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Edric O

The return of fascism

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About a year ago, in response to the thread "Rise of Populist Parties", I posted the following comments:

When capitalism enters a major crisis, it always leads to radicalization and polarization. It provides an opportunity for socialists to fight and win, and it may even lead to communist revolutions. But on the other hand, far-right movements also rise, feeding on fear and suspicion.

The True Finns, the "Sweden Democrats," the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, the BNP and EDL in the UK, the reinvigorated Front National in France, the Northern League in Italy, the Swiss People's Party, the FPÖ and BZÖ in Austria, Jobbik in Hungary... they are all part of a Europe-wide trend, and this is a trend we've seen before, after the Great Crash of 1929.

Ladies and gentlemen, fascism is back.

At the time, several people argued that I went too far in drawing parallels between the present time and the 1930s. They pointed out that right-wing nationalism in general is not the same as fascism in particular, and that most of the political parties I listed are not supporting the kind of murderous xenophobia that defines fascism.

Those were all good points. Organizations like the Front National in France or the Swiss People's Party may be focused on getting votes by encouraging fear and hatred of foreigners, but they are not really fascists. They don't go that far. My argument was that their increasing popularity comes from the same social and economic conditions that gave rise to fascism, and that this should worry us, but of course "the same social and economic conditions that gave rise to fascism" are different from actual fascism.

Last year, the possibility of actual, full-blown fascism coming back to life as a significant political movement still seemed quite remote.

Not any more.

Yesterday, Greece held a general election. As you know, Greece is a country whose people have been forced to suffer brutal austerity measures in order to pay off debts to foreign banks. Unemployment has skyrocketed, the welfare state is being torn down, government spending is being slashed to the bone, there are no jobs for young people, and more and more laws are being passed to reduce workers' rights and give more power to bosses and corporations. This has been going on for several years and people are desperate. Suicides are at an all-time high, and just a few weeks ago a man killed himself in the Parliament building.

Under these conditions, the elections resulted in predictably massive gains for the radical left (see results here). The two mainstream parties (ND and PASOK, center-right and center-left), which support austerity, only managed to get 32% of the vote combined. The "Coalition of the Radical Left" (Syriza), a broad group that includes all sorts of people from left-democratic-socialists to certain kinds of communists (somewhat similar to the Left Party in Germany) came in second place with 16.7%. The Communist Party held steady at 8.5%.

That is all well and good, but here is the scary part. There is another political party, which jumped from an insignificant 0.3% at the last elections to nearly 7% at these elections. The name of the party is Golden Dawn, and as for its ideas... well, let me put it this way. Look at their symbol:

Golden-Dawn-party--in-ath-008.jpg

And if that's not clear enough, they also do this:

149327_402442516446610_100000425962344_1289883_576872380_n.jpg

That's right. They are Nazis. Real, serious Nazis. They only accept "Aryans" as members. Their stated goal is to get rid of all immigrants and non-Greeks from Greece, and they are already working toward that goal by engaging in street violence against people who look "foreign" and vandalism in immigrant neighborhoods. They refer to their opponents as "traitors" (if they are Greeks) or by various racist insults if they are not Greeks. Golden Dawn is as close to textbook fascism as you can get.

And they got 7% of votes. So, now, there can be no doubt. Fascism has officially returned.

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Well, what can I say... This is probably not surprising, especially in the kind of situation the whole world has found itself in right now.

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So in France a "socialist" won (made clear in every headline).

Being so close to USA, media says socialist = Hitler, or a derogatory term. Is this true? Or I assume it is a real socialist, and not usa version where socialist are bad thing.

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So in France a "socialist" won (made clear in every headline).

Being so close to USA, media says socialist = Hitler, or a derogatory term. Is this true? Or I assume it is a real socialist, and not usa version where socialist are bad thing.

He is neither a real socialist nor the ridiculous caricature that you might get in the US media. He is a centrist social democrat. Basically, François Hollande and his party (the French Socialist Party) are like the New Democratic Party in Canada. They want to raise taxes on the rich, expand the public sector, strengthen the unions, and increase pensions and other benefits. But that's it. They certainly don't have in mind any serious changes to the capitalist system.

It's not a huge deal. It is a great symbolic victory for the left and for socialism, that is true (because France has not had a left-wing president in 17 years), but Hollande's actual policies are not likely to be very different from Sarkozy's.

That's why the Greek elections that happened at the same time are more interesting, because there the results are not just symbolic.

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Well as always forgive me if I 'm reluctant to say too much here. The elections have been a popular topic of discussion with family, friends and in greek forums for quite some time now. The increasing popularity of Golden Dawn and the likelihood they would get into parliament was apparent. As I said before, it's hardly surprising that in a time of crisis people gravitate towards extremes.

