A shadow government is rising in Greece to fill in the gaps caused by the failing official government. It’s not a stranger to most Greeks – it’s a former political party rising from the ashes to provide basic services, order in the streets, and a hard line on economic issues. As a result, this ghost is rapidly becoming as powerful as the official government, scaring politicians and bureaucrats all over Europe.
Old Ghosts Back Again
Greece has a history of far-right political and social groups. Ultra-nationalists, neo-Nazis, and fascist ideologues were all supposed to be a thing of the past once the country joined the European Union. However, those old ghosts are back again, effectively taking over whole sections of the country where the official government comes up short.
The leader of the pack is Golden Dawn, a right-wing extremist group that was created in the 1980s and registered as a political party in 1993. Temporarily disbanded in 2005, the group reformed as a political unit in 2007. It describes itself as racist and nationalistic, typical far-right positions, but it also focuses on issues that resonate with most mainstream Greeks, like increasing numbers of illegal immigrants, crime, high unemployment, and the inability of the government to fix the economy with austerity measures.
The mainstream government is unhappy about the resurgence of Golden Dawn, which it views as a threat to its power and Greece’s membership in the European Union. Golden Dawn firmly blames politicians for mishandling the country’s economy, selling out its sovereignty for membership in the EU, and putting millions of people out of work. In the past, Golden Dawn’s ire at elected officials has meant violence, assault, and murder, though the current iteration works mainly in the political space.
A Touch of the Mob
On the streets, Golden Dawn is something of a savior in the eyes of everyday citizens, particularly in the country’s worst neighborhoods. The group has organized social programs offering free and reduced-price food delivery to the poor and offers security services to citizens, such as neighborhood patrols and escorts to and from ATMs, banks, and check cashing services. In many areas, Golden Dawn does more than the local police, and in some parts of Athens, police officers refer citizens to Golden Dawn for help solving or preventing crimes.
In return, Golden Dawn demands allegiance. While not a mafia group, some aspects of the street operations seem like a page out of the Italian mob book. You’re in the family, or you’re not. You keep your mouth shut. You don’t have to like it, but you have to take it if you want to feel safe (or be safe) on the streets and in your own home.
There’s no running to the government for help – not with the police deferring to Golden Dawn! Justice is served up in a heavy-handed, fascist style, and those who are being protected and served by the group are expected to support it with donations of clothing, food, or money to be redistributed.
Lessons for the World
The breakdown of the government and rise of Golden Dawn in Greece wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of the world wasn’t on the verge of a meltdown. Much of Europe is broke, and all over the U.S. cities, counties, and even states are bankrupt. Basic services don’t exist at an official level – there’s no money to make them happen. As a result, the door is wide open for fascist groups – or anyone else with the might and moxy – to come take over the place.
Think it couldn’t happen? Think again. When you call for help and no one answers the official lines, you’ll take whomever you can get. And as the Greeks are learning, once you’ve found someone who gets the job done, that’s who’ll take the power.
©2012 Off the Grid News