False dawn: fascism in Greece and Australia

In a context of chronic economic dysfunction and political upheaval, a small fascist party in Greece named Golden Dawn (Χρυσή Αυγή) gained international notoriety when it secured 7 per cent of the popular vote in national elections and eighteen seats in the Greek parliament in June 2012. Support for the party has remained fairly steady since, but a criminal investigation into the party’s alleged criminal activities, launched in September 2013, and the murder of two of its members in November 2013, provoked an internal crisis. The results remain to be seen ahead of elections to local council and the European parliament in May: some argue that the crackdown will actually boost its popularity at the ballot box. In Australia, the party has a very small but active following among the local Greek population and is currently seeking to broaden its activities in collaboration with the Australia First Party (AF).

Golden Dawn (GD) has roots in the Greek neo-Nazi movement. According to Antonis A Ellinas (‘The Rise of the Golden Dawn: The New Face of the Far Right in Greece’), the party’s violent antics have allowed it ‘to establish an anti-system and anti-immigrant profile, and capitalise on these sentiments’. Until recently, the party also operated to help repress the Greek Left, often in conjunction with the Greek police. Following the murder in September 2013 of antifascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by GD member Yiorgos Roupakias, however, the state has begun to move against the party.

According to another analyst, ‘rather than running the risk of being manipulated by the Nazis of Golden Dawn, the state itself has always manipulated the extreme Right for its own benefit, ready to sacrifice it when the cost outweighs the benefits.’

Shortly after its surprise victory in 2012, the party announced it would be opening offices overseas, in Chicago, New York, Montreal, Nuremberg and Melbourne. These projects have experienced varying degrees of success. In February 2013, GD MP Ilias Kasidiaris claimed on 3XY Radio that the party would send an official delegation to open its office in Melbourne. The announcement sparked outrage locally and as yet no MP has managed to make it out to Australia to cut the golden ribbon. A Facebook page in support of GD in Melbourne (established in March, 2010 but since closed), had gathered over 2,500 fans by the time John Ferguson wrote about it for the Australian in July, 2012. Most supporters were Greek residents; only a few hundred resided in Australia.

In March of that year, a small number of GD supporters attended Greek Independence Day celebrations at The Shrine in Melbourne, and did so again in 2013. According to antifascists who attended in 2013 event officials instructed them to stop leafleting or be forcibly removed. When asked why GD members were allowed access to the Shrine, the stewards replied that GD had obtained prior permission to attend from event organisers. It’s unknown if GD attended 2014’s celebrations, but if they did, it was not as an organised group.

Despite tepid support from local Greeks, the local party’s efforts, spearheaded by Iggy Gavrilidis, appear to have been at least partially successful. Based in an office/warehouse space in the northern Melbourne suburb of Thomastown, in early 2014 the organisation sent a container vessel full of goods to GD in Greece. The goods were collected in the name of Voithame Tin Ellada (‘We Are Helping Greece’). VTE announced its existence with a Facebook page established in November 2013: ‘A group of us have come together to help our people in Greece. We are in need of clothes, blankets, and packaged food.’

Draping itself in the Greek flag, VTE initially disguised itself as a non-GD project, designed to appeal to an audience receptive to ‘helping Greeks’ but not to GD’s political line (Jewish bankers are ruining the Greek economy; politicians and the Left are traitors; undocumented migrants are running rampant, etc). It appears that a number of unsuspecting donors may have friended the page without realising they were supporting GD. As an unregistered charity, VTE may not have informed donors precisely who would receive their donations: in Greece, many local GD branches are under investigation for selling donated goods on the street and pocketing the proceeds. Further, while this kind of ‘charitable’ work has served a distinct propaganda purpose for GD, as antifascists have observed ‘the knife that cuts the bread at their soup kitchen is the same knife that killed Pavlos Fyssas’.

