In recent days, Greece has witnessed a wave of bloody fascist attacks on leftist organizations. It is the most intense violence since 2013, when a series of ideologically motivated killings sparked a massive anti-fascist movement and the government cracked down on the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. This culminated in the party’s ban in 2020. Today, at the end of 2021, we see the passive pro-fascist nature of the right-wing capitalist government of Kyriakis Mitsotakis … As we know from our closest historical experience; the fascization of society, fueled by the ruling classes, begins immediately after the awakening of class consciousness and protest potential among the working people.

The political experience of long resistance to right-wing authoritarianism in Greece, received by the Hellenic people in the second half of the twentieth century, when the anti-fascist resistance that arose during World War II and was revived later in the struggle against their own junta of “black colonels”, created a powerful social and political archetype resistance to the forces of reaction, which is still alive in the Greek people, in today’s difficult conditions of the XXI century. Thanks to him, the Greeks firmly know that political demonstration and social protest of oppressed workers is the inalienable right of the people. The ruling classes believe that now the population of the country “abuses” this right, and – by means of changes in legislation, resorts to radical attempts to limit it. Since far-right authoritarianism is believed to be a thing of the past, government officials, right-wing political forces resurgent in Greece, and the media in the service of the modern ruling class argue that there is currently no reason for demonstrations and protests, that in a crisis and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic “the right to demonstrate is not as important as the right to work”.

Representatives of the ruling New Democracy party for the past year and a half have been promoting the introduction of a number of laws restricting the right of citizens to express social and political demands, as well as changes in the educational system, undertaken in order to prevent the freedom-loving Greek students from being socially active, staying outside the framework of political fields, otherwise it will be difficult for them to continue learning. At the same time, the practice of applying disciplinary measures by law enforcement agencies is tightening in the country. They, as in most modern capitalist countries, increasingly serve as an excuse for the ruling class to emerge from a difficult socio-economic period with minimal financial costs. It is for this purpose that working conditions are becoming more and more stricter, and an offensive policy of the ruling elite in Greece is being pursued on the rights of workers, students and the most vulnerable social strata of the population.

As we, communist internationalists predicted a year ago, legal action by the bourgeois state couldn’t stop the fascists, who, as a direct product of capitalism, enjoy the protection of the police and the connivance of right-wing politicians and the media. Young people and workers can only rely on their own strength to combat this threat.

In the last week of September 2021, neo-Nazi youth armed with clubs, knives and throwing Molotov cocktails attacked a leftist congregation at a vocational school in Stavroupoli, near Thessaloniki. The police stood on the sidelines when the Nazis rampaged in the school premises. The following day, the following anti-fascist demonstration was also attacked.

In response to these events, the right-wing New Democracy government issued a statement condemning both neo-Nazi violence and the anti-fascist left movement against it, equalizing the guilt of the parties!.. As public pressure increased, police arrested a dozen neo-Nazis in Thessaloniki and commanded several weapon caches, including pistols and rifles.

On Sunday, October 3, 2021, neo-Nazis armed with clubs went to a rally organized by the anti-fascist organization KEERFA in the Athenian suburb of Nea Heraklio to mark the anniversary of the Golden Dawn ban. Four people were injured. Police reportedly took more than 40 minutes to arrive at the scene.

The next day, members of the Greek Communist Youth (KNE), who were displaying anti-fascist posters, were attacked by a neo-Nazi gang in the Thessaloniki region of Ilioupolis. But fascist provocations again lead to a massive response. On October 7, 2021, thousands of young people and leftist activists took to the streets across the country to protest these provocations.

The illegal current leaders of the Golden Dawn party openly applauded the fascist attack on Stavroupoli and incited their supporters, the far-right militants, to further violence against the “communist contagion.” The neo-Nazi organization was officially banned in October 2020 and its top leadership is in jail. However, the party was allowed to reorganize, since the authorities do not want to fully enforce the ban on them. Indeed, despite the fact that the Golden Dawn is an illegal organization, it still has an office with us in Thessaloniki!

Moreover, a number of new fascist groups such as the Sacred Band and Pro-Patria have emerged in recent months. They are also directly linked to the recent wave of reactionary violence.

As we have seen elsewhere, significant anti-vaccine rallies in Greece provided a convenient cover and rallying point for fascist activities. The movement against vaccines is highly patchy. It was driven by social malaise and distrust of the capitalist state and includes confused people who could potentially still be enlightened by revolutionary workers. But blockages hit certain layers especially hard, such as small property owners. These desperate middle class strata, as well as criminals, are funding sources for fascist gangs.

The proliferation of neo-Nazi groups is undoubtedly linked to the anti-vaccine movement. However, it is important to note that these groups represent a very small minority of the population. The active core of these gangs consists of only a few hundred or, at best, several thousand people, albeit well organized and financed and with powerful sponsors in the state apparatus of Mitsotakis, whose political figure is constantly supervised by the head of the European Council, the leading anti-communist politician of our time, Donald Tusk.

It is clear that these gangs enjoy sympathy from the police sectors, which have been clearly passive in the face of these recent attacks. It is no secret that the Greek police have close ties to the extreme right. Moreover, electoral data show that in 2015, 40-50% of the police voted for the Golden Dawn. The reactionary nature of the police reflects its social function as an armed henchman of the ruling class.

