Friday, March 2, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Poated 3/2/07

Even more outside the government, billionaire financier George Soros is an indispensable private source of support to utopian ideas like Gene Sharp’s. Born 1930 in Hungary as Giorgy Schwartz, his father changed the family name to avoid revealing their Jewish identity to the Nazi occupiers. The name Soros has a double meaning; Hungarian for “designated successor” and also “will soar” in the short-lived international language Esperanto. The elder Schwartz was fluent in both languages and knew exactly what a Messianic name he had chosen for his son. [1] young George lived through the Nazi takeover but was old enough to leave the country once the Communists took over. He slipped out and moved to London to study economics and quickly went into business, predicting and exploiting currency fluctuations (“the weaknesses of capitalism,” he explains) to his own benefit. [2] In 1956 he moved to New York and in 1973 established Soros Fund Management, which ranked as the world's largest hedge fund by the 1990s. [3] With remarkable investment returns, by 2000 the firm had made him one of the richest men in the world at a personal worth fluctuating around $7 billion.

Soros is not universally admired; he has been called ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’ for his bet against the British pound in 1992, Malaysian authorities accuse him of bringing down their currency during Asia's 1997 financial crisis, and French authorities have fined him millions for insider trading. [4] He has also praised Europe’s unified currency, the Euro, and repeatedly banked against the US dollar while predicting the general collapse of the world economy. The Asian financial crisis followed by a similar monetary collapse in Latin American presented a threat of a “disintegration of the world capitalist system,” Soros warned the US Congress in September 1998. [5]

George Soros
George Soros, billionaire speculator and freelance freedom financier
As he made his fortunes on Wall Street and increasingly in the financial centers of Europe, the politics of Eurasia were never far from Soros’ mind. In the 1980s he offered support for the Solidarity labor movement in Poland as well as Czech activists and opposition leader Vaclav Havel. In 1993 Soros established The Open Society Institute (OSI), a grant-making foundation to promote the usual – democracy, human rights, etc., with special emphasis on openness to new ideas and the “free expression of critical thought” as the wellsprings of a democratic “open society.” [6]

Through OSI and other foundations he has either started or joined, Soros has financed efforts towards “open societies” in more than 50 countries around the world, donating in the neighborhood of $450 million each year. [7] Since he began his crusade, Soros has given away more than four billion dollars, which makes him an international philanthropist on the world-shaping scale of Carnegie and Rockefeller, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his pains. [8] From a geopolitical perspective, his works are in line with U.S. policy; Jonathan Mowat writes that Soro’s donations “always dovetail with those of the NED.” [9] In fact he is a member and former Director of the CFR, the authors of the American end of the Anglo-American world strategy. Indeed the fiercest denunciations of Soros’ crusades have been lobbed by nationalists and deposed leaders at the short end of his financial stick.

But Soros has also been targeted by the American right, notably the National Rifle Association, for alleged one-world order tendencies and promoting disarmament of all citizens in a gun-free world, and by DAMADD (Dads And Moms Against Drug Dealers) as a “villainthropist” financier of the global drug trade. [10] He is indeed a supporter of liberal causes, once called “the Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization” in 1996 after dropping money to support two state ballot initiatives legalizing medicinal marijuana. [11] In domestic politics, Soros is generally more keen on Democrats, and had been a regular but modest donor.

But he also has links with certain Republicans, like the Bush family. Soros had been a partner in the Carlyle Group with George Bush sr. and, until late 2001 anyway, members of the bin Laden family. [12] He had also owned nearly a third of Harken Energy in 1986 when the company purchased (bailed out) Spectrum7, a failing Texas oil company that had been run into the ground partly by George W. Bush, then the vice president’s son. The Nation’s Washington correspondent David Corn asked Soros why in 2002. “I didn't know him,” Soros was reported to explain. “He was supposed to bring in the Gulf connection. But it didn't come to anything. We were buying political influence. That was it. He was not much of a businessman.” [13]

Nor would he be much of a President in Soros’ eyes. The billionaire crusader has since turned to purchasing influence not through but against his old business partner, targeting the president for regime change like some third world dictator. “Bush feels that on September 11th he was anointed by God,” Soros once said. “He's leading the U.S. and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence.” [14] There was an ominous familiarity to childhood memories; the post-9/11 statements of Bush functionaries like Attorney General Ashcroft “reminded me of Germany, under the Nazis. […] It was the same kind of propaganda about how ‘We are endangered’ and ‘We have to be united.’” [15] As Germany was under Hitler, “America, under Bush, is a danger to the world,” he warned. Soros has called Cheney and the other the neoconservatives surrounding the president “a bunch of extremists guided by a crude form of social Darwinism.” [16]

As the 2004 election approached, he compiled his concerns into a book, The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power. In it, he argued for a collective approach to security and increased foreign aid, an investment in a more peaceful world where Western interests could be achieved without gross violence or destabilizing nationalism. “It would be too immodest for a private person to set himself up against the president,” he said of his book’s argument. “But it is, in fact the Soros Doctrine.” [17]

A central tenet of this was the removal of Bush and his cronies from power. Defeating Bush in 2004 was “a matter of life and death” for Soros and “the central focus of my life.” He built on this theme, delivered lectures to this effect, and as the election and a chance to drive Bush and Cheney from office loomed he set to dishing out money. Soros' generous support for “527” voter-mobilization groups like the anti-Bush “Move On” organization became a focus of criticism; the Republican National Committee lashed back that “George Soros has purchased the Democratic Party.” [18] By November 2003 he had committed $15.5 million to groups dedicated to ousting Bush, much more than he had donated to Democratic elections before. His total by Election Day was reportedly $23.5 million, and he pledged “if necessary, I would give more money.” [19] When asked if he would trade his entire fortune to defeat Bush, he responded “if someone guaranteed it.” [20] But Soros had nothing on Diebold and Jeb’s Florida as far as shaping the election and he knew it - so he still has most of his fortune and lives to fight another day. And again, Europe was never far from his mind – his handiwork plays a crucial role in the events of the following chapters.

Next: Some Notes on Timing And Consent

[1] “George Soros.” Wikipedia. Last Updated December 10 2006.
[2], [3], [4] Boselovic, Len. “Billionaire raps Bush on tour: Hedge-fund chief woos GOP moderates.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. October 6 2004.
[5] Vann, Bill. “Latin America's crisis spells social upheavals.” World Socialist Website. September 18 1998.

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