George Soros' name has been thrown around a lot lately. Everyone is familiar with the man and some of his past escapades. But what does he really stand for, that is, what is his vision?
Recently, he has pushed for a common treasury for the eurozone. He has also advocated putting major banks under European Central Bank direction and cheap debt refinancing for countries like Italy and Spain.
In the process of campaigning for the above recommendations, he has drawn a lot of attention to himself. So the question must be asked: what exactly is his vision?
Alex Howe of Business Insider has taken it upon himself to examine Soros' own words so as to better understand whether or not his plan are indeed radical:
Alliances made between government and business threaten democracy:
His Solution: A New World Order.
"Perhaps the greatest threat to freedom and democracy in the world today comes from the formation of unholy alliances between government and businesses," he wrote in Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism.
Soros specifically lists corrupt countries like Zimbabwe, as well as plutocracy in Russia.
The United States supports unilateralism, which threatens a stable world order:
His Solution: A world that operates under multilateralism, not one super power.
"The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States," he wrote in The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror.
Dismayed by a seemingly overzealous U.S. foreign policy stemming from 9/11, Soros has been unapologetically critical of U.S. military interventions. In his book "Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism," he spells out his criticism:
"It may be shocking to say, but I believe that the current unilateralist posture of the United States constitutes a serious threat to the peace and prosperity of the world."
"The United States faces a crisis of identity: Does it want to be a solitary superpower or the leader of the free world?" he added later in The Crisis of Global Capitalism.
In short, Soros is a huge advocate of multilateralism. Indeed, Fox Nation tied him to the Western intervention in Libya.
Right now, capitalism is the enemy of the open society:
His Solution: Regulated markets that are not governed by capitalism
"The main enemy of the open society, I believe, is no longer the communist but the capitalist threat," Soros wrote referencing the state of the world after the fall of the Soviet empire.
Soros believes that an unfettered free market is dangerous
After he wrote about how capitalism had taken communism's place, Russia announced a debt moratorium, precipitating the infamous collapse of Long-Term Capital Management.
From "When Genius Failed," Roger Lowenstein's account of the crisis: "In seventy years, Russia's Communists had not succeeded in dealing markets such a telling blow as did its deadbeat capitalists."
(Source of Quote: The Capitalist Threat, by George Soros, courtesy of the Atlantic)
Laissez-faire economics isn't working anymore:
His Solution: An end to laissez-faire economics, which means financial transactions between private parties would be governed by state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies.
"Laissez-faire ideology does not prepare us to cope with this challenge. It does not recognize the need for a world order," Soros wrote in the Atlantic.
Here Soros' context is the collapse of the Cold War geopolitical structure, which allowed capitalism to run free. Comparing the late 90's to the "golden age of capitalism" at the end of the 19th century, Soros writes:
"The earlier period was in some ways more stable. There was an imperial power, England, that was prepared to dispatch gunboats to faraway places because as the main beneficiary of the system it had a vested interest in maintaining that system. Today the United States does not want to be the policeman of the world. The earlier period had the gold standard; today the main currencies float and crush against each other like continental plates. Yet the free-market regime that prevailed a hundred years ago was destroyed by the First World War. Totalitarian ideologies came to the fore, and by the end of the Second World War there was practically no movement of capital between countries."
Basically, he believes free markets do not have a place in this world.
Markets aren't stabilized or regulated enough:
His Solution: A global system of political decision-making that will implement a new global economic system and govern global economics
"To stabilize and regulate a truly global economy, we need some global system of political decision-making," he wrote in The Crisis of Global Capitalism.
"In short, we need a global society to support our global economy," he wrote.
We need international law to rule over states and institutions:
His Solution: An international legal system that rules over individual states and international institutions
"The sovereignty of states must be subordinated to international law and international institutions."
Soros says he does not want a "global state." What he wants is a "global body with actual political weight, supporting 'open societies'--transparent, robust democracies," Howe writes.
(Source of Quote: "The Crisis of Global Capitalism")
Capitalism has triumphed. But it makes democracy impossible:
His Solution: Democracy cannot coexist with capitalism. Now is the time for democracy.
"We can speak of the triumph of capitalism in the world, but we cannot yet speak about the triumph of democracy. There is a serious mismatch between the political and the economic conditions that prevail in the world today," Soros wrote in Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism.
Soros is a true globalist. For him, the "mismatch" is between an economy that flows relatively unimpeded worldwide, and a geopolitical system that defers to the sovereignty of nation-states--even repressive ones. This would explain why he has directly intervened in several international crises.
Although The New Yorker claims that, "He provided crucial support to civil-society movements throughout the Soviet bloc" and that "he probably did more than any other private citizen in the West to nudge European Communism into history’s dustbin," his global interventions have not always been so lofty (see Black Wednesday for reference).
If we don't end capitalism soon, someone will have the incentive to takeover the world:
His Solution: Consider the possibility of changing the system during a volatile time.
"The worse a situation becomes, the less it takes to turn it around, the bigger the upside," Soros said in a Time magazine interview (That sounds familiar: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste").
If not, the "upside" will be enjoyed by only the victors of capitalism. Again, the British currency devaluation crisis of '92 comes to mind. Soros made a $1.5 billion bet against the pound, which singlehandedly raised Bank of England interest rates by 2 percent and contributed to forcing the withdrawal of the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.
Alex Howe ends on this note:
So, Soros knows firsthand that financial actors can bank massively from political disaster--and, indeed, even cause it. His actions impacted the course of a nation's history, further fueling wild beliefs about his supposed shadowy influence. It's another irony of Soros conspiracy theories--the man who broke the pound is now a critic of unfettered free markets.
With better a better understanding of his fundamental beliefs, it is much easier to comprehend the implications of his suggestions to the embattled eurozone.
(H/T: Business Insider)