Paganistic revivals

By Costas Iordanidis

In recent days, in what can be only be defined as a political move, Seraphim, the bishop of Piraeus, spoke publicly of the paganistic dimension of Greece’s ultranationalist party Golden Dawn – which purports to be deeply committed to the Orthodox faith – putting forth scholarly arguments that are probably lost on the public, which is mostly agnostic and embraces Christianity only on holidays such as Easter.

Golden Dawn is a paganistic movement, not just in terms of the symbols it uses and the rituals it enacts, but also because its system of references – beyond the mundane – comprises tracing and promoting racial archetypes, worshipping the human body and promoting racial purity.

Paganism reveals itself in the way that it tries to make everyone think and act alike in a “purified” environment, in the way that it uses information to suggest that the fallen grandeur of a country is due to its contact with alien and hostile powers. It is basically a defensive movement that emerges when society feels threatened. It banks on the eternal narrative of returning to a national community, guided by a political party with the characteristics of a squad of initiates.

The existing political system cannot curb Golden Dawn’s influence using conventional means. The theories of PASOK’s chief, Evangelos Venizelos, regarding the constitutionality of the country’s political parties is irrelevant anywhere except in a university amphitheater. Prohibiting campaigns of a social nature organized by Golden Dawn is also no way to diminish its influence. The opposite is likely to occur.

Western society is spending itself on the concepts of liberalism, which is being blamed for the current predicament, and democracy, which in Greece has almost become synonymous with anarchy and chaos. But these two concepts do not suffice to conjure up a narrative and when implemented on a day-to-day basis, they create insecurity and disorder. As legacies of the Enlightenment, they cannot beat ancient trends when they emerge on the political scene.

In theory, the response to paganistic ideas should come from rebuilding the Christian community on an intellectual rather than emotional basis. This would be a revolutionary move and as such unpopular with the status quo. The Church, however, can only act on the level that Seraphim did, so we had better get prepared for Golden Dawn seeing a rise in popularity that its leaders will probably prove unable to handle.