In any event, in recent months VTE has openly declared itself to be operating in support of GD, draping containers in GD flags and attending meetings wearing GD clothing. Curiously, among the few hundred Facebook users to have indicated their support for VTE is the former Mayor for the City of Monash, Peter Vlahos – support which has extended after it became clear VTE was a project of GD.

In addition to ‘charity’ work, GD members have also been active in Sydney, attending Greek community events and collaborating with GD activists in Melbourne in organising the shipments to GD in Greece. In Melbourne, the Australia First Party (AF) has distributed leaflets at Greek community events, including one titled, somewhat incongruously, ‘Multiculturalism Means Death!’

AF declared itself to be in political solidarity with GD in February 2013. In its statement the party welcomed GD’s decision to open an office in Melbourne and noted that while ‘there are no official links between the two parties, there are clear parallels of ideology and politics’. GD has close links with other fascist parties in Europe. On 1 March, representatives from GD, Forza Nuova (Italy), Democracia Nacional (Spain), Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Germany) and the British National Party (BNP) gathered in Rome to discuss ‘Europe Rises Again’.

In December 2013 and February 2014 AF organised rallies at the Greek consulate in Sydney to express this support and to oppose GD’s attempted criminalisation. Party leader Dr James Saleam has previously cultivated links with the far Right in Greece by way of membership of the online ‘Academy of Social and Political Research’ and publishing in its journal Ab Aeterno.

AF’s latest exercise in solidarity with GD is a rally and march scheduled for Friday 2 May in Brisbane. According to organisers, AF and GD supporters will be meeting at The Greek Club in South Brisbane before marching to and then picketing the Greek consulate in Central Plaza. The march and rally is an ambitious goosestep forward for the Brisbane branch of AF, which previously distinguished itself by unsuccessfully attempting to disrupt marchers at an Invasion Day event. How successful the attempt to rally proves to be will, like that of Golden Dawn Down Under, depend in part on the opposition it generates. My hope is that this opposition will be considerable.

Andy Fleming

Andy Fleming is a Melbourne-based anarchist and author of the slackbastard blog, featuring his political and social musings. He is a long time observer of the far Right in Australia and internationally. You can support his work on Patreon.

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  1. This somewhat descriptive report does little to expose the response the Greek community of Melbourne to GD and the notion that GD has any support, yet alone a tepid one here within the Greek community, is ridiculous.

    As the former editor of Neos Kosmos English edition (2007 – 2011) http://www.neoskosmos.com I can assure you the paper took a very active response to GD and attacked them consistently.

    The Greek Community of Melbourne, Victoria GCMV has also been very active against GD in the Greek and mainstream media, and the President of the Community Mr Papastergiadis is on the record attacking GD. He even joined leaders of the Jewish Community to outrightly condemn GD and spoke so in the Australian Jewish News.

    The organisers of the National Day March would never allow GD to March, and in fact when some of their goons did, they did so in a cowardly manner, taking off their shirts to reveal their GD emblems while the march was in full flight, to the protest of many in the march.
    In fact, the Labor and Liberal Greek Australian MP, and Ministers, also have made their reaction to GD very public, threatening legal action of any chapter of GD opened in Australia under the existing Racial Vilification Laws.

    For a people like Greeks who fought against Nazis and then fell into a bloody civil war between left and right, the growth of GD is an anathema. The crisis, has had an effect, the response to refugees (about 1mil in Greece) is not too dissimilar to many EU nations and more recently the 60% of Australians who want tougher actions against refugees arriving by boat.

    But the impact of GD is diminishing in comparison to their sudden rise in the anti austerity tide of 2008-2011.

  2. I suggest you check your facts very carefully .
    When does sympathy for Greece*s plight makes anyone a Nazi and a Fascisy!
    You are a complete idiot who uses this medium of communication to character assissinate! I suggest you study carefully the law with regards to defamation… and reflect carefully on the dribble you write!

