We have nearly worn out our political, moral and esthetic vocabulary in our condemnation of the ultra-right Golden Dawn party and its despicable actions. The group itself, however, appears nowhere near sating its taste for debasing democracy, nor does it seem to have exhausted its repertory of barbarism, which covers the entire spectrum from the simply ridiculous to the purely violent.
Golden Dawn’s gathering at Thermopylae a week ago was certainly ridiculous, but it was more than that too. There, the memory of Sparta’s Leonidas was trampled in a grotesque performance that was a caricature of Hitleric festivities both in terms of structure and ideology. On the other side of the spectrum, the attack against members of the Greek Communist Party in Perama was one of pure violence.
In the meantime, we have seen provocative shows of force in Yiannitsa and in Meligalas, where they insulted the mayor and bullied him off the dais so that Golden Dawn lieutenant Ilias Kasidiaris could unleash his own vulgar speech.
So what are the weapons in Golden Dawn’s arsenal, other than the economic and intellectual poverty that has strengthened its ranks? What is it that allows it to act without any semblance of fear?
First of all, the stance of the police. In Meligalas, they stood by and watched party officials lambast the mayor. In Yiannitsa, they seemed more concerned with quelling an anti-fascism rally. And in Perama, everyone but the police seemed to know who led the pack.
The second factor that works in Golden Dawn’s favor is the tone used by the other parties to condemn its activities and the speed of their reaction. For example, it took New Democracy a little over 24 hours to issue a lukewarm statement about the incident in Perama, while the government representative appears to still be typing up his speech.
The third weapon is the wind of popular legitimacy that public opinion polls blow into Golden Dawn’s sails. One poll after another shows the party in third place with over 10 percent of the intended vote. And even though polls can be questioned and overturned, the findings allow Golden Dawn to act as though it really is the country’s third most powerful party. These figures allow it to act in a manner that is arrogant, aggressive and insulting, brushing off the criticism leveled against it regarding its affinity for Nazism, which it no longer even bothers to hide under the mantle of nationalism.
Golden Dawn is a militia composed of rabid enemies of parliamentary democracy, which ought to be dealt with without any more prevarication, using the same weapons it does – after all there are many of these and many are effective. But the democratic state today is behaving as though it has disarmed itself instead.