This will be more of a watercolor pastel sketch of a “Dig Here!” than anything with profound in detail conclusions.
Because the Popper tome is about 800 pages in two volumes all by itself. All of it is full of jargon-of-philosophy that is rich in insider terms named for various people or prior terms, none of it in generic English, much of it a bit daft, and all of it obstruse. Obstruse, btw, being an obscure and misleading form of abstruse, which can be interpreted as meaning obscure and misleading ;-)
So after that, you get to dig into Hegel and all the little Hegels. Left Hegelian, Right Hegelian, and the usually ignored Center Hegelian. (So far I’ve only found one of them…) That takes a few dozen volumes and a few tens of thousands of pages of further self congratulatory metal masturbation by the various authors. At the end of which you feel a bit sullied and find yourself in the bathroom with a tall vodka/rocks looking for the mental floss…
So I’m not going to inflict all that on you against your will. Heck, I’ve not even managed to inflict all of it on me. I’ve only read spots of Popper, and second hand summaries of Hagel and the Hagelites. Maybe 500 pages total? (Not counting the Marx I read in the past… yes, Karl Marx was a Left Hegelian… so yes, it matters.)
Basically, I’m going to give the minimum pointer to all that stuff, with just a few sample quotes to illustrate why it is the source rock for so much grief in the world today, link it to Soros and his goals, then suggest mostly that folks just read the Popper book as it is very well written, easy to read, and at times a bit juicy.
With that, when you start thinking this is a bit long and convoluted, just remember this is the very shortest form and with the jargon unrolled as much as I can.
So how to approach it. Historical forward? Soros to his roots in Aristotle and Plato? Middle out starting with Popper?
Maybe a top sketch, then some depth on bits of it, then some paint by numbers connections…
I’ll be putting the commentary on Hegel in a separate posting, just as this will be far too long if all done at once. Here we will give the sketch, then some on Soros and Popper.
The Big Bits
OK, Soros is the spider in the middle of a global web of organizations attempting to remake the world into his idea of what is best. He has spent $Billions funding Open Society Foundations around the world, supported “Color Revolutions” (more on that in some other post someday) in various countries, has an arrest warrant out from Russia (since they suspect he wants to paint them with a color of revolution), funds groups like Black Lives Matter to suddenly pop up tossing rocks at national governments and sends personal email to folks like Hillary Clinton… or her surrogates. Maybe knowing “why?” and some about his motivations would be helpful to understanding the upheaval in the world and why some folks, like Obama, are hell bent on the destruction of America and happy to import millions who hate us. Obama, too, gets pats on the head from Soros…
The clue is in the Open Society Foundations.
These are not named randomly, or from some flowery ideal. They are named after a BOOK and IDEA that is foundational to how Soros sees the world. That book is “The Open Society and It’s Enemies” by Karl Popper. Yes, that Popper…
That book is largely a critique of Hagel and those who follow him. For anyone not aware of who Hagel was, his musing laid the basis both for the Nazi attempt at empire, and the Marxism that is still trying to dominate the world. Now you might think it a noble act to attempt to support anyone who was against such stuff. It is my assertion that Soros has a warped view of what Popper is saying, and then runs off a cliff with it.
It is a common behaviour amoung the very bright to run to extremes of an ideal, and not see the vast gray areas that make up the real world real people live with. It is my opinion that Soros, growing up as Schwartz in Nazi “greater” Germany, saw first hand the results of a “State As Superior Being” as advocated by Hagel, and was left scarred with it for life. Popper critiques this as a horrible thing (and it was) via the term “Tribalism” and the occasional reference to Nationalism. Here’s where I think Soros went off the rails. IMHO, he now believes that the root cause of all the world’s problems are Tribalism and Nationalism, and if he can just stamp out Tribes and Nations, the world will be a happy ideal place. Thus the destruction of “Tribes” such as presently in the Middle east, and the destruction of Nations going on now with the EU and massive Muslim imports (and to a lesser extent, the USA and our non-border and massive muslim importation.)
OK, that’s the whole idea. Those uninterested in any supportive information can pop a beer now and turn on the TV…
There’s a decent bio thumbnail on the wiki:
I’m going to stick some bits here so when the Wiki Langoliers re-write history, it won’t all be erased…
George Soros (/ˈsɔːroʊs/ or /ˈsɔːrɒs/; Hungarian: Soros György, pronounced [ˈʃoroʃ ˈɟørɟ]; born August 12, 1930, as György Schwartz; Hungarian: Schwartz György) is a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, political activist, and author.[a] He is chairman of Soros Fund Management. He is known as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” because of his short sale of US$10 billion worth of pounds, making him a profit of $1 billion during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis. Soros is one of the 30 richest people in the world.
Soros is a well known supporter of American progressive and American liberal political causes. Between 1979 and 2011 Soros donated more than $11 billion to various philanthropic causes. He played a significant role in the peaceful transition from communism to capitalism in Eastern Europe (1984–89) and provided one of Europe’s largest higher education endowments to the Central European University in Budapest. Soros is also the chairman of the Open Society Foundations.
Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary, to a non-observant Jewish family. His mother, Elizabeth (also known as Erzsébet), came from a family that owned a thriving silk shop. His father, Tivadar, (also known as Teodoro) was a lawyer and had been a prisoner of war during and after World War I until he escaped from Russia and rejoined his family in Budapest. The two married in 1924. Tivadar was an Esperantist writer and taught Soros to speak Esperanto in his childhood. Soros later said that he grew up in a Jewish home and that his parents were cautious with their religious roots. In 1936, his father changed the family name from Schwartz (“black” in German) to Soros (a successor in Hungarian or will soar in Esperanto).
