Autor: Stephen Adams Fuente: Citizen Magazine

He's been called everything from "the world's angriest billionaire" to "New Age messiah." He's also-among other things-the mastermind behind efforts to bring down President Bush and overthrow traditional morality. And he's willing to spend whatever it takes to do it.

Who is George Soros?

The 74-year-old billionaire is perhaps best known for contributing millions of dollars to forces on the far left such as MoveOn.org, the group that gained notoriety for posting a Web ad comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler.

But that's not all: For the past few years, Soros also has been quietly sinking millions upon millions of dollars into campaigns for homosexual rights, abortion rights and "medical" marijuana. One foundation expert, for example, said in the past five years alone Soros' foundation has provided $31 million to pro-abortion programs and organizations. Joseph Califano, former secretary of health, education and welfare in the Carter administration, has called Soros the "Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization."A Hungarian immigrant and self-proclaimed atheist, Soros once described himself as a kind of trinity—financier, philanthropist and philosopher.

As a financier, Soros—one of the world's wealthiest men, whose fortune has been estimated at $7 billion—made his first billion in 1992 betting against the British pound and thereby hastening its disastrous devaluation. Since then he has greatly leveraged his fortune as a shrewd investor, a prescient trend spotter and savvy manager of the Quantum Fund. He has been accused of destabilizing world currencies and wrecking the economies of nations, notably in Malaysia and Thailand. A French court convicted him of insider trading and fined him $2.3 million in 2002.

As a philanthropist, Soros is virtually in a league of his own. A spokesman said the Soros network of foundations—the Open Society Institute (OSI), operating in some 50 countries—routinely gives away $450 million a year, totaling some $5 billion in the past two decades. While no official ranking is apparently available, this easily puts OSI in the upper tier of charitable-organization giving. Among the beneficiaries have been the American Civil Liberties Union and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

As a philosopher, Soros likes to posture as one of the world's great thinkers, writing books with grandiose titles (The Bubble of American Supremacy, Soros on Soros) and creating and naming new schools of thought ("reflexivity," "Soros doctrine"). His central premise is tolerance and recognizing human fallibility, but with a relativist style: He insists that no nation or people possesses "ultimate truth." Therefore, a true "open society" and its leaders should not act unilaterally—as the United States allegedly has done in Iraq—but should subordinate national interests to multinational concerns and entities, like the United Nations and the court of world opinion.

Out of this flows an intense disdain for President Bush, whom Soros regards as an arrogant "supremacist" and "extremist," and for evangelical Christians—whom he despises as "religious fanatics."

Generous George

Ironically, Soros and his family—who are Jewish—escaped the Holocaust during World War II by posing as Christians with falsified identity papers. After the war they escaped their new Communist masters in Hungary by fleeing to England in 1947, where George attended the London School of Economics. He and his father, a lawyer, shared an intense interest in Esperanto, a contrived "universal" language. No doubt Soros and his father, repulsed by the virulent belief systems of Nazism and Communism, were attracted by the vision of a world free of nationalities that Esperanto represented.

Later, Soros became a disciple of the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, a contrarian who specialized in debunking other philosophers and who first coined the term "open society." In one of his works, Popper wrote these ominous words:

The moral decisions of others should be treated with respect, as long as such decisions do not conflict with the principle of tolerance. We have the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should tolerate even them whenever we can do so without running a great risk; but the risk may become so great that we cannot allow ourselves the luxury. (The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945)

Soros eventually moved to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen. He also became a lifelong friend of the late hippie poet Allen Ginsberg, who—according to Soros' authorized biography (Soros, Michael T. Kaufman, 2002)—persuaded him that America's war on drugs was a misguided revival of Prohibition.

(Senior aide Michael Vachon said Soros was traveling in Europe and could not be reached for comment for this article.)

Soros' first venture into philanthropy, Vachon said, was providing scholarships for black students to Capetown University during the apartheid era in South Africa. After the fall of Communism, Soros provided funding to help ease the transition to democracy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. Vachon said Soros also provided scholarships for students to the Central European University—which he founded in Budapest to introduce Western teaching—and funding in Russia to translate books once banned by Communist dictators.

