* Multi-billionaire funder of leftwing causes and groups * Founder of the Open Society Institute * The prime mover behind the Democratic “Shadow Party” network Introducing George Soros New York hedge fund manager George Soros is one of the most politically powerful individuals on earth. Since the mid-1980s in particular, he has used his immense influence to help reconfigure the political landscapes of several countries around the world―in some cases playing a key role in toppling regimes that had held the reins of government for years, even decades. Vis à vis the United States, a strong case can be made for the claim that Soros today affects American politics and culture more profoundly that any other living person. Much of Soros’s influence derives from his $13 billion personal fortune,1 which is further leveraged by at least another $25 billion in investor assets controlled by his firm, Soros Fund Management.2 An equally significant source of Soros’s power, however, is his passionate messianic zeal. Soros views himself as a missionary with something of a divine mandate to transform the world and its institutions into something better―as he sees it. Over the years, Soros has given voice to this sense of grandiosity many times and in a variety of different ways. In his 1987 book The Alchemy of Finance, for instance, he wrote: “I admit that I have always harbored an exaggerated view of self-importance―to put it bluntly, I fancied myself as some kind of god or an economic reformer like Keynes or, even better, a scientist like Einstein.”3 Expanding on this theme in his 1991 book Underwriting Democracy, Soros said: “If truth be known, I carried some rather potent messianic fantasies with me from childhood,” fantasies which “I wanted to indulge … to the extent that I could afford.”4 In a June 1993 interview with The Independent, Soros, who is an atheist,5 said he saw himself as “some kind of god, the creator of everything.”6 In an interview two years later, he portrayed himself as someone who shared numerous attributes with “God in the Old Testament” ― “[Y]ou know, like invisible. I was pretty invisible. Benevolent. I was pretty benevolent. All-seeing. I tried to be all-seeing.”7 Soros told his biographer Michael Kaufman that his “goal” was nothing less ambitious than “to become the conscience of the world” by using his charitable foundations,8 which will be discussed at length in this pamphlet, to bankroll organizations and causes that he deems worthwhile. “I realized [as a young man] that it’s money that makes the world go round,” says Soros, “so I might as well make money.… But having made it, I could then indulge my social concerns.”9 Invariably, those concerns center around a desire to change the world generally―and America particularly―into something new, something consistent with his vision of “social justice.” Claiming to be “driven” by “illusions, or perhaps delusions, of grandeur,”10 Soros has humorously described himself as “a kind of nut who wants to have an impact” on the workings of the world.11 The billionaire’s longtime friend Byron Wien, currently the vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Services, offers this insight: “You must understand [Soros] thinks he’s been anointed by God to solve insoluble problems. The proof is that he has been so successful at making so much [money]. He therefore thinks he has a responsibility to give money away”―to causes that are consistent with his values and agendas.12 George Soros’s Roots and Development George Soros was born to Tividar and Erzebat Schwartz, non-practicing Jews, in Budapest, Hungary on August 12, 1930. Tivadar was an attorney by profession, but the consuming passion of his life was the promotion of Esperanto―an artificial, “universal” language created during the 1880s in hopes that people worldwide might be persuaded to drop their native tongues and speak Esperanto instead―thereby, in theory at least, minimizing their nationalist impulses while advancing intercultural harmony. In 1936, Tivadar changed his family surname to Soros―a future-tense Esperanto verb meaning “will soar.”13 When the Nazis occupied Budapest in 1944, Tivadar decided to split up his family so as to minimize the chance that all its members would be killed together. For each of them―his wife and two sons―he purchased forged papers identifying them as Christians and then bribed Gentile families to take them into their homes. As for George in particular, the father bribed a Hungarian government official named Baumbach to claim George as his Christian godson, “Sandor Kiss,” and to let the boy live with him. One of Baumbach’s duties was to deliver deportation notices to Hungary’s Jews, confiscating their property and turning it over to Germany. Young George Soros sometimes accompanied the official on his rounds.14 Many years later, in December 1998, a CBS interviewer would ask Soros whether he had ever felt any guilt about his association with Baumbach during that period. Soros replied: “… I was only a spectator … I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.”15 Soros today recalls the German occupation of Hungary as “probably the happiest year of my life.” “For me,” he elaborates, “it was a