The darkness of the Golden Dawn

Andrew Schriver, Apply Liberally

He is 54 years old. A former soldier, he served several terms in prison in his country, making the best of them by learning from the leaders of a military junta and writing a manifesto-turned-magazine called Chyrs Avgi. He is a noted anti-Semite, and frequently rails against immigrants and in favor of “racial purity.”

His name does not often appear in American media, but you should get to know Nikolaos Michaloliakos. He is the next genocidal European dictator-in-waiting, the head of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, and one of the main beneficiaries of European policies of the last five years.

Since the 2008 recession, countries in the Eurozone have been in a state of crisis. Greece especially has suffered mightily in the aftereffects of the global shock, and is currently in a state of depression. One of the primary causes for Greek misfortune has been the structure of the European Union and the Eurozone, as well as European responses to the Greek crisis.

During the financial collapse, many countries, including the United States, began devaluing their currency – printing more to lower the relative worth of their money. This accomplished two things: first, it made exports from those countries more competitive by making it cheaper to buy in the local currency. Second, it allowed those countries to engage in short-term spending increases on the social safety net and other government programs to artificially encourage growth.

Unfortunately for Greece, the EU does not allow for currency devaluation, as member countries with strong economies, such as Germany, do not wish to endure the inflation such devaluation brings.

So, poor Greece was left with another possible choice: leave the Euro altogether and return to the old drachma. Returning to Greek currency would have allowed Greece to go the devaluation route and mitigate the effects of the recession. However, even the thought of such an action was shot down by the rest of the EU.

This is because French and German banks had large sums of money invested in Greek government debt that would have been worth substantially less in drachmae. The ultimate solution for Greece was a series of bailouts from the wealthier EU countries, accompanied by drastic austerity measures to bring down Greece’s massive debts.

Sadly, these austerity measures have only served to destabilize Greece even further. The gaping holes torn in the social safety net have left millions of Greeks in an increasingly desperate situation, which was only exacerbated by additional rounds of bailouts accompanied by austerity measures.

The bailouts have made a Greek exit from the Eurozone almost impossible; at this point, other Euro countries have so much exposure to Greek debt that a Greek exit would most likely topple the entire Euro project. Greeks, understandably furious that their least fortunate are being tossed under the bus to protect the investments of wealthy foreigners, took to the streets and demanded a public referendum on the austerity measures.

Prime Minister George Papandreou initially gave in to their demands, but was convinced by EU leaders to abandon the idea. Shortly thereafter, he was replaced by Loukas Papadimos, who had been handpicked by the EU. A similar situation occurred in Italy, with Mario Monti being chosen by the EU to replace the democratically elected prime minister.

This leads us to the regrettable entry of Mr. Michaloliakos onto the political scene. The Golden Dawn party has seen opportunity in the chaos of the Greek crisis, promoting anti-immigrant violence and performing government-style public services for ethnic Greeks. Golden Dawn’s popularity has stemmed from the increasing desperation of the Greek people and the anti-democratic actions of the European Union in response to the crisis.

As Nigel Farage, Minister for the European Parliament from the United Kingdom, said in an interview: “This is how dictatorship begins. There is a state of emergency. Normal laws of democracy are suspended, and someone takes charge of the country ‘for the good of the people’…if people are not able to express themselves via elections, they will turn to violence.”

The Golden Dawn party is bad news for Europe, make no mistake. Mr. Michaloliakos is a Holocaust denier who has nothing but contempt for Jews, immigrants, gays, and anyone else he perceives to be ‘immoral.’ The party’s parallelism to the Nazi party is striking; in some portions of Greece, uniformed Golden Dawn thugs have been said to have taken over policing and other government functions altogether.

While their share of the Greek Parliament is currently small – seven percent – the mere fact that they are seating members for the first time is a worrying sign for fans of liberal democracy. The continued rise of extremists such as Mr. Michaloliakos in Greece and other afflicted Euro nations is the direct result of the interventionist and undemocratic actions of the EU, who, barring a significant economic turnaround, will soon be forced to face the monster they have created.