in an interview with Democracy Now that the reaction of European elites to SYRIZA, i.e, the pre-emption of its salutary social-democratic function as a means of saving capitalism from itself, "could lead to a right-wing response [...] The alternative to SYRIZA might be Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party."
It wasn't in any way an original formulation of the "Greek dilemma" in terms of a choice between the "carrot" and the "stick", between EU fiscal support for the Social Democratic desire to use a possible slackening of finance capital's stranglehold on the masses in order to curtail working-class militancy and the harsher, far less "attractive" alternative of holding the working class in its place through formal class dictatorship -- fascism. SYRIZA MP, Finance Minister and Anglo media darling Yanis Varoufakis had already put things in the same way in his Press conference with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble a month before, on February 5:
As finance minister in a government facing from day one emergency circumstances caused by a savage debt deflationary crisis, I feel that the German nation is the one nation in Europe that can understand us better than anyone else.But this pretty straightforward form of "blackmail" to the EU oligarchs --"either us or Golden Dawn"-- was not original either; Vafoufakis was merely echoing SYRIZA's leader, Alexis Tsipras, who had already put things this way back in the June 2012 elections, in an interview with Reuters:
No-one understands better than the people of this land how a severely depressed economy, combined with a ritual national humiliation and unending hopelessness can hatch the serpent’s egg within its society.
When I return home tonight, I will find myself in a parliament in which the third-largest party is not a neo-Nazi party, it is a Nazi party.
Tsipras said Syriza's rapid rise showed how Greeks were channeling their rage at the austerity measures - which have sent the economy into a deep recession and pushed unemployment close to 23 percent - into an alternative political movement.The rhetorical effectivity of the mantra depends on a number of structural preconditions, of which one is tantamount: the disappearance of the alternative represented by the Communist Party of Greece from international awareness, in classic Social Democratic fashion. Social Democracy comes to the rescue of a troubled capitalism by supposedly preventing the rise of both fascism and communism, as the classic SPD poster above has it; and it is definitely interesting that in his Reuters interview, Mr. Tsipras spoke of "extremes" in the plural, implying of course that there are two such extremes, as good Social Democrats will always do in times of capitalist crisis, though of course he was cunning enough to name only one: the other is, in his conveniently fuzzy formulation, "chaos" (though one would be tempted to remind one's readers that US Secretary George Marshall, responding precisely to the communist threat in Greece, also used this word as a code for "communist danger", in the context of the promulgation of the "Truman Doctrine" in the midst of the Greek Civil War; and of course, that SYRIZA's repeatedly stated ambition is precisely "a new Marshall plan" for Europe).
Given public anger at Greece's long-established parties, he added, "if Syriza didn't exist today the alternative would be extremes, chaos and Golden Dawn," a neo-Nazi party.
The "SYRIZA or Golden Dawn" line of national and international blackmail, then, depends structurally on a vanishing act it is difficult to distinguish from "wishful thinking": on February 18, the staunch supporter of the party in the UK, The Guardian, simply "forgot" about the existence of KKE (5.47% in last elections) and refashioned the Greek political landscape so that ANTARSYA (0.6% in last elections), whose basic line has always been that of "critical support" for SYRIZA, appears as the only "left" opposition in the country. A bout of similar amnesia hit the US magazine Foreign Policy, which obligingly reproduced the FinMin's dilemma on February 19, blissfully forgetting the existence of KKE. Similarly, and since early February, Greek social media were inundated with endless repetitions of the "dilemma", all of them likewise "forgetting" the possibility of a communist resolution of the postmodern version of the "Karamanlis or the tanks" quandary. As I pointed out in my commentary on this "intuitive" trend, the boundary line between "diagnosing" a fascist danger and in fact blackmailing others that if SYRIZA doesn't get the money it wants, you yourself will go for the fascists --the boundary line between "diagnosis" and "threat"-- is pretty blurry. But this isn't the only complication that attends the "dilemma." There is also the directly related question of whether SYRIZA and Golden Dawn really represent a clear, mutually exclusive choice. Is political reality in Greece interpretable in terms of the dilemma "SYRIZA or Golden Dawn" or is it rather that there is no dilemma, that the real formula for how capitalist power exercises itself at present in the country is in fact "SYRIZA and Golden Dawn"?
