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The Twilight of Golden Dawn

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Developments in the judicial inquiry into Golden Dawn were evolving rapidly when, early Saturday morning, in a crackdown that dominated worldwide news, the Greek police arrested the general-secretary of the country's neo-facist party along with many key accomplices. Nikos Michaloliakos was hauled before the courts in tandem with his parliamentary spokesman and second in command, Christos Pappas, facing charges of murder and assault in the recent death of left-wing hip-hop musician and activist, Pavlos Fyssas.

Resulting investigations into the respective homes of its leaders along with clandestine recorded conversations among its members by Greece's Secret Service, EYP, have exposed Golden Dawn as an organization with a strict military structure that persecutes immigrants and glorifies Hitler, all under the guise of helping the weak and elderly.

Depicting its members as common thugs, Greek Deputy Public Prosecutor, Charalambos Vourliotis, denounced Golden Dawn as a criminal organization that is a threat to Greece's public institutions and the country's constitution. Aside from charges of murder, extortion, arson and blackmail, Mr. Vourliotis stunned the Greek public by revealing details of the group's "Centaur Program" that aimed to recruit minors as young as 14 years old into youth hit squads.

In a shocking nine-page report, Vourliotis outlines how Golden Dawn adhered to a hierarchial "Fuhrerprinzip" structure with "Fuhrer" Michaloliakos' political authority above and beyond any written law. A rigid chain of command was in place whereby Michaloliakos would transfer orders through Pappas and his other officials, Elias Kassidaris, John Hare, Elias Panayiotaros and Christos Michas.

How, one would ask, was this extremist fringe group able to become such a force on the Greek political scene, rising from 0.3 percent of the popular vote in the country's 2009 elections, to over 400,000 or 7 percent of the total and capture 18 parliamentary seats a mere three years later?

Golden Dawn was created sometime around 1980 by its leader and disciple of former Greek military dictator Georgios Papadopoulos, Nikos Michaloliakos. The group's early endeavors centered around the publication of a radical magazine, Chrysi Avgi, that praised the ancient Gods of Olympus and proclaimed the superiority of the Greek race.

In the early 1990s, Golden Dawn would seize upon the turmoil surrounding the use of the name Macedonia, a region of Northern Greece, by a Former Yugoslav Republic (FYROM) to plan xenophobic protests and violent attacks against foreigners and become a true political movement. The massive wave of immigrants, many of them illegal, that would soon follow and the impossibility of the Greek State to integrate such numbers and to police crime-riddled immigrant neighborhoods would serve to strengthen the hand of the organization.

It would come to be known that Greek police officers often co-operated with Golden Dawn, sending Greek citizens in need of protection their way. The party would assist the elderly when withdrawing money from bank machines, investigate break-ins and thefts from locals' homes and help Greeks collect delinquent rents from immigrants.

A deepening financial crisis that would drag on for years, bringing unemployment to dizzying levels and wiping out a quarter of the Greek economy, along with the portrayal of Greece as a land of lazy, tax-evading criminals in the international media would play right into Golden Dawn's racist hands, enabling it to become the third most popular party in the country.

The brutal assassination of Pavlos Fyssas, however, appears to have spurred a dormant Greek State into action. Responding to the outcry of a horrified electorate, the government has taken bold, unprecedented action against a political party, all under the threat of being accused of persecuting political opponents.

Notwithstanding the seriousness of the charges, some of the accused lawmakers were released until they face their day in court. Regardless, there can be no denying that this is the beginning of the end for Golden Dawn, the overt bullying and illegal activity of its executives testament to the fact that it could not handle its constitutional presence and was doomed, as all fascist organizations, to implode.