Since we chose to talk about leftist anti-capitalism and fascism, we would like to focus on a certain empirical example of how the two of them can co-relate in contemporary Greek reality. SYRIZA, our brand-new left government, or at least many of its members, promote themselves and the party as anti-racist, as well as anti-capitalist. Well, with this text, we would like to inform the opponents of SYRIZA, who may now think that ‘the commies’ are in charge of Greece, that they should relax and enjoy the show rather than worry about things that do not exist.
We would like to talk about a philanthropic festivity a feminist group of SYRIZA called ‘Mov’ organized recently, for the sake of foreign women kept imprisoned in the detention camp of the ‘Elliniko’ area in Athens. The festivity took place in January 2015. The feminist group ‘Mov’, moved by the hard conditions under which immigrant women live in the detention camp, decided to gather a pack of clothes and other things the prisoners need (e.g. blankets, some food), and – after negotiations with the authorities – throw a party for the prisoners, in the camp. The catering was provided by a small bakery business with only a handful of branches around Athens, called ‘Hristou Bakeries’. For those unaware, ‘Hristou Bakeries’ originate in the ‘revolutionary’ neighbourhood of Exarcheia in Athens and are run by Mr. Hristou, a supposed leftist and supporter of SYRIZA. Mr. Hristou’s daughter is the neo-nazi Eygenia Yermeni-Hristou, a candidate for Golden Dawn and, of course, Mr. Hristou’s son-in-law is the notorious neo-nazi MP Germenis (aka ‘Kaiadas’*), who naturally stated his profession as a baker during the 2015 elections. It is also known from media reports, since the time that the arrests of the MPs of Golden Dawn were taking place, that in Hristou Bakeries some 15 immigrants from Albania were working low-paid jobs and without any insurance. Of course, all of the above are not scandalous or unprecedented in the Greek context, but there are two issues the observer should not miss, since they are critical for understanding Greek reality.
So, the first thing is the chain of production of commodities (as well as political meanings) sketched out below.
A small amount of the products manufactured by Albanian immigrants – who have no political rights (e.g. the right to vote) and work under hard (and maybe illegal) conditions for a boss who is friendly to the new leftist government, although his partners and at the same time relatives and employees (daughter and son-in-law) are neo-nazi politicians – in January of 2015 finds its way to the imprisoned women immigrants for a reduced price. The price usually paid by ordinary Greek customers, now had not to be paid due to the deal struck between the bakery and the feminist group; it was rather donated in exchange for some ‘charity anti-racism’, on behalf of SYRIZA, as well as ‘leftist kindness’, on behalf of the bakery, since its neighborhood of origin remains a mainly leftist one. The immigrant workers of the bakeries are burdened with the price difference to the regular market price.
And everyone is happy!
This extremely delicate line of production of bread and anti-racism shows aptly why Greeks both left and right can actually tolerate immigrants, that is, in bakeries as well as in camps. The other critical assumption is that, no matter how much a fanatic leftist you might be, a son, a daughter, a son-in-law in Greece is always and foremost a son, a daughter, a son-in-law, even if he or she is a fan of Auschwitz and the gas chambers.
On the other hand, none of the above were really any surprise. Anti-racist action, all the more during the last years, was organized by immigrants and Greeks were participating in these struggles in order to get congratulated for their activism or inter-mediate with some ministry. And family, besides being a well-founded locus of successful entrepreneurship, can also function as a place of unity and safety where it is possible to overcome ideological differences. So there is no scandal, as the newspaper ‘Proto Thema’ implies, when a neo-nazi works with immigrants and at the same time he speaks out in favor of their deportation. The scandal itself has to do with this weird functionality of the Greek family, as well as its great unanimous stance towards the appropriate treatment of ‘outsiders’.
Antifa Negative • April 10, 2015
*Kaiadas was the name of a chasm into which ancient Spartans tossed infants they deemed unfit to grow up to be valuable citizens.