The long read: Unlike most of the billionaire class, George Soros is not an out-of-touch plutocrat, but a provocative intellectual committed to progressive ideals which is what constructs his failures so telling
In late May, the same day she got fired by the US TV network ABC for her racist tweet about Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Roseanne Barr accused Chelsea Clinton of being married to George Soros's nephew.” Chelsea Soros Clinton ,” Barr tweeted, knowing that the combination of names was enough to elicited a reaction. In the desultory exchange that followed, a very young Clinton responded to Roseanne by praising Soros's philanthropic work with his Open Society Foundations. To which Barr responded in the most depressing style possible, recurring false claims earlier proferred by rightwing media personalities:” Sorry to have tweeted incorrect info about you! Please forgive me! By the route, George Soros is a nazi who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps& stole their wealth- were you aware of that? But, we all make missteps, right Chelsea ?”
Barr's tweet was speedily retweeted by conservatives, including Donald Trump Jr. This shouldn't have surprised anyone. On the radical right, Soros is as hated as the Clintons. He is a verbal tic, a key that fits every pit. Soros's name evokes” an emotional outcry from the red-meat crowds”, one former Republican congressman recently told the Washington Post. They view him as a” kind of sinister[ person or persons] plays in the shadows “. This antisemitic caricature of Soros has dogged the philanthropist for decades. But in recent years the caricature has evolved into something that more closely resembles a James Bond villain. Even to conservatives who reject the darkest fringes of the far right, Breitbart's description of Soros as a” globalist billionaire” dedicated to making America a liberal wasteland is uncontroversial common sense.
In spite of the preoccupation with Soros, there has been astonishingly little interest in what he actually thinks. Yet unlike most of the members of the billionaire class, who speak in platitudes and remain withdrawn from serious participation with civic life, Soros is an intellectual. And members of the public who emerges from his books and many articles is not an out-of-touch plutocrat, but a provocative and consistent thinker committed to pushing the world in a cosmopolitan direction in which racism, income inequality, American empire, and the alienations of contemporary capitalism “wouldve been” things of the past. He is extremely perceptive about the limits of marketplaces and US power in both national and international context. He is, in short, among the best the meritocracy has produced.
It is for this reason that Soros's failures are so say; they are the failures not merely of one man, but of an entire class- and an entire route of understanding the world. From his earliest days as a banker in postwar London, Soros believed in a necessary connection between capitalism and cosmopolitanism. For him, as for most of the members of his cohort and the majority of the Democratic party's leadership, a free society varies depending on free( albeit governed) marketplaces. But this assumed connection has proven to be a false one. The decades since the end of the cold war have demonstrated that, without a perceived existential foe, capitalism tends to undermine the very culture of trust, compassion and empathy upon which Soros's ” open society” depends, by concentrating wealth in the hands of the very few.
Instead of the global capitalist utopia predicted in the halcyon 1990 s by those who extol an end to history, the US is presently ruled by an oafish heir who enriches their own families as he dismantles the” liberal international order” that was supposed to govern a peaceful, prosperous and united world. While Soros recognised earlier than most the limits of hypercapitalism, his class stance constructed him unable to advocate the root-and-branch reforms necessary to bring about the world he desires. The system that allows George Soros to accrue the wealth that he has done has proven to be one in which cosmopolitanism will never find a stable home.
The highlightings of Soros's biography are well known. Born to middle-class Jewish mothers in Budapest in 1930 as Gyorgy Schwartz, Soros – his father changed the family name in 1936 to avoid antisemitic discrimination- had a tranquil childhood until the second world war, when after the Nazi invasion of Hungary he and his family were forcing them to assume Christian identities and live under false names. Miraculously, Soros and his family survived the war, escaping the fate suffered by more than two-thirds of Hungary's Jews. Feeling stifled in freshly communist Hungary, in 1947 Soros immigrated to the UK, where he analyse at the London School of Economics and got to know the Austrian-born philosopher Karl Popper, who became his greatest interlocutor and central intellectual influence.
In 1956, Soros moved to New York to pursue a career in finance. After spending over a decade working in various Wall street positions, in the late 1960 s he founded the Quantum Fund, which became one of the most successful hedge fund of all time. As his fund amassed staggering earnings, Soros personally emerged as a legendary merchant; most famously, in November 1992 he earned more than$ 1bn and” broke the Bank of England” by betting that the pound was priced too highly against the Deutschmark.