Soros was 13 years old in March 1944 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary. When Jewish children were barred from attending school by the Nazis, Soros and the other schoolchildren were made to report to the Jewish Council, which had been established during the occupation. Soros later described this time to writer Michael Lewis:
The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper…. It said report to the rabbinical seminary at 9 am… And I was given this list of names. I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, “You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported.”
Soros did not return to that job and went into hiding the next day. Later that year, at age 14, Soros lived with and posed as the godson of an employee of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. The official was at one point ordered to inventory the remaining contents of the estate of a wealthy Jewish family that had fled the country; rather than leave Soros alone in the city, the official brought him along. The next year, 1945, Soros survived the Battle of Budapest, in which Soviet and German forces fought house to house through the city.
I think that pretty much set his persona. This next bit points out why I think the philosophy angle is an important one:
In 1951 Soros earned a Bachelor of Science in philosophy and an MSc in philosophy in 1954, both from the London School of Economics.
He was clearly interested in Philosophy… along with money.
Then, after a listing of his life working for other people, there’s this interesting bit. I note in passing that Krugman is at least willing to state the obvious…
In 1997, during the Asian financial crisis, the prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad, accused Soros of using the wealth under his control to punish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for welcoming Myanmar as a member. Following on a history of antisemitic remarks, Mahathir made specific reference to Soros’s Jewish background (“It is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge”) and implied Soros was orchestrating the crash as part of a larger Jewish conspiracy. Nine years later, in 2006, Mahathir met with Soros and afterward stated that he accepted that Soros had not been responsible for the crisis. In 1998’s The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered Soros explained his role in the crisis as follows:
The financial crisis that originated in Thailand in 1997 was particularly unnerving because of its scope and severity…. By the beginning of 1997, it was clear to Soros Fund Management that the discrepancy between the trade account and the capital account was becoming untenable. We sold short the Thai baht and the Malaysian ringgit early in 1997 with maturities ranging from six months to a year. (That is, we entered into contracts to deliver at future dates Thai baht and Malaysian ringgit that we did not currently hold.) Subsequently Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia accused me of causing the crisis, a wholly unfounded accusation. We were not sellers of the currency during or several months before the crisis; on the contrary, we were buyers when the currencies began to decline—we were purchasing ringgits to realize the profits on our earlier speculation. (Much too soon, as it turned out. We left most of the potential gain on the table because we were afraid that Mahathir would impose capital controls. He did so, but much later.)
In 1999, economist Paul Krugman was critical of Soros’s effect on financial markets.
“[N]obody who has read a business magazine in the last few years can be unaware that these days there really are investors who not only move money in anticipation of a currency crisis, but actually do their best to trigger that crisis for fun and profit. These new actors on the scene do not yet have a standard name; my proposed term is ‘Soroi’.”
In an interview regarding the late-2000s recession, Soros referred to it as the most serious crisis since the 1930s. According to Soros, market fundamentalism with its assumption that markets will correct themselves with no need for government intervention in financial affairs has been “some kind of an ideological excess”. In Soros’s view, the markets’ moods—a “mood” of the markets being a prevailing bias or optimism/pessimism with which the markets look at reality—”actually can reinforce themselves so that there are these initially self-reinforcing but eventually unsustainable and self-defeating boom/bust sequences or bubbles.”
In reaction to the late-2000s recession, he founded the Institute for New Economic Thinking in October 2009. This is a think tank composed of international economic, business, and financial experts, mandated to investigate radical new approaches to organizing the international economic and financial system.
All well and good, one supposes, but he does like to meddle inside governments and screw with nations, so I’d be a bit worried about what the goal of “new approaches” to the “organizing” might be…
Soros has been active as a philanthropist since the 1970s, when he began providing funds to help black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa, and began funding dissident movements behind the Iron Curtain.
Soros’ philanthropic funding includes efforts to promote non-violent democratization in the post-Soviet states. These efforts, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, occur primarily through the Open Society Foundations (originally Open Society Institute or OSI) and national Soros Foundations, which sometimes go under other names (such as the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland). As of 2003, PBS estimated that he had given away a total of $4 billion. The OSI says it has spent about $500 million annually in recent years.
The Russians see the “Color Revolutions” that came from that funding as a bit less good and disruptive. That those nations then didn’t really get to BE fully formed nations before being ‘encouraged’ to join various conglomerates ( such as the EU ) will not have gone unnoticed by Putin. This is the subtext to the “Eastward expansion of the EU”. NOT just liberation from Communism, but destruction of Nationalism and absorption into a non-National super-entity.
Want to know where the money comes from to “pop up” sudden coordinated “protests” by the left in the USA (and elsewhere in the world)? How about:
Political donations and activism
On November 11, 2003, in an interview with The Washington Post, Soros said that removing President George W. Bush from office was the “central focus of my life” and “a matter of life and death”. He said he would sacrifice his entire fortune to defeat Bush “if someone guaranteed it”. Soros gave $3 million to the Center for American Progress, $2.5 million to MoveOn.org, and $20 million to America Coming Together. These groups worked to support Democrats in the 2004 election. On September 28, 2004, he dedicated more money to the campaign and kicked off his own multistate tour with a speech: Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The online transcript to this speech received many hits after Dick Cheney accidentally referred to FactCheck.org as “factcheck.com” in the vice presidential debate, causing the owner of that domain to redirect all traffic to Soros’s site.
