George Soros is a Hungarian Jew who immigrated to the US at the end of World War II. He was born in 1930 and most of his childhood was under the Hitler’s regime. It was a difficult time for Jews in Hungary after the Nazi invasion at 1944-45. Many Jews were murdered but instead of submitting to their fate, his father managed to arrange false identities for his family and for many other Jews; several families survived because of his heroic act.
In 1947, he managed to escape from Hungary to England where he enrolled as an Economic student at London School of Economics. That’s where he got to learn about Karl Popper’s philosophies which really influenced his thinking up to date. He even managed to develop his own philosophy from it, built on fallibility and reflexivity with two societies; open and closed society.
After his studies, he moved to the US in 1956 to enter the world of finance and investment. He managed to grow in the finance market and has graciously shared his experiences and his thoughts on the economy and politics today as well.
When did you join the financial market?
My move to the US was to join the financial services at F.M Mayer as an arbitrage trader. I saw it suit to use the ideologies I got at a country supporting democratic rule. This was an environment that felt conducive enough to grow financially.
I managed to launch Soros Fund Management which still is in existence and operates as one of the most successful firms in the industry. I can give credit of my financial success to the Open Society I was in that promoted democracy and capitalism.
My success in the financial markets has given me a substantial degree of independence that helped me create a path towards a world that’s more open, more just, and more equitable for all.
I used the fortune I got to conceptualize the Open Society Foundation which works under the philosophy of Karl Popper arguing that societies work best with democratic governance, freedom of expression, and respect for individual rights.
Is business growing with the world?
Business has evolved throughout history. I can say this because of the different levels of government, particularly societies. As I had explained, distinguishing between the Open and Closed societies back then influenced the financial growth. Open societies, those that promoted democracy and had well-functioning models which made business grow more easily as compared to Closed Societies. This isn’t the same with the current era.
This current era has come with painful changes. The open societies have had a shocking turnaround. The closed societies, ranging from fascist dictatorships to mafia states, are seen to be on the rise with the open societies dwindling economically.
How can you explain such a situation?
The only explanation I can find for this is that democracy is under attack with elected leaders failing to meet voters’ legitimate expectations and aspirations and this failure has led electorates to become disenchanted with the prevailing versions of democracy and capitalism. Quite simply, many people feel that the elites have stolen their democracy.
Has this limited financial growth over the world?
Not really. The Financial market still grows on. This can be because of the ideologies the US promoted after the fall of Soviet Union with the US becoming a Superpower. The US promoted untrammeled free enterprise which led to the rise of believers who I call market fundamentalists.
Also, with different economic growth in different countries and the financial capitals being an indispensable ingredient, globalization spread all over the world. This globalization has helped reduce the gap between the poor and rich countries economically. This is a global achievement regardless of the inequity that arose between them.
What is your take on EU?
I was once a strong supporter of the European Union especially from its inception. I saw it as an organization that spearheaded the ideologies of an open society with the aim of sacrificing some sovereignty for the common good.
Unfortunately the EU took a turn for the worst. The equity relations that had prevailed over the years crashed on 2008. This was largely because of the encroachment of the relationship between creditors and debtors with creditors imposing conditions on debtors and debtors having difficulties in maintaining those conditions. After an EU meeting in 2008, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that each member state should look after its own institutions. This was a decision reached by all electorates. From then disintegration started. The anti-EU movement and Brexit on 2016 worsened the influence of the organization with members becoming more and more alienated.
At the moment, I am afraid for the fate of EU as it is now under the influence of the Russian President Vladimir Putin who to me is with one with the closed society ideologies. The EU that we know of is on the verge of breakdown and the people who believed in it need to come together and reorganize it.
Will Putin really largely influence European politics?
Definitely, Putin has great influence in Europe. In his own country, he tried to control the media and social-media companies in order to spread propaganda and thus disorienting electorates and destabilizing democracies. I also believe that is how he helped Trump win the elections.
European 2017 election season in Netherlands, Germany and Italy will possibly be as so. He has a great relation with the two leading contenders in France, his dominance is becoming undisputed.
What is your opinion on Trump?
The Trump Administration is quite unpredictable mainly because it seems he has not really thought it through. Trump did not expect to get the Presidency and it was a shock to him. His main agenda was as always to build his brand and growing it by his ability to attract crowds. He actually started thinking about the presidency after his win.
I have always regarded him as a con and impostor with tendencies of dictatorship but I have confidence the Constitution of the USA will not allow him to get way with that.