very positive experience. It’s a strange thing because you see incredible suffering around you and the fact you are in considerable danger yourself. But you’re fourteen years old and you don’t believe that it can actually touch you. You have a belief in yourself. You have a belief in your father. It’s a very happy-making, exhilarating experience.”16 In 1947 the Soros family relocated from Hungary to England, where George attended the London School of Economics (LSE). There, he was exposed to the works of the Viennese-born philosopher Karl Popper, who taught at LSE and whom Soros would later call his “spiritual mentor.”17 Though Soros never studied directly under Popper, he read the latter’s works and submitted some essays to him for review and comment. Most notably, Popper’s 1945 book The Open Society and Its Enemies introduced Soros to the concept of an “open society,” a theme that would play a central role in Soros’s thought and activities for the rest of his life.18 The term “open society” was originally coined in 1932 by the French philosopher Henri Louis Bergson, to describe societies whose moral codes were founded upon “universal” principles seeking to enhance the welfare of all mankind―as opposed to “closed” societies that placed self-interest above any concern for other nations and cultures.19 Popper readily embraced this concept and expanded upon it. In his view, the open society was a place that permitted its citizens the right to criticize and change its institutions as they saw fit; he rejected the imposed intellectual conformity, central planning, and historical determinism of Marxist doctrine.20 By Popper’s reckoning, a society was “closed”―and thus undesirable―if it assumed that it was in any way superior to other societies. Likewise, any belief system or individual claiming to be in possession of “ultimate truth” was an “enemy” of the open society as well. Popper viewed all knowledge as conjectural rather than certain, as evolving rather than fixed. Thus, by logical extension, Popper did not share the American founders’ confident assertion that certain truths were “self-evident,” and that certain rights―such as the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” as referenced in the Declaration of Independence―were “unalienable” and thus not subject to doubt, because they had been granted to mankind by the ultimate authority, the “Creator.”21 We shall see that George Soros, as he grew to maturity, would likewise reject the founders’ premise. Indeed Soros would harbor great disdain for modern-day American political figures who displayed unshakable confidence in their own culture’s nobility, and who embraced the tenets of the Declaration and the U.S. Constitution as timeless, immutable truths. To Soros, “Popper’s greatest contribution to philosophy” was his teaching that “the ultimate truth remains permanently beyond our reach.”22 After graduating in 1952 from LSE, Soros joined the London brokerage firm Singer and Friedlander, where he became proficient in international arbitrage, which he defines as “buying securities in one country and selling them in another.”23 Four years later, he relocated to New York to work as a stock trader on Wall Street. Because Soros “did not particularly care for” the “commercial, crass” United States, he had no intention of settling permanently in America. Rather, he had devised a “five-year plan” to save some $500,000 and then return to Europe.24 His plan changed, however, when he found work as a portfolio manager at the investment bank Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder Inc., where his career―as if to fulfill the prophecy embedded in the family surname his father had adopted two decades earlier―soared to new heights. In 1959 Soros moved to Greenwich Village, New York, where early stirrings of the Sixties counterculture were already being felt. In September 1960 he married Annaliese Witschak, who would be his wife until the couple divorced 23 years later.25 In 1961 Soros became a U.S. citizen, and two years later he and Annaliese had their first child, a son. In the Village, it is likely that Soros was exposed to the ideas of the prominent socialist Michael Harrington, who mingled with fellow radicals and socialists almost nightly at a tavern situated barely a stone’s throw from Soros’s residence.26 In 1962 Harrington wrote The Other America, a book lamenting the fact that a substantial “invisible” underclass continued to exist even as the country at large prospered, and suggesting that a “war on poverty” was needed to rectify this. President Lyndon Johnson read and admired the book, and its ideas greatly influenced his Great Society policies of government-imposed redistribution of wealth. Another prominent Village personality of the era―the poet, New Left radical, and psychedelic-drug guru Allen Ginsberg―would eventually become a “lifelong friend” of Soros. Though Soros may not have formally met Ginsberg until around 1980―long after his years in the Village―the billionaire today credits Ginsberg for having opened his eyes to the benefits of drug legalization, which has been one of Soros’s pet projects throughout his philanthropic career.27 In 1969 Soros established the “Double Eagle Fund” for Bleichroeder with $4 million in capital, including $250,000 of his own money. Four years later, Soros and his assistant at Bleichroeder, Jim Rogers, set up a private partnership called Soros Fund Management. They subsequently changed the Double Eagle Fund’s name to The Soros Fund. In 1979 they renamed it again―The Quantum Fund; its value grew to $381 million by 1980, and more than $1 billion by 1985.28 Soros the Philanthropist It was in 1979 that Soros began testing the proverbial waters of philanthropy. Five years later he launched, in the country of his birth, the first of his many Open Society Foundations―named after the concept advanced by Karl Popper―to help “build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens.”29 But it was not until 1987, the year he opened his Moscow office, that Soros began to disseminate truly large amounts of money to various groups and causes. “My spending rose from $3 million in 1987 to more than $300 million a year by 1992,” he said.30 During this period, Soros established a series of foundations throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia.31 He happily observed that because of his extraordinary wealth, major political figures “suddenly became very interested in seeing me…. [M]y influence increased.”32 Today Soros’s Open Society Foundations are active in more than 70 countries around the world.33 In 1993 Soros established the flagship of the Soros foundation network―the New York City-based Open Society Institute (OSI). While OSI’s philanthropy extends to a number of nations around the world, it is chiefly devoted to injecting capital into American groups and causes. In his book Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism, Soros explains that the “open society” which he seeks to advance by means of philanthropy, “stands for freedom, democracy, rule of law, human rights, social justice, and social responsibility as a universal idea.”34 But of course, abstract concepts like these, draped in vestments of lofty rhetoric, can mean radically different things to different people. Entrusted with the task of defining the foregoing terms for the Open Society Institute, and for articulating the Institute’s agendas from the outset, was Aryeh Neier, whom Soros appointed to serve as president not only of OSI, but of the entire Soros Foundation Network. Thirty-four years earlier, Neier had created the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which became the largest and most important radical group of the 1960s. SDS aspired to overthrow America’s democratic institutions, remake its government in a Marxist image, and undermine the nation’s war efforts in Vietnam. (A particularly militant faction of SDS would later break away to form the Weather Underground, a notorious domestic terror organization with a Marxist-Leninist agenda.) Following his stint with SDS, Neier worked fifteen years for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)―including eight years as its national executive director. After that, he spent twelve years as executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), an organization he founded in 1978.35 The Soros Agendas Both the ACLU and HRW have long promoted one of the central contentions of Soros’s Open Society Institute: the notion that America is institutionally an oppressive nation and a habitual violator of human rights both at home and abroad―indeed, the very antithesis of the type of “open society” Soros reveres. Consider first the ACLU, whose advisory board once included the former Weather Underground terrorist Bernardine Dohrn.36 The ACLU has opposed virtually all post-9/11 national security measures enacted by the U.S. government, depicting those measures not only as excessively harsh and invasive generally, but also as discriminatory against Muslims in particular.37 Moreover, the organization has filed numerous lawsuits seeking to limit the government’s ability to locate, monitor, and apprehend terrorist operatives. It consistently depicts American society as one that is rife with intractable racial injustice. And it works tirelessly to protect illegal immigrants against “governmental abuse and discrimination.”38 These (and many other) ACLU activities and policy positions are entirely consistent with those of Aryeh Neier and George Soros, as evidenced by the fact that between 1999 and 2008, OSI awarded $8.69 million in grants to the ACLU Foundation.39 Neier’s other training ground, Human Rights Watch, has a long history of pointing an accusatory finger at America’s allegedly numerous transgressions. Most notably, HRW has derided the U.S. war on terror as a foolhardy endeavor rooted in blindness to the realization that terrorism stems, in large measure, from America’s failure “to promote fundamental rights around the world.”40 In a March 2007 speech, HRW executive director Kenneth Roth charged that the United States, by routinely “using torture and inhumane treatment” to deal with its foes, had “severely damaged its credibility when it comes to promoting human rights” in other nations.41 Between 2000 and 2008, the Open Society Institute awarded grants and other contributions to HRW that collectively totaled $6,386,477.42 