into the abyss of austerity to not be punished at least as severely as Golden Dawn. And, the government should simultaneously get to step #3. Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve made your cuts. You’ve made the Greek people sacrifice. You are on the road to privatizations, a smaller public work force, and 12 months of primary surplus. Much of this sacrifice was premised on assumptions and policies that even the IMF concedes were a mistake. Now you have to make the people of Greece believe that you are standing up for them. Sacrifices will continue, but people need to be shown the light at the end of the tunnel.
Diaspora relief efforts should be targeted towards areas of need that Golden Dawn was trying to capitalize on. Take the “Greek only” food drives that were being carried out. Several diaspora food relief efforts have already been undertaken, and they can become more impactful – both in terms of relief and in decreasing the allure of Golden Dawn – by starting coordinated and high visibility food drives. Greek Americans stood up against the Ku Klux Klan, provided war relief to a Greece fighting Nazi Germany and stood up for civil rights. It is time to stand up in the same way again. We cannot allow our fellow Hellenes to have to choose between going hungry and taking food from Nazis.