Greece: State Crackdown on Golden Dawn

Andros Payiatsos and Alexandros Prantounas

Pavlos Fyssas’s murder — Left-wing rapper stood up against fascism and injustice until the end Below we carry two articles from Xekinima (CWI Greece) reporters

The right-wing New Democracy (ND) and ex-social democratic Pasok coalition government in Greece has finally decided to crack down on the neo-fascist Golden Dawn after the recent murder of left-wing rapper Pavlos Fyssas. A Golden Dawn member, George Roupakias, has been charged with his murder (he was arrested on the spot and admitted guilt).

The murder took place in full public view with a gang of about 30 Golden Dawn (GD) thugs attacking Pavlos in a central square in Keratsisni, one of the working class suburbs of Pireas. The top leadership of GD is now under arrest, including its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, and five other MPs, charged with running a criminal organisation.

Roupakias claimed to have acted on his own and that he was not a member but a supporter of GD. However, many photos of Roupakias together with top leaders, his presence at GD events, plus the fact that he was on pay roll by GD, cleared up the picture.

Also, after the event, reported telephone conversations between GD cadres made it clear that he had acted according to plan and that the top leadership of GD was all the time aware of what was going on.

The cold blooded murder has shaken Greek society. At the same time as attacking immigrants and left wingers, GD acted as a Mafia, selling ‘protection’ to many shopkeepers, indulging in other criminal activities, keeping arms and running paramilitary training for its members.

Revelations vindicate anti-fascist movement

All these revelations vindicate the claims of the anti-fascist movement, who for years explained the real character of GD and its links with the police. But these claims instead only met with hostility from the governing circles and the mass media. Now, following the murder, a number of senior policemen, including the head of the secret services were removed from their positions, because of alleged links with GD.

In fact the hypocrisy of the ruling class, the government and the media is nauseating. Only days before the murder of Pavlos top figures in ND were speaking in favour of a common government between GD and ND!

Most of the mass media, controlled by bankers, ship owners and big constructors allowed GD to have a favourable platform.

It was apparent to anyone who wanted to know that GD was a neo-fascist organisation as well as a criminal gang, but the ruling class was turning a blind eye to them hoping to be able to ‘contain’ them, and use them in a controlled manner against the working class and social movements.

The murder of Pavlos indicated that the monster which the ruling class had nourished was getting out of control. At the same time as the murder, opinion polls indicated that the GD mayoral candidate in next May’s local elections in Athens, was leading in the polls.

Pavlos Fyssas’s death sparked massive anti-fascist demonstrations. On the same day of his murder there were protests in 35 Greek cities. This movement has continued with tens of demonstrations nearly every day, all over the country.

Biggest ever anti-fascist demonstration

Last Wednesday (25 September) saw the biggest anti-fascist demonstration ever in Athens, marching to the central offices of GD, with close to 20,000 participants. This was significant, given the fact that both the mass parties of the left, Syriza and KKE (Communist Party), had refused to take part in this demo.

The ruling class seems to have taken the initiative against the Nazis, and this perplexes a section of the left. But the action against Golden Dawn by the state is a tactical measure, at this time. It is intended to rein in the far right whose outrageous actions threaten to provoke a massive anti-racist backlash which could meld together with the anti-austerity strikes and protests of the workers’ movement, and threaten the survival of the government and even the system.

The truth of the matter is that the ruling class will not extinguish fascism. The conditions of mass desperation created by the capitalist crisis and by the policies of the ruling class remain favourable for the far-right and fascism to re-emerge — perhaps under a different name if the government outlaws GD.

Therefore the anti-fascist movement and the Left should not have any illusions in how far the state will move against Golden Dawn. The capitalist state can also use similar actions against the Left and workers’ movement. The forces of the Left which are determined to fight against fascism must take the opportunity of the exposure of the criminal character of GD to go on the offensive.

Anti-fascist committees

Xekinima members (the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Greece) have played a key role in establishing and bringing together anti-fascist committees in Athens and other cities.

These anti-fascist committees must create defence squads against fascist attacks. Moreover, the committees must be politically armed to counter the fascists’ ideology and explain that it is the system, not immigrants that are responsible for mass unemployment, poverty and attacks on workers’ living conditions. And that it is necessary to fight against the capitalist system that creates the conditions for the re-emergence of fascism, and for an alternative socialist society.

The murder of Pavlos Fyssas

Standing up against fascism and injustice until the end

Alexandros Prantounas, Xekinima (CWI Greece)

“On a day like this

It’s fine to die

A beautiful death,

Standing up,

In full public view”

‘Killah P’, from the CD ‘Zorya’

Can someone die a “beautiful death”? Nobody can answer that question. But what is certain is that Pavlos Fyssas died in “public view.” He was murdered by cowards — who killed him because he lived his life standing up. But while Pavlos lived and died standing up — his killers lived and live their cowardly lives not standing, but on their knees, bowed and obedient to their bosses.

