A verdict was reached today (Wednesday, Oct 7th) in Athens, Greece in the trial of Neo Nazi – far right organisation Golden Dawn. The trial went on for a period of five and a half years. Despite the efforts of the state Prosecutor they were found guilty of running a criminal organisation and were tied to a number of attacks on migrants, left wing trade unionists and the fatal stabbing of anti- fascist rapper Pavlos Fysass in 2013. Giorgos Roupakias, a member of Golden Dawn was found guilty of the murder. There were 68 defendants in the trial, including the entire leadership of the organisation and all of their former MPs.
Workers cannot rely on capitalist state to defeat fascists
While the Greek state authorities have been forced by popular mobilisation to prosecute Golden Dawn for some of its worst crimes, we cannot rely upon the capitalist state anywhere to face down fascism, what is required is for workers to organise in a united front involving socialist political groupings, trade unions and progressive organisations to crush fascism on the streets, in the workplaces and in the communities. Its permanent defeat will require the overthrow of capitalism itself and the institution of a socialist economy eliminating the social basis of fascism as a historic trend.
15,000 protesters celebrated the news of the guilty verdict, using slogans like “Pavlos lives, crush the Nazis” and singing the revolutionary song Bella Ciao on the streets. The police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse them.
Golden Dawn were the third largest party in the Greek parliament in 2012, but lost all of their seats by the 2019 election. The organisation consciously exploited the deep economic crisis faced by the country and the anger of the working class at austerity and the political establishment to promote their far right agenda. They used the crisis to blame and attack migrants and the left and to harvest the feelings of despair felt by sections of the working class and poor following the economic devastation.
Syriza fails to deliver on their promises
Many working class people turned to left wing political party Syriza, who rejected austerity and the threats of the Troika. They were elected into power to great enthusiasm in 2015. They brought forward a referendum to decide whether or not Greece should accept the bailout conditions proposed by the EU and the IMF, where the conditions were outright rejected by 61%, and a no vote coming out on top in every region of Greece. Syriza ignored the results of the referendum and entered an agreement with even harsher austerity than was previously discussed. This represented another betrayal of the working class, and led to massive disillusionment that Golden Dawn were in part able to tap into.
Need to mobilise against fascists
While Golden Dawn’s support has dramatically decreased in the last period, and their appeal has been somewhat eclipsed since the election of a right wing government and they have now been prosecuted for some of their crimes, we cannot be complacent about the threat they and other fascist organisations around the world pose to the working class.
The far right aims to stoke divisions in working class communities often by using fears over jobs and housing, fears that are heightened during a recession, to draw lines through communities on grounds such as race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender. The best way to ensure homes, jobs and facilities for everyone, is for the working class of all nationalities, ethnicities, sexualities and genders to unite and build a powerful movement for change. The trade union movement, that Golden Dawn and other fascist elements correctly view as a threat to them, has a key role to play in unifying the working class to fight for better lives and to reject fascism.
The rise of Golden Dawn in Greece and the rise of the far right in other countries clearly show the need for an organised fight back, including the use of self-defence stewards when necessary, by the trade union movement and the left. The far right and fascists are organised, it is essential that we are too. We send our solidarity to the anti-fascist movement in Greece that have been a thorn in the side of Golden Dawn despite violence and intimidation.