by Augustine Zenakos
Burning nazi flags to protest Angela Merkel’s visit to Athens was, to say the least, in bad taste. Though she has been called by columnists in the international Media “the most dangerous German politician since Adolph Hitler”, though the German brand of nationalist neoliberalism may be wrecking any hopes for the European project which might have remained, Ms Merkel is no nazi. I know, I’ve seen the nazis. In Greece.
It is nightmarish, but there it is: we speak about neonazis in Greece and we are being absolutely literal.
Interestingly, though, what brings about this literality is not Golden Dawn’s 7% in the summer elections, not even recent opinion polls that show the popularity of this neonazi party rising by the day, but rather the Democratic system itself through the wanton nazification of its institutions.
The Ministry of Public Order “sweeps” the cities arbitrarily arresting immigrants, most of them legal residents, in operations named –in a cruel, if inadvertent, euphemism– “Zeus Xenios”, after the ancient Greek god of hospitality. Through these operations, the Ministry admits that racial discrimination and more often than not racial violence is an accepted means for the State to appear to diffuse chronic social issues and manage public opinion.
The same Ministry, with the Ministry of Public Health concurring, publicizes photographs and complete personal information of HIV-positive women, arrested on charges of prostitution, arguing that this “protects the public”. It does the same with demonstrators arrested on disturbing the peace charges, and it invites the public to contact the police and provide information on “other crimes these persons might have committed”.
The Riot Police –the infamous “MAT”– have become a sort of paramilitary corps, with their own “rules of engagement”, and are protected by both the political leadership and the judiciary in all cases where they are charged by citizens and NGOs to have used excessive force and even gratuitous violence. Even in instances where scores of witnesses have alleged attempted murder –even targeted attempted murder of a photojournalist on assignment– no investigation has ever illuminated the conditions under which the Riot Police operate above the law.
The Police deny access to a lawyer for hours to antifascist protesters under arrest – arrested, tellingly, during brawls with neonazi thugs, while the few of the latter who were detained were freed almost immediately– and torture them: serious beatings, sleep deprivation, cigarette burns and even taser guns have allegedly been used on handcuffed arrestees, a practice which was simply shrugged off by the Minister of Public Order in Parliament.
Is is plainly the case that Democratic institutions in Greece today view their tumbling into fascist practices as a “legitimate” extention of the paternalism of previous years. What should be noted is that these institutions are not represented just by hardline politicians and political parties with longstanding ties to the Far-Right, but also by Centre-Right and even Centre-Left politicians and parties that have been in government in these last three tempestuous years and hold office at the moment, in this uneasy “Coalition of the Willing”.
It is not then that a neonazi Far-Right is rising as a force external to the Democratic system. It is that the Democratic system has incorporated it into its core and is being consciously nazified by reproducing its agenda as a dogma of social organization and a method for the practice of government. In this sense, Golden Dawn is already in power.
That is literality.
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