Thursday 17 May 2012

A Frightful Fiend

Look at this picture. Can you guess who or what it is? No? Well I’ll tell you – it’s the new face of Greek democracy! His name is George Germenis, a black metal rocker, although he uses the stage name ‘Kaiadas’, after the chasm where Spartans threw deformed babies.

Germenis or Kaiadas – whose next album, incidentally, is called Long Live Death – was thrown into another chasm - the Greek parliament. He is there along with another twenty members of Golden Dawn, an extreme nationalist movement entering the assembly for the first time ever. It won seven percent of the poll in the election held a week last Sunday, that’s well over 400,000 votes. It’s a remarkable achievement considering that Golden Dawn was long in the murky twilight of Greek politics, securing less than one percent of the vote the last time round.

Kaiadas and Golden Dawn is a sign of the times, said the mayor of Salonika. They certainly are; a sign of the European times, a sign of Greek anger at the austerity programme imposed at the diktat of the European Union, a sign of the madness that has arisen from monetary union. It’s a consequence of the arrogance of the politicians and bureaucrats who govern the destiny of Europe, who believed that national electorates could be ignored and sidestepped with impunity.

Greece, sinking ever deeper into recession, wanted to make a gesture, and it has. In making the gesture, in retreating from the mainstream into the fringe, people were clear what they were voting against; it’s just that they seemed to have no clear idea what they were voting for. Since the election many have said that they were shocked over what they subsequently learned about Golden Dawn.

What have they learned? Why, that it’s racist, violently so, and reactionary, rejecting, in the words of its own manifesto, “the so-called Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.” It is also irredentist, rejecting Greece’s present borders. We are, in short, dealing with a Nazi-style party which has a Nazi-style logo, though it rejects the label, saying that they are inspired by the regime of Ioannis Metaxas. He was dictator of Greece on the threshold of the Second World War, himself inspired by – can you guess? – the Nazis. They had their Third Reich; he had his Third Hellenic Civilization. In time to come – who knows? -there may be a Fourth Hellenic Civilization.

Golden Dawn is led Nikolaos Michaloliakos, once jailed for the possession of explosives. In the best non-fascist style the party’s charter places him in total control. In the best non-fascist style the charter also authorises the straight armed Roman salute, or is that Greek salute? The leader, though, has eschewed such gestures when his people march into parliament. His people, incidentally, include one who was facing trial for allegedly allowing his car to be used for an assault on a left-wing university lecturer. I say ‘was’ because he will be facing trial no longer; he now enjoys parliamentary immunity.

The ascent of Golden Dawn should not be seen in isolation. The door was already held open, ironically, by the socialist Pasok party and New Democracy, the respectable face of Greek politics. In forcing through the austerity package insisted on by the European Central Bank and the IMF, they formed a less than respectable coalition with the Popular Orthodox Rally, another movement on the extremist fringe, closely allied with Golden Dawn. In other words, Greece’s political class, dancing to a tune played from Brussels, effectively made right-wing extremism a respectable choice.

"May God help us. I dread to think that they got in," said Maria Savelona, a 51-year-old widow, who claims not to have voted for the Golden boys. "People voted in anger, without thinking. When they realize what they did, they'll be afraid." They should be. It isn’t just Germenis, his heavy metal makeup, his knives and his fake blood. No; since the election people have been shown images of his party comrades smiling next to an Auschwitz crematorium.

Michaloliakos, in his first public appearance after the election, said that getting into parliament would not turn his "brave boys in black" into moderates. He warned those who "betrayed the motherland" to run scared, banging his clenched fist on the podium, a bodyguard on each side: "We are coming!" They certainly are.

Like one who, on a lonely road, Doth walk in fear and dread, And, having once turned round, walks on, And turns no more his head; Because he knows a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread.


  1. Do we see Orpheus. Ana next they'll be printing money.

  2. Oh, fantastic. On a completely petty note - now there'll be loads of people and certain spurious news organizations that jump on the fact the front is called the Golden Dawn to draw the assertion that since it was the name of 'That Crowley Organization' and since all organizations remotely related to anything paganism MUST be the same, it will almost certainly lead to another wave of setbacks against us.

    Sigh. Bah, humbug. ;-)

    More seriously - Fellows like chainspike bloodbrain over here are created entirely via fear, I think... Though not just the fear caused by reaction, not even primarily. I think the fact that PASOK and New Democracy both forgot that people mostly want to know that they and those they love will be able to make it in the world - to survive, to earn bread, to create - makes even idiots like this look presentable.

    And that's the problem! I can plant my palm firmly against my face at the majority of politicians to have bubbled up in the last 50 years, but I'd like to believe they are smart enough to know that by asking so much of people, they only are holding the door for those who will talk about fixing things... Even when their solution is to babble incoherently about patrimony, hate, and terrible facial makeup.

    Normally I'd say the best solution is to laugh at people like this, but it's not a funny situation nor one that can be fixed with 'austerity'. If ND and PASOK weren't so intent to see who could out-Hindenberg each other the fastest, and one or both of them was willing to listen and to act - well, there is no point speculating. The time now is for Europe to push back and expose the phantom of rhetoric and threat for shadows on the cavern wall. (That was Greek as well, though perhaps a bit before Gyorgi's time.)

    I can only hope that soon, there breathes a wind.

    1. Satyrnalia, when I Googled this organisation,which I had never previously heard of, one of the first things I got was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn! Another writer has likened the name to a new brand of peanut butter. :-)

      Like you I would treat this as a joke, but Brussels and the European bureaucrats are conjuring up all sorts of monsters.

    2. Peanut butter! It certainly is full of nuts, eh? My question - that has no sane answer I fear - is how Brussels believe it can just invoke up lunacy and then banish it at will. Once given substance and power, most people don't simply step down...

      We'll laugh even as we plan our next moves. Thought, action and coffee (or tea, but I *am* an American and I wonder if addiction to coffee isn't hardwired in our blood ;-) ) and further reflection is a good start.

    3. You are right, there is no answer. The Brussels bureaucrats, those who govern the destiny of Europe in virtually the same way as the old Soviet bureaucrats, treated democracy with contempt. Now it's jumping up and biting. There is only so much diktat, and bones, people can take.

      My stimulant of choice is tea. I'm English. :-)

  3. The news over Greece has been so overshadowed with the financial implications ( The Netherlands is nervous...) I have little knowledge of the present Greek political situation. I will, thanks to your article, keep my eyes and ears open as we glide towards yet another election.

  4. Anthony, my friend, I value your contributions here, agree or not, but you know I can't publish that.

    1. But I meant for roasting Goats and baking Baklava ?

  5. come on Ana - now I am REALLY curious at to Antho
    ny's comments..(!)