  3. @Fotis,

    Re support for GD from the Greek community in Melbourne, I don’t think it’s true to claim that it has *no* support: the question is ‘how much support?’ I believe I indicated in the article that this support was minimal, but nonetheless real. Otherwise, I’m glad ‘Neos Kosmos’ has opposed GD in its editorials, as have Papastergiadis and others in their public statements.

    Re the National Day march, I’m basing my account on information provided to me by antifascists who attended these events. Again, I’m glad to read that many opposed GD’s participation. Otherwise I have read accounts of the opposition of various politicians, Labor and Liberal, re GD, but I’m unsure if racial vilification laws could be applied to any Australian GD branch — especially in light of proposed changes to the RDA.

    As to the future, it’s unclear precisely what level of support GD retains in Greece: the May elections will presumably give some indication. Certainly, the party’s broader appeal is not based on its origins as a neo-Nazi organisation — a status which the party is seeking to distance itself from. (As cognord notes: ‘Of course, its leader and members try to deny the obvious, or at best claim that they only held such beliefs in their youth, but the Nazi references remained at the forefront of GD’s propaganda at least until 2007.’)


    I suggest you re-read my article: I do not argue that having ‘sympathy for Greece’s plight’ automatically renders one a Nazi or a Fascist. If there’s some errors of fact contained within the article, please feel free to point them out.



  4. Neos Kosmos would attack any movement that is patriotic given it is a newspaper founded by communists and still supportive of communist ideology which has been discredited all over the world.

  5. Fleming’s pretense of being an Anarchist would be much more believable if he wasn’t a staunch supporter of the fascist Maiden uprising in the Ukraine, if he wasn’t an outspoken supporter of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq and didn’t support the Israeli occupation of Palestine and if he didn’t go around acting like a fascist himself in making death threats to Neo-Nazis. It’s about time Andy outed him/her/themselves for the attention seeking rich kids that they are and stopped pretending to be Anarchists and attempting to spoil the development of libertarianism in Australia. Andy has no links what-so-ever with the Anti-Fascist movement of Europe and should stop using the name of a group that works hard fighting for the rights of Palestinians and against and who are agaisnt the Zionist occupation in Israel and who oppose Islamic Fascism in all its guises and who oppose the Right Sector fascists in Ukraine. The joke of @ndy the Anarchist and his information gather activities for the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University has gone beyond a joke and to promote his agenda in this publication only reflects badly on the millionaire property developers who own it and will doom this publication to irrelevance.

  6. Its obvious that Marxists (extreme or otherwise) work hand in glove with the system. The Greek Marxists SOLD OUT the Greek people to the stinking EU, the banks and multinational corporations they serve. They are PART of the system,the corporate state, and they are FASCISTS despite their rhetoric about siding with the downtrodden. There is no difference between left wing and right wing fascists. In fact left wing fascists, historically speaking, have more blood on their hands than right wing fascists. They are all TOTALITARIAN COLLECTIVISTS intent on destroying individual liberties and community rights and freedom, be they Trotsky fuck-wits or Golden Dawn troglodytes…Only middle-class wankers claim to be Marxists these days, whilst enjoying all the perks of the corporate state. They think they are radicals, but they are the NEO-CONSERVATIVES who are very into silencing any point of view that conflicts with their own, establishment sanctioned views. Try getting an article published in Overland if you’re a Libertarian or express some point of view that is anti Marxist, anti political correctness and so on, you’d have less chance than a camel has of passing through the eye of a needle. Overland, is very “sanitized,” very correctly left…I mean they wouldn’t want to lose all that government funding would they?

  7. What I believe perhaps has no bearing on todays political agenda. Whats happened to Greece and is beginning to happen in Australia is just the start of an ideology that has been in place for time immemorial. There are too many sad and frustrated individuals unhappy about the worlds economical climate and to say the least, miserable fools who, with words that appear to be powerful, only sheds light on how devastated we all feel about the world today. I myself am a victim of belligerent individuals with extreme views and political hominem.

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