The remainder of this article will restrict itself to a mere listing of events that pertain to the parliamentary activity of the two parties in response to each other from November 2013 to the present; it isn't the only dimension of their relationship to take into account, as there are equally important ones in the syndicalist and local administration terrain, but these would require a far longer piece to cover.
On November 13 2013, SYRIZA's main party newspaper Avgi published articles from journalists Kyritsis and Anandranistakis that fiercely attacked Dimitris Hatzopoulos, a sketch artist for the Greek newspaper Ta Nea (The News), for a sketch (shown above) that satirized current SYRIZA MP (and at that time ANEL MP) Rachel Makri, as well as SYRIZA MP (and current Chair of Parliament) Zoe Konstantopoulou for their very media-oriented show of "militancy" during the period of the protests against the shutting down of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) (Hatzopoulos had depicted them as "left" and "right" strip dancers on TV aerial poles, who enjoy attacking opponents with lawsuits). It was the first time Avgi so passionately defended an MP that then belonged to another -- and indeed, a far right wing -- party.
On December 18 2013, the Greek Parliament held a vote for the suspension of the state funding of Golden Dawn, which had been under criminal investigation for the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, the murder of immigrant worker Sahjat Lukman, the attack on KKE/PAME members in Perama, attacks with knives on immigrants, attempted arson, military training, and illegal possession of firearms, among many other charges. ANEL MPs T. Kouik, G. Dimaras, V. Kapernaros, P. Haikalis, N. Nikolopoulos, G. Ntavris, M. Ouzounidis, X. Giatagana, Rachel Makri and K. Giovanopoulos voted against the suspension of state funding for Golden Dawn, while the leader of the party Panos Kammenos chose to be absent from the vote. SYRIZA MP Zoe Konstantopoulou also chose to be absent, while SYRIZA MP Manolis Glezos voted against the suspension of the state funding of Golden Dawn.
On February 28 2014, SYRIZA MP Nikos Voutsis (video above) accused the party of New Democracy of "nodding towards the Right and towards the voters of Golden Dawn", and of "machinating" to "render Golden Dawn illegal." The same expression --"machination"-- was used by Golden Dawn itself, in the same parliamentary session (see video above).
On March 5 2014, SYRIZA MP Zoe Konstantopoulou distanced herself from SYRIZA concerning the parliamentary vote on waiving parliamentary immunity from prosecution of Golden Dawn MPs, referring to the vote as a "constitutional deviation". SYRIZA MP Manolis Glezos sided with Konstantopoulou again, arguing that legislative measures are no way to deal with Golden Dawn.
On March 21 2014, and during her appearance in a TV show hosted by far-right publicist Giorgos Tragas (left on picture above, hosting four Golden Dawn MPs; Tragas is infamous for promoting Golden Dawn under the "anti-Memorandum", "anti-German" umbrella) SYRIZA MP Zoe Konstantopoulou stated that Golden Dawn MPs cannot constitutionally be deprived in toto of Parliamentary immunity for the criminal activity of a number of them. On the same day, Golden Dawn heralded her statements on its web page (picture below).
On April 7 2014, the journalist of the conservative Greek newspaper Eleftheros Typos (Free Press) Despina Kontaraki was arrested, after a lawsuit filed by the former ANEL (and current SYRIZA) MP Rachel Makri, on the grounds that Kontaraki had reported that Makri had accused the then ND-PASOK government (in a parliamentary session of April 2) that "it is imprisoning innocent people" (meaning Golden Dawn). Yet Eleftheros Typos was not the only newspaper that reported Makri's statement. Major Greek newspapers Ethnos and Vima corroborate that Makri had said, word for word, what Eleftheros Typos had published. They add that she characterized the government as "fascist" for persecuting Golden Dawn; the same word was used, with the same meaning, by Golden Dawn MP Elias Panagiotaros.
On the same day, SYRIZA issued an announcement concerning the arrest of Kontaraki, which neglects to mention anything about the fact that the arrest was caused by Makri's lawsuit against her, even though SYRIZA's own newspaper, Avgi, had reported the same statements that Kontaraki had reported and been sued for. Even more impressively, SYRIZA-affiliated journalist Dimitris Trimis, one of the country's most reputed "anti Golden Dawn" investigative journalists, was hosted by Avgi on May 11 2014 in an article which defends Makri against the journalist, arguing that there is no evidence showing Makri had really stated what had been published by a host of newspapers, including Avgi itself.