There already was an "extreme right wing" party in parliament (LAOS) with strong anti-immigrant views, though it looked pretty soft compared to GD and it did end up cooperating with the mainstream big parties. Now they failed to get in the parliament and GD got in instead. What this shows though in my opinion is that there were already people who had no qualms about voting a party on that extreme end of the spectrum. Nevertheless, I believe as others do that many of those who did vote for GD did so out of ignorance; not of their opposition to foreigners obviously, no indeed that got them many of the votes, but of the fact they 're literally thugs. The conjecture is that as they get more exposure now, they will quickly lose most of the support they have.

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Really pretty, another reason to replace Greece with Turkey in the EU...

But still, Ataka in Bulgaria or Jobbik in Hungary are militant parties too, Nikolic is strong in Serbia too. With Greece, whole Balkans may be lost for EU if it becomes clear it can't offer enough here.

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Ataka in Bulgaria, and Nikolic's SNS in Serbia, are not nearly as extreme as Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn has a large number of criminal thugs committing violent acts in the streets. Jobbik in Hungary might come close, because it has the Hungarian Guard as a paramilitary arm.

And unlike the others, Golden Dawn is pretty much an openly neo-Nazi organization. Some people might deny that Ataka or Jobbik are fascists, but there is no way to deny that Golden Dawn are fascists.

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There already was an "extreme right wing" party in parliament (LAOS) with strong anti-immigrant views, though it looked pretty soft compared to GD and it did end up cooperating with the mainstream big parties. Now they failed to get in the parliament and GD got in instead. What this shows though in my opinion is that there were already people who had no qualms about voting a party on that extreme end of the spectrum. Nevertheless, I believe as others do that many of those who did vote for GD did so out of ignorance; not of their opposition to foreigners obviously, no indeed that got them many of the votes, but of the fact they 're literally thugs. The conjecture is that as they get more exposure now, they will quickly lose most of the support they have.

Yes, it's very important to remember that most of the support for Golden Dawn came from former LAOS voters. So there was already a significant extreme right-wing voting bloc in Greece. They just switched their support to an even more extreme party than before.

As for GD losing votes once people realize they are thugs, I am not so sure about that. In times of crisis, people want decisive action. And thugs, if they are smart, can successfully make their brutality look like "decisive action." If GD can persuade people that it is using extreme tactics only because we live in extreme times, it will continue to gain support.

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And while we are on this topic, today is Victory Day! It is the 67th anniversary of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany on 9 May, 1945. So, let's shout "Smrt fašizmu, sloboda narodu!" loud enough for Golden Dawn to hear us! :)

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More news from Greece: coalition talks failed, so now it seems inevitable that there will be new elections soon. At present, the polls indicate that Syriza (radical left coalition) would win. Golden Dawn has slumped to around 5%, which is good news, but it's also suspiciously fast. Many people who intend to vote for far-right parties don't like to say this to polling agencies, even when they know their responses are anonymous. Therefore, far-right parties often get more votes than the polls predicted.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/world/13670214/greeces-anti-bailout-leftists-lead-in-polls/

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More news from Greece: coalition talks failed, so now it seems inevitable that there will be new elections soon. At present, the polls indicate that Syriza (radical left coalition) would win. Golden Dawn has slumped to around 5%, which is good news, but it's also suspiciously fast. Many people who intend to vote for far-right parties don't like to say this to polling agencies, even when they know their responses are anonymous. Therefore, far-right parties often get more votes than the polls predicted.

http://au.news.yahoo...-lead-in-polls/

Well this is really bad. I can see the market indexes dropping tommorrow all over the world.

It seems that EU won't be able to bail out Greece for much longer.

It is not surprising that fascist and neo-nazi party got seats in parliament. Greece now has strong anti-foreigners sentiment as it is the foreigners that are pushing austerity on them. The high uemployment creates the resentment of immigrants because Greeks see immigrants as those who took their jobs. Also Golden Dawn campaigned on anti-austerity program too. However, as long as the party remains in small minority it is not a danger as its support will slowly fade away as the economic problems would get sorted out.

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The new elections probably will take place on 10 or 17 June, with the second date being more secure.

Some polls give to Sy.Riz.A and his leader Alexis Tsipras, a 24% which means that will be the first party but again he will not be able to form an overall majority inside the greek parliament in order to persuade the politic that his party believes. He will have to face again the chance to cooperate with other parties that they have different plans, such as KKE, communist party of Greece, or the new Eleftheroi Ellines, Free Greeks, whose leader , Panos Kammenos a former member of ND, speaks very aggresive and critisize the members of ND and Pasok as traitors for signing the loan contract with the IMF.