Working class kid

Pavlos was a working class kid, who grew up in Keratsini, a working class suburb. He was the son of a metal worker in the shipbuilding area of Perama, an industrial zone. Pavlos followed in his father’s footsteps to find work in the industrial zone (his father, known as ‘mastro-Taki’, is 62 years old and he still struggles to get enough work credits to retire.) Until the onset of the economic crisis and mass unemployment, Pavlos worked a steady job as a pipefitter’s assistant from 1998 to 2008.

After the crisis hit, Pavlos dedicated more time to his music, but continued working occasional day shifts in the industrial zone. As a member of the metal workers’ union in Pireas (along with his father) he regularly participated in protests and strikes.

Uncompromising artist…

Pavlos fell in love with hip hop when he was a high school student and quickly evolved into an artist. In his lyrics, Pavlos wanted to express everything that angered and frustrated him. His first endeavors were associated with the “low bap” movement. From 1997 to 2001, he participated in the group ‘Kaka Mandata’ (‘Bad News’). He later started working on his own under the name ‘Killah P’ or ‘Killah Past’ which reflected his view that we must not repeat the mistakes of the past and that we must change. Pavlos participated in various projects and collaborated with major artists in the hip hop scene.

Pavlos believed that art should not be a commodity. He distributed his music for free through the internet, and was never interested in promotion, public relations and recording companies. He preferred to express himself freely and independently rather than enter that trap. He preferred to live the life and the troubles the young people of the working class had to deal with. Totem (his friend and collaborator in Kaka Mandata) said Pavlos could not rap for their second demo track because he was so exhausted from his work that he fell asleep in the studio.

Pavlos decided to make his own way. He knew perfectly well what hip hop means to managers and the big music media. Pavlos spoke of the real problems of society — while they wanted him to write lyrics about fancy cars and macho-bullshit, peppered of course with usual sexist clichés. As he said in an interview:

“… rap is a very dangerous weapon that has been used by dangerous and perverted minds and of course they based a whole culture on that…”

One does not always find ‘answers’ in his lyrics. But the right questions are constantly there: social injustice, state repression and fascism. The murders of Alexis Grigoropoulos and Carlo Giuliani, the corruption of the bourgeois politicians, the lies of the mass media, the dumbing-down caused by TV trash, the empty consumerism and cynicism that are promoted as models — all these issues pervaded Pavlos’ lyrics and he aimed to awaken consciousness.

His opposition to fascism was known not only to friends, but also to enemies. “He was targeted by us because he wrote anti-fascist songs,” according to a former member of the neo-Nazi ‘Golden Dawn’ local chapter in Nikaia, in an interview to the newspaper, ‘Ethnos’. [1]

… Who meant what he wrote

Of course, many artists talk through their songs about social injustice. But as we all know, very few combine words with deeds. Pavlos belonged to this rare category.

A letter to the media by his friend Christos Panoelias [2] recounts events in early February 2012, when freezing temperatures were endangering the lives of the homeless. Pavlos initiated a call to hip-hop artists to scour the worst areas in the city and inform the homeless where they can safely spend the night and help them get to shelters. During the activity, members of local police units (DIAS) who were patrolling the areas, stopped the activists with hostile intentions, asking who they are and why they are doing what they are doing. It makes one wonder if some of the same cops were in the team that “discreetly” watched Pavlos’ murdered a year and half later? We will never know…

“He was the type of person who if he saw a woman being harassed in the street, he would rush to help,” Totem says. His friends and colleagues always knew that if they had a problem, he would do all he could to support them.

Pavlos had decency and honor. His killers, in contrast, only understand spilling blood.

Two worlds

Pavlos Fyssas faced death the same way he faced life: with courage. Even at the time of the attack, his first concern was to protect the weakest among his friends, including one woman and those slightly built. He stood against the mob that was facing him. He looked at the thugs in the eyes and he dared them, if they had the guts, to come at him, one at a time. We all know they do not have real guts.

The sad talking heads on TV will try to convince us that the murder of Pavlos was a clash of the “extremes.” But, in reality, it was a collision of two different worlds. On one side, working-class altruism, courage and militancy, as expressed by Pavlos Fyssas. On the other side, the decay, cowardice and backwardness as expressed by the neo-Nazis and ultimately the system that breeds them.

The clash, though, between these two worlds did not end on that night — and it will not end until the working class is victorious. This will be neither easy nor will it be achieved “in a single day.”

Yet Pavlos’ example will give us courage in all those moments when we feel “small” and “weak” in front of the system and its attack-dogs.

Pavlos’ name and face will remain in our slogans, our banners, and our songs. This will give us the fortitude and confidence to do away with the rotten system of capitalism.

We will become “killers of the past.” This will be the best tribute for Pavlos.

[With thanks to Alan A. for translating the above article]

[1]. ETHNOS newspaper, September 20 and 21, 2013]

[2]. Entire letter here: Facebook event here:

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