I got your Godwin right here, by @DavidOAtkins

I got your Godwin right here

by David Atkins

The terms "fascist" and "Nazi" get thrown around quite a bit in American politics, especially by people who have the least understanding just what those terms actually mean. So it might be helpful to take a look at a place where an actual, politically active and successful neo-nazi fascist movement has arisen and whence it develops. Right now, that place is Greece:

On the streets of Greece, it’s now common knowledge among immigrants like Hussein that black clothes are the unofficial uniform of Golden Dawn, or Chrysi Avgi—a kind of cross between Hezbollah and the Tea Party. Since 2008, Golden Dawn supporters have assaulted immigrants with brass knuckles, knives, and batons. There have been nearly 500 attacks this year alone, according to the Migrant Workers Association, some of which have been captured on video and proudly posted on Golden Dawn’s YouTube channel.

But Golden Dawn is not just a gang of radical right-wing thugs. It is now the fourth-largest party in Greek politics. In elections this year, it won 18 of 300 seats in parliament on an explicitly anti-immigrant platform. Its growing constituency includes many ordinary Greeks who fear that waves of impoverished foreigners are draining the state’s dwindling resources and taking their jobs in a country where nearly a quarter of the population is unemployed. And as the country’s economy continues to collapse, Golden Dawn is becoming increasingly entrenched in the mainstream of Greek political life.

The popularity of Golden Dawn marks a new turn for Greece, which has a long history of accommodating the disenfranchised. In the middle of Athens stands a monument to Archbishop Damaskinos Papandreou, who fought against the persecution of Greek Jews during World War II, when the country was occupied by Germany and Italy. Even amid the most bitter partisan battles of the postwar years, the country never viewed xenophobia as an acceptable rallying cry.
It turns that when you throw a proud people who have lived a relatively decent lifestyle with modest provisions for the middle class into the desperate grinder of austerity economics, fascist movements start to develop. That's pretty much how it happened in Germany in the first place, which is why the the rest of the world learned from its Post-WWI mistake to implement the Marshall Plan after the Second War. When people start to lose everything, it's easy to blame immigrants and the dispossessed. Those people start to become scapegoats for the sorts of scoundrels who use jingoistic xenophobia for career advancement in the guise of patriotism.

It's no surprise that the ascendance of the far right in the United States tracks alongside the erosion of the middle class. Fortunately, America has been spared the full force of austerity. So far.

But the rise of a Golden Dawn in the U.S. isn't at all unthinkable. All that need happen is for the Very Serious People to get their way in voucherizing Medicare and Social Security, destroying the safety net, and remaking society in Ayn Rand's image.