Here are two quick responses to my Guardian article on the rise of the Golden Dawn; the first on the relationship between fascism and capitalism and the other on the practical aspect of the ‘intervention’ that I argued for in the original article.
Response 1: Fascism and Capitalism
The first critique held that I should not talk about anti-fascism without talking about capitalism and that I should analyse and expose fascism as ‘the worse face of the capitalist mode of production’. To this end, I think it might be useful to include here some of the the parts that didn’t make it into the article, which nonetheless form part of my thinking on the issue. Here it goes.
The fascists are taking over, or masquerade their extremism and join the mainstream parties, where they have bigger platforms to spread their racist views. The obvious reaction is a call to action against them. But this is not as straightforward as it sounds. Action against whom and with what means? How will we reach the root of the problem if we do not make the causal link between austerity and fascism? And then what? Capitalism needs austerity to survive its crises, austerity causes the rise of fascism and then, suddenly, the denouncement of fascism is no longer substantial without a link to capitalism. How many people are willing to go that far? Not many, from what I can see.
The citizens of the ‘other Europe’, those that experience hunger, raging unemployment and constant insecurity, are numb – they still believe that somehow everything will turn out well. They mind their own business and keep away from politics, they ‘condemn violence irrespective of its origin’ and equate the communists with the nazis. They don’t realise that themselves are part of the social mix that promotes fascism. They believe that by ‘rolling their sleeves up’, beating themselves up for not working harder, uncritically accepting whatever blame their governments put upon them whilst abandoning the labour rights their ancestors fought for, is somehow going to make everything better.
This is the European South that I know of and is unfortunately too distant from the Žižekian depiction often featuring in the columns of papers
Response 2: What kind of intervention?
The second issue that came up repeatedly was the practical implications of my plea for action by the European partners. Many people thought that I was implying that the Golden Dawn be outlawed. Below I include my response to the following question: “So you think the solution is intervention in Greece by other governments? Could you be more specific on how you think this should happen?”
I do not advocate outlawing Golden Dawn, that’s for sure. I think such an action would have counterproductive results – GD leaders would become martyrs whilst still maintaining their ability to rename and rebrand the party. Plus, I think it is ridiculous to outlaw a party that seems to be supported by 10% of the population.
By European intervention I mean two things. The first has to do with the very economic policies that result in the rise of fascism. It is by now clear that austerity politics cause the rise of these parties [see above], thus one way of intervening is in fact rethinking their economic policies, which, as the IMF apologetically stated in paper recently, are not working. The second way they could intervene is for the maintenance of the rule of law. It just doesn’t make sense to have vigilantes going around Athens killing people. Of course, I don’t mean that there should be any sort of direct intervention; rather, that the ‘European Partners’ should use the carrot they hold [bailout money] for purposes other than the privatisation of the Greek state.