On May 7 2014, Rachel Makri, along with other ANEL MPs (Haikalis, Ouzounidou, et al.), were videotaped and photographed in Parliament while showing "solidarity" to "regretful" Golden Dawn MP Stathis Boukouras, who had pleaded not to be sent to jail for criminal fascist activity (photo above, Boukouras seated, Makri in the polka dot scarf standing above him).
On May 8 2014, SYRIZA MP Nikos Voutsis, speaking in an interview with the Real-fm radio station, returned to the issue of the imprisonment of Golden Dawn MPs and stated that the evidence the Greek state had collected against them was laughably inadequate and "had no chance" in court.
On the next day, May 9 2014, Golden Dawn showcased Voutsis as effectively supporting its court defense line on its official web page (screenshot above).
On May 19 2014, SYRIZA candidate for Mayor of Athens (and current SYRIZA MP and cabinet member) Gabriel Sakelarides stated, after the completion of the first round of the election, that "his party does not shut the door to Golden Dawn supporters, since 15% of Athenians cannot logically be said to be Nazis."
On the same day, May 19 2014, and during an interview with the journalist Aris Portosalte on SKAI TV, the then SYRIZA Press Officer (and current MP and cabinet member) Panos Skourletis stated the following: "we shouldn't give away the people who, because of their choices, voted for Golden Dawn in the first round. What supported Golden Dawn is not a unified neo-Nazi 'thing', to use a phrase that has been widely used for the past weeks [...] Every vote we detach from Nazism and fascism is welcome. And I think everyone should agree to this, Mr. Portosalte. We must reduce the strength of Golden Dawn. Don't you agree? "
On May 21 2014, and during a TV interview, SYRIZA leader and current Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stated that the struggle of his party is not against "the misguided voters" of Golden Dawn. To quote his statement at further length: "our struggle to eliminate this phenomenon, our head-on collision with the dark ideology of intolerance and fascism, our head-on collision with the members and executives of Golden Dawn, shouldn't become a head-on collision with their misguided voters." It is notable that on March 25 (about two months before this statement), a documentary on the political rise of SYRIZA had shown Tsipras look rather amused by Golden Dawn MP's Kasidiaris live-on-TV attack against KKE MP Liana Kanelli (documentary video scene above). The screening of the scene, and the conversion of a fascist attack to an issue of "psychopathology", had caused an angry TV response from the KKE MP, who was still awaiting the trial of her attacker.
On May 22 2014, days before the second round of elections for her precinct, SYRIZA MP and current Prefect of Attica Rena Dourou, to whose defense Kanelli had rallied right before she was punched by Kasidiaris back in 2012 (video link above) stated, in an interview with SKAI, that what is "really fascist" is the "bundling together" of the supporters of Golden Dawn; she continued: "Those who have shamelessly brought us to this, to the economic crisis and the crisis of democracy, criminalize the voters of Golden Dawn, whereas they were before winking at them through the General secretary of the government." Said General Secretary was Takis Baltakos, who had been disgraced and ousted from the New Democracy Party after the revelation of his secret talks with Golden Dawn thug Ilias Kasidiaris (Kanelli's attacker; Golden Dawn itself leaked the Baltakos-Kasidiaris talks after the ND-PASOK government began prosecuting its MPs, as retaliation).
On October 20 2014, Rachel Makri, who had meanwhile left ANEL, declared her full support for SYRIZA.
On December 30 2014, the leader of the National Front in France, Marine Le Pen, congratulated SYRIZA and Golden Dawn on their common stance against the election of the government candidate for President of the Republic.
On January 14 2015, SYRIZA's newspaper Avgi published an interview with Rachel Makri, who had just been announced as a candidate with SYRIZA in the upcoming elections, on the party's electoral goals.
On the night of the elections of the 25th of January 2015, the leader of ANEL Panos Kammenos was the first to announce the formation of a coalition government of SYRIZA and ANEL, before Alexis Tsipras, whose party had won the election, had the opportunity to speak on his party's decision, as is of course customary. ANEL's electoral TV ad had already made apparent that the party intended to play the role of a "right-wing counterbalance" in coalition with SYRIZA, following on a long trail of inter-party contacts since at least 2013.
