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Greece’s ‘Golden Dawn’ Thrives as Economy Tanks

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From the Financial Times:

Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has penetrated the country’s police force, set up caches of heavy weapons in remote locations and trained its recruits to carry out brutal attacks against immigrants and political opponents, according to the country’s top security official.

Nikos Dendias, minister of public order and civil protection, said in an interview with the Financial Times that Golden Dawn’s cult of extreme violence was “unique” among European far-right groups.

The Ancient Greek leaders stressed things like prudent philosophy, intellectual inquiry, and the importance of reason. Modern Greeks – along with the governments of most European nations – spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need at rates they can’t maintain. The party is over for big-government socialism, but the economic (and political) nightmare of recession, depression and an increasingly unruly citizenry has just begun.

And what type of clientele comprise the membership of a group like the Golden Dawn? What do many of those who join share in common?

Analysts say Golden Dawn’s voter base is mainly among people hit hard by the country’s economic crisis, both young Greeks trying to join the labour market and the over-40s, who feel angry and frustrated at losing their jobs.

A refrain regularly repeated by proponents of big government and wealth re-distribution is that “poverty causes violence.” To some extent, I agree with this sentiment. Many of the world’s poorest regions give rise to some of the most dangerous killers. It takes little more than common sense to see that when you leave people – especially young men – with nothing to do and rampant poverty all around them, they will turn to whatever means necessary in order to survive. Radical groups easily prey upon this, giving people – again, especially young men – something to live and fight for.

But then there is the example of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 who overwhelmingly did not come from abject poverty. Many of them were educated in the West. Many of them were able to afford a standard of living well above that of most folks from their home countries. Their radicalism seems to have sprung forth more from a religious ideology than a socio-economic one.

However, the excesses and ineffectiveness of big government and massive wealth re-distribution can be found as primary contributors to the resulting problems in both cases. Socialism does not work. It cannot work. It’s a secular myth that presupposes a Judeo-Christian work ethic and birthrate. Claiming the mantle of rationality and science, it utterly ignores economic realities like scarcity, supply-and-demand, and the importance of risk-and-reward. In practice, it eventually undermines belief in God all while hoping that men will behave as angels simply because they won’t have to work more than 35 hours per week (at a job they don’t really want and won’t eventually have when inflationary crap hits the fiscal fan).

In the case of the unemployed radicals in Greece, progressive policies allowed the current generation’s parents and grandparents to spend their progeny’s inheritance (all while addicting the populous to untenable entitlements). The result? Economic catastrophe, wide-spread unemployment and disgruntled voters.

In the case of the 9/11 hijackers (and radical Muslims all across Great Britain and Europe), their terrorist activities were funded by big government policies that pay out money those same big governments don’t actually have to anyone (including illegal immigrants sounding the cry for violent jihad) with a pulse.

And yet we hear nothing from Western media outlets about the clear and present failures of big government socialism. With such glaring examples of what happens when you hand your economy, health care, government and law over to the same brood of bureaucratic vipers, one would think that there would be plenty for American intellectuals and politicians to learn. But instead we get mountains of new regulations, out-of-context Bible verses about “being my brother’s keeper” and promises that our dear leaders will somehow be able to add tens of millions of people to the health care system while making it cheaper and of a higher quality.

A large part of the problem is that we’ve detached Christian virtues from one another and tried to cleave the popular ones to secular ideologies – ones founded by men who rejected God and sought to establish their own “heaven on earth.” What starts off being all about “the worker” or “the little guy” ends up being a nightmare for everyone because the system put into place, at root, denies the inherent worth (and personal responsibility) of the individual. You’re now just a cog in a machine that was enthusiastically built with good intentions and faulty parts.

The violence we see in the crumbling nation-state of Greece is inexcusable, but it is not indiscernible to see why it was accelerated (and how some of it might have been avoided).

“The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered…it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”

G.K. Chesterton

R.J. Moeller R.J. Moeller is a writer and podcast host for the American Enterprise Institute's "Values & Capitalism" project. He's also a regular contributor at and Originally from Chicago, he currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he serves as a media consultant to nationally syndicated columnist and talk show host, Dennis Prager.


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  • In 2008, I wrote a post over at the American Orthodox Institute titled, “Work to Eat, Steal to Have.” It looks at how the fantastic expansion of the welfare state in Greece is directly tied to a breakdown in social cohesion. As the state expands, the people naturally look to government for favors/patronage/riches and leave the neighbor, the family member, behind. Which in turn leads to an ever expanding state with no upward limits, corruption and phony come-ons like “universal healthcare” where the poor saps who try to access that must pay bribes to doctors to get help. Now Greece, which suffered greatly under German fascism, is breeding its own fascists among other social pathologies.

    If anyone is tempted to heap all the blame the Greek socialists, don’t. The so-called conservatives were just as culpable. And the political dynasties that drove the country to this point — Papandreou and Karamanlis — all had their popular support.

  • cynthia curran

    Good point, Golden Dawn arises because immigration in Greece is bad. A lot of poor Albanians and some Africans flood into the country when there is not much work for the native born. A problem also of the rest of Europe and the US. Acton supported increasing Hispanic immigration. Second and Third generation Hispanics in California and Texas have higher poverty rates and more welfare usage than the white population. Golden Dawn in Greece knows that Albanians and Africans feed off of jobs and take the welfare from the native born to the foreign born.

    • yes, thanks for raising that issue, Cynthia. Greece has been utterly transformed in recent years by illegal immigration. Combined with the economic implosion, a highly volatile problem.


      The reason that Golden Dawn has flourished, though, isn’t just
      because lots of people are losing their jobs under German-dictated
      austerity measures. In recent years, Greece has also become one of the
      main entry points for illegal immigration from Africa and Asia, most of
      it across the porous frontier that it shares with Turkey.

      Back in 2010, up to 350 immigrants were crossing the border every day, accounting for about 90 per cent of all illegal immigrants coming into Europe.

      Many were taking advantage of “visa diplomacy” in Turkey, which, as
      part of its bid to become an Ottoman-style regional power again, has
      relaxed visa restrictions for a number of north African and Middle
      Eastern countries. With budget airlines plying routes between Istanbul
      and Algeria and Libya for as little as 60 euros, it’s a much safer way
      of reaching Europe’s doorstep than paying for passage in a people
      smuggler’s boat. And since most immigrants then head on to Europe, the
      Turks aren’t particularly bothered – especially when the first place
      they cross into is their old enemy, Greece.