Vachon contends that Soros is a generous man who has tried to use his vast wealth to benefit humanity but whose image has been distorted by the "conservative media establishment." His giving to controversial causes is motivated, Vachon said, by "compassion." Marijuana should be available to the suffering. Women should have the right to terminate a "problem pregnancy." Homosexuals should not face discrimination.

As for the charge of Soros' being "anti-family," Vachon says that's "nonsense." He cites the foundation's $125 million grant-its largest award in the United States—-to fund after—school activities for poor kids in the five boroughs of New York City and elsewhere.

"These are public school kids whose parents are at work and who would otherwise be out on the streets or watching TV alone at home," Vachon said. "Instead of being in harm's way and getting into trouble, they are in programs that help them with academics and introduce music, art and sports into their [lives]. I think that's about as pro-family as you can get."

Still, others accuse Soros of hypocrisy, deception and ulterior motives. It was Soros, after all, who bankrolled special-interest groups promoting campaign-finance reform (the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act) and who then turned right around and exploited its biggest loophole—the ability of independent political action committees to receive unlimited funding from big spenders (like Soros) to advance the cause of one candidate (like John Kerry) over another (like George W. Bush).

Naturally, this has not sat well with GOP leaders. The Bush-Cheney campaign has accused Soros of engineering a "shadow campaign" of "pro-Democrat liberal propaganda."

Dangerous George

A look at just one of Soros' philanthropic endeavors—medical marijuana—is revealing.

At last count, nine states had passed laws decriminalizing marijuana possession or providing for drug treatment instead of incarceration, or allowing the use of medical marijuana (for patients with glaucoma, AIDS, chemotherapy-induced nausea, migraine headaches and a host of other conditions). And four more states—Alaska, Arkansas, Montana and Nevada—have similar initiatives on the ballot this November.

The startling fact is that virtually all of these ballot initiatives owe their success primarily to one individual—George Soros.

It started in California with the passage of Prop. 215 (The Compassionate Use Act of 1996), a medical-marijuana initiative. Prop. 215 proponents buried the opposition, outspending them in the campaign $2.5 million to $33,600—a ratio of 75 to 1—according to reports collected by National Families in Action (NFA), an Atlanta-based organization dedicated to helping families and communities prevent drug use among children. Of that $2.5 million, 92 percent ($2.3 million) came from an organization called Californians for Medical Rights. Key contributors were George Soros ($550,000), Peter B. Lewis ($500,000) and John Sperling ($200,000). Lewis is chairman and chief executive officer of Progressive Auto Insurance, the nation's fourth-largest car insurer. Sperling is chairman and CEO of the Apollo Group and Phoenix University. Lewis was in the news several years ago when he was arrested for allegedly smuggling a small quantity of marijuana into New Zealand. No formal disposition of the case was ever recorded.

The same basic strategy was replayed in other states. Californians for Medical Rights morphed into Americans for Medical Rights with the same three principals—Soros, Lewis and Sperling. All told, Soros alone has probably spent in the neighborhood of $15 million promoting marijuana initiatives, if one also counts his generous contributions the Drug Policy Foundation, according to NFA Chairman Sue Rusche.

Soros has complained for years about America's war on drugs, which he said in a 1997 Washington Post op-ed is doing "more harm to our society than drug abuse itself."

But drug-legalization opponents say Soros and his allies have been misleading, if not downright deceptive, in claiming there's a real medical need for illegal drugs. They note that there's already a drug in pill form, called Marinol, that's been synthesized from cannabis (the marijuana plant), tested on animals and humans and approved by the Food and Drug Administration for medical purposes such as nausea reduction. The only problem—it's not smoked and doesn't produce the marijuana "high."

"Joe Public is not qualified to make those decisions about whether marijuana is, first, safe and, second, effective," Rusche said. "But what the initiatives do is ask voters to make decisions that scientists and physicians normally make. And I don't think that's a good idea."

