By Lambert Strether of Corrente
A cat may look at a monarch, and so I suppose a blogger can make suggestions to George Soros. Soros recently published an essay at Project Syndicate, “Open Society Needs Defending,” which has been reprinted across a spectrum of sites, from Zero Hedge to Down with Tyranny. Soros is not my least favorite billionaire — he does not, to my knowlege, own a super-yacht (Financial Times, “Superyachts magnify billionaires’ worst traits”) — and he’s funded the Institute for New Economic Thinking, which is certainly a worthier cause than, say, the economics department of Florida State University. So today is my day to be nice! Rather than go through Soros’s essay in detail, I’m going to make two very very simple suggestions:
- Soros Should Simply Stop Funding Democrats
- Soros Should Simply Stop Funding Neoliberal Projects
Soros Should Simply Stop Funding Democrats
Soros has been a major funder of Democrat projects. Not only did he throw $25 million into the money pit that was the Clinton campaign, he’s been a major funder of Democrat projects generally. Post Citizens United, it’s become very difficult to track who contributes what to whom. What is clear is that Soros is a major funder what Politico calls “the institutional left” (by which is most definitely not meant, say, Bernie Sanders and his supporters, hence not really “left” at all. Politico:
George Soros and other rich liberals who spent tens of millions of dollars trying to elect Hillary Clinton are gathering in Washington for a three-day, closed door meeting to retool the big-money left to fight back against Donald Trump.
the meeting also comes as many liberals are reassessing their approach to politics — and the role of the Democracy Alliance, or DA, as the club is known in Democratic finance circles. The DA, its donors and beneficiary groups over the last decade have had a major hand in shaping the institutions of the left, including by orienting some of its key organizations around Clinton….
The meeting also comes as many liberals are reassessing their approach to politics — and the role of the Democracy Alliance, or DA, as the club is known in Democratic finance circles. The DA, its donors and beneficiary groups over the last decade have had a major hand in shaping the institutions of the left, including by orienting some of its key organizations around Clinton
The Democracy Alliance was launched after the 2004 election by Soros, the late insurance mogul Peter Lewis, and a handful of fellow Democratic mega-donors who had combined to spend tens of millions trying to boost then-Sen. John Kerry’s ultimately unsuccessful challenge to then-President George W. Bush….
Since its inception in 2005, the DA has steered upward of $500 million to a range of groups, including pillars of the political left such as the watchdog group Media Matters, the policy advocacy outfit Center for American Progress and the data firm Catalist — all of which are run by Clinton allies who are expected to send representatives to the DA meeting.
Let’s look at the record. Where did the money go? The Democrats set all that money on fire and threw it into the air. I won’t go into detail again in this post (but see here, here, here, here, and here); rather, I’ll simply turn to Matt Yglesias, because when you’ve lost Yglesias…
The whole Democratic Party is now a smoking pile of rubble
[Besides the Presidency,] Republicans control the House, and they control the Senate….
In state government things are worse, if anything. The GOP now controls historical record number of governors’ mansions, including a majority of New England governorships. Tuesday’s election swapped around a few state legislative houses but left Democrats controlling a distinct minority. The same story applies further down ballot, where most elected attorneys general, insurance commissioners, secretaries of state, and so forth are Republicans.
One could perhaps overlook all of this if the Obama years had bequeathed the nation an enduring legacy along the lines of the New Deal or the Great Society. But to a striking extent, even as President Obama prepares to leave office with strong approval ratings, his policy legacy is extraordinarily vulnerable. And the odds that it will be essentially extinguished are high.
Due to a combination of bad luck and poor decisions, the story of the 21st-century Democratic Party looks to be overwhelmingly the story of failure.
When does it make sense to reinforce failure? Continuing to give the Democrats money is like putting generals Gamelin, Georges, and Weygand in charge of La Résistance after their debacle in the Battle of France. So write off the sunk costs and call it a day.
Less obviously, but more importantly, Soros should encourage organic small-d democratic institutions doing policy and electoral politics to thrive. Warren Buffet (not my favorite) had a saying: “You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.” The liberal institutions that depend on outside funding from the wealthy are the ones who are swimming naked. The Sanders campaign showed that organizations that are self-funded by small donors are the future of small-d democratic organizing, and the best way to strengthen them is to stop artificially propping up their competitors, and to let them get on with it. Those organizations are the ones in bathing suits, so let the tide of outside money roll out.
