Tuesday, July 17, 2018
His enemies paint him as all-powerful, but the billionaire philanthropist believes that his political legacy has never been in greater jeopardy. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, he poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the former Soviet-bloc countries to promote civil society and liberal democracy. It was a one-man Marshall Plan for Eastern Europe, a private initiative without historical precedent. It was also a gamble that a part of the world that had mostly known tyranny would embrace ideas like government accountability and ethnic tolerance. It is an embattled cause these days. Russia has reverted to autocracy, and Poland and Hungary are moving in the same direction. With the rise of Donald Trump in the United States, and the growing strength of populist parties in Western Europe, Soros's vision of liberal democracy is under threat in its longtime strongholds.
In London in the 1950s, Soros was a student of the expatriated Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, who championed the notion of an "open society," in which individual liberty, pluralism and free inquiry prevailed. Popper's concept became Soros's cause.
He now finds himself in the unsettling position of being the designated villain of the anti-globalization backlash, his Judaism and career in finance rendering him a made-to-order phantasm for reactionaries worldwide. "I'm standing for principles whether I win or lose," Soros told me this spring. But, he went on, "unfortunately, I'm losing too much in too many places right now."
Admin's note: Participants in this discussion must follow the site's moderation policy. Profanity will be filtered. Abusive conduct is not allowed.