This blog initially set out to focus primarily on Islam and the Islamisation of the UK. However, since that time the subjects covered have broadened. They now include (amongst other things): IQ tests, Jean Baudrillard, global warming, sociobiology, Marxism, Trotskyism, David Cameron, Foucault, Nazism, Ralph Miliband, economics, statistics and so on. - Paul Austin Murphy
I've had articles published in The Conservative Online, American Thinker, Intellectual Conservative, Human Events, Faith Freedom, Brenner Brief (Broadside News), New English Review, etc... (Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy can be found here.)

Friday, 23 June 2017

George Soros on His Open Society



There is something to sympathise with when it comes to George Soros's position on what he calls “the open society”. However, judging him by his deeds, there are many reasons to be sceptical. Therefore, in loyalty to the ad hominem fallacy, perhaps his words can stand despite his deeds. Having said that, many of his words (though taken at different times) are also self-contradictory.

Soros's understanding of Karl Popper - from whom he got the idea of an open society - seems to be broadly correct in its largely unspecified details. (As primarily expressed in Popper's well-known book The Open Society and its Enemies.) It is that Popperian vision which people can have some sympathy with; not Soros's own take on it.

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Here's George Soros on the – or his - open society. He says:

An open society such as ours is based on the recognition that our understanding of reality is inherently imperfect. Nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth. As the philosopher Karl Popper has shown, the ultimate truth is not attainable even in science. All theories are subject to testing and the process of replacing old theories with better ones never ends.”

No one can deny that “our understanding of reality is inherently imperfect”. It's what the consequences of our accepting that are. It's also the case that “nobody [not even George Soros] is in possession of the ultimate truth”. But so what? No one claimed otherwise outside of crazed fanatics and dictators. 

In any case, what Soros says on the subject of open societies seems written into modern democracies regardless of the work of Karl Popper. Indeed it can even be said that Soros's own version of Popper is a little vague; though it won't be anathema to any kind of totalitarian (whether Left or Right). 

Why mention totalitarians? Because both Karl Popper and Soros experienced Nazi totalitarianism. Soros also experienced communist totalitarianism.

Soros (in his George Soros on Globalization and interviewswrote:

You know, I learned at a very early age that what kind of social system or political system prevails is very important. Not just for your well-being, but for your very survival. Because, you know, I could have been killed by the Nazis. I could have wasted my life under the Communists. So, that's what led me to this idea of an open society. And that is the idea that is motivating me.”

The obvious point to make here is that Soros sees the open society in very personal terms. Perhaps that's not a big deal. However, according to others and indeed himself, his experiences with the Nazis were entirely positive.

Western Democracies

The interesting thing, according to Soros, is that the open society needn't beinstantiated by any particular political system. Not even exclusively by Western democracies. This is what Soros himself had to say (in 2003) on the matter:

First, there is no single sustainable model for national success. Second, the American model, which has indeed been successful, is not available to others, because our success depends greatly on our dominant position at the center of the global capitalist system, and we are not willing to yield it.”

There may not be a “single sustainable model for national success”. Nevertheless, it surely must be the case that we can rule out certain models – even manymodels. 

All this also makes me think that if Soros's open society is so flexible (or so vague), then surely it can't be much of a productive (or substantive) political concept. If it isn't instantiated by Western democracies, then how much meat is there to his theory of an open society? (We'll see in a second that Soros's theorising about an open society is very different from his practice in politics itself.)

Does Soros give any examples of non-Western states that instantiate the open society? No. Does Soros give any speculative (or possible) realisations of an open society? Not really.

Soros's Politically-Specific Open Society

Soros's defence of the open society includes believing that “it's possible to be opposed to the policies without being unpatriotic”. In full:

The people currently in charge have forgotten the first principle of an open society, namely that we may be wrong and that there has to be free discussion. That it's possible to be opposed to the policies without being unpatriotic.”

What if Soros only have a problem with Republican “policies”? Indeed what if his views, funding (of activist groups, etc.) and actions could very possibly lead to the destruction of the United States? Is all that still “patriotic”?