Soros Should Simply Stop Funding Neoliberal Projects
Here’s how Soros explains Trump, Brexit, the rise of LePen, and so on:
I find the current moment in history very painful. Open societies are in crisis, and various forms of closed societies – from fascist dictatorships to mafia states – are on the rise. How could this happen? The only explanation I can find is that and that this failure led electorates to become disenchanted with the prevailing versions of democracy and capitalism. Quite simply, many people felt that the elites had stolen their democracy.
Not to mention their money, as the foreclosure crisis showed.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US emerged as the sole remaining superpower, equally committed to the principles of democracy and free markets. The major development since then has been the globalization of financial markets, spearheaded by advocates who argued that globalization increases total wealth. After all, if the winners compensated the losers, they would still have something left over.
The argument was misleading, because it ignored the fact that the. But the potential winners spent enough money promoting the argument that it prevailed….
Globalization has had far-reaching economic and political consequences. It has brought about some economic convergence between poor and rich countries; but it increased inequality within both poor and rich countries. In the developed world, , who constitute less than 1% of the population. The that democracy’s opponents have exploited. But there were other contributing factors as well, particularly in Europe.
Therefore, the neoliberal project, considered under the aspect of justice, was destined to implode, and known to be so destined from the very beginning, since ultimately for popular acceptance it depends on redistribution, but “winners seldom, if ever, compensate the losers.” So why throw good money after bad?
Now, to be fair, some more fair-minded mainstream academics are trying to improve neoliberalism by bringing redistribution forward. First, why — after forty years of neoliberalism — would anyone trust them? For example, a current popular topic is the replacement of all wage work by robots. And sometimes the topic “How to help all those poor
losers workers” is vaguely discussed. Are we really to believe any help will be forthcoming? Or that, if it comes, it won’t be gate-keepered and means-tested to death? History says no. Experience says no. Second, neoliberalism puts markets first. Always. So there’s no reason to think that losers will ever be compensated, because there’s no market in doing that. In any case, how do you put a price on a destroyed Main Street or a child dead from opiates?
The neoliberal project has finally failed. It cannot secure a popular mandate, and by its nature cannot ever secure one. Therefore, anyone dedicated to an open society should not fund it. One might argue that alternatives to that project should be funded, but I think (see above) that only small-d democratic projects can create such alternatives, and they should be self-funded.
I think philanthropy even on the Nineteenth Century Robber Baron model — Carnegie Libraries, the Frick Museum, or genuine scholarship — would be preferable to continuing to fund Democrats, or neoliberal projects generally. Soros should consider those alternatives. Short neoliberalism.
 I put iNet under that heading.
 Hat tip ReaderOfTeaLeaves.
I’d add one more suggestion: stop meddling period and take up a better hobby.
That goes for all billionaires; I’m reacting to this one article.
And readers, if we could keep the ad homs to a minimum? Like zero? Thank you!
Too true about the all the billionaires!
Apologies if I did ad hom. Didn’t mean to.
It wasn’t you. I just wanted to get that comment at the top of the thread to prevent kneejerk reactions.
I’m reminded of Dan Snyder, the owner of the football team from Landover, Maryland.
Snyder is a guy who sold three business ventures for crazy valuations for companies that didnt exist in any capacity a few years later or didn’t have anything beyond pizzazz. Yet, Snyder is a billionaire. Why? What good is he? Why shouldn’t the government say, “hey, we will leave you with $25 million, but we are taking the rest.”? There is no rationale reason for billionaires to exist, so billionaires have to come up with a reason for why their billions are justified without giving the money away. Dan Snyder runs a football team into the ground. George Soros tries to fight villains of his youth, Nazis and Communists under the bed before people realize they should just get rid of billionaires.
Snyder has to run the football team because he has to prove he’s worth it and not the by product of inane Fed and tax policies that turned two bit operations into over night IPO bonanzas. Why isn’t the guy who invented synthetic diamonds a billionaire or even a millionaire?