Soros and others generally deny their goal is drug legalization, but those denials don't convince everyone. It's just a strategy called "incrementalism"—and "medical marijuana is the first step toward making it legitimate," said Rusche.

Gen. Barry R. Caffrey, federal drug czar under President Clinton, once complained to a congressional committee that certain "well-heeled" individuals were perpetrating a drug-reform fraud on the American people through "a slick misinformation campaign." He called it "a fraud so devious that even some of the nation's most respectable newspapers and sophisticated media are capable of echoing their falsehoods."

Indeed, Soros wrote in one of his books that he favored the outright legalization of most drugs, except for the most dangerous ones, like crack cocaine. He was quoted in Rolling Stone magazine in 1994—revealing his tactics for promoting drug-reform efforts—as insisting on certain criteria for his financial backing of drug-reform efforts: "Come up with an approach that emphasizes 'treatment and humanitarian endeavors' … hire someone with the political savvy to sit down and negotiate with the government officials, and target a few winnable issues, like medical marijuana and the repeal of mandatory [sentencing] minimums."

"That's what they've been up to all these years," Rusche said of the drug reformers. "They were very open about wanting to legalize not just marijuana but other drugs as well. And now they've learned to play sophisticated word games."

Curious George

So, who is George Soros?
The year 2004 brought Soros a whole new set of priorities. The "central focus" of his life, he insisted, is the defeat of George W. Bush and everything he stands for. The loathing runs deep. As he wrote in his epilogue to The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power:

It is not enough to defeat President Bush at the polls; we must repudiate the Bush doctrine and adopt a more enlightened vision of America's role in the world. If the presidency of George W. Bush was an aberration, we must learn something from it. An open society makes progress by trial and error.

And he has put his money where his mouth is, giving what has been called the largest single political contribution in American history—$10 million to an anti-Bush political-action group, America Coming Together (ACT). (See "Getting out the liberal vote," page 23.) ACT has generated bad press in several so-called presidential battleground states by filling the ranks of get-out-the-vote workers with convicted felons, including individuals convicted of assault and sex offenses.

Some political observers worry that Soros, who has made major ripples on the international financial scene before, could be up to more than just conventional political hardball and might cause Bush an unpleasant "October surprise" by pulling strings and causing "marketplace disruptions" on the economic front.

"I'm troubled that one man's deep pockets could end up having such a profound effect on whose political and moral values end up prevailing in November," said Gary Bauer, president of the pro-family American Values organization and himself a presidential candidate in 2000. He calls Soros' hatred of Bush "almost psychotic," as evidenced by his vitriolic statements and extravagant giving.

Another erstwhile presidential candidate, Howard Phillips, president of the Constitution Party, is somewhat dismissive of Soros' political import. He said if anything, Soros may inadvertently swing more votes to Ralph Nader by reminding "people on the left why they're unhappy with Bush."

But that doesn't mean Soros isn't dangerous. "George Soros is on the wrong side of just about every issue," Phillips said. "His main claim to fame is that he has a lot of money to spend."

It raises an intriguing question: Can a man—even a billionaire—ultimately draw sufficient personal self-worth just from the defeat and repudiation of someone else? Some have compared George Soros to a Rockefeller or Carnegie, but by merely manipulating currencies and speculating with other people's money, has he really produced anything of lasting value?

While some see Soros as a postmodern, New Age figure, Dr. R. Albert Mohler—president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and an astute culture watcher—said Soros is really a throwback to the age of Enlightenment.

"By Enlightenment, I'm really referring to the idea that human reason is the greatest source of wisdom—a rejection of the biblical worldview, which is established in divine revelation," Mohler said. "You also have with this 'open society' the idea that all issues can be negotiated, and this is the utopian vision of humanity. As I listen to Soros speak, it makes you wonder if he really understands that there are [terrorists] who want to kill us. Insofar as humanism has a modern exponent, willing to fund humanist causes, it really is George Soros."

Mohler noted a fundamental contradiction in the Soros persona: "His belief in the role of the state is incompatible with the very means of wealth-making that led to his own fortune. But then again, his worldview is probably able to accommodate that contradiction with no problem."

That's George Soros.
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