It was mentioned that Soros is keen to stress that his open society is flexible in nature. Yet Soros is extremely party-political when it comes to actually advancing his open society. For example, he states:

This election transcends party loyalties. Our future as an open society depends on resisting the Siren's song.”

I love it! Yes, at first Soros says that the 2003/4 American “election transcend[ed] party loyalties”. Yet it's also crystal clear that he wanted his readers to reject the Republicans (or Bush) and embrace the Democrats. That “Siren's song”, after all, was sung by none other than President Bush. That also means that the/his open society is best advanced by the Democratic Party and not by the Republican Party. In fact Soros believed that the open society isn't advanced at all by the Republicans; at least not under George W. Bush... and now not under Donald Trump either.

Let's see what more Soros has to say about Republicans and his open society.

Soros pitted Bush W. Bush against his – our? - open society. Moreover, Soros portrayed Bush as even worse than a villain. He writes:

The supremacist ideology of the Bush Administration stands in opposition to the principles of an open society, which recognize that people have different views and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth.”

Now all that's very heavy stuff. Apart from the loaded and rhetorical material about the “supremacist ideology of the Bush administration”, we can still ask if it's reallyimpossible to square such a Republican administration with an open society. And if not, why not?

Soros even has the audacity to cite another case of Bush running up against an open society. According to Soros, “President Bush has shown that he is incapable of recognizing his mistakes”. Unlike Soros himself, Bush was/is not a PopperianfallibilistNot only that:

[Bush] insists on making reality conform to his beliefs even at the cost of deceiving himself and deliberately deceiving the public.”

Is that unlike all other American Presidents? There's certainly copious evidence that this can also be applied to other American presidents. Unless these things are only bad when the President discussed is a Republican; not, say, a Democrat.

Soros became even more explicit about the Republican Party when he said that the “Republican Party has been captured by a bunch of extremists”. So, here again, it can be said that the Republican Party doesn't seem to fit Soros's very own open-society template. 

Soros continued and gave some reasons why the Republicans (as political actors) may be excluded from his open society. It's primarily to do with what he calls “market fundamentalism”. He continues:

People who maintain that markets will take care of everything, that you leave it to the markets and the markets know best. Therefore, you need no government, no interference with business. Let everybody pursue his own interests. And that will serve the common interest.”

There is such a thing as “market fundamentalism”; though only in the sense that there's also anti-market fundamentalism, collectivist fundamentalism, fundamentalism about the importance of eating eggs, etc. Indeed one can take a fundamentalist position on anything. The problem is, however, that the vast majority of people who speak about “market fundamentalism” are against the market – full stop. This is just as those who speak about “neoliberalism” are against capitalism – full stop. Noam Chomsky, for one, is always talking about “market fundamentalism” and “neoliberalism” - thus many others do too. So does that mean that Noam would like a moderate market or capitalism – to misquote the man –with its gloves on (rather than off)?

As it is, Soros claims that he's not an anti-market fundamentalist. And, as a billionaire, he isn't. Indeed he went on to say that there “is a good foundation for this” market fundamentalism. Though it's only “a half-truth”.

Religion in an Open Society

Strangely enough (or perhaps not), Soros ties his political fallibilism into a stress on the importance of religion. His basic position is that because “understanding is imperfect”, then religion must come to our rescue. In his own words:

Faith plays an important role in an open society. Exactly because our understanding is imperfect, we cannot base our decisions on knowledge alone. We need to rely on beliefs, religious or otherwise, to help us make decisions. But we must remain open to the possibility that we may be wrong so that we can correct our mistakes. Otherwise, we are bound to be wrong.”

This seems like a reasonable position; except for the fact that different religions believe and say different things. So what, exactly, is Soros talking about here? Is he referring to religions generally or the religions of the United States? For example, how would Islamic sharia law squared with the U.S's “separation ofchurch and state”?

And just as it was stated that Soros is very particularistic about the political instantiation of his open society (despite his claims to the contrary), he's also very particularistic about religion within his open society (again, despite his claims).