Wallace: [while eating some Chicken McNuggets] Man, these s****s is right, yo.
Malik ‘Poot’ Carr: [with his mouth full] Mm-hmm.
Wallace: Good with the hot sauce too, yo.
Malik ‘Poot’ Carr: Most definitely.
Wallace: Yo, D, you want some nuggets?
D’Angelo Barksdale: Nah, go ahead, man.
Wallace: Man, whoever invented these, yo, he off the hook.
Malik ‘Poot’ Carr: What?
Wallace: Mm. M********* got the bone all the way out the damn chicken. ‘Til he came along, n****s been chewin’ on drumsticks and s***, gettin’ they fingers all greasy. He said, ” Later for the bone. Let’s nugget that meat up and make some real money.”
Malik ‘Poot’ Carr: You think the man got paid?
Malik ‘Poot’ Carr: Man who invented these.
Wallace: S***, he richer than a m*********.
D’Angelo Barksdale: Why? You think he get a percentage?
Wallace: Why not?
D’Angelo Barksdale: N****, please. The man who invented them things? Just some sad-ass down at the basement at McDonald’s, thinkin’ up some s*** to make some money for the real players.
Malik ‘Poot’ Carr: Naw, man, that ain’t right.
D’Angelo Barksdale: F*** “right.” It ain’t about right, it’s about money. Now you think Ronald McDonald gonna go down in that basement and say, “Hey, Mista Nugget, you the bomb. We sellin’ chicken faster than you can tear the bone out. So I’m gonna write my clowny-ass name on this fat-ass check for you”?
D’Angelo Barksdale: Man, the n**** who invented them things still workin’ in the basement for regular wage, thinkin’ up some s*** to make the fries taste better or some s*** like that. Believe.
Wallace: Still had the idea, though.
I loved The Wire. Great show. Watched the whole over a few weeks of binging. It was an addiction that was fundamentally about addiction. ;-)
Everything Lambert states he is correct, but as much as Soros’s money is amplified by and mirrors NED and USAID money, it might be his job to invest in Democrat, Neoliberal, and Regime Change projects. He seems to function as a front/shell company like Chaz T. MAIN (Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins) or Business International Corp. (http://johnpilger.com/articles/power-illusion-and-americas-last-taboo)
Soros is the one with the billions. Why would he be a frontman?
Perhaps so it doesn’t look like the regime change money is coming via State Dept, etc. Arms length, as it were.
No. Soros is the one with the power. The idea that he’s fronting for somebody is ridiculous.
Soros and the State Department (or the dominant faction thereof) have roughly the same prescription for Russia and Eastern Europe. So no need at all to hypothesize one as a front for the other.
It’s not inconceivable. Think of Pierre Omidyar and USAID in Ukraine
Yeah, and Omidyar isn’t fronting for the USAID, but vice versa.
Confluence of interest seems likely enough. Like HRC and CTR clearly “not coordinating”.
Lambert says: ‘No. Soros is the one with the power. The idea that he’s fronting for somebody is ridiculous.’
More of a partnership – you think NSA doesn’t have his number?
No I don’t. Soros can hire all the lawyers in the world to beat any rap on him. You seem to forget that Warren Buffett should have gone to prison for his involvement in a finite reinsurance scam. And what do you think anyone would have on Soros? His big hobby is meddling in politics and he craves respectability, like getting the occasional article in the New York Review of Books. Rich investors, unless they are overly fond of cultivating insiders or are testosterone junkies, tend to be workaholics and don’t have wild personal lives, particularly ones in their late 80s.
Isn’t he a frontman for the pretense of democracy? and the pretense that billionaires are concerned with the working class in general rather than a resource to be exploited and discarded?
I see Soros useful in that he feeds the myth that there are two parties and is a pr funder marketing the myth of choice to the voters. His words are counter to the vast majority of what he funds. I try to focus on what people are doing not what they say.
He could personally build vast swaths of manufacturing plants and hand them over to the workers. He could leave his wealth to a volunteer co-op board that only grants funds to employee owned start-ups. He could build vast swaths of non-profit public housing and hand them over to the communities.
Also, this is not a criticism, but it looks like your argument is for lesser evilism. Your first proposal that he stop investing in D elections as they are losers seems merely to be a capitalist argument that he isn’t getting a return on his investment.