The week that passed a lot of members of Sy.Riz.A were guests in different tv and radio shows trying to analyze their political program.

One of the measures that would take, in order to avoid the IMF, is to take from each greek whose salary is equal to 20.000 euros or above, an "intraloan" of 100 euros per month, which means 1.200 euros/year. In other words a tax, sych as Pasok and Nea Dimokratia did. That is the difference of this party!

Perhaps the new elections will upshot as the previous, if the politicians don't put away the differences they have.

In Greece there is another problem: no one politician wants to take any measures on his own and they prefare to yell each other rather than work and not loosing more time.

I forgot to mention, that all the parties,except ND and Pasok, are anti IMF, whith the party of Dimokratiki Aristera, Left Democracy, of Fotis Kouvelis a former member of Sy.Riz.A, beeing the only party that wants to disengage gradually Greece from the loan and stay withing the euro zone

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The current reports are that the Greeks are withdrawing money from banks. Let's hope it doesn't turn into the run on the banks because that will give a clear signal that the Greeks have no faith in any political party to resolve the situation.

In Greece there is another problem: no one politician wants to take any measures on his own and they prefare to yell each other rather than work and not loosing more time.

That is common problem in other Western nations, especially during the elections. The reason is that putting out a logical message is too hard rather to scream and put out an emotional one. Emotional messages motivate people more then logical ones. The second problem is that logical message will not be understood completely as the modern electorate of all Western countries is just no educated enough in politics, economics, foreign policy theory, finance, sociology, psychology, industrial organisation etc.

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The current reports are that the Greeks are withdrawing money from banks. Let's hope it doesn't turn into the run on the banks because that will give a clear signal that the Greeks have no faith in any political party to resolve the situation.

Another reason for money winthdrawal is that also the previous week, members of Sy.Riz.A when they were asked about their plans for development they replied that they will reserve any deposits withing the greek banks!!!

In other words, they will take the money that someone has for a purpose (build a house, health reasons) and has worked to make them for a whole life but Sy.Riz.A will use them as they want.

Nowdays, greeks prefere to have their money in house rather to the banks.

I strongly believe that Alexis Tsipras is acting like this because he never believed his party could take the election results he got and be the second party in command. He prefers to stay 3rd or 4th party, like communist party, and critisize anyone rather than to contribute and change some things.

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There is only one way to solve the debt problem: default. Syriza is mad if it tries to find a way to pay off the debt without austerity. There is no way. Just default already, dammit!

Greece must immediately cease all attempts to cooperate with the IMF, the World Bank or the European Central Bank. Those institutions are the enemy and should be treated as such. It is in the interest of the Greek working class to tear up the rules, do what is necessary to save themselves, and tell the EU "stop us if you can." For example, if Greece defaults, the EU will take this to mean that Greece is leaving the euro. But Greece can decide to unilaterally keep the euro, in the same way that Montenegro has unilaterally adopted the euro as its national currency. The European Union has no mechanism in place to forcibly expel a country from the eurozone. It would take them some time - possibly a long time - to figure out what to do if Greece defaulted and kept the euro.

There is no way to know what would happen then. No doubt the euro would plummet on financial markets, and the eurozone would be in serious danger. Greece could use this to its advantage, and say to the EU: "Look, we defaulted, we refused to give up the euro, and the entire eurozone will probably come crashing down before you figure out how to expel us. So why don't we come to some sort of agreement - for example, we may agree to voluntarily leave the euro if you agree to prevent your banks from punishing us for our default."

In other words, Greece can - and should - hold the eurozone to ransom. This is a crisis of capitalism, this is the time to think big! Why are we trying to save the neoliberal monster that is the eurozone and the European Union? We should not be trying to reach a compromise with the EU, we should be making threats. Capitalism is weak - now is the time to be aggressive and hostile. We must strive to obtain the maximum benefit for the working class. Let the capitalists figure out the rest. And if they can't do it, let the euro burn.

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(I originally wrote this post as a reply for the "with only themselves to blame" thread, but that thread was old and this one seems to discuss, in part, the same issue. So some of it is an answer to Edric's last post in that thread)

Greece really is different from all the other EMU countries that experience difficuluties now. In Dutch there is a term called "tax morality", by which is meant the willingness of the population to pay taxes to support their public services versus their inclination to dodge them. I don't know if there's an equivalent English term. It would surprise me if there is a Greek one.