The government used the pretext of a pandemic to give the police more power to suppress protests, which increased their confidence that they would act with impunity. And given their sympathy for the fascists, the police tend to view the latter as useful collaborators in their repressive duties, and the fascists are not burdened with legal subtleties that sometimes limit how “thorough” the police can be. The ruling class and its representatives in government view the fascists as a useful backup weapon for emergencies, although in recent years they have been forced to rule these rabid dogs for fear of provoking a massive working class reaction.

As noted above, the Mitsotakis administration has drawn an equivalence between neo-Nazi attacks and anti-fascist defensive actions and counter-protests. The bourgeois media sing the same song, usually portraying the violence as clashes between “youth gangs of street hooligans”, deliberately blurring political issues.

Mitsotakis and “respectable” conservative politicians from New Democracy are indirectly responsible for the rise in fascist violence. They fuel nationalist sentiments, blame migrants and other vulnerable scapegoats for social problems, and indulge in religious hatred in order to distract populations from their own shortcomings and the capitalist system they represent. As the crisis of capitalism deepens, the ruling class moves more and more from below, deepening vile prejudices in order to divert the growing anger and discontent in society, channeling it and making it safe for itself. This general spirit of social hatred creates fertile ground for the growth of fascism.

The Greek ruling class burned the fingers of the Golden Dawn in 2013 and decided to oppose it. The repressions against the party were initiated by the right-wing government of Antonis Samaras. But this was not related to their ideological opposition to fascism. Rather, the Golden Dawn became simply a dangerous circumstance for the bourgeois political elites of Greece: their provocations caused a powerful mobilization of the working class and youth with revolutionary overtones after the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas.

At present, the ruling New Democracy Party is behaving cautiously and keeping a certain distance from the Nazis. For example, the current government has brought to justice some of those responsible for the attack in Stavroupoli. Mitskotakis also fired MP Konstantinos Bogdanos, who represents the most reactionary tendency in New Democracy, closest to the extreme right. These steps are purely tactical, condemning the Nazis in words and generally treating them with a light touch. Under certain conditions, if the class struggle intensifies, the state will not hesitate to mobilize the fascists to defeat the workers and youth. The timing of these attacks is not accidental – they testify to the destabilizing nature of the period into which Greece entered.

The betrayal of Alexis Tsipras following the July 2015 referendum embarrassed and demoralized the Greek working class. There was no effective revolutionary opposition to this betrayal, either internally or externally, as the left faction of the party largely surrendered without a fight and the Communist Party at the time adopted a sectarian stance.

In this situation, an era of relative social peace followed, interspersed with some important, albeit isolated, struggles. This situation is starting to change. Last year Greece witnessed powerful movements by high school and university students against Mitsotakis’s reductions in education and its repressive, anti-democratic legislation. Indeed, the massive rallies to mark the banning of Golden Dawn in October 2020 exposed a newfound militancy among youth.

More importantly, some sectors of the working class are re-entering the fray, as evidenced by the militant strike of delivery drivers on September 24, 20221. In its attitude to fascist gangs and groups, the Greek ruling class has its own calculation, taking into account all the prospects for the growing class struggle in the country.

The banning of the Golden Dawn by the bourgeois tribunals in October 2020 was rightly hailed as a victory for the anti-fascist movement. However, there were certain dangers behind this seeming success.

First, they could create the impression that the bourgeois state could curb the fascist threat. As recent events show, this is not the case. The fascists were allowed to reorganize and regroup, resuming their violent activities. Even students on their own campuses are not safe.

Second, as expected in 2020, the bourgeois state can use the trial against Golden Dawn to enhance its reputation as a “neutral” arbiter of social conflicts and as a counterbalance to “extremism” – of the extreme right and extreme left. This will play out with the repression carried out in recent months by Kyriakis Mitsotakis against leftist students and anarchists.

Greek parliamentary parties have active youth sections at universities, which have recently ceased to be neutral, entering into direct conflict with their ideological opponents. So, a serious representation, funded and uniting young people from certain social groups – as a rule, these are representatives of the wealthy stratum and the so-called middle class – in the university environment of Athens has the Youth Section of New Democracy (DAP). And, if until now its representatives were mainly engaged in organizing schools for teaching business strategies, student parties and excursions (advertised with the help of openly “sexist” posters), then recently, during the protests of leftist students, DAP activists often take an active participation in violent fights with protesting youth groups, speaking on the side of openly fascist groups. At the same time, representatives of the law enforcement agencies have no complaints about DAP members, they are not subject to arrests and fines. However, the government measures taken by the ruling New Democracy party, directed against the intensification of the politicization of student youth, allegedly “undermining the foundations and the daily function of the learning space,” in fact, cause even more protest activity in the youth environment.

Only an independent movement of youth and workers can destroy the fascists. All class fighters, regardless of their inclination and party affiliation – communists, anarchists, student activists, trade unionists, etc. – must be rallied for a counteroffensive. The Nazis threaten all of us, and therefore we must fight them shoulder to shoulder. Self-defense committees should be organized by workers’ organizations and linked to the broader social and labor rights movement. Above all, they must be armed with an anti-capitalist program that offers a way out for the exploited and oppressed masses. Such a program would also undermine right-wing demagoguery by explaining the true cause of all society’s ills, as well as the real solution. Organized on this basis, the vanguard of the youth and the working class could smash the fascists to smithereens.

Greek workers and youth are on their feet again after a long hiatus. The defensive struggle against the fascists must become a springboard in order to go on the offensive and renew the revolutionary struggle against the capitalist system itself, which was thwarted in 2015 by the betrayal and disappointment of reformism.

Konstantin Popov
Thessaloniki, Greece
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