Soros believes that some religions are more equal than others. Take George W. Bush again. His Episcopal (“Protestant yet Catholic”) religion doesn't appeal to Soros. Or at least as it's expressed through - or by - Bush himself. In the following, Soros is both patronisingly positive and negative. He writes:

There is something appealing in the strength of [Bush's] faith, especially in our troubled time. But the cost is too high. By putting our faith in a President who cannot admit his mistakes we commit ourselves to the wrong policies.”

Again, Soros is saying things about Bush that he could have said about many other American presidents. But these presidents weren't both George W. Bush and Republican. 

Conclusion: Open Societies and Global Government

Soros is often very specific as to how his open societies tie in with global government. Indeed he believes that the prime purpose of a global government is to bring about open societies.

Could it be, though, that Soros has got this the wrong way around? Surely, according to Soros's own lights, open societies should come first. It's open societies which should bring about a global government. After all Soros has often stated that “democracy can't be imposed on non-democracies”. Hence it must surely be the case that a global government can't impose open societies on states either. You'd think that Soros would believe that open societies must be the First Cause of all things global, democratic and political. Not so, says Soros himself:

I advocate an alliance of democratic states, with a dual purpose. One, to promote what I call open society. I talk about an alliance of open societies which would first foster the development of open societies within individual countries, because there's a lot that needs to be done in that effort.”

In the above Soros stressed open societies. In the following he stresses global government – or at least global/”international institutions”. He continues:

And secondly, to establish basic international law and international institutions that you need for a global, open society.”

Here again, global government comes first and open societies are said to follow. However, the idea of bringing about open societies seems ridiculous. Indeed international institutions - or a global government! - imposing open societies is no less silly and dangerous an idea than individual states attempting to impose democracies on non-democracies with the help of military power.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

George Soros on Soros and America



In the words of the “political pundit” Matt Welch (writing in 2003), George Soros “has a long and storied track record of being all villains to all people”. This same writer also finds something that's a little worrying and self-contradictory about many of these portrayals of the billionaire “villain”. For example, he concludes by saying the following:

Thus we now have the spectacle of one of the world's most active and influential anti-communists (not to mention one of its most successful capitalists) being tarred as a particularly dangerous friend of Marx and Lenin.”

On the surface it seems that it is indeed a contradiction to portray someone as being both an “anti-communist” and a “particularly dangerous friend of Marx and Lenin”. (Or it would be if the same person said it.) Surely Soros can't be both. Yet it's George Soros we're talking about here! Thus, as a billionaire villain, surely he can be both a communist and an anti-communist! Or at least he can play both characters at different times to different people. This kind of thing has happened many times before with other people. So why not with George Soros? What's to stop Soros from being an anti-communist on Monday and a friend of Marx and Lenin on Friday? After all, it will be seen in the following that not only does Soros contradict himself in terms of his own deeds (which has often been commentated upon), he also contradicts himself in terms of his own words.

Soros has written many books. He's said a lot of things. Much of what I've read is sophisticated and of interest; and that's despite what's just been said about Soros's contradictory words. I was particularly impressed with Soros's George Soros on Globalization; though, even here, the fact that he uses his own name in the title shows us that we're also dealing with a very vain man.

The fact that some of his writings are sophisticated isn't a surprise. Or at least it shouldn't be a surprise. Even the people who hate him “with a perfect hate” must admit that a villain can also be highly intelligent. Indeed to be both a billionaire and a global political actor must require intelligence and even wisdom. (A few people - who look down on moneymaking - deny all this.) Quite frankly, I'm fairly impressed by the expertise of Soros's ideas. That's not to say that I agree with a single sentence he's uttered or written. It's simply to say that he may not be a cartoon baddie. Or, if he is a cartoon baddie, then he's one who can be fairly convincing when he sets pen to paper.

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It can be said George Soros's following words would provide a perfect opening for his autobiography:

Well, you know, I was a human being before I became a businessman.”

Having said that, Soros then went on to admit that he “used to be opposed to the idea of social entrepreneurship”. So was that after he became a “human being” again? Whatever the case, Soros “now recognize[s] that actually you do need to mix it up [business and morality] and I think there is room for social entrepreneurship”.