The Netherlands (and Germany too, I think) sent tax men to the Greek government to advise them on revenue collection. They reported being stumped at the lack of proper organisation, automated systems and general competence they witnessed there. The politicians have been reluctant to make great reforms and truly collect every penny of tax owed for the sheer reason of electoral backlash. And it's not just the rich who dodge taxes; every layer of the population does it (this is also true in the Netherlands, but to a lesser degree, and has in any case not led to the financial meltdown of our country)

As for defaulting and giving the finger to the bond market; I suppose they could do that if they also manage to run things properly from now on. As it is, Greece is still running a primary deficit - that is, even if they didn't pay any interests over government bonds, the government would still be spending more than it collects. I don't think I need to explain why this is unsustainable.

And suppose that Greek's government defaults unilaterally and completely, yet continues to use the Euro - that would mean a de facto barter economy where Euros are "just a commodity". The government wouldn't be able to pay for anything unless it's in cold, hard cash. Maybe not impossible in theory, but can you trust the Greek government structure to make it work?

It's true that the "hardware" of Greece's economy still exists, but that is a deliberately simplistic view. Those debts may be incoporeal but they do represent actual value that investors paid to Greece, that could instead have been spent in Spain or Poland or whatever to build roads and whatnot. Greece's structural deficits over the past few decades and the subsequent haircut on the debts that resulted from it ammount to a massive transfer in wealth, that they however have let gone to waste through their politicians' incompetence.

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Well now this is interesting, because it seems to me that an increase in the number of fascists/neo-Nazis who are open and vocal about it would actually be a boon to leftists.

I mean that in the sense that anarchists, communists, and socialists would benefit from a more concrete enemy. There is the IMF and the World Bank, and the EU and (especially) Merkel and those darned Germans(not to mention their lapdogs in the Greek parliament), but they're all(with the exception of the mainstream party MPs) rather - far off. If you know what I mean. Ephemeral. The majority of Greeks haven't seen the IMF, or Merkel, and never will.

The Golden Dawn, on the other hand, are a real presence on the streets of cities in Greece. Now it's just a matter of which side's propoganda the Greek people will respond to. But I have a feeling that it might really come down to picking sides. As far as I'm aware, most(if not all) Communist revolutions or upsurges happened only when there was a real and present threat that people could feel, see, hear. I'm not sure there's anything you can really do about those fascists, except give them a taste of their own medicine.

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Some new polls show that the persentage of Golden Dawn will fall to 4%, others show that G.D will remain outside of the greek parliament.

G.D managed to make it's way to the elections with rumoring news of illegal immigrants that killed or raped young women and many believed them. This way of publicity was taken from other neo-nazi groups of europe and worked well.

The reality is that here in Greece there is a big problem with illegal immigrants as Turkey, from who the most illegal immigrants enter through the Agean Sea, refuses to accept them back because they don't have passport or ID (before enter to Greece immigrants throw away every paper they have in order to make their return impossible).

Europe is not listening to the problem that Greece faces and sooner or later Italy and Spain will follow and then the racism will spread all over Europe.

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Wow this is very interesting as here in Canada we do not have as much of a problem with illegal immigration. I wonder how much of a problem are the illegal immigration and how much of the impact they have on the country?

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Ilias Kasidiaris, GD representative in the media slapped another MP on TV this morning

Honestly, I 'm not sure if that will do them harm or good. Obviously many people condemn it but there's also those that would applaud; the MP he slapped is Liana Kanelli, member of the communist party of Greece. Even though it's against the memorandum and has traditionally opposed the two big parties of the last 40 years, it has also been in parliament all those years and seen by many as part of the system. So some may view this as "decisive action" indeed.

I may write a little more on this phenomenon if I get the chance, though the moment of truth will come soon (elections on 17June).

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Well... the biggest problem I see is that Greece has struggled to impose an economic system that was not suitable for its personality. It's not the first time Greece is almost bankrupt. The problem is trying to impose an economic system developed by merchant societies (England, Holland, even Germany) that have a tradition in upholding the law and applying it to a nation that has a very different view on things.

I can't say greeks are wrong, they're simply out of tune with northern Europe. Try to impose Swedish or Norwegian liberalism in Saudi Arabia or USA and you'll have riots. Imagine interest rates in a muslim country.

Maybe Greece should rethink its economic system (tax and revenues) in order to be able to get out of this.

BTW, this is an interesting developement: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/greek-shipping-heir-nomikos-starts-debt-free-greece-campaign-a-841675.html

And as for the title... turbulent times create radical choices. Everyone is sprung up all around the world. When less money flows, the competition is bigger and "live and let live" might not be an option for long.

PS: nice to see Edric still active!

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A few days ago I found this article with videos filmed by an "undercover" journalist who spent time with Golden Dawn members:

http://www.channel4.com/news/racist-anti-semitic-violent-the-true-face-of-golden-dawn

The amount of racist hatred spewed by these fascists is truly chilling... and so is the fact that they openly joke about how they're going to slaughter people if they take power.

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