June 07, 2003
OPEN SOCIETY....Billionaire George Soros is leaving Russia because there's someplace else that needs his help more:
15 years and $1 billion in charity, international financier and
philanthropist George Soros bid an emotional farewell to Russia on
Thursday, saying it was time to focus his efforts on a nation more in
need of help -- America.
"I was led to come to Russia because of my concern for a prospering
open society," Soros told students and journalists at the Higher School
of Economics, which was created with his funding. "But now I have to
concentrate on what goes on in America. The fight for an open society
now has to be fought there," he said.
Glad to hear it. Maybe in another decade or so we'll manage to have a society as open as Russia's.
Posted by Kevin Drum at June 7, 2003 08:48 AM
We are all being boiled alive, like the fabled frog - every day in
some small way we lose more freedom and more liberty and more justice.
And it isn't going to stop, because most people still think that "If
I'm not guilty, I've got nothing to fear" is a rational line of
Until people realize that the bell tolls for them, we're fucked.
"Maybe in another decade or so we'll manage to have a society as open as Russia's."
Wow. The ignorance of that statement is astonishing! Are you REALLY a professor???
No, Kevin is not a professor, and I think he was being a bit
sarcastic (although who knows its hard to detect sarcasm in the written
Wasn't Soros more or less the guy who short-sold the South-East Asian economies into poverty so as to benefit his shareholders?
Al: for crying out loud, even in print sarcasm isn't that hard to pick out, is it?
And what on earth makes you think I'm a professor? I'm a former high tech marketing executive.
There you go with another "America is so great" post. Well, Russia
has good vodka! Uh, and fur hats! You can't get fur hats like that in
I mean, just because they lack in some minor areas like "freedom of the press" doesn't mean we're all that better.
Come on, he has spent literally billions throughout Eastern Europe,
even before the fall of the wall. He has been instrumental in the happy
transition of most of those countries to firly modern fairly liberal
democracies ready to join the EU. Al of this has been through methods
open to governments if they had had much interest. Maybe he has some
idea what he is talking about. Shock therapy was not his idea.
Hooray for Kevin Drum for not buying the assertion that "sarcasm is hard to detect in the written medium."
This bolonious commonplace is heard endlessly on line. If it were
true, we'd have to throw out metric tons of world literature. Goodness
knows how Moliere managed without using sideways smiley faces and other
Patrick, can I steal the word "bolonious?" I've never heard/seen it before; it's wonderful.
Jonathan Swift would also object to the idea that sarcasm doesn't work in print.
The etymology of "bolonious" is evident: It's Bush's name in pidgen Latin - Fullius Bolonius Maximus!
Actually, Soros may have a point: America is a world leader
culturally and politically, and the direction it goes has a major effect
on the rest of the world. SO, even if our culture is still more open
than Russia's increaing the degree to which America is an open society
may have greater impact. FOr example:
Gay Rights. As long as Equal Treatment regardless of sexual orientation
is a real debate here, we can't mount effective challenges abroad to far
more egregious curtailing of rights. Egypt imprisons people for having
gay sex, and the US has a hard time criticizing this position because a
significant and powerful minority here support that.
So, even if America has a MORE open society than Egypt or Russia, the
battle may still be here because winning here may mean eventual victory
there, whereas losing or staying even here keeps the US from using its
immense pressures on foreign countries.
George Soros is an interesting guy. He has what amounts to his own
personal foreign aid program. In a number of cases, he's doing more than
the US government... and he has discovered, and written extensively
about, the fact that effective aid, aid that actually improves things
for the recipients, is hard.
But not impossible.
If he's really turning his attention to the US, that is cause for modest optimism. He has the resources, for instance, to do something about the SCLM problem.
What MDtoMN said. i think this is the money quote:
"Soros said he was worried about the state of the U.S. media and the
administration of President George W. Bush for its handling of the
situation in Iraq. 'It's quite wonderful to get rid of Saddam Hussein,
but you can't do it the way it was done on this occasion, because now
what do you do about the Turkmenbashi of Turkmenistan, or [Zimbabwe's
Getting the U.S. to stop trashing our international alliances could be one of the best ways to improve the world.
Maybe my calculations are skewed by what I myself want (I care more
about the U.S. than Russia, because I'm a bad person), but c'mon Kevin;
haven't you been looking for a cranky center-left billionaire to stir
shit up? Let's make him welcome.
It would be great to see Soros materialize as the Richard Scaife of people of reason and conscience in the U.S.
Nah, Soros isn't cranky enough. I welcome his billions, of course,
and he's made clear his commitment to responsible wealth, but we still
need our very own rich crank!
I think Soros recognizes that if the original open society goes the
way of the dodo, then everyone else will have their societies close up
Well in my world (as an academic philosopher), naming your think tank after Karl Popper makes you a crank for sure. :-)
Man, I wish I was wealthy. Not only would I not have to wait tables
and tutor stupid rich kids for the SATs and, soon enough, LSATs, I could
also start my own think tank and really have a cushy job researching
things and kvetching like any good Liberal. On the subject of cranky
think tank names, anyone got any good ideas? I'm thinking of starting a
nonprofit and seeing if I can exploit it for the purposes of research
money (only in legal ways of course, because aside from the moral issues
of tax evasion, I don't know nearly enough to avoid getting caught).
So, any innovative Ideas of Think Tank names? Since I have no
credentials I was thinking something really generalized and innocent
sounding, Like "The Policy Studies Center" (If I want people to know I'm
Liberal) vs. "The Center for Economic Research" (If I want to trick
people into thinking its conservative). I would love to start "The
Orwell In America Oversight Committee" to regulate the American
discourse, but I think that would be arrogant. Suggestions are
"Al: for crying out loud, even in print sarcasm isn't that hard to pick out, is it?"
I never expect you lefties to have a sense of humor! [/Sarcasm]
But, actually, then, I can't make out what you think of Soros's move. Oh well.
"And what on earth makes you think I'm a professor? I'm a former high tech marketing executive."
Hmph. Apologies. I'm only an occasional reader, and I guess I fit
you in with the Reynolds's and DeLong's and Volokh's somehow... you
don't link to a bio anywhere, do you?
I am surprised to hear Soros praised in any kind of way on a liberal
web site. He made his billions through currency speculation - the worst
kind of capitalist one can imagine. He played a certain part in the
troubling of the East Asian economies in the late 90s.
Open Society? Bah - whatever Soros wants becomes the "Open Society". In this country, the Open Society funds gun control.
Shall I teach you how to know something? Realize you know it when you know it, and realize you don't know it when you don't.
Unusual ideas can make enemies.
I am a hobo in the house of the lord.
Don't worry that other people don't know you; worry that you don't know other people.
You have a pretty nice blog. English is not my native language but it
was please to read your site. From Russia with love :)Sincerely yours..
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