His 2003 book, The Bubble of American Supremacy, was a forthright critique of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” as misconceived and counterproductive, and a polemic against the re-election of Bush. He explains the title in the closing chapter by pointing out the parallels in this political context with the self-reinforcing reflexive processes that generate bubbles in stock prices.
When Soros was asked in 2006 about his statement in The Age of Fallibility that “the main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States”, he responded that “it happens to coincide with the prevailing opinion in the world. And I think that’s rather shocking for Americans to hear. The United States sets the agenda for the world. And the rest of the world has to respond to that agenda. By declaring a ‘war on terror’ after September 11, we set the wrong agenda for the world…. When you wage war, you inevitably create innocent victims.”
Soros was not a large donor to U.S. political causes until the 2004 presidential election, but according to the Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2003–04 election cycle, Soros donated $23,581,000 to various 527 Groups (tax-exempt groups under the United States tax code, 26 U.S.C. § 527). The groups aimed to defeat President Bush. After Bush’s re-election Soros and other donors backed a new political fundraising group called Democracy Alliance, which supports progressive causes and the formation of a stronger progressive infrastructure in America.
In August 2009 Soros donated $35 million to the state of New York to be earmarked for underprivileged children and given to parents who had benefit cards at the rate of $200 per child aged 3 through 17, with no limit as to the number of children that qualified. An additional $140 million was put into the fund by the state of New York from money they had received from the 2009 federal recovery act.
On October 26, 2010, Soros donated $1 million, the largest donation in the campaign, to the Drug Policy Alliance to fund Proposition 19, that would have legalized marijuana in the state of California if it had passed in the November 2, 2010 elections.
In October 2011 a Reuters story, “Soros: not a funder of Wall Street protests”, was published after several commentators pointed out errors in an earlier Reuters story headlined “Who’s behind the Wall St. protests?” with a lede stating that the Occupy Wall Street movement “may have benefited indirectly from the largesse of one of the world’s richest men [Soros].” Reuters’ follow-up article also reported a Soros spokesman and Adbusters’ co-founder Kalle Lasn both saying that Adbusters—the reputed catalyst for the first Occupy Wall Street protests—had never received any contributions from Soros, contrary to Reuters’ earlier story that reported that “indirect financial links” existed between the two as late as 2010.
On September 27, 2012, Soros announced that he was donating $1 million to the super PAC backing President Barack Obama’s reelection Priorities USA Action.
In October 2013, Soros donated $25,000 to Ready for Hillary, becoming a co-chairman of the super PAC’s national finance committee. In June 2015, he donated $1 million to the Super PAC Priorities USA Action, which supports Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Since then he has donated an additional $6 million to the PAC to support Clinton.
Now you know why Obama and Clinton BOTH want to destroy US Nationalism and make a weaker America. Their sugar daddy wants it.
But his desire to shape the world to his liking does not stop with the USA:
Central and Eastern Europe
[PICTURE left out]
Protesters in Tbilisi with flag of the Democratic Republic of Georgia blocking the way from the Open Society Institute office, 2005
According to Waldemar A. Nielsen, an authority on American philanthropy, “[Soros] has undertaken … nothing less than to open up the once-closed communist societies of Eastern Europe to a free flow of ideas and scientific knowledge from the outside world.” From 1979, as an advocate of ‘open societies’, Soros financially supported dissidents including Poland’s Solidarity movement, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union. In 1984, he founded his first Open Society Institute in Hungary with a budget of $3 million.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Soros’s funding has continued to play an important role in the former Soviet sphere. His funding of prodemocratic programs in Georgia was considered by Russian and Western observers to be crucial to the success of the Rose Revolution, although Soros has said that his role has been “greatly exaggerated”. Alexander Lomaia, Secretary of the Georgian Security Council and former Minister of Education and Science, is a former Executive Director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (Soros Foundation), overseeing a staff of 50 and a budget of $2.5 million.
Former Georgian foreign minister Salomé Zourabichvili wrote that institutions like the Soros Foundation were the cradle of democratisation and that all the NGOs that gravitated around the Soros Foundation undeniably carried the revolution. She opines that after the revolution the Soros Foundation and the NGOs were integrated into power.
Some Soros-backed pro-democracy initiatives have been banned in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Ercis Kurtulus, head of the Social Transparency Movement Association (TSHD) in Turkey, said in an interview that “Soros carried out his will in Ukraine and Georgia by using these NGOs… Last year Russia passed a special law prohibiting NGOs from taking money from foreigners. I think this should be banned in Turkey as well.” In 1997, Soros closed his foundation in Belarus after it was fined $3 million by the government for “tax and currency violations”. According to The New York Times, the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has been widely criticized in the West and in Russia for his efforts to control the Belarus Soros Foundation and other independent NGOs and to suppress civil and human rights. Soros called the fines part of a campaign to “destroy independent society”.
In June 2009, Soros donated $100 million to Central Europe and Eastern Europe to counter the impact of the economic crisis on the poor, voluntary groups and non-government organisations.
Now this is all couched in the Positive Flowery Language Of Leftspeak. IMHO, the critical eye of those more Eastern has spotted the Nation Destroying Rat and kicked it out. That is the fundamental philosophical fight today. Those who are “pro-Nation”, whatever their nation may be, and the “Non-Nationals” lead by Soros and his money.
