COMMENT

On a dangerous path

By Alexis Papachelas

Certain people have created a monster and now, when they observe it, they wonder what it is. Golden Dawn, along with all its slogans and behavior, is the work of many, not one single person.

For starters, it’s the work of the right, which not only lost the battle to preserve law and order, but also became apologetic when forced to impose it. When the streets of Athens surrendered to lawlessness, someone had to step into the void. Scared conservative families felt they belonged nowhere and that soon they would feel ashamed of their beliefs. Then came the cuts imposed by the memorandum and it all came together.

Golden Dawn was also created by all those who, in the name of the holy anti-memorandum war, brought insults, jeering and talk of traitors and “security batallions” into the mainstream dialogue. It’s pure hypocrisy to get angry at Golden Dawn today when worse things had already been uttered in Parliament, on radio and television by dozens of politicians, journalists and other figures.

Golden Dawn’s fascist, petty-bourgeois populism was hidden in the smallest and biggest parties, in unionist as well as television talk. Statements issued by respectable unions were filled with Golden Dawn vernacular in all its dimensions.

What is Golden Dawn actually doing? It is praising and taking the extremist, populist discourse of various politicians, the conspiracy theories unearthed by sensationalists and posted on the Internet as well as slogans launched by salesmen of indignation to the uttermost limits.

The party’s vocabulary includes a little something from every phase of the country’s damned, post-dictatorship populism: a bit of “Greece belongs to the Greeks” or “We are under occupation,” for instance. Racism and murderous violence targeting migrants are clearly the elements that differentiate Golden Dawn from everybody else.

The question is what do we do now? If the current political system carries on playing along with Golden Dawn’s communication rules, we are doomed. If part of the left adopts a more extreme stance on the grounds of “If we don’t express anger, people will turn to Golden Dawn,” the country will find itself on a very dangerous path.

In my opinion, there is only one way to go. All the legitimately democratic parties must decide which fundamental rules should be respected, no matter what kind of pressure they’re under from their desperate supporters or opinion polls. The notions of not resorting to violence, of safeguarding freedom of expression irrespective of differences, of avoiding extremist hate talk, of protecting the weak against sick persecutors, of the rule of law for absolutely everybody are – I believe – fundamental principles with the power to unite all those who are genuinely worried about democracy in this country.

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