By MARTY GOODMAN
Rage filled the streets of Greece at news of the Sept. 18 stabbing death of Pavlos Fyssas, 34, a well-known rapper and anti-fascist activist. Witnesses say Pavlos, nicknamed Killah P, was ambushed as he was leaving a cafe by about 25 thugs of the Greek fascist Golden Dawn party in Keratsini, a working-class neighborhood in Athens.
Alex Soultos, a Golden Dawn (GD) member who works in the jewelry business, admitted to the murder and was arrested. Pavlos was knifed in a lung and twice in the heart. Cops were said to have told passersby not to intervene. Golden Dawn has denied involvement in Fyssas’ death.
Some 2000 mourners chanted, “Pigs! Fascists! Murderers!” and “Immortal!” as they carried Pavlos’ coffin from the murder site to his grave. The defiant Pavlos had told Golden Dawn that he did not fear death and would never retreat from his anti-fascist convictions.
The news of the rapper’s death came amidst big street mobilizations by workers during a national two-day “general strike.” Thousands poured into the streets against massive layoffs and service cuts imposed on Greece by what is called “the Troika,” which include the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Bank. Outrage at news of Fyssa’s assassination brought additional thousands into the streets, especially working-class youth.
After national outcry over Pavlos’ murder, the conservative New Democracy/PASOK government arrested four top GD leaders on Sept. 27—Nikos Michaloliakos, a holocaust denier, and three members of parliament—on charges of forming a criminal gang. Cops say at least 10 more have been arrested. More than 30 warrants were issued. The government has itself been criticized for echoing GD propaganda against immigrants and competing with GD for votes.
The GD national symbol closely resembles a Nazi swastika. The group openly sells Adolph Hitler’s autobiography “Mein Kampf” and parades with Nazi salutes. It has targeted urban immigrant neighborhoods, mostly North African and Pakistani ones.
GD’s club and knife-wielding attacks have been mostly in Athens and have taken the lives of at least six immigrants. In the election campaign last year, one GD candidate boasted on video of wanting to put immigrants into gas ovens and to make them into soap. GD has trashed immigrant-owned market stalls and distributed food on a “Greeks only” basis.
On Sept. 12 about 50 black-shirted GD goons, armed with crowbars and bats studded with nails and screws, attacked Greek Communist Party (KKE) and Communist Youth (KNE) members distributing flyers in Athens. The unprovoked attack led to the hospitalization of eight victims. In a video taken on Aug. 8, appearing on the GD’s official website, GD MPs brag of their plans to use violence against workers fighting job cuts.
In exchange for $321 billions in loans to Greece since 2010 the Troika has demanded 25,000 public job cuts by 2015, and that 15,000 public workers be fired by 2014.
The official Greek unemployment rate is now 27.9%, twice that of the rest of Europe. Unemployment for workers younger than 25 is 65%. Since 2008, average income has declined by about half; pensions have been slashed and a 40% cut in health-care funding has been imposed. Suicides have doubled between 2009 and 2011, a three-year trend that shows no sign of declining.
Nevertheless, the Greek capitalists are “coping,” to say the least. The Greek rulers are said to have more than 600 billion euros stashed away abroad (1 euro = $1.30 U.S.) and quietly out of reach. It is estimated that Greek capitalists pay only about 50% of their outstanding taxes. A recent report, commissioned by the European parliament, said Greece was the most corrupt state in the 28-nation bloc.
During the capitalist imposed austerity, Golden Dawn has seen dramatic growth. In 2012, after six years of recession and social dislocation, GD won 12% of the popular vote in the national election. Back in 2009, GD polled a mere .3% but it now has 18 members of parliament. It has risen in the polls to about 15% this year, but dropped about 2% after the Pavlos murder (see the statement by Greek Fourth Internationalists, OKDE-Spartacos, below).
Also growing is a left-of-center coalition known as SYRIZA. SYRIZA is led by reform-minded—but hardly revolutionary—“Euro-communists.” It also includes some forces on the “far left.” SYRIZA received 26.8% of the vote in the June 2012 national election, barely losing out to the right-wing New Democracy, which received 29.6%. SYRIZA says it rejects the Troika’s austerity, while pledging to remain within the European Union.
On Sept. 27 in New York City, the AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement (www.AKNY.org), SYRIZA-NY (www.SYRIZA-ny.org), and the Campaign for Peace and Democracy demonstrated at the UN to protest Greek Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos’ speech to the General Assembly. Their statement said, “Groups here today condemn … attempts on the part of Golden Dawn to cultivate a climate of violence and civil war. We stand with the thousands of people who flooded the streets of Athens … to protest against violence and to condemn the complicity of the police.”
Banning Golden Dawn, as some have asked, is no solution to the fascist threat. And the government could use such a measure to ban the workers’ movement as it mobilizes against austerity.
Capitalist society breeds division and hate. Only mass mobilizations of workers will clear the streets of fascist scum. It is up to the Greek labor movement to put differences aside and to form a united front to smash fascism before it’s too late.
Photo: Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos.