Workers Hammer No. 224
Greek left, immigrants in fascists’ cross-hairs
On 18 September, Pavlos Fyssas, a well-known anti-fascist activist and hip-hop artist was stabbed to death in Keratsini, Piraeus. The Guardian (18 September) quotes local mayor Loukas Tzannis saying “Golden Dawn cadres were behind the attack”. Demonstrations against Golden Dawn followed this outrage. The killing underlines the urgent necessity for united-front workers action to sweep the fascist scum off the streets.
The following article, written by our comrades of the Trotskyist Group of Greece, is reprinted from Workers Vanguard no 1030, 20 September.
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ATHENS — In a small but important victory for the left and all opponents of the fascist Golden Dawn, the secretary general of the Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK), Savvas Michael Matsas, and the former rector of the National Technical University of Athens, Konstantinos Moutzouris, were acquitted on 4 September of all charges that resulted from a lawsuit by Golden Dawn. Michael was targeted because he is a leftist and Jewish. He was falsely accused of defamation against Golden Dawn because the May 2009 issue of the EEK’s journal, New Perspective, characterised them as a Nazi organisation that incites racist attacks against immigrants. He was also charged with “disturbance of the civil peace” and “incitement of violent assaults and conflict”. Moutzouris was accused of allowing the independent news portal Indymedia to use university servers.
Following several anti-fascist demonstrations in early 2009 in defence of immigrants, Golden Dawn filed a lawsuit against numerous parties and individuals, such as the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), SYRIZA and the left coalition ANTARSYA, as well as immigrant organisations. In total, they named 80 people. Three years later, police conducted interrogations and Moutzouris and Michael were singled out for prosecution. This transparent political witch hunt gained international attention, including an article in the Guardian (1 September) by Maria Margaronis. After a two-day trial during which the prosecution’s two main witnesses from Golden Dawn did not even appear, Michael and Moutzouris were acquitted of all charges.
In a 27 August statement demanding that the charges against Michael and Moutzouris be dropped, the Trotskyist Group of Greece explained:
“This case has also fuelled a climate in which a vile online anti-Semitic campaign has been whipped up against Savvas Michael with calls to ‘hit the Jewish vermin’ and describing him as ‘an instrument of the World Jewish Conspiracy to foment civil war among Greeks to impose a Judeo-Bolshevik regime in Greece’ (‘Resolution of Solidarity’ at www.change.org/petitions). The savage attacks by the Greek capitalists and by the imperialist EU against Greek working people over the past five years have led to many protests and struggles by the working class and the left. At the same time attacks on the left are increasing while nationalism, anti-immigrant racism and hostility to anything not considered ‘pure Greek’ are on the rise. It is in this context that Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris are facing charges.”
Indeed, while the acquittal of Michael and Moutzouris was a victory, on 12 September supporters of the KKE postering in a working-class district near the port of Piraeus were brutally attacked by 50 men with crowbars and bats. Reporting on a KKE protest, the Guardian (13 September) website described the assault as “a violent attack on Communist party members by black-shirted supporters of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party which left nine people in hospital with serious injuries” (“Greeks protest against Golden Dawn attack on Communists”). The incident took place in Perama, where the KKE has a historic base among shipyard workers. According to the KKE newspaper Rizospastis (14 September), one of the victims sent to the hospital by this potentially deadly attack was the president of the Union of Metalworkers of Piraeus.
This attack underscores the TGG’s warning: “While Golden Dawn currently aim their attacks primarily against immigrants, gays and leftists, their ultimate purpose is to crush the organisations of the working class in order to save the capitalists, as Mussolini’s forces did in Italy in the 1920s and Hitler’s in Germany in the 1930s” (“Capitalists bleed Greek working class”, Workers Hammer no 221, Winter 2012-2013). The Greek bourgeoisie has a long history of resorting to right-wing terror to smash the workers movement. The current attacks pose the urgent need to mobilise contingents of workers, based on the trade unions, to sweep the fascists off the streets.
It is a condemnation of the existing workers’ leadership that the power of the organised labour movement has so far not been brought to bear in this struggle, even as the fascists have gained strength in the climate of mass unemployment and grinding austerity. Last year, after a Golden Dawn thug attacked a female KKE parliamentary deputy on live television, then-KKE general secretary Aleka Papariga ruled out mobilisations to stop Golden Dawn’s attacks, fatuously declaring that they would be defeated by “the weapon of the vote” (kke.gr, 7 June 2012). No! What is necessary to beat back the fascist menace are mass, proletarian united-front mobilisations against the fascists, drawing in all their intended victims.
Violent attacks, along with prosecutions of workers and leftists, are nothing other than attempts to intimidate anti-fascists into silence and passivity. Another chilling witch hunt is being carried out against hospital workers on the island of Samos who are facing investigation for refusing to collect blood from Golden Dawn donors who insisted it be for “Greeks only”. A 29 August press release by the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Workers defending the Samos workers states: “The state has the obligation to provide as a social benefit FREE and EQUAL healthcare to the residents of the country independently of nationality and race.” It is telling that in June the government chose Adonis Georgiadis, a former leader of the fascist-infested LAOS party, as health minister to oversee the destruction of what remains of Greece’s public health system and its workforce.
Capitalism gives birth to the scourge of fascism, so the struggle to do away with forces like Golden Dawn must be linked to the fight for the overthrow of capitalist rule in Greece and internationally. The EU’s austerity attacks, led centrally by German imperialism, have helped fuel not only massive protest but also a resurgence of chauvinist nationalism among Greeks. In opposition to the nationalist politics promoted by the Greek left, we understand that the fight for international socialist revolution and a Socialist United States of Europe is key to leading the Greek working class out of its desperate situation. For this it is necessary to build a revolutionary workers party — a party like Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks — which champions the interests of all the exploited and the oppressed as part of the fight for a workers government. The TGG, sympathising section of the International Communist League, seeks to build such a party.