Fascism Galore In Greece (and Europe): from Kasidiaris to Samaras the Far Right is blooming!
If you are a Greek TV viewer with an off-Right political/sexual inclination, the last 24 hours must have been a time of multiple orgasms for you. Two TV incidents, with two different protagonists coming from two different shades of the fascist spectrum, combined to affirm that the fascist snake in Greece is out and well. They also help us decode the roots and the appeal of the rise of the Far Right.
Sexy Ilias Kasidiaris – if he let his hair grow – could had easily been a bisexual pornstar – one of those hunks with ambivalent intentions, who keep on teasing you, pushing you to high excitement while waiting to see what role they will finally fall into. Alas, to the porn industry’s loss, sexy-Kasi has dedicated himself to the world of politics. In the last elections of May 6th he was elected an MP, and, instead of seeing his naked body on their laptop screen, the Greek people have been eye-candying his suited persona ever since on their TV screens. This is because sexy-diaris is the spokesman for the neo-fascist Golden Dawn, chosen to play this role because to everyone’s surprise (as a result of mistaken assumptions that the fascists are uneducated lumpen barbarians) he was quite articulate and quick; the looks did no harm either. So for the last month he’s been running from TV studio to TV studio, giving interviews and participating in TV panels. This is one of the odd moments of democracy: a fascist participating in parliamentary politics that he actually abhors, and the other political parties and the media having to give the fascists space and listen to them in order to prove their democratic credentials! It makes for odd viewing. This is the funny side of the story. The dark side is the fact that Kasidiaris’ seeming charm goes hand in hand with his party’s wider charm offensive in those neighbourhoods most hard-hit by the recession, and that this sort of ‘presentability’ has given the necessary alibi to that 7% of the Greek electorate that voted for the Golden Dawn in the recent elections.
So it was with great excitement that Wednesday morning, 6th June, Greece was waiting to see Kasidiaris in a more traditional role: he was due in court accused of participating in an assault and robbery against a postgraduate student in Athens in 2007. The case was adjourned, however, and the show was postponed. Still, there was soon more to come. Around lunchtime, there emerged an internet video from a TV panel which was soon quoted as ‘the battle of the Titans’: Kasidiaris was facing off Kostantinos Plevris. Note that until the wider rise of the Far Right in the early 2000s Plavris was for most Greeks the most familiar face of the Far-Right: an old-fashioned nationalist, racist, junta and Nazi apologist. Now he is running as a candidate for LAOS – which was the established Far-Right in the Greek parliament until the rise of the Golden Dawn. There are few better things in life than watching two fascists outing each other. While the two were having a heated debate on what is the best way to be anti-immigrant, Plevris started accusing Kasidiaris of having punched and threatened most of the LAOS MPs! Precious moments of fascist TV! Unfortunately all this debate took place in a small channel that nobody actually watches. Kasidiaris’ violent persona had still to rise to its full capacity. And then came one more TV panel this morning, 7th June, in a popular private channel (ANT1), where Kasidiaris was invited.
But this time he faced the formidable Liana Kanelli (John Snow had a taste of her last autumn – priceless) of the Communist party, who just does not allow you to talk – she just goes on like a Blitz-tank, full of emotion and contempt to the point that you either have to laugh or cry or do both at the same time. During a heated exchange, in which Kasidiaris accused the communist unions of putting Pakistani immigrants in the avant-garde of their marches , Kanelli called him a ‘fascist’ and he called her a ‘commie’. Then the SYRIZA representative Rena Dourou denounced him for being a barbarian, planning to take Greece back 500 years. That was it. He lost it! He emptied a glass of water on the SYRIZA lady, and when Kanelli, sitting next to him, started hitting him with her note-papers – as you do with a dog that persistently tries to pee on your trousers – he punched her. Again, and again, and again. Absolute violence is the bloodline of fascism and this is something that we must never forget – neither the people in the streets, nor the voters, nor those who try to reason with the unreasonable. Violence is porn for the fascists, and hitting a woman, a lesbian, a communist and a pro-immigrant is the big money-shot.
Police are now trying to find Kasidiaris – most likely in order to congratulate him.
The other TV orgasm of the day was offered to us by Antonis Samaras, the leader of the conservative New Democracy, who is quite un-sexy (he walks in a funny way – he thinks he walks like a macho lad but it actually looks as if he has pissed himself, or that he ate too many prunes and is now bearing the consequences). Anyway, Samaras is also Far Right, of the patriotic kind – he was the foreign minister that turned the issue of Macedonia into a matter of national hysteria in the early 1990s. As head of the conservatives, however, he is well respected abroad. He is the man that Merkel, Cameron et al have put all their money on. But what you expect from the lady who declared that ‘multikulti’ is dead or from the man that has allied himself to the Far Right in the European parliament? Sarkozy is now thankfully gone, but let us not forget how closely he was flirting with the Far Right discourse from the Paris riots of 2005, through all his years as a president and up to the recent elections. The point here is that the Far Right must never be seen as in isolation from the rest of Right wing politics or that Greece is different from the rest of Europe. People vote for neo-fascist parties because the language of intolerance, racism and wronged rights is casually adopted by mainstream politicians of all sorts – but especially from those of the Right, like Merkel, Cameron, Berlusconi, Sarkozy and Samaras. Note that Samaras in the last months has taken in his party most of the ex MPs of the Far Right LAOS, including the son of Mr Plevris, next to whom he posed proudly (please admire the whole semiotics of this official ND picture: the Leader, the Nation, the Church). Sarkozy reached the peak of his Far-Right exhibitionism when he complained that France is full of Halal meat nowadays and that very often the ‘ordinary’ Frenchman goes to buy ‘ordinary’ meat and ends up – without knowing it – with halal in his casserole! The perfect, homely metaphor of the hidden threat to the healthy body of the nation posed by the immigrants.
Samaras’ halal moment came yesterday, although due to Kasidiaris’ performance few will pay any attention to it. In a TV/online discussion with the public he made the following comment: ‘Kindergarten are full of immigrants’ kids, to the point that there is no space for the Greek-kids.‘ This is another far-right textbook performance from a master of the genre. Crucially, New Democracy has developed a new strategy in the last days of prioritising kids in their public messages. In a highly controversial TV ad they have some gormless kids in what pretends to be a state school in the near future of Greece-under-SYRIZA, asking their even more gormless teacher ‘why are we not in the Euro?’, again and again and again (like Liana but very much on the zombie side of the posh kid starving from lack of imagination). So, Samaras takes kids – ‘the future of the nation’ – and puts them centre stage. He also focuses, once more, on the immigrants – the same topic that ignited the Kasidiaris-Kanelli fight, and the Kasidiaris-Plevris one. And he feeds the narrative that the white, Greek man is excluded from his own space, that he is wronged not by the system but by the sans-papiers. Bigots.
Who do you think is worst? Samaras or Kasidiaris? Or should we see them as being part of the same packet, the same body? They complement each other and they support each other, both covering the two ends of the Far Right discourse.
They would do excellent porn together. Unfortunately for us, they have decided to do politics!