IF you value your nation, be it Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Germany, Australia, the USA or “wherever”, then do realize you are under attack by NGOs, funded and directed by Soros, who’s main goal is to eliminate “Tribalism” and “Nationalism”, that is, your Nation as a Nation. Your culture as a culture.
His history and track record show this is not a theory, but a report of historical fact.
Now, any wonder why Obama and Hillary are so “pro-regime change”? And for the destruction of “tribal” “nationalistic” societies such as in Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc. etc…
The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa is a Soros-affiliated organization. Its director for Zimbabwe is Godfrey Kanyenze, who also directs the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which was the main force behind the founding of the Movement for Democratic Change, the principal indigenous organization promoting regime change in Zimbabwe.
Support of separatist movements
In November 2005, Soros said: “My personal opinion is there’s no alternative but to give Kosovo independence.“ Soros has helped fund the non-profit group called Independent Diplomat. It represented Kosovo, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (under military occupation by Turkey since 1974), Somaliland and the Polisario Front of Western Sahara.
So he likes to overthrow regimes. Now I find some of those regimes despicable tyrannies, but that doesn’t give me the right to say they must go. More importantly, I’ve got no issue with, say, the Navajo or anyone else wanting a bit of pride in their “tribe”. Even beyond that, I’m quite happy to have a bit of National Pride in my Nation, made of all sorts of Tribes… Soros wants that exterminated and replaced with his concept of an “Open Society”. But one is left wondering just what that is.
The Wiki then goes into his theory of “reflexivity” that, as near as I can tell, just says that feedback systems are prone to overshot and rebound. Not exactly very enlightening. You can get a much better workup of that from control engineers… He then wants to apply this to politics. One must note in passing that Hegel was very into the idea of a force, rebound, and then final push through. More on that under Hegel. So IMHO we are just seeing some Hegel showing through in how he sees markets and governments.
The concept of reflexivity attempts to explain why markets moving from one equilibrium state to another tend to overshoot or undershoot. Soros’ theories were originally dismissed by economists, but have received more attention after the 2008 crash including becoming the focus of an issue of the Journal of Economic Methodology.
Perhaps a controls engineer can enlighten the Journal Of Economic Methodology that this isn’t really very new…
Reflexivity in politics
Although the primary manifestation of the reflexive process that Soros discusses is its effects in the financial markets, he has also explored its effects in politics. He has stated that whereas the greatest threats to the “Open Society” in the past were from Communism and Fascism (as discussed in The Open Society and its Enemies by his mentor Karl Popper), the largest current threat is from market fundamentalism.
He has suggested that the contemporary domination of world politics and world trade by the United States is a reflexive phenomenon, insofar as the success of military and financial coercion feeds back to encourage increasingly intense applications of the same policies to the point where they will eventually become unsustainable.
View of problems in the free market system
Soros argues that the current system of financial speculation undermines healthy economic development in many underdeveloped countries. He blames many of the world’s problems on the failures inherent in what he characterizes as market fundamentalism.
Soros claims to draw a distinction between being a participant in the market and working to change the rules that market participants must follow.
Here we see his disdain for markets. Now you know why the American Left (and Hillary and Obama and…) hate it when you propose a market based solution… Markets must be managed by government, don’t you know… Soros, and his NGO money told them so…
Also note that military “unsustainable” line. This philosophy is what drives Obama to gut the US Military. Hillary too. By gutting US military, they think they can avoid pushing the world to “the point where they will eventually become unsustainable”.
I’m skipping over the ‘views on Israel’. It mostly comes down to claim and counter claim on anti-Semitism and missing the point that he is anti-Nation and anti-Tribalism… so Israel is both..
Views on Europe
In October 2011, Soros drafted an open letter entitled “As concerned Europeans we urge Eurozone leaders to unite”, in which he calls for a stronger economic government for Europe using federal means (Common EU treasury, common fiscal supervision, etc.) and warns against the danger of nationalistic solutions to the economic crisis. The letter was co-signed by Javier Solana, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Andrew Duff, Emma Bonino, Massimo d’Alema, Vaira Vike-Freiberga.
Soros criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his handling of the European migrant crisis in 2015: “His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle. Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle.”
Views on China
Soros has expressed concern about the growth of Chinese economic and political power saying, “China has risen very rapidly by looking out for its own interests…. They have now got to accept responsibility for world order and the interests of other people as well.” Regarding the political gridlock in America, he said, “Today, China has not only a more vigorous economy, but actually a better functioning government than the United States.” In July 2015, Soros stated that a “strategic partnership between the US and China could prevent the evolution of two power blocks that may be drawn into military conflict.” In January 2016, during an interview at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Soros stated that “[a] hard landing is practically unavoidable.” Chinese state media responded by stating “Soros’ challenge to the RMB and Hong Kong dollar are doomed to fail, without any doubt.”
So now you know why an ‘ever closer union’ in the EU was a Main Goal, and why Brexit was so fiercely fought. Soros, his money and his Foundations and NGOs all are fighting it.
Note, too, that National Borders and having your own culture are “the problem”…
But the interesting bit is that Putin has caught on:
Views on Russia and Ukraine
In May 2014 Soros told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria: “I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent from Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now.”
In January 2015 Soros said that “Europe needs to wake up and recognize that it is under attack from Russia.” He also urged Western countries to expand economic sanctions against Russia for its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In January 2015, Soros called on the European Union to give $50 billion of bailout money to Ukraine.
In July 2015, Soros stated that Putin’s annexation of Crimea was a challenge to the “prevailing world order,” specifically the European Union. He hypothesized that Putin wants to “destabilize all of Ukraine by precipitating a financial and political collapse for which he can disclaim responsibility, while avoiding occupation of a part of eastern Ukraine, which would then depend on Russia for economic support.” In November 2015, Russia banned the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Open Society Institute (OSI)– two pro-democracy charities founded by Soros—stating they posed as “threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and the security of the state.“ In January 2016, 53 books related to Soros’ “Renewal of Humanitarian Education” program were burned at Vorkuta Mining and Economic College in the Komi Republic with 427 additional books seized for shredding. A Russian intergovernmental letter released in December 2015 stated that Soros’ charities were “forming a perverted perception of history and making ideological directives, alien to Russian ideology, popular.”
So WHY would Hillary and Obama be against Putin, while Trump says, basically, I can work with the guy? Simple.
Obama and Hillary are Soros Sock Puppets working to destroy nations.
Putin and Trump are nationalist advocates, each for their own nation.
Yes, it really is that simple.
I’ll be quoting just a couple of passages from Popper to give a sense of it. The books are full of gems, one after the other, and snippets will not do it justice. Yet it is pushing 800 pages and a long read. So a bit of summary about it too.
The originals can be found at:
Reviewer: garthus – favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite – October 10, 2010
Subject: Required reading?
This work should be required reading at the University level. Better than the pablum students are forced to regurgutate on an almost daily basis in our Social Science culture today.
Reviewer: mafranco – favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite – October 9, 2010
I agree with the previous two reviewers. I think that more than anything this books is the foundation for living an ethical life.
Reviewer: Graham W – favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite – March 7, 2010
Subject: Agreed, this book is Essential Reading for our day.
I can only agree with the apt and succinct words of the previous reviewer, FitzRoy, and with his conclusion that Karl Popper’s ‘The Open Society And Its Enemies Vol I & 2’ is ‘essential reading for our day’. Moreover, I believe this lucid and accessible work is a tour de force and one of the most important and significant books of the 20th Century. I first read it at university about 30 years ago and have read it several times since, and I still refer to it periodically.
Popper challenges accepted orthodoxies from long past and our longstanding deference to great historical figures such as Plato, and he so does because he believes that if we are to reconstruct society and avoid totalitarianism then we must break with mistakes of the past. Rather than plagiarize further, I refer you directly to the short well-written preface of this edition.
Whether one agrees with Popper’s assertions or not–and there has been some criticism of his position over the years–this erudite work forces us to reconsider and re-evaluate positions that have become almost axiomatic to most of us in Western liberal democracies. No matter what one’s political views, one has to acknowledge that ‘The Open Society And Its Enemies’ is the outpourings of a great mind; not only is it challenging, intellectual and authoritative but it also provides about the most solid defense of and argument for an open society, liberal democracy ever written.
‘The Open Society And Its Enemies’–along with Plato’s ‘Republic’, especially Part One about what is justice–have had a huge influence on my thinking with respect to governance of people in a free society, about democracy and of course, totalitarianism. These books have made me forever vigilant about authority, its motives and the propaganda that surrounds it.
With a substantial increase in authoritarian law across most Western democracies since 911, and with governments having almost unfettered access to and use of electronics and other surveillance technologies to monitor and control populations, together with their understanding of modern social engineering techniques and their application by way of sophisticated propaganda, we citizens, more than ever, need to understand what Popper is telling us in this invaluable and important work.
In ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ Orwell describes a frightening dystopian totalitarian world; Popper, a few years earlier in ‘The Open Society And Its Enemies’ essentially explains how certain modes of thinking enable political climates wherein the formation of such dystopian worlds are not only possible but that they do eventuate. These books might have been born amongst the ashes of WW-II politics but they have never been more relevant than they are today.
Finally a thank you: The availability of such important and influential books on the Internet Archive is a testament to how very important this service is and I heartily congratulate Brewster Kahle and his colleagues for their broad and important initiative.
Reviewer: FitzRoy – favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite – March 7, 2010
Subject: Essential Reading for our day
I rate this book–along with its companion vol. 2–as among the top five most significant books of my life’s reading history. Just so you know, I have a PhD and I’m 52 years old, so I’ve been through a lot of books.
Popper understands the nature of totalitarian governments and what leads to them. In light of the way that so many people today are looking to government for their salvation, Popper is a must read. His insight into the way historicism is the root of totalitarianism is crucial if we are to avoid future totalitarian regimes and provides the reader with a key criterion for judging current political endeavors.
One caution, please don’t confuse Popper’s “Open Society” with George Soros’s “Open Society.” They are two totally different visions.
IMHO, that last sentence is key. Soros read Popper, hated Hagel, and then that hate mutated the Popper view into a hatred of all things “Tribal” or “National”. I think that dis-join is where the rational Popper turned into the Nation hating Soros.
Here’s the review from Volume 2:
The Open Society And Its Enemies Vol II
Topics PHILOSOPHY. PSYCHOLOGY, Philosophy of mind
Publisher George Routledge And Sons Limited.
Call number 33064
Book contributor Osmania University
Reviewer: Graham W – favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite – March 7, 2010
Subject: See Review for Volume 1
I’ve reviewed ‘The Open Society And Its Enemies’ under Volume 1, here:
This is one of the most important and significant works of the 20th Century and both volumes should be treated as one entity.
What I’ve read of Vol. 1 spends a good bit of time connecting modern philosophers, such as Hegel, back to Plato and Socrates and Aristotle and generally is a good bit of background. It is heavy with philosophy terms, so be ready to hit the dictionary.
Then he launches into a strong criticism of Hegel. Hegel is where we find “Civil Society” coming into being, and where we get the roots of the Marxist “dialectic”.
Modern philosophy, culture, and society seemed to Hegel fraught with contradictions and tensions, such as those between the subject and object of knowledge, mind and nature, self and Other, freedom and authority, knowledge and faith, the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Hegel’s main philosophical project was to take these contradictions and tensions and interpret them as part of a comprehensive, evolving, rational unity that, in different contexts, he called “the absolute Idea” (Science of Logic, sections 1781–3) or “absolute knowledge” (Phenomenology of Spirit, “(DD) Absolute Knowledge”).
According to Hegel, the main characteristic of this unity was that it evolved through and manifested itself in contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of reality—consciousness, history, philosophy, art, nature, society—leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts by lifting them up (Aufhebung) to a higher unity. This whole is mental because it is mind that can comprehend all of these phases and sub-parts as steps in its own process of comprehension. It is rational because the same, underlying, logical, developmental order underlies every domain of reality and is ultimately the order of self-conscious rational thought, although only in the later stages of development does it come to full self-consciousness. The rational,
If some of that sounds like psychobabble to you, don’t worry, that puts you in the Popper camp… But as Marx was a “Left Hegelian” it ended up in Communism as a foundation stone…
Hegel made the distinction between civil society and state in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right. In this work, civil society (Hegel used the term “bürgerliche Gesellschaft” though it is now referred to as Zivilgesellschaft in German to emphasize a more inclusive community) was a stage in the dialectical relationship that occurs between Hegel’s perceived opposites, the macro-community of the state and the micro-community of the family. Broadly speaking, the term was split, like Hegel’s followers, to the political left and right. On the left, it became the foundation for Karl Marx’s civil society as an economic base; to the right, it became a description for all non-state (and the state is the peak of the objective spirit) aspects of society, including culture, society and politics. This liberal distinction between political society and civil society was followed by Alexis de Tocqueville. In fact, Hegel’s distinctions as to what he meant by civil society are often unclear. For example, while it seems to be the case that he felt that a civil-society such as the German society in which he lived was an inevitable movement of the dialectic, he made way for the crushing of other types of “lesser” and not fully realized types of civil society, as these societies were not fully conscious or aware, as it were, as to the lack of progress in their societies. Thus, it was perfectly legitimate in the eyes of Hegel for a conqueror, such as Napoleon, to come along and destroy that which was not fully realized.
But that bit of exploration is for another day. Just note in passing that it was Hagel who started that whole “Civil Society” thing, and anyone using that terms is flagging that they are a Hegelian even if they don’t now it. (i.e. they got it via that path through Marx…)
Now here’s the bit from Popper that I liked most. (Really, I liked dozens and dozens of pages… but this is what makes this cut)
The second volume spends much time on Marx. For that alone it is worth the the read. Here, about 30 pages in:
CHAPTER 24 : ORACULAR PHILOSOPHY AND THE
REVOLT AGAINST REASON
Marx was a rationalist. With Socrates, and with Kant, he
believed in human reason as the basis of the unity of mankind.
But his doctrine that our opinions are determined by class interest
hastened the decline of this belief. Like Hegel’s doctrine that
our ideas are determined by national interests and traditions,
Marx’s doctrine tended to undermine the rationalist belief in
reason. Thus threatened both from the right and from the left,
a rationalist attitude to social and economic questions could
hardly resist when historicist prophecy and oracular irrationalism
made a frontal attack on it. This is why the conflict between
rationalism and irrationalism has become the most important
intellectual, and perhaps even moral, issue of our time.
[… Popper then does us the marvelous service of defining a bunch of these muddy terms, like “rationalism”. Which I am skipping here… -E.M.Smith]
Having thus become
a tremendous success on the continent, Hegelianism could hardly
fail to obtain support in Britain from those who, feeling that
such a powerful movement must after all have something to
offer, began to search for what Stirling called The Secret of Hegel.
They were attracted, of course, by Hegel’s ‘higher ‘ idealism
and by his claims to ‘ higher ‘ morality, and they were also
somewhat afraid of being branded as immoral by the chorus of
the disciples ; for even the more modest Hegelians claimed 6
of their doctrines that ‘ they are acquisitions which must . .
ever be reconquered in the face of assault from the powers
eternally hostile to spiritual and moral values ‘. Some really
brilliant men (I am thinking mainly of McTaggart) made great
efforts in constructive idealistic thought, well above the level of
Hegel ; but they did not get very far beyond providing targets
for equally brilliant critics. And one can say that outside the
continent of Europe, especially in the last twenty years, the
interest of philosophers in Hegel is slowly vanishing.
