By Robert Folsom | May 7, 2012
Things are bad in Greece these days, but the most senior of Greece’s citizens can recall when it was far worse.
World War II saw the Axis Powers occupy Greece beginning in 1941. The plunder that followed was so ruthless and systematic that it produced a catastrophic famine, the worst of which was in Nazi-occupied Athens.
Credible estimates put the death toll from starvation at 300,000, or some four percent of the population. In the U.S. today that percentage would exceed ten million dead.
I trust there’s no need to elaborate further on “how bad” it was for Greece during WWII — these few gruesome facts are enough to make the simple point. The suffering the Nazis imposed is still a part of the country’s living memory. Thus it is inconceivable that a Greek political party would associate itself with Nazi symbols and ideas…
… Except that we’ve entered a time when the news headlines report the utterly inconceivable. Here’s an example from this morning, in a story describing the results from the May 6 national election:
Golden Dawn: leader of far-right party lashes out at Greece’s ‘traitors’
Golden Dawn is a nice name for a political party, but “nice” is not what earned this party seven percent of the vote, and significant representation in the Greek parliament. As for the meaning of “far-right” in this context, this description (from the UK’s Guardian newspaper) speaks for itself.
“The party’s supporters, routinely seen intimidating immigrants in run-down parts of the capital, wear black shirts, and its emblems resemble Nazi insignia.”
The article went on to say that Golden Dawn’s anti-immigrant TV ads ran the campaign slogan, “Let’s rid this country of the stench.” An AFP article added this:
“Shortly after being elected to the council thanks to more than 10,000 votes in the Greek capital, [Golden Dawn leader Nikos] Michaloliakos made waves by giving two fascist salutes captured by a television camera.”
So: What could possibly explain the success of this party, which openly embraces the symbols and behavior of a nightmare chapter in the country’s history?
To start with, consider Bob Prechter’s observation from Pioneering Studies in Socionomics:
“Negative social psychology will be characterized primarily by polarization between and among various perceived groups, whether political, ideological, religious, geographical, racial or economic. The result will be a net trend toward anger, fear, intolerance, disagreement and exclusion…. Such a sentiment change typically brings conflict in many forms, and evidence of it will be visible in all types of social organizations. Political manifestations will include…a polarized and vocal electorate, separatist movements, xenophobia, citizen-government clashes, the dissolution of old alliances and parties, and the emergence of radical new ones.”
In the face of a fast-moving and profoundly disturbing trend, you want nothing less than a profound insight — one that gets to the bottom of “why.” Follow this link to begin a subscription to The Socionomist.
Andrea Dibben contributed research.