A Frightening Reenactment of History

The most worrisome thing about economic depressions may not be the devastation they bring up the people, it may be the people’s susceptibility to those promising fixes. History gives us countless examples of tyrants obtaining power because they offer a fix to economic depressions. Of all the examples one of the most frightening was the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany after World War I. World War I left Germany economically devastated and Adolf Hitler promises to fix that, which he did for a short while. Now it seems Greece is reenacting Germany’s plight as fascist are gaining more influence and power:

Greece’s far-right party, Golden Dawn, won 18 parliamentary seats in the June election with a campaign openly hostile to illegal immigrants and there are now allegations that some Greek police are supporting the party.

Golden Dawn, Greece’s fascist party, have been promising fixes to the economic failures and people are slowly signing on. The party’s primary support seems to be coming from the police, which isn’t surprising given the authoritarian nature of many police officers. In fact some of the police in Greece have even gone so far as to send victims to members of Golden Dawn:

Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party is increasingly assuming the role of law enforcement officers on the streets of the bankrupt country, with mounting evidence that Athenians are being openly directed by police to seek help from the neo-Nazi group, analysts, activists and lawyers say.

In return, a growing number of Greek crime victims have come to see the party, whose symbol bears an uncanny resemblance to the swastika, as a “protector”.

One victim of crime, an eloquent US-trained civil servant, told the Guardian of her family’s shock at being referred to the party when her mother recently called the police following an incident involving Albanian immigrants in their downtown apartment block.

“They immediately said if it’s an issue with immigrants go to Golden Dawn,” said the 38-year-old, who fearing for her job and safety, spoke only on condition of anonymity. “We don’t condone Golden Dawn but there is an acute social problem that has come with the breakdown of feeling of security among lower and middle class people in the urban centre,” she said. “If the police and official mechanism can’t deliver and there is no recourse to justice, then you have to turn to other maverick solutions.”

One of my friends likes to say that history doesn’t repeat itself but it does follow parallel tracks. I believe what’s happening in Greece is one of those parallel tracks. Similar circumstances to Germany have lead to the gradual rising power of a nationalistic authoritarian regime. Currently people are scoffing at Golden Dawn because they hold so few elected offices but people also scoffed at the Nazi Party in its early days. History shows us that people are more than happy to surrender control to tyrants if those tyrants offer something of sufficient value.

We’re seeing the start of something that could get extremely ugly in Greece. I only hope that something happens to stop it before it gets out of control.