But if that is so, why worry any more about Hegel ? The
answer is that Hegel’s influence has remained a most powerful
force, in spite of the fact that scientists never took him seriously,
and that (apart from the ‘evolutionists ‘ 7 ) many philosophers are
about to lose interest in him. Hegels’ influence, and especially
that of his cant, is still very powerful in moral and social philo-
sophy and in the social and political sciences (with the sole
exception of economics) . Especially the philosophers of history,
of politics, and of education, are still to a very large extent
under its sway. In politics, this is shown most drastically by
the fact that the Marxist extreme left wing, as well as the con-
servative centre, and the fascist extreme right, all base their
political philosophies on Hegel ; the left wing replaces the war
of nations which appears in Hegel’s historicist scheme by the
war of classes, the extreme right replaces it by the war of races ;
but both follow him more or less consciously. (The conservative
centre is as a rule less conscious of its indebtedness to Hegel.)
In this we see the cries of “racist!!” today being rooted in the Right Hegelian view of a war of races. Thus we who are not of the far left get plastered with it, despite it being a lie, since we are being seen as “right” from them so we must be for a war of the races in a Hegelian world view… We also see the “class warfare” of the Left Hegelian now reflected in the “wealth inequality” ravings of the Democrats. As Marxists and Socialists (even if Socialist-lite) they are firmly stuck in their Hegelian world view roots.
Also note that the “Center” believes in a ‘war of nations’ as the Bad Thing. How best to eliminate that than to eliminate Nations?, eh?
IMHO it is here that Soros goes off the rails. Seeing Hegel as a set of wars of races, classes, nations; and reading Popper to say “Hegel is dim”, the best answer must be to eliminate races, classes and nations, or at least their distinctions.
How can this immense influence be explained ? My main
intention is not so much to explain this phenomenon, as to
combat it. But I may make a few explanatory suggestions.
For some reason, philosophers have kept around themselves,
even in our day, something of the atmosphere of the magician.
Philosophy is considered as a strange and abstruse kind of thing,
dealing with those mysteries with which religion deals, but not
in a way which can be ‘ revealed unto babes ‘ or to common
people ; it is considered to be too profound for that, and to
be the religion and theology of the intellectuals, of the learned
and wise. Hegelianism fits these views admirably ; it is exactly
what this kind of popular superstition supposes – philosophy to
be. It knows all about everything. It has a ready answer to
every question. . And indeed, who can be sure that the answer
is not true ?
But this is not the main reason for Hegel’s success. His
influence, and the need to combat it, can perhaps be better
understood if we briefly consider the general historical situation.
Medieval authoritarianism began to dissolve with the Renais-
sance. But on the continent, its political counterpart, medieval
feudalism, was not seriously threatened before the French Revo-
lution. (The Reformation had only strengthened it.) The fight
for the open society began again only with the ideas of 1789 ;
and the feudal monarchies soon experienced the seriousness of
this danger. When in 1815 the reactionary party began to
resume its power in Prussia, it found itself in dire need of an
ideology. Hegel was appointed to meet this demand, and he
did so by reviving the ideas of the first antagonists of the open
society, Heraclitus, Plato, and Aristotle. Just as the French
Revolution rediscovered the perennial ideas of the Great Gener-
ation and of Christianity, freedom, equality, and the brother-
hood of all men, so Hegel rediscovered the Platonic ideas which
lie behind the perennial revolt against freedom and reason.
Then here is the “money quote” and just the kind of thing to bend the mind of a young Jew fresh from under Nazi oppression:
Hegelianism is the renaissance of tribalism. The historical sig-
nificance of Hegel may be seen in the fact that he represents
the ‘ missing link ‘, as it were, between Plato and the modern
form of totalitarianism. Most of the modern totalitarians are
quite unaware that their ideas can be traced back to Plato.
But many know of their indebtedness to Hegel, and all of them
have been brought up in the close atmosphere of Hegelianism.
They have been taught to worship the state, history, and the
In order to give the reader an immediate glimpse of Hegel’s
Platonizing worship of the state, I shall quote a few passages,
even before I begin the analysis of his historicist philosophy.
These passages show that Hegel’s radical collectivism depends
as much on Plato as it depends on Frederick William III, king
of Prussia in the critical period during and after the French
Revolution. Their doctrine is that the state is everything, and
the individual nothing ; for it owes everything to the state, its
physical as well as its spiritual existence. This is the message
of Plato, of Frederick William’s Prussianism, and of Hegel.
‘ The Universal is to be found in the State ‘, Hegel writes 8 .
* The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth. . . We
must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the
Divine on earth, and consider that, if it is difficult to compre-
hend Nature, it is infinitely harder to grasp the Essence of the
State. . . The State is the march of God through the world.
. . The State must be comprehended as an organism. . . To
the complete State belongs, essentially, consciousness and thought.
The State knows what it wills. . . The State is real ; and . .
true reality is necessary. What is real is eternally necessary. . .
The State . . exists for its own sake. . . The State is the
actually existing, realized moral life.’ This selection of utter-
ances may suffice to show Hegels’ Platonism and his insistence
upon the absolute moral authority of the state, which overrules
all personal morality, all conscience. It is, of course, a bom-
bastic and hysterical Platonism, but this only makes more obvious
the fact that it links Platonism with modern totalitarianism.
So having been subject to Frederrick William’s sponsorship of Hegel, then the Nazi use of it as justification for the Super State, then seeing the Marxist version of it in Communism, the only rational conclusion is that it is all Hegel’s fault and that The State in the form of Nation or Tribe is The Evil Thing. So destroy it.
By putting it under the control of wise men like him… completely missing that this is just another form of Totalitarian Dictatorship.
