Alright, I confess, I had to look George Soros up on Wikipedia and after having read this amazingly intelligent, candid and forthright article to be published in the New York Review in April I expected to discover that he’s a former Middle Eastern envoy from somewhere or another, or an Eastern European diplomant, but no. He’s a Hungarian billionaire.
What strikes me about this article is not so much its neatness – he clearly has a bird’s eye view of European and US politics, and I suppose that’s to be expected from ‘The man who broke the bank of England’ – but rather its candour. One of my favourite quotes from it was this:
“[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, for instance, is dead set against a deal with Iran because peace with Palestine would end his political career in Israel”
It was a huge relief to hear someone speaking so frankly. Most of the coverage and analysis of world events that I come across is full of mealy-mouthed allusions to the personal interest of politicians, and the effects that this has on global politics. We take for granted, for example, that the Conservative party in the UK has recently identified pensioners as a group it needs to canvass for support at the next general election, and has designed a budget to support that. Why have they done this? Because they have a personal interest in returning to power first, and for all other reasons second. Whether or not supporting pensioners is absoutely the best thing that they could have done at this time almost doesn’t come into it. We’ll never get to the truth of all that because of the rhetoric they’ve planned in advance to support it. This is universally accepted. We talk about a party ‘winning votes’, as if politics were a game in which the interests of the country, and on a larger scale, the world, come second. The conservative party and their supporters will argue, of course, as I’m sure will Benjamin Netanyahu, that they are the best party to run the country, that their survival in power is in the best interests of us all… But frankly, everyone knows that this is horse-shit, don’t they?
I liked his treatment of George Bush (a man whom Soros spent millions trying to remove from power in the run-up to the 2004 election), too, and his description of US foreign policy since the cold war. To paraphrase: After the fall of the Berlin wall, the US emerged as the single greatest power in the world but George Bush failed to understand how to use this power in the best interests of America. He didn’t grasp that soft power, the power of attraction is what sustains empires. He went on a crusade after the ‘Bad Guys’ and demonstrated that America was no longer fit to be in charge. This is why, to get to the heart of the matter, the current situation in the Ukraine is so important.
Such is the opinion of George Soros. I won’t paraphrase the entire article, he puts it much better than me, but I don’t care so much about the content, it’s his delivery that I like, his frankness.
Should politicians not be like this? Should we not demand from them a disinterested, bird’s eye view of the political landscape. Should we not be demanding that the steps of the geopolitical dance be made more obvious to us? At least then we could tell them apart. Should we not be supporting ‘conviction politicians’ like the late Tony Benn even, dare I say it, the late Margaret Thatcher purely because they speak a truth that they believe in, regardless of the nature of that truth? Thin ice I know, but I’d like to hear what you think. Personally I’d rather be lead astray by conviction than kept in the dark and fed lies.