Greece: Fight fascism/ FRFI 230 Dec 2012/Jan 2013

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FRFI 230 December 2012/January 2013

Fascism is once again raising its fists and boots in Greece as the capitalist crisis delivers unemployment and savage poverty to the people. Conditions of acute economic crisis are creating space for the state and its unofficial fascist allies to begin to violently police and terrorise vulnerable sections of the working class. It will not end there. Fascism will be used to enforce the bankers’ agenda and physically crush all resistance to austerity. Anti-fascist defence must become central to the defence of the Greek working class. MICHAEL MACGREGOR reports.

The latest Memorandum – the third – passed in the Greek parliament on 7 November contains 800 pages detailing the latest measures to be imposed on the Greek people by the troika of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The New Democracy/ PASOK/Democratic Left majority was reduced from 179 to 153 out of 300 seats; 128 voted against. The leader of Syriza, the Coalition of the Left, Alexis Tsipras, predicted that the government would soon become a minority in parliament.

Outside, on the streets of Athens, hundreds of thousands demonstrated in protest at the culmination of a 48-hour general strike observed solidly across the country on 6/7 November. Transport across Greece was paralysed as public transport workers and taxi drivers went on strike. Port workers considered extending the strike indefinitely against casualisation and for permanent contracts. Municipal cleansing workers and electricity supply workers occupied offices while shutting down power regularly over the two-day period. For the first time since the end of the military dictatorship in 1974, water cannon were deployed alongside tear gas and stun grenades as the riot police fought to maintain control.

Previous austerity measures have already delivered social catastrophe: unemployment is over 25% – 55.4% for those under 25. Over a quarter of the population now lives below the poverty line. 84% of the population have suffered falling incomes. 65,000 municipal workers will be made redundant by December 2012. Workers have been involved in occupations of local government offices: 240 Greek municipalities out of 325 have been blockaded with staff refusing to forward names to the central government for sacking. Those in work face extensions to the working day and week, delayed retirement and insecurity through attacks on labour rights. These latest additional measures will make life unbearable for the Greek people. However, the 14 November general strike was less widely observed than the one the previous week and mobilised fewer on the streets.

In this midst of this social disaster, the fascists are organising and gaining ground. The fascist Golden Dawn party, which gained 18 seats at the last election, now argues for tax breaks for millionaire shipowners while blaming immigrants and refugees for the crisis. Golden Dawn has threatened to load transport planes with people and direct them to Pakistan.

However it was the state operation ‘Xenios Zeus’ which legitimised growing racist assaults and nurtured the developing fascist terror. The co-ordinated police action was consciously incited by government minister for public order, Nikos Dendias, who claimed, like the fascists, that immigration was more of a problem than the economic crisis. Since early August it has given the green light to the fascist gangs who now operate openly in Greece. Police stop-and-search operations, round-ups of immigrants and mass arrests of thousands have been followed by organised pogrom-style assaults by Golden Dawn.

The level of blatant collusion between the police and the fascists is mounting. Anti-fascist fighters sped into a central Athens neighbourhood after an attack on a Tanzanian Community Centre at the end of September. Motorcycle squads confronted the fascists only to be arrested by the police and subjected to torture and abuse at the Attica General Police Directorate (GADA) where they were stripped, beaten and burned with cigarettes. Comrades of the anti-fascist militants picketed the police station and were in turn arrested after being tasered and kicked. The police as usual denied all allegations.

Over the weekend of 2-4 November the Aghios Panteleimonas area of Athens saw premises, owners and residents attacked by hundreds of fascists while riot police stood back. Fascists emerged from police lines to strike and identify ‘troublemakers’ for arrest. Police stood by while Golden Dawn closed down a play in which Christ and the apostles are depicted as gay men. Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros led a fascist attack on a journalist who was present. This homophobic thug spent a short time in a police van but was released by other fascists as cops looked away.

Anti-fascist organisation, currently led by small forces outside the communist organisations and trade unions, must be taken up by wider sections of the Greek working class. If the state and fascist terror succeeds against the most oppressed sections, the terror will be used to destroy all working class organisations.