I’m not to sure what your second proposal of supporting small d institions refers to… maybe think tanks and media? but supporting lower level elections is again back to the ‘more and better Ds’.
I get your strategy is to take over the D party but it seems that ‘more and better Ds’ that just failed to get traction with the 2016 election. Promoting that billionaires could fine tune their influence looks like an amelioration strategy of conservatism rather than an affirmative policy platform in opposition to the Rs.
Soros is a good guy. I found the essay unsatisfying as did Lambert, but if you follow Soros he is genuinely concerned about a number of causes, including stopping the “war on drugs,” making death better, about fairness for immigrants, etc., etc., and is sincerely committed to an ‘open society.’
Lambert’s comments are fine, but attacking Soros just shows me that some people are gonna attack any billionnaire or anyone who funded Clinton. Soros’s words are NOT ‘counter to the vast majority of what he funds’. He has funed and funds a lot of good stuff.
Do I always agree with him? No, especially not recently.
I often think though that if the world had followed the advice he proffered at the time the Soviet Union failed — to be generous to Russia (rather than see it as a place for robber baron capitalism) — we’d be immensely better off now.
He’s also been inveighing for years against “market fundamentalism” — which is essentially neoliberalism’s core.
He’s still a good guy, who’s doing his damndest to make the world better.
I also think Soros is a good guy. Not sure how he became the boogie man. I have six books of his on my bookshelves and everything I have ever read of his suggests to me that he is a very decent human being who has a very sophisticated and intelligent understanding of human affairs. And he is not a neoliberal. He could not be more critical of what he calls “market fundamentalism”.
I found his support for HRC a little odd and out of character for him so who knows what really goes on.
What he says, and what he does are almost always mutually exclusive.
See Eastern Europe.
I doubt this will change your mind, you have the whiff of a true believer, going out of your way to defend a billionaire? He has people for that, you know.
Is he the worst? No, but he’s pretty bad, on any scale.
We know what really goes on, thanks to wikileaks.
He supported Obama in the 2008 primary, but regretted not getting any special access to him. Which figures, because Obama was already busy staffing the white house with Clinton cronies.
The fundamental problem with Soros is that he see’s how flawed our current model of capitalism is and funds research into other models. Then funds politicians who pretend the other models don’t exist and makes sure that anyone who does use the other models does not get any attention.
As to whether Soros was ‘right’ vis a vis the sort of engagement the US should have had with Russia at that time, it very likely still would’ve failed in a fashion similar to how it has everywhere else – the form of corporate globalization that Soros et al advocate is still a total disaster that has destroyed so many peoples’ economies, lands, cultures, prospects, precious resources to feed this titanic global machine. The backlash against globalization has been building and apparent and anticipated for quite some time – see JR Saul’s book for the argument that a revived nationalism of some form, good or ill, was in the cards.
Bottom line Soros is a capitalist before he is a democrat, and by definition capitalism concentrates wealth in the few and powerful. Integral to Soros’ definition of open society is a society open to capitalist ownership. Soros cannot acknowledge the fundamental contradiction between capitalism and democracy.
To him freedom means freedom to become a billionaire in the Ayn Rand mode, and not freedom from the exploitation by billionaires This is the fundamental contradiction that makes neo-liberalism undemocratic.
Bravo Waldenpond, well spoken. Soros seems to use democratic ideals to promote forms of governance that promote unfair “free enterprise” financial and currency speculation profiteering. Has he ever supported Bolivarian Revolution types of social democracy? I don’t think so!
The problem for Soros and all billionaires interested in the politics game is that they cannot fathom voting against their own interests and they must pick credentialed and vetted candidates. Somebody like Hillary is great for them. For example, when she stated during the primary against Bernie that we can’t just have outright free public higher education becuase rich people would benefit unfairly. That is coding to say that we won’t redistribute ill gotten gains for the purposes of building a stable and functioning society.
> we can’t just have outright free public higher education becuase rich people would benefit unfairly
Agreed. Just a dumb excuse to persuade people we can’t have nice things. Obama may have campaigned on “Yes We Can” in 2008 but Hillary in 2016 was the soaring voice of “No, You Can’t.”
she also tried to put down Bernie’s socialism by saying “We are not Denmark.” So what?
she also tried to put down Bernie’s socialism by saying “We are not Denmark.” So what? does that mean we can’t have an equitable society?