In any case, we are to become one big happy non-family with everyone divorced from any tribe, nation, gender, religion, etc. etc. Free Sprits all in a Kumbaya world… Just stamp out anyone who disagrees, and the world will be wonderful. Stamp out borders, mix cultures and peoples from everywhere, and all your worries will be gone.
Except maybe for those pesky folks who don’t want to be exterminated culturally and those other pesky folks who want to do the exterminating…
For those wishing to see what others think Open Society means, here’s the wiki:
The open society is a concept originally suggested in 1932 by the Jewish French philosopher Henri Bergson, and developed during the Second World War by Austrian-born British philosopher Karl Popper.
Popper saw the open society as standing on a historical continuum reaching from the organic, tribal, or closed society, through the open society marked by a critical attitude to tradition, up to the abstract or depersonalised society lacking all face-to-face interaction transactions.
In open societies, the government is expected to be responsive and tolerant, and political mechanisms are said to be transparent and flexible. Advocates claim that it is opposed to authoritarianism.
Popper is, however, considered to be an insider of Vienna thinkers, like Oskar Morgenstern and John von Neumann, who advocated and developed Game Theory, a theory of government lacking transparency. See f.e. Veblen, Thorsten: The Intellectual Pre-Eminence of Jews in Modern Europe.
Popper saw the classical Greeks as initiating the long slow transition from tribalism towards the open society, and as facing for the first time the strain imposed by the less personal group relations entailed thereby.
Whereas tribalistic and collectivist societies do not distinguish between natural laws and social customs, so that individuals are unlikely to challenge traditions they believe to have a sacred or magical basis, the beginnings of an open society are marked by a distinction between natural and man-made law, and an increase in personal responsibility and accountability for moral choices (not incompatible with religious belief).
Popper argued that the ideas of individuality, criticism, and humanitarianism cannot be suppressed once people have become aware of them, and therefore that it is impossible to return to the closed society, but at the same time recognised the continuing emotional pull of what he called “the lost group spirit of tribalism”, as manifested for example in the totalitarianisms of the 20th century.
While the period since Popper’s study has undoubtedly been marked by the spread of the open society, this may be attributed less to Popper’s advocacy and more to the role of the economic advances of late modernity. Growth-based industrial societies require literacy, anonymity and social mobility from their members — elements incompatible with much traditional-based behaviour but demanding the ever wider spread of the abstract social relations Georg Simmel saw as characterising the metropolitan mental stance.
Popper defined the open society as one “in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions” as opposed to a “magical or tribal or collectivist society.”
He considered that only democracy provides an institutional mechanism for reform and leadership change without the need for bloodshed, revolution or coup d’état.
Modern advocates of the open society suggest that society would keep no secrets from itself in the public sense, as all are trusted with the knowledge of all. Political freedoms and human rights are claimed to be the foundation of an open society.
Now contrast that lofty goal with Soros. He of the desire to overthrow governments (for the good the people…) and shape markets and all to suit his view of what is right. Can you say Authoritarian In Sheep Skin? Don’t let the little people choose to have a Nation as that is Tribal, and BAD. Let mature Daddy Soros give you a nice Open Society where you just have to accept a few road side bombs on Friday every week and people who want to kill you being put in your home town by a nameless international process… Say no and you are [Homophobic | xenophobic | racist | bigot | The Devil Encarnate] …
Me? I like my “traditions”. I’m perfectly happy with an Open Society rising from it’s own power as my Nation develops, and as we pick and choose what bits of our Tradition we choose to keep. I don’t need a little Troll off in a mansion deciding what my world must be… or my Nation.
More importantly, I reject the idea of a bi-polar world. This whole right – left axis. IMHO, there is a clear Libertarian world view that does not need an Open Society with the destruction of Nations, nor does it need a Hegelian Totalitarian be they Hegel Right or Hegel Left. We can have a world of free nations, with their own history and traditions, in which individuals are free to pursue their lives as long as they don’t screw around with other’s rights. That, IMHO, is where Soros fails. He does not recognize MY right to a Nation of Peers. My right to protection from those other individuals who will NOT accept my right to self determination and free will. The world of non-Totalitarian “just enough laws” but not a muddy sewer of “any idea at all, murder your neighbor for not believing what you believe is just fine too, so is gang rape of those who don’t agree”…
We need a certain amount of shared culture, shared rules, shared laws, and shared customs to have a stable society. Start saying “anything goes” and you get anarchy in short order. It is the balance between absolute chaos of unlimited freedom against Totalitarian Straight Jacket that is the best place, IMHO. A world of no nations and no shared culture becomes unstable and implodes. The Old Roman Empire fell that way to the uniform Arab Muslims. I’d rather not repeat that error.
It is my opinion that Soros, scarred in his youth by the Hegelian Totalitarian Nation State as an outcast Tribe, has responded by trying to eliminate all national pride and all tribal values. That he goes many steps too far and doesn’t see the middle ground as he pushes western culture, values, traditions and nations toward destruction. I also think that Russia has seen this too (as, I suspect, have China and India and the Muslim World [ though they are willing to exploit it, so keep quiet and plant mosques everywhere]).
OK, that’s the overview….
I’m going to do a bit on Hagel in more depth at some point, and likely add some more on Popper and Open Society. The purpose of this bit was just to point at the roots of some otherwise puzzling words and actions in the world. Hopefully it helps with that.