Interview: Greek Trotskyist facing charges by Nazis

Savas Michael-Matsas

A Greek Trotskyist is facing charges after a complaint by the fascist party "Golden Dawn". The slogan "smash fascism" is considered an incitement to violence. An interview with Savas Michael-Matsas (66), a Greek-Jewish Trotskyist and a leading member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party (EEK) of Greece.


You must appear in court in Athens on September 3 together with the former rector of the National Technical University in Athens. You are facing charges of defamation and incitement to violence – after a complaint by the Nazi party "Chrysi Avgi" ("Golden Dawn"). How did these charges come about?


In early 2009, after the revolt of the Greek youth in December 2008, the right-wing government – with the assistance of the Nazis of "Golden Dawn" – unleashed pogroms in neighborhoods with lots of immigrants. The Greek left organized a number of antifascist demonstrations in which our party also participated.


"Golden Dawn" made a legal complaint against all the parties of the left – including the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the left alliance SYRIZA, the anticapitalist alliance ANTARSYA and also the EEK – as well as immigrant associations and independent activists. This complaint was resurrected by the right-wing Samaras government in 2012 and the police began interrogations of those named in the complaint. In June 2013, of the 80 people accused, two were selected: Konstantinos Moutzouris, the former rector of the National Technical University in Athens, and I.


What are you accused of?


I am accused on the basis of a leaflet of our party for the antifascist demonstrations of May 2009. As general secretary I am – according to the complaint – responsible for every text from the party, even if it doesn't bear my signature.


The fact that I am a Jew makes my case worse. On the internet there are slogans like "kill the Jewish rat", saying that I am an agent of a "World Jewish Conspiracy" to establish a "Judeo-Bolshevik regime" in Greece.


The charge of defamation refers to our condemnation of the fascist attacks against immigrants. The slogan "smash fascism" is considered an incitement to violence and the call for participation in a demonstration as "disturbing the civil peace".


Konstantinos Moutzouris is accused of allowing the independent news portal Indymedia to be run from the university campus.


Why did the fascists choose this legal attack?


Just like the Front National in France, the Greek fascists choose the legal path to provide a basis for state attacks against the left. But these "legal" means are always combined with illegal physical attacks against left-wing activists and immigrant communities as well as Jewish synagogues and cemeteries.


How could "Golden Dawn", in the four years since the complaint was made, develop from a tiny splitter group to a party with 21 members of parliament?


Their rise is insolubly linked with the destruction of the living standards of the population. In the last three years of the application of draconian austerity measures  by the Troika made up of EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, millions of people – especially from the middle class – have been thrown into unemployment and pauperization. In the context of this social tragedy, the bourgeois political system which ruled the country for decades is totally discredited. A major part of the population voted for the left reformist party SYRIZA and made them the official opposition, while another part turned to the extreme right.


The Nazis have connections to the repressive state apparatus from the time of the Greek civil war in the 1940s and the dictatorship of 1967-74. But these connections have gotten stronger after the youth revolt of 2008. Due to the crisis, the fascists are getting help from the state: they are protected from criminal prosecution, while prosecutors raise charges against antifascists. It is no coincidence that half of the police voted for "Golden Dawn" in the last elections.


How can the fascist danger be confronted?


We urgently need a united front of all organizations of the working class, the immigrants and the left against the Nazis. The collapse of the welfare state has created a vacuum that the Nazis demagogically try to fill with offers "for Greeks only". To resist this, social solidarity networks must be created, as well as workers' self-defence groups against fascist attacks. 


But above all, we must fight for a socialist solution to the current crisis, with an emergency program of measures against the social catastrophe. We have to bring down the capitalist government of the servants of the troika, cancel the debts of the international usurers of capital and end the measures of social cannibalism. We need a workers' government, via an internationalist struggle together with the workers of all of Europe, against the imperialist EU and for a United Socialist Europe.


Interview: Wladek Flakin, Revolutionary Internationalist Organization (RIO)


A German Version of this interview appeared in the newspaper "junge Welt" on July 17