Then, in September 2010, Soros announced that he would soon be giving HRW another $100 million.43 Notably, Soros himself once served on HRW’s Europe and Central Asia Advisory Committee.44 OSI’s total assets today exceed $1.9 billion. Each year, the Institute awards scores of millions of dollars in grants to organizations that―like the ACLU and HRW―promote worldviews and objectives accordant with those of George Soros.45 Following is a sampling of the major agendas advanced by groups that Soros and OSI support financially. Listed under each category heading are a few OSI donees fitting that description. Organizations that accuse America of violating the civil rights and liberties of many of its residents: The Arab American Institute impugns many of the “sweeping” and “unreasonable” post-9/11 counterterrorism measures that have unfairly “targeted Arab Americans.”46 The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has persuaded the political leadership in more than 400 American cities and counties to pledge noncompliance with the anti-terrorism measure known as the Patriot Act, on grounds that the legislation tramples on people’s civil liberties.47 Organizations that depict America as a nation whose enduring racism must be counterbalanced by racial and ethnic preferences in favor of nonwhites: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund calls itself “the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization.”48 The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law provides “legal services to address racial discrimination.”49 The NAACP and its Legal Defense and Educational Fund uses “litigation, advocacy, and public education” to promote “structural changes” and “achieve racial justice in the United States”50 The National Council of La Raza charges that “discrimination severely limits the economic and social opportunities available to Hispanic Americans.”51 Organizations that specifically portray the American criminal-justice system as racist and inequitable: The Sentencing Project asserts that prison-sentencing patterns discriminate against nonwhites, and seeks “to reduce the reliance on incarceration.”52 Critical Resistance contends that crime stems from “inequality and powerlessness,” which can be rectified through wholesale redistribution of wealth.53 The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights charges that criminal laws “are enforced in a manner that is massively and pervasively biased.”54 Organizations that call for massive social change, and for the recruitment and training of activist leaders to help foment that change: The Center for Community Change is “dedicated to finding the [progressive] stars of tomorrow and preparing them to lead.”55 The Gamaliel Foundation teaches social-change “techniques and methodologies.”56 The Ruckus Society promotes “nonviolent direct action against unjust institutions and policies.”57 The American Institute for Social Justice aims to “transform poor communities” by agitating for increased government spending on social-welfare programs.58 The Institute for America’s Future “regularly convenes and educates progressive leaders, organizations, candidates, opinion makers, and activists.”59 People for the American Way, founded by television producer Norman Lear to oppose the allegedly growing influence of the “religious right,” seeks “to cultivate new generations of leaders and activists” who will promote “progressive values.”60 Democracy For America operates an academy that has taught more than 10,000 recruits nationwide how to “focus, network, and train grassroots activists in the skills and strategies to take back our country.”61 The Midwest Academy trains radical activists in the tactics of direct action, confrontation, and intimidation. Author Stanley Kurtz has described this academy as a “crypto-socialist organization” that was “arguably the most influential force in community organizing from the seventies through the nineties.”62 Organizations that disparage capitalism while promoting a dramatic expansion of social-welfare programs funded by ever-escalating taxes: The Center for Economic and Policy Research asserts that “the welfare state has softened the impact” of “the worst excesses and irrationalities of a market system” and its “injustices.”63 The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities advocates greater tax expenditures on such assistance programs as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, and low-income housing initiatives.64 The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights was founded by the revolutionary communist Van Jones. This anti-poverty organization claims that “decades of disinvestment in our cities,” coupled with America’s allegedly imperishable racism, have “led to despair and homelessness.”65 The Emma Lazarus Fund: In 1996 George Soros said he was “appalled” by the recently signed welfare-reform law that empowered states to limit legal immigrants’ access to public assistance. In response to this “mean-spirited attack on immigrants,” he launched an Open Society Institute project known as the Emma Lazarus Fund and endowed it with $50 million.66
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