In a similar vein, George Soros is often honest about himself (at least up to a point). He's therefore honest about his own conceit. For example, he claims to be “primarily interested in ideas” and that he doesn't “have much personal use for money”. He then goes on to say:

But I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn't made money: My ideas would not have gotten much play.”

That's Soros admitting that having a hell of a lot of money is a very good way of gaining political power – which, of course, it is. Certain “ideas” too can be a means to political power. Or, as Soros himself puts it, if he weren't a billionaire, his “ideas would not have gotten much play”.

This honesty (or is it game-playing?) also comes into show when he admits to suffering from “fallibility”. As a consequence of this, he also claims to be adept at self-criticism. Not only that: Soros believes that these frames of mind are very productive – both politically and financially. In his own words:

I am a very critical person who looks for defects in myself as well as in others. But, being so critical, I am also quite forgiving. I couldn't recognize my mistakes if I couldn't forgive myself.”

As I said, there's an honest vanity being proudly displayed here. Indeed Soros has what some psychologists or moral philosophers would see as a self-contradictory personality.

For example, in one breath he says that he admits to “being wrong” and “fallible”. In the next breath he says that this is a “source of pride”. Thus he's proud of his being wrong and self-critical. (Or, at the least, he's proud of finding these things within himself.) To us mere mortals, on the other hand, being wrong and fallible is a “source of shame”. That means that being wrong and fallible are only bad things if we “fail[] to correct our mistakes”.

Thus, in the end, Soros is “quite forgiving” of himself. Indeed that forgiving natureitself leads to positive and beneficial personal and even (politically) global ends.

Soros gets even more vainglorious when he tell us that he wishes that he “could write a book that will be read for as long as our civilization lasts”. And if he managed that, he

would value it much more highly than any business success if I could contribute to an understanding of the world in which we live”.

This kind of conceit and moral grandstanding can be found everywhere in Soros's words and writings. Take this piece of embarrassing autobiography:

I have devoted half my fortune and most of my energies in the last 15 years to promoting the values of democracy and open society all over the world... I came to feel that those principles need to be defended at home.”

So how, exactly, does Soros intend to “defend” his “principles” in the United States? By financing Black Lives Matter and the Democrats, for example? (See this article on Soros's funding of Black Lives Matter.)

Soros on America

George Soros is deeply anti-American. Of course he would strongly deny that he is. Indeed he does deny it in his writings and interviews. Though this is becausehis personal America - America as hewants it to be - isn't what he's against. What he's against is America as it isand has been.

For example, Soros (as everyone knows) is very anti-Trump. He was also anti-George W. Bush. Soros (as everyone also knows) wasn't anti-Obama. Why? Because Obama's America squared fairly well with Soros's own America. Then again, Soros still believed that Obama didn't go far enough. He'd have needed more terms in office to go far enough.

Not that Soros is critical of America in precisely the same ways that, say, juvenile Marxists or progressives are critical. In other words, Soros's position is far more sophisticated than typical (Leftist) anti-Americanism; even if it's the case that he's very happy to fund and support many groups and individuals who take an extremely unsophisticated - and indeed violent - approach to America.

Soros was at his most extreme on America (in 2006) when he said the following:

The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States. This is a harsh — indeed, for me, painful — thing to say, but unfortunately I am convinced it is true.”

Typically (for Soros) he qualifies his anti-Americanism with that grandstanding central clause: “This is a harsh — indeed, for me, painful — thing to say...” Yet if you genuinely believe that the United States is the “main obstacle to a stable and just world order”, you may wonder how genuinely “painful” it would be for Soros “to say” all that.

Soros also offers his very own solutions to the painful problem that is America. This also explains why he funds numerous groups and individuals who and which are intent on destroying America as we know it. He says:

Changing the attitude and policies of the United States remains my top priority.”

Is that, then, why he funds Black Lives Matter? Is Soros “changing the attitude and policies of the United States” by funding Black Lives Matter? Why not? This group - amongst the many other extreme groups he funds - also wants to change the United States. Indeed the activist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), as another example, wants to change America by any means necessary. (See the link between BAMN and Soros in this article.) And considering Soros' s huge influence, he too wants to change America by any means necessary. Indeed he even comes very close to stating that himself.