‘Austerity is a mass experiment in human despair’

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
A woman walks by anti-International Monetary Fund graffiti in central Athens, February 2, 2015. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)
UK Chancellor George Osborne’s policy of austerity bred ruin and went to destroy the fabric of Greek society, John Wight, writer and political commentator, told RT. Mr. Osborne should respect the democratic wishes of the Greek people, he added.

RT:What do you think about UK Chancellor George Osborne calling Greece’s standoff with the eurozone the “biggest risk to global economy?”

John Wight: I think you have to understand the context in which Chancellor George Osborne’s comments were made. It’s a measure of the fear that Syriza’s historic victory has sown within the Chancellor in the UK, in Paris and in Germany. Because Mr. Osborne represents a one percent, his rhetoric is a representative of the fear felt by the one percent: the banks, the rich, the international investors. Syriza’s victory in Greece was a victory for the 99 percent. This is an essential debate within Europe at present. So Mr. Osborne is very worried about Syriza’s victory, its importance, how it might impact on people’s consciousness in the UK. We’ve already seen mass demonstrations in Spain in support of Podemos, the Spanish equivalent of Syriza. So this is a context: Mr. Osborne is a threat to the world economy. The policy he has followed, what he calls austerity which is in truth a mass experiment in human despair has bred ruin and it’s gone someway to destroy the fabric of Greek society. The Greek people responded in a democratic election. And it would be fitting if Mr. Osborne was to at least respect the democratic wishes of the Greek people.

RT:How will Greece's partners in the EU respond to the comments from the UK? Do you think they'll agree?

JW: I think they will take a very dim view. What we need now is some calm heads. Mr. Varoufakis is touting the EU, he is looking for cooperation, he’s been very reasonable, and the rhetoric has been very considered. They have committed to remain within the EU, within the euro. They are talking about restructuring the debt; they are not talking about repudiating the debt. I do believe that they do have the political capital to do that if they so wished. So I would caution Mr. Osborne not to go too far with this scheme on Greece, because he may drive Syriza and the new Greek government to do just that.

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