As Nikos Mihaloliakos, the head of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn Party, is to appear in court on charges of organising a criminal group after the murder of an anti-fascist rapper, we take a look at the effects the party has had on the English far-right.
Golden Dawn flags draped behind the band, skinhead music blasting from the speakers and an inspired crowd at an unknown pub set the scene. The pub however, is not located in Greece- but in the outskirts of London, where Greek black metal band Der Sturmer has been invited to play as a token of support by English comrades.
Inspired by the Greek Golden Dawn, nationalists in England are contemplating new ways to form successful parties, including several attempts at starting an England’s Golden Dawn. “The main obstacle for us is having people with enough organisational talent to lead the party and actually attract support,” said John* , Golden Dawn supporter in England and concert promoter. “Something big is about to happen. Once the economic situation in England worsens as it has been doing, people will be more attracted to radical solutions for problems.”
Last June in Greece, the extreme right wing party won 18 seats in parliament, gaining public support by using the harsh financial crisis that the country has faced. As the latest figures show, Greece has hit 27.9% of unemployment, with youth unemployment rising to 57.8%. The astonishing figures have helped the party, which is pushing tough anti-immigration laws to a nation desperate for a solution.
While in the UK unemployment stands at a current rate of 7.7%, official figures have shown that average earnings have declined, affecting living standards. While the situation is clearly not as extreme as it is in Greece, UK supporters of the Golden Dawn believe that the situation will worsen, and when it does, it will make way for the British right to rise.
“The Greek Golden Dawn has given people hope that a party like this can be democratically elected,” said John. “A party that has a presence on the streets as well as politically.”
According to John, there are more far right people than ever in the UK just waiting for an organisation to emerge with decent leadership structure and developments. “What the GD has managed to prove is that the Nationalist parties do not necessarily have to coat themselves with a veneer of respectability to be successful,” he said. “They can use more radical statements and imagery and still gain support, so some of the more radically minded people have been encouraged by this.”
Anti-fascist activists however, believe that such organisations in the UK would not be a credible threat. “ The economic situation in both countries is very different,” said one activist. “The UK is and has always been a multicultural society. Because of that, the fascist movement has been constantly challenged. In the UK there are also different laws when it comes to racial hatred, so a party similar to the Golden Dawn would also face legal challenges.”
Albert*, another English far-right activist who has been involved with different groups since the 1990s also agrees that the situation in Greece is very different to that in England. “Greece is a lot more of a polarized country,” he said. “All types of politics are more extreme. Take for example the KKE, who are open Stalinists and radical communists. In the UK, all parties are trying to be acceptable.”
Gerry Gable, founder of left-wing Searchlight magazine, said the Golden Dawn has unsuccessfully tried to build bases in New York and Australia. However, he refused to comment further on the matter as Searchlight supports the No Platform Policy, which believes groups like the Golden Dawn should not be given a voice in the media.
“The anti-fascists of today will become the fascists of tomorrow,” said John, who believes anti-fascist organisations are using terror tactics to “pick on anyone from journalists, to artists, to musicians” that do not agree with what these organisations to say. “Violence breeds violence,” he admits, “and a lot of Nationalist violence is self defense.”
When confronted about the GD’s violent attacks on foreigners in Greece, including the murder of a Pakistani worker by a supporter of the party, John explained that the groups and individuals committing these crimes are independent of the party. “It happens everywhere. For example, the Labour party has members of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) who used to have radical communists and attack people back in the 70s. This doesn’t mean that Labour encourages violence.”
And what of the older, well established far-right movements and organisations in the UK such as Combat 18 and Blood & Honour?
“Combat 18 went to shit in the late 1990s because of all the in-fighting,” says Albert. “The far-right movement hasn’t recovered from what happened then.”
According to Albert, some of the people involved in Combat 18 back in the days travel to Greece from time to time and meet with members of the Golden Dawn, but C18 does not exist as an active political organisation anymore. Groups like the aforementioned now dedicate their time to putting on RAC (Rock Against Communism) and other type of ‘pro-white’ music.
John is also one of the organizers of the infamous Der Sturmer gig which took place in June 2013. Der Sturmer is a Greek band which plays under the genre of NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal). “For some people it is just a metal show and a night to see a legendary underground black metal band,” he said. “But the concept might have a deeper political meaning to others, as Der Sturmer is well known for their ideology.”
Some of the band members have political links to the Golden Dawn and the concert which took place in a secret location outside of London was seen as a meeting for neo-nazis.
“Of course it was partly a meeting of nationalists,” John said. “But it gigs like these are also an attempt to inspire people. I don’t think that making people inspired to do something for their race and nation is such a bad thing. All around us there are so many things that are anti-white and anti-European. What is wrong with having something that is pro European?”
John is the only NSBM organiser in all of the UK and he explains how the lack of a patriotic or pro-white metal scene has inspired him to create one. “This is an attempt to encourage younger people in the metal scene to create something new,” he said. “A lot of other countries in the world have an NSBM scene.” Some of these countries include Russia, Poland, France, Greece, Italy, the USA and go as far as Ecuador and Brazil- but that’s another story.
Previous concerts organised by him have sometimes been cancelled by the police and anti-fascists, but because the Golden Dawn is a legitimate registered European political party which was democratically elected, he was not so worried about it being cancelled; had the plug been pulled, it would have been a “breach of free speech”.
So has the Golden Dawn made an impact in British politics? While people seem to have been inspired by a democratically elected radical party, many supporters in the UK are looking for an organised movement that they feel they can support, and clearly there is not much choice for them at the moment. Apart from the mentioned organisations, such as Combat 18 and Blood & Honour, there are a few Facebook groups such as the newly established English Resistance Movement, started by Albert himself, who admits these are “merely facebook pages for internet warriors” rather than actual organisations.
The English Defence League (EDL) has been accused of racism and extremism, but they are quick to dismiss claims that they are a neo-nazi organisation, and far-right extremists like John himself agree: “The EDL are not nationalists, they are just against the Islamification of Europe.”
While it may be true that the far-right keeps rising – all over Europe- organisations in the UK have many obstacles that could impede the forming of an English version of the Golden Dawn. Nevertheless, they have not given up hope and see a future for their politics. “There’s more nationalists in England that there have been for years,” John said, “They just need to unite.”
*Refused to be named.
By Sumy Sadurni
Follow on Twitter: @sumy_sadurni