Concluding a five year-long trial, a Greek court ruled today that the fascist outfit Golden Dawn was operating as a criminal organization and its leaders were therefore guilty of functioning as organized crime bosses. This could be a fatal blow to what was until recently perhaps the most institutionally powerful openly Nazi organization in the world. Until last year they had 18 members in the Greek parliament, and at their height opinion polls showed that one-in-ten Greeks intended to vote for Golden Dawn.
There were several components of the marathon legal battle. The central incident was the brutal murder of Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper who was stabbed to death by Golden Dawn members in 2013. The attempted murder of an immigrant worker in 2012 and a violent assault targeting communist labor organizers in 2013 were also under consideration in the proceedings.
The court found that this type of violent, criminal activity was directed from the top leadership of Golden Dawn. They could now face anywhere between 5 and 15 year prison sentences.
The court’s ruling after an excruciatingly long wait is a victory for the mass anti-fascist movement in Greece that has deep roots in the country’s working class. Tens of thousands rallied outside the courthouse in Athens as well as the second largest city Thessaloniki on the day of the decision.
Establishment politicians in Greece cynically tried to portray the ruling as a victory for the status quo. Former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said for instance, “Today, democracy and our national and European values have been vindicated.” But it was Samaras himself, politicians like him and the European Union that created the conditions that led to the rise of Golden Dawn in the first place.
The Greek economy was devastated by the 2008 “Great Recession” and the government was on the verge of bankruptcy. In return for bailout money that went right back into the pockets of the big banks, successive Greek governments agreed to impose harsh austerity measures drawn up by European institutions and the International Monetary Fund.
These measures dramatically rolled back the rights of the working class and gutted social programs. Fierce resistance, much of it communist-led, emerged in response. Golden Dawn played the role that fascism always has — propping up the capitalist system using ruthless violence targeting oppressed people, the labor movement and the left.
The fight against fascism is worldwide
The United States is no stranger to fascist violence of a similar type. The mobilization of far-right militias, like the one Kenosha murderer Kyle Rittenhouse was part of, has been a clear trend in the country since the uprising against racism began this summer. There are fears that this will become even more pronounced in the aftermath of the November election.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Executive Director of One People’s Project, told Liberation News he believes what this development “meant to the United States in particular is very important.” Jenkins, a long-time leader in the U.S. anti-fascist movement, said, “When Golden Dawn first came out, a lot of fascists around the world were looking to them as an inspiration. Members of Golden Dawn came to speak here in the U.S. Golden Dawn even had a chapter in Astoria, Queens.”
“Every type of fascist movement going on around the world is going to be a concern for us because they seem to have this kind of network where everyone is helping each other,” Jenkins added, emphasizing the importance of international solidarity in the fight against fascism.