Greek Educational System has played an important part in the recent popularity of Nationalism in Greece because the supporters where forged by the old-fashioned system, writes Angeliki Giannakopoulou.
The Popular Association – Golden Dawn, usually referred to simply as Golden Dawn, is a nationalist far-right political party in Greece, with eighteen out of three hundred chairs (18/300) in the Greek Parliament.
The social and economic aspects of attempted understanding of this unsuspected growth are endless. Yet I will try to showcase one of them: how a rotten cored educational system of Greece, in the past, has performed in the establishment of this backdrop.
DO NOT GET ME WRONG, the Greek educational system has been lately developed into open-mindedness: with loads of activities in favor of horizontal diversity in society, literature sources for self-research and an endless support of educative procedures while struggling to remain completely free of charge for everyone, from primary school up to university.
Yet this was not always the case. The Greek educational system, up to the early 2000’s, was more old-fashioned: the basic rights were suppressed, the gender was strictly stereotypical and binary, and the religion would lead the path of educational enlightenment. The history subject was frequently used in propagandistic purposes, in the name of national pride and power of the state and leadership.
This is important, because the people that now elect these right-wing nationalism’s supporters where forged by the old-fashioned system. So though now things seem to be taking a turn for the better, the faults of the old system still affect the thinking of many people in Greece, and the effects are evident.
From a young age, the system nourished a national pride. This was done, for example, by placing the ‘great nation’s warriors’ on the spotlight and diminishing other civilizations and religions through anachronistic views. While this was done trying to simultaneously balance a more globalised framework through subjects of broader politics, it can still be considered one of the main roots of today’s nationalism.
It is also evident that the schooling system has played a role in the fact that Greek nationalism is gaining popularity during the deep economic depression, because there has been a tendency to approach situations from a mainly economic aspect. People can be manipulated with demagogues when they are feeling an economic inferiority or stress, as we can see in numerous historical occasions, from the 1920’s-30’s Germany and to today’s support of the openly racist Donald Trump in the American presidential elections. In the latter case, national pride was used in a way that it aimed to prove the superiority of the Americans.
This can act in a dual way. Firstly, it puts the manipulated people in a shallow state of believing in themselves and their superiority compared to others. In more turbulent times this is risky because it may lure them into supporting whoever can provide proof for of these feelings: reassure and strengthen the already-existing nationalist mindsets.
Secondly, the capitalistic views and the modern age financial credit system are not blamed for the struggle by the people, and thus can continue to exist as they are. In reflection, the right and far-right movements are the ones that mostly benefit from these occasions, as they both use demagogic approaches in their speeches and have interests in the neoliberal free market.
At the same time, we should not forget that this all would probably have a lesser effect without the already existing racist ideals. Nationalism and racism work together and form this enormous, inhumane cyst.
From the stereotypical images of the “enlightenment” of the West opposed to the “barbarism” of the East, to all its modern forms, the educational system continuously reproduces racism and chauvinism. These reproductions fill the last piece of the puzzle that is nationalism, demagogic speech, economic interests and racist views.
THUS, THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM is also the key to surpass the far-right, nationalist and Neo-Nazi political views.
The above concerns the educational system’s design and designing can always be altered when individuals and collective groups find the will to alter it.
The ones with power to make a difference are the teachers or the learners, of both formal, in-formal and non-formal educative processes, as education can show a different way of being and help people open their minds.
This should not be done by no-one alone, but everyone together.
The party is led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, who has openly identified himself and the party as nationalist and racist. In the past the party has also made use of alleged Nazi symbolism, and praised figures of Nazi Germany. For example in 2005 on the day of celebrations for the victory of the Allies against the Nazis, the party’s magazine “Golden Dawn” pointed that ‘this is no day for celebration but a day of grief for the fall of the “great vision”’.
The magazine plays an important role in the history of the party. It has been published since 1980 and in 1993 the editorial team registered the Golden Dawn as a political party. In 2009, when Michaloliakos was elected in the municipality’s election, the majority of the people still thought of the party as regressive and shallow.
And yet in the parliamentary elections of May 2012, it received the riveting 7% of popular vote.