The Greek MYPLACE team at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences present their latest blog, discussing the continued influence of the right wing Golden Dawn movement.
On a previous blog entry (https://myplacefp7.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/343/) we had highlighted the alarming rates of the Greek Nazi party Golden Dawn’s (Chryssi Avgi) permeation in the Greek youth. The fascist organization’s influence on youth vote was the second higher among all parties participating in the last two national elections.
Since then, Golden Dawn has significantly increased its presence and activity in the public sphere organizing events such as the free provision of food only for poor and unemployed Greeks and the formation of storm trooper gangs attacking and intimidating immigrants, minorities and political opponents. They have also been preoccupied with opening new party branches in various regions of the country and recruiting members and storm troopers.
The following video shows the official opening of a Golden Dawn branch in a central Greece town, Trikala. The Golden Dawn MP Elias Kassidiaris, the most famous, lifestyle “media darling” and relatively articulate member of the organization, invites those participating to sing the Greek National Anthem in attention, because, as he says, “…ours are not party or political rallies, we resemble, indeed, more to a military unit…”.
The young Golden Dawn supporters stand at the first front rows wearing dark/black t-shirts.
One of the main recruitment pools that Golden Dawn has been systematically targeting is the Greek youth and among them, especially those in secondary education schools. Media reports paint a grim picture in which Golden Dawn and its fascist, racist and hate ideology and violent activity have reached the students of Greek schools attracting the attention and support of an increasing part of them.
Some speak of a “fascist fashion” among certain parts of Greek school students. According to such interpretations, young people are impressed by the military discipline, the violence, the extreme hate nationalism and the “heroic” attitude of “us against all the others” that Golden Dawn uses in order to compile its popular public image.
Others insist on the impact of the austerity on Greek families as well as on the influence of parents who voted for Golden Dawn (as a gesture of protest against their conditions of life as well as of rejection against the entire political system) over their children’s socio-political attitudes. Finally, questions about the role of the teachers’ attitude toward Golden Dawn have been raised, as there have been incidents that attracted media attention, with school teachers and School Directors expressing their sympathy toward the organization.
In this context, there are now school students that salute their friends and even their teachers using the characteristic Nazi salutation, paint swastikas on the school walls and recruit their friends and fellow students. One student in Herakleion, Crete, (a city where Golden Dawn faced a massive and tenacious resistance when attempted to open a local branch) called a fellow-student of Albanian origin to “duel” because the latter had supported other fellow-students that had written antifascist slogans on the school’s walls.
Teachers say that there are now organized groups of students supporting Golden Dawn in many schools. Their behaviour in the classroom is described as “hooliganism”; they quarrel with their teachers and classmates about politics turning the class into a battlefield, shouting slogans, interrupting others and insulting those who disagree with them. They attack violently their left-wing or of non-Greek or of minority origin classmates imposing on them “face controls” at the school’s entrance asking them if they are of Greek origin or not.
Last October, extensive media reports about fights between Golden Dawn student supporters and antifa student groups at the end of the school day in another city of Crete, Rethymnon, caught public attention, while left-wing school and university students had been attacked in the city streets by storm trooper gangs of the party’s supporters. Such fights appear all too often in schools all over the country. The situation in Rethymnon had been considered very serious by the University of Crete Deans of the Faculties of Social Sciences and of the School of Education, as well as by the Director of Secondary Education and the directors of the city’s junior and high schools who organized public discussion events and administrative meetings in order to examine the problem and to seek solutions.
Most of the Golden Dawn student supporters are boys, but there are also girls. They are usually underperforming in school, but there are also well performing students. They usually have a marginal position in the classroom and significant family problems. Teachers say that only few of them are organized and most of them do not have a specific ideological profile. They see Golden Dawn’s actions as anti-systemic behaviour against “the politicians” that destroyed the country and their future. The recruitment of students is usually done through sports-clubs and the internet. The Golden Dawn members approach the students not openly, but they act more on a personal level.
Some teachers have publicized on the internet and the media their experiences from confronting the influence of Golden Dawn upon their students. They described the aggressive rejection of “the establishment”, of “the politicians” and of “the foreigners” (including minorities such as the Roma) and their own efforts to confront pedagogically their students’ interest in and sympathy for the organization. For their courage, they have been intimidated by Golden Dawn party members and by extreme right and nationalist media.
In this climate, antifascist groups have been formed in schools, universities and football fan clubs.
The following video presentation shows photos from antifa football fan clubs in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Germany.
Moreover, in late October, school students had paraded during the traditional celebrations for the commemoration of Greece’s entry in WWII (28-10-1940) wearing antinazi armbands and badges.
Very recently, a Golden Dawn MP announced the launch of a propaganda campaign targeting secondary education schools all over the country. They will begin “visiting” schools in Thrace (a region of Greece neighbouring with the European part of Turkey and is the main entrance gate for immigrants without papers and where the most part of the Muslim minority in Greece lives) in order “to boost national feeling”, because, the MP contended, “in these schools there are teachers that are doing anti-Hellenic propaganda”. These visits will, then, cover the entire country.
This is not the first time that Golden Dawn targeted Thrace, but it’s the first time that schools and teachers are publicly and officially targeted. The Golden Dawn MP went on warning that they will also intervene through the Parents’ Associations in which they are members.
Golden Dawn’s rising influence upon the Greek youth is a much debated issue that reveals the profound socio-political crisis that the Greek society experiences as a result of the country’s economic collapse. It also represents a major threat for the political socialization of youth and consequently for the future of democracy in Greece. MYPLACE project offers the opportunity to systematically explore and analyze such issues that lie at the heart of contemporary socio-political transformations.