There is nothing easy about escaping from “associations” such as Golden Dawn. Even the simplest members – applause generators, bullhorn carriers and leaders of late-night beat-downs on migrants – know that the party is founded on fear: not just that which it wants to strike into the hearts of its enemies, but also that which it wants to implant in the minds of its members. The latter are taught very early on (for example, with the first attack against any comrade who dares show any opposition) that fear protects their physical safety, their family and their status in the party’s microcosm.
Therefore the first escape of a high-ranking official from Golden Dawn’s fortress is a big deal indeed, and especially when it is an MP who has behaved like a good soldier and shown no prior signs of straying.
Larissa MP Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos wrote in a letter to the speaker of Parliament that he had decided to pursue an independent political career because he was unaware of Golden Dawn’s activities, “which have been defined as criminal,” and because he condemns any such actions “unequivocally.” He added that many of his comrades share his feelings.
The fact that Alexopoulos is an MP not only adds significance to the first rift in the far-right party, which is such a fervent admirer of the Nazis; it also serves as a shield that may, to some extent at least, protect others who are afraid of retribution in the event that they break the code of silence and constitute a serious threat to Golden Dawn. An MP participates in deliberations and gatherings where a bit more wine than usual may loosen tongues. He knows better than anyone what line the party has drawn on particular issues and at some point has surely smiled at some tale of “heroism” against “the maggots.” In order to express such a deep level of repentance, therefore, Alexopoulos could not have been going only on the revelations regarding the party’s activities that are known to all and sundry. Meanwhile, he is probably also holding back on what he knows for his own protection.
The reaction from Golden Dawn’s headquarters was unsurprising – it called him a traitor and said he behaved despicably. Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris even went as far as to suggest that Alexopoulos has been bribed to do what he did.
But what stands out most from this whole affair is the reaction of the party’s local branches in the region of Thessaly, where Larissa is. In a joint announcement, they said: “We will not concern ourselves with Mr Alexopoulos any more. We have more important things to worry about. And the most important is to tear down the rotten establishment.” The announcement even went on to cite Samuel Johnson’s famous quote that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” against Alexopoulos, saying that it “has been confirmed once more.” Whatever.