The political climate in Greece, both on the streets and in the parliament is hotting up. There is no such thing as a slow news day in Athens.
Just before Christmas, Villa Amalias, a well established and much loved squat, was raided by police, with multiple arrests of the occupants. A cultural, social and education centre, it has grown into a strong base for mobilisations against the fascist violence which has gripped Greece in the last six months, since Chrysti Avgi – an openly fascist political party – gained parliamentary representation, and a source of solidarity for those who had been arrested and tortured for seeking to halt the violence.
The Minister for Public Order justified this raid as part of an ongoing “campaign against lawlessness“, while wrangings in the courts continued over the corruption and tax evasion of senior politicans which had come to light in the aftermath of the publication of the “Leguarde List” – an act which saw the journalist who made known the wrongdoings of wealthy Greeks arrested for invasion of privacy. Meanwhile the austerity measures saw increasing numbers of Greeks thrown from their homes and forced to sleep on the streets in sub-zero temperatures and despair grips the country. Prostitution and drug use are both on the rise as people try to make ends meet, through drug dealing or the sale sexual services, becoming sucked in to damaging and dangerous industries.
This weekend saw a massive demonstration in support of Villa Amalias and another raided squat, Skaramanga, while arson attacks at the homes of journalists were carried out by the “Lovers of Lawlessness” seeking to highlight the collusion of the Greek media in the ongoing state repression and deliberate misinformation dispensed by the Greek state. A gun attack in the middle of the night on the office of the Prime Minister has generated many column inches despite no injuries being sustained – unlike previous attacks on leftist politicians. The government is now talking tough, raiding another squat yesterday, before being forced to hand back the keys and releasing those it had arrested.
There is no functioning asylum system in Greece, instead the state presides over a policing regime which sees anyone with dark coloured skin rounded up and taken chain gang style to police stations for “identity checks”. Anyone without the necessary paperwork to live in the country are then imprisoned in inhumane conditions with no running water, cells riddled with lice and typhoid which have inadequate sanitory conditions and no bedding.
The rise of Chysti Avgi and the purchase and increasing influence that it has on a people who are becoming worn down by austerity and seeking scapegoats is a dangerous development, but they are not the only fascist threat in Greece today. The Greek State is moving to shut down protest against it, moving against any centres which may oppose their policies, utilising state terror in the form of chemical weapons and indiscriminate beatings to anyone wit perceives as a threat to their authority, including bringing in corporate mercenaries for domestic security.
This weekend sees a major European mobilisation against fascism, co-ordinated from Greece. The rise of an openly fascist party in Greece, is a deeply troublesome and worrying development, but it should be noted that not all fascists declare themselves as such. Fascism is an ideology, and its creep comes slowly, we must resist every step of the way.
Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow…. But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked… But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next….Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done ( for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing)….
You remember everything now, and your heart breaks.
You are compromised beyond repair
Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free
A version of this article was first published by the International Socialist Group on 16th January 2013