Let’s check up on Greek politics again, shall we? Things have played out about like I’d expect from the last time I wrote about them.
So, it seems that the failure of the austerity policies in Greece has led to the people who implemented it suffering huge losses at the polls. Well, that’s only to be expected. A nationalist party, known as the “Golden Dawn”, has made significant gains. Their leader, Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, appears to have modeled himself after Mussolini to an alarming degree.
Why are they so popular? Well, they are anti-austerity. They also are anti-immigrant. Perhaps the most troubling thing I’ve read about them comes from this article in the Miami Herald:
Golden Dawn toughs maintain a security watch in parts of central Athens and, upon request, provide escorts to people going to shop or retrieve their pension checks. If immigrants are squatting in an apartment owned by a Greek, Golden Dawn volunteers will clear them out and fix up the dwelling.
After a Greek man was killed in May 2011, reputedly by Afghan immigrants, Golden Dawn militants stopped traffic every afternoon for weeks, and hauled immigrants off public transport and beat them up, according to Marina Vichou, formerly a journalist with the BBC Greek service, who lives near scene and witnessed some of the incidents. ‘The police did nothing but protect Golden Dawn,’ she said.
As if that by itself weren’t disturbing enough, there is the historical parallel it evokes. Quoting from Wikipedia:
The First World War (1914–18) inflated Italy’s economy with great debts, unemployment (aggravated by thousands of demobilised soldiers), social discontent featuring strikes, organised crime,and anarchist, Socialist, and Communist insurrections. When the elected Italian Liberal Party Government could not control Italy, the Revolutionary Fascist Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario, PFR) Leader Benito Mussolini took matters in hand, combating those societal ills with the Blackshirts, paramilitary squads of First World War veterans and ex-socialists; Prime Ministers such as Giovanni Giolitti allowed the Fascists taking the law in hand.
Some people wonder how the Fascists got to be so popular, when they were all obviously a bunch of bullies. That’s the answer: the government was so weak that people liked having a bunch of bullies to turn to who could provide a primitive kind of order. However, I don’t want to be hasty and assume that the worst things being said about the Golden Dawn are true; I’m just saying it is extremely troubling if true.
Historical similarities aside, though, this is where alliances between cosmopolitan (or “multicultural”) factions and the business interests tend to collapse: when the free market, microeconomic thinking of the businessmen wrecks the macroeconomy, allowing the nationalistic faction to take power.