Especially since, in the not too distant past, we actually had “nice things” like tuition-free state universities but we allowed them to be taken away from us.
Lambert, well said.
Now a letter to Soros signed by the affluent (not effluent) readers here?
Might garner a response.
The DA, being intelligent people, probably want to give their money to effective causes. You have a suggestion, now it would be good to provide a list of the d organizations. Is there a list anywhere?
If we really want to gore the neoliberal ox, taking its money would achieve the objective.
Pretty clear from the rich people and a few very rich people I have encountered, professionally and personally (once shared a secretary with Bill Gates Sr.) that the empathy and comity and decency drivers never got installed with the original programming.
And I “follow” Gates Jr. on Twitter, when I can stand to look in, and what a piece of work he, or his Twavatar, is. Always on his book and on his game. And it seems like just a game to him, from the way he plays his position.
Now Trumpunist stars are in the ascendant. And the planet gets more heat load, every moment of every day… Too bad the looters are on the way to “conquering death” for themselves, while “dealing death” to the rest of us…
> Too bad the looters are on the way to “conquering death” for themselves, while “dealing death” to the rest of us…
I wonder what they’ll do once they realize they’ve been had by a bunch of grifting con artists, hardly different from themselves. When the billionaires realize Mars is a death trap worse than Earth, will they feel any remorse about destroying the planet? Or has the “market” whittled that away, along with the rest of the human emotions like shame, guilt, and compassion for their fellow man? When they realize eternal youth and immortality isn’t ever going to happen, partly because they’ve hollowed out their own civilization and corrupted its science, will they regret forcing so many others into destitution and an early grave? Maybe for about 30 seconds, I reckon. The rest cower in self-protective ignorance.
It’s fun to look to pop culture for illustrative myths and potentially illuminating analogies. I like “Wall-e” and “Elysium” and “Terminator” and “Robocop” and for dessert, a big helping of “Soylent Green…”
The dillusionati always drown in their own vomit…it has been that way for the last 2 million sunsets…all the technology in the world wont change that…if one can not find peace and happiness with a few million dollars, chasing billions to spend more money 4 monets on the wall in the hall is a losing proposition…
As to georgi sore-ohs redirecting his money…the klown princes will soon be abandoning their givings with the coming removal of the estate tax putting many non profits out of business…
“non profit” hospitals will now be able to convert to for profit dividend paying entities instead of consultant skim capital kiting enterprises…
The rober baron era existed before income taxes…so…I expect sow-oats to slowly melt away now that he can hand out his remaining assets directly and enjoy the rest of his youth with his robobabe….
Despite the best efforts of the dillusionati these past 5 – 10 thousand years…once they run out of people to prey with…they turn on each other…
these are weak creatures, power hungry and control crazy based on their own fears and limitations…
The bernaze sauce isnt spicy enough anymore…
the rewind button on vcrs killed the soviet union and youtube and the capacity of the average shmoe to cut, paste, edit and freeze frame has reduced the mesmerization to a near stand still…
The game is up and there is no more room left to squeeze more gold tips on a chip no matter how much cooling one throws into the mix…
The iPhone is just newton with the security state release of tech that has been aroud for over 20 years…
The programs still have bugs/features that can not be fixed based on a unix/linux platform from over 50 years ago designed to exist in a closed loop circuit…decades of patch and pray can not be fixed by decree…
one of the funders of one of the fake news “overseers”(u of penn/annanb) runs an outfit in nyc that prices out derivatives out over 150 years from now…but all the tech can’t tell me if it is going to rain or snow in 72 hours…
The dillusionati are running on fumes
What is amusing is watching the panic as they fear resistance and revolution that will never develop…people just want to eat, breath and live a reasonable life…these weak dillusionati contemplate and imagine how “they” in their weakness and fears would react…but many parts of america have already seen and lived thru an economic apocalypse…
even manhattan was a dead zone on the west side when all their shipping moved to LA and all the piers were left open and abandoned with jokes about the only place to find nypd was at donut shops abounding…
Living in the south bronx or coney island was living a real life version of madmax…
Anyhoot…methinx, in respects to the original posting sore-oats just does his freedom and democracy funding to tip the scales on his out of the money tail risk currency options investing…he just games the system with a smile…
Onto a wondrous and pleasant 2017…
The fun has just begun…
Less fences and more dances…let 2017 be the year we talk past our differences with our neighbors and get on with the being of being…
(Damn that was long winded…I thought I gave that up…)
Everything Soros does is to line his own pockets I’m afraid.
