The death of Pavlos Fyssas, has created an outpouring of rage on the streets of Greece. In 18 cities across the countries, people took to the streets to express their horror and revulsion at the death. But it is not only anti-fascists who will be concerned at this death. The fascists too, both the self-declared ones and the covert ones who hide behind official uniforms and offices of government will also be concerned by this death although for very different reasons.
Fyssas was not supposed to die at the hands of the fascists. Or at least, he was not supposed to have been identified as dying at the hands of the fascists. The hitman, George Roupakias, who was summoned to the scene where Killah P died wasn’t supposed to actually kill him, merely maim him and send out a signal that anyone who opposes the rise of fascism will be “dealt with”, rather like the stabbing of a high school student in Paleo Faliro a few days later by another member of the Dawn or the Golden Dawn member and off-duty policeman who pulled a gun on anti-fascists in Dafni the following day.
But Roupakias took to his task rather over-enthusiastically, and death was the result. He was certainly not supposed to be caught red handed. Despite 12 police officers watching the prior beating, there was no intervention. A rogue police officer, in the aftermath of the stabbing, it would seem, broke protocol and arrested the man single handedly while her colleagues stood by. The woman who arrested him is said to be in a state of psychological shock. I’ll bet she is. The knowledge that she has undermined everything that the Greek police force stand for, betrayed her colleagues by arresting one of their ideological compatriots and undermined the narrative that the Greek media tried to spin that this was a thug fight over football will loom heavily in her mind, no doubt with constant reminders from her colleagues.
Fyssas’s death has also sent the Greek government into a tail spin. Initially it might have been thought that they could have relied on their friends in the media, and certainly they initially did a valiant job, dismissing it as a random fight. In an interview with Fyssas’s grieving mother, Star TV attempted to paint her dead son as the aggressor leading her to accuse the channel’s constant promotion and whitewashing of the party as creating the threat that they posed. As more details emerged – that the murderer worked in the canteen of the Golden Dawn offices, and one of their former members broke his silence to reveal that the Golden Dawn paid people for planned assaults – something which had been long suspected but never confirmed, the constant flow of truth eventually overwhelmed them.
The slogan, popular on demonstrations in Greece that “the media, the police and the fascists work together” isn’t just empty rhetoric. How else do you explain the sycophancy with which the media approach the Golden Dawn, allowing a member who has just punched a Communist Party MP live in their studios to escape from the police, who playoff the incident keystone cops like, promoting a narrative of incompetent bungling, but sincere, police officers allowing a felon to escape. The media then considered that the incident was so worthy of humour that they set up a rerun of it a few months later, with actors posing as fascists ambushing Liala Kannerellis, the MP who was punched in the face, in the hallways of their studio. Marx’s dictum that history repeats itself as farce deliberately invoked to turn a violent assault by a known thug into a hilarious piece of entertainment. Kannerellis, unsurprisingly, didn’t see the funny side as she openly wept in an interview following the trauma of being confronted by people who she believed were the same as those who beat, stab and kill on the streets and who had already assaulted her with impunity. Or rather, immunity.
The raids that the police have conducted on Golden Dawn offices in the last week smacks of too little too late. Two regional supervisors of the Greek Police have resigned, several senior police officers on the island of Evia have been suspended for failing to investigate the neighbouring Golden Dawn office where weapons were being stored. Thirty incidents where it is suggested that police officers have participated in Golden Dawn activities are under investigation, and a dozen senior officers have been reshuffled including the head of the anti-terrorist squad, the organised crime squad and the guns and explosives unit. Another enquiry is ongoing into allegations that the Greek military have been training fascists after a newspaper published photographs showing men in camoflague and balaclavas conducting night exercises, while a member informed another reporter that “In Golden Dawn we have an entire military structure with at least 3,000 people ready for everything“. It should be remembered that it is less than 40 years since Greece was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship.
So – is this the start of the de-nazification of the Greek state? I suspect not, more likely a PR exercise designed to appease while covering up its dirty secrets more effectively.
Samaras, who only a few days previously was being urged in the media to work with the Golden Dawn, was forced to announce that he would look into banning them “within a few months”. When the mood takes this government they can move incredibly fast. The unconstitutional shutdown of the public broadcaster ERT for example was announced in the morning and within twenty-four hours, ERT was no more. When it desires them, constitutional law is no barrier to achieving their aims, and a political murder funded and executed by a fascist party whose MPs openly “Heil Hitler” and deny the holocaust in the Hellenic Parliament would seem to be a greater emergency than a TV station, however if a week is a long time in politics, a couple of months is an eternity, and I suspect that Samaras is hoping that when the time comes to make his promise good, new crisises will have overtaken this demand in the popular conciousness and it can be like all else explained away as just a misunderstood blip in an otherwise fine upstanding political tradition.
For really when you get down to it, there are is very little ideological difference between the governing New Democracy party and the Golden Dawn. It is not the Golden Dawn who are deploying mercenaries on the streets of Greece, it is not the Golden Dawn who are setting up concentration camps the length and breadth of the country, it is not the Golden Dawn who are giving the green light to the arrests of trans women and women in the sex industry, and it is not the Golden Dawn who is imposing the austerity measures that are leaving people starving. The government needs the Golden Dawn, for when someone points out that establishing concentration camps and beating people in police stations are the acts of a fascist state, they can feign innocence as they point to Golden Dawn MPs “Heil Hitlering” in the Hellenic Parliament. “We are not fascist!” they can exclaim, “Look! Look over there“, as another couple of hundred are shoved into the camps while everyone’s attention is distracted.