On February 21 2015, a local news website revealed that SYRIZA MP Dimitris Kodelas shared a friendly dinner table with Golden Dawn MP Giorgos Galeos at the Trade Association of Nafplio New Year's gala (photo, Kodelas in the middle of the table, Galeos to the extreme left).
On February 24 2015, SYRIZA MP and new Chair of the Parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou caused a parliamentary uproar when she postponed a vote on lifting the immunity of New Democracy MP Adonis Georgiades because the imprisoned MPs of Golden Dawn had been prevented from attending the vote.
On March 5 2015, Zoe Konstantopoulou argued, as new Parliament chair, that the operation of the Parliament for the last several months was in fact illegal, since the Golden Dawn MPs who are in prison on charges of criminal activity had not been allowed to be present at the Parliament. The ΚΚΕ issued an announcement wherein it stated that Konstantopoulou's stance "raises many questions" and that it "cultivates tolerance Towards a Nazi criminal organization." Golden Dawn, on the other hand, hailed the constitutional wisdom of the SYRIZA MP, and attacked "the Bolsheviks' push toward constitutional deviation" (yes, the phrase Konstantopoulou had herself used a year before, on March 5 2014).
On the same day (March 5), Konstantopoulou stated in an interview with ERT Open: "The criminal behavior that has been recorded for several decades has been fought against by some people, but not everyone. This doesn't mean that Golden Dawn is politically an unacceptable party. That there are indications of Nazi ideas doesn't mean we can impose discounts on democracy."
On the evening of the 5th of March, SYRIZA (former ANEL) MP Rachel Makri, who had earlier been mobilized by her new party for a slanderous attack against KKE for allegedly betraying the striking workers of the Coca Cola plant by advertising the soft drink in Rizospastis (Avgi has removed the video evidence from its youtube channel since, but you can see the newspaper logo on the screenshot above), was widely photographed sitting next to the former government General Secretary, the Kasidiaris liaison Takis Baltakos, whom SYRIZA MP Rena Dourou had blamed (22/5/2014) as responsible for "whitewashing" Nazis, as they are hanging out, watching a PAO BC game and...enjoying their Coke (photo below).
On March 6 2015, the Appeal Court of Athens found Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris innocent concerning the attack, in June 2012, against KKE MP Liana Against Kanelli, though it has been shown live on television and recorded on video, opining that Kasidiaris did not really intend serious bodily harm and that he "slipped" rather than intentionally attack her with his fists. KKE issued an immediate announcement, speaking of a "provocative court decision" that "contributes to the cultivation and reinforcement of a climate of tolerance toward Golden Dawn's criminal activity." SYRIZA, on the other hand, has stayed entirely silent, on both official and individual levels. Its newspaper, Avgi, simply reported the KKE announcement, while Rena Dourou, who was present in the attack, and who was the one Kanelli had defended, did not attend the trial and did not testify against Kasidiaris (see Kanellis's own video interview here, where she also notes that SYRIZA MP Manolis Glezos had insisted that she not press charges against Kasidiaris; and that SYRIZA's nominee for President of the Republic, ND's Prokopis Pavlopoulos, also present during the live attack did nothing to stop it and showed no interest in her condition after it). After it was all over with the trial, Dourou contented herself with giving the following moral lecture, the only thing any SYRIZA member has stated on the scandalous court decision (which follows on the heels of another Golden Dawn acquittal, for a videotaped attack against immigrant small commodity sellers): "Ilias Kasidiaris was discharged for attacking Liana Kanelli. However, facts are persistent and were recorded for the sake of history by the TV cameras. This events remain recorded in the collective consciousness of the people without ever being anulled. Just as matters of ethos and political ethics are never anulled in a democracy. The events are real and will always impugn on individual consciences."
"Either SYRIZA OR Golden Dawn", then, reader?
Or "Both SYRIZA AND Golden Dawn", both Social Democracy and Fascism, as equally necessary and complementary weapons of the bourgeoisie against the organized labor movement and the Communist Party?
You answer the question. We have answered it long ago as far as it concerns our self-defense.
Translation and adaptation from the original Greek with the help of a Lenin Reloaded reader.