Paul Fyssas, killed by a fascist in Piraeus on 17 September, grew up in the working class neighbourhoods of Keratsini.
The son of a shipyard worker in Perama, he in turn went to work in the yard.
From his school years he loved hip hop and from a listener quickly he turned into an artist. He continued to work from time to time in the yards, was a member of the Piraeus metal workers’ union, and consistently participated in its mobilisations.
Paul distributed his music free via the internet. “He was one of Golden Dawn’s targets because of his anti-fascist lyrics”, admitted one former local Golden Dawn member.
Paul was not a member of a particular left wing political party, but he steadily participated in social movements. One frosty winter night he mobilised all the hip hop artists to help out the homeless in dodgy areas.
Even the time of the attack, his first concern was to protect this friends. He stood out against the mob, looked the thugs in the eyes, and asked them if they had the guts to come on one by one.
Though some try to convince us it was a clash of “two extremes”, in fact two different worlds clashed that night. The selflessness, courage, and militancy of the working class as expressed by Paul Fyssas, and the rottenness of the Nazis and the system that breeds them.
The attack on the KKE trade unionists in Perama, and the murder of Paul, have taken place in a context of the re-emergence of working-class struggle, with rolling strikes by teachers and other public sector workers.
A 48 hour general strike starts on 25 September. The “hope” of the ruling class was that this murderous attack would numb the working-class movement. We are proving them wrong.
Yet the left and the labour movement have underestimated the danger from the neo-Nazis.
KKE, especially, has for years mocked the Trotskyists that threw their forces in the struggle against the Golden Dawn. Only one and a half years ago, prominent KKE member Giorgos Sifonios, union president at Greek Steel, invited Golden Dawn into the occupied factory and handed over the microphone to GD spokesperson Ilias Kasidiaris to address the workers!
Syriza has had a better stance, but until now has underestimated the threat of Golden Dawn. Hundreds of rank and file Syriza members are pivotal in the building of antifascist committees in their neighbourhoods, but that is done without a plan and without any coordination from the party leadership. And a number of prominent Syriza MPs sent completely the wrong message by asking for cooperation of the “constitutional arc” (I.e. the Left parties along the pro memorandum Pasok and ND parties, whose policies have paved the way for the Nazis) .
The smaller sections of the Left bear some responsibility, too. Antarsya and Keerfa (the “Uniting Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat”, which is part of Antarsya) continue even today sometimes to act divisively and to tend to limit proposals for action to organising marches (which is of course important, but not enough).
Only united and organized we can prevent further killings and smash fascism. Organised and networked in local committees, with workers’ defence groups - that is the way to win.
When we say “united”, let us clarify one thing: those who have tolerated Golden Dawn, who have whipped up hysteria against immigrants, and prostitutes - the political parties that govern us and serve the Troika, ship-owners and bankers - do not fit into our unity.
We should have no reliance on them or on any version of the “constitutional arc”.
The task of combating fascism belongs to the left, the trade unions, and young people.
We need immediate marches and actions against the fascists everywhere. We also need an understanding that the protests and demonstrations are not enough.
One of the first priorities should be organisation in schools, universities, football clubs, youth centres, etc). Golden Dawn has gained ground in some high schools where it is considered fashionable and the basis of a “lifestyle” subculture.A very important step is the establishment of the Coordination of Anti-fascist Committees with collectives from all over Athens and Piraeus. Similar movements are taking place in Macedonia and Thessaly.
Our struggle against fascism is also a struggle against the capitalist system that generates and nourishes fascism.
A united anti-fascist front led by Syriza and the Left should be complemented by a comprehensive response to the crisis, the Troika and the aim of the government of the Left. The Left must claim the power to do this on the basis of a program that removes power from the capitalists and opens the way for workers’ control.
Otherwise, the crisis of the capitalist system that we live in today will keep regenerating the fascist threat in one way or another.