This will fall on deaf ears.
For them, it’s never enough money. That is what this is really about. Behind the curtains, you are dealing with a bunch of people who care nothing about the collective good and everything about their own net worth. Nothing else matters to them.
They’d rather watch the world burn than lose money.
Based on my own personal experience regarding suggestions that I’ve published, the suggestions won’t even reach him, let alone be followed up on.
Well, we do what we can.
I agree, this is a fraught moment for the funders of the D party as they are specially vulnerable and maybe more willing to consider other views than usual, being silent is not an option
Hope this isn’t dinged as an ad hominem, but I recall that old central European expression: “Anybody with a Hungarian for a friend doesn’t need an enemy.”
Now that can be read in several ways — but always to the same end, some allies you don’t want. Soros may be a Dark Side conduit for neocon or neolib instincts and pelf; or he may just be pissing away his own money, a la Snyder, just in a less benign enterprise. Neither scenario undercuts the “bootstrap” metaphor for progressive funding. We should, therefore, be prepared to see increased efforts to diminish “self-funding” mechanisms that leave too much power in the hands of the little people. Not an ad hom, I’m not talking about Munchkins.
Soros need not be worried. Even without his money funding all these projects, plenty of people will join him in hell afterwards. Once his Open Ideas have been tested there, then he is welcomed to port those here, the lesser hell.
The argument was misleading, because it ignored the fact that the winners seldom, if ever, compensate the losers.
Yep, which is why sources of unjust wealth inequality – such as government privileges for private credit creation – should be precluded at their SOURCE.
In other words, ethical financing is needed to insure that increases in productivity and wealth are justly shared.
One thing all Americans should believe in is “Thou shall not steal” – even if by subtle means such as implicit privileges for a usury cartel.
I would argue that the U.S. hasn’t been interested in democracy since, at least, WWII. They have performed coups and assassinations and other destabilizations in other countries (and, I would argue, here with JFK, RFK, MLK, Jr., and who knows how many others in those “freak” small plan accidents over the years) in favor of “friendly” dictators and tyrants. Although Soros claims to hate Nazis and Communists, Allen Dulles was quite partial to Nazis and made sure many of them did not face trial at Nuremberg but instead were employed in the U.S., West Germany and other places.
If Soros wanted to put his money to good use, he could invest in getting some transparency and cohesiveness to our election system. Had he done that after 2000, John Kerry would have been president and probably Hillary also. And many Dem senators, congress critters, etc. To pretend that the elections are honest and represent the people’s will has pretty much been discredited, as far as I’m concerned.
My understanding is that Soros likes instability. It’s good for his market plays.
Call an annihilation an annihilation. Auschwitz was NOT a “resettlement to the East”. The 1931 Ukrainian Famine was NOT a “Collectivization”. Using our precious language to lie and obscure….
“Rectification of borders…”
Hope (pray) Monsieur Soros’ secretary prints this one out for his morning press review.
Can we please get more posts explaining why Democrats lost? They are my favorite think pieces.
Nittaci, I get emails from something called PEN which have the best, most reasonable explanation I’ve found.
Soros is repeating Lampedusa: “everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same.”
Making money is a knack usually with some very modest intellectual input. These guys know this and that’s why once they have their big pile they start meddling in politics using the clout ( read power ) that their billions gives them. The politicians on the other hand know little, or nothing about making money, but are enthralled by the billionaires . What they have in common is that they all crave kudos to justify their position and its maintenance. That they are a bunch of vain, self-aggrandising sociopaths is beyond question; it’s just that it took the Great Financial Crash of 2008 for most of us to realise this and that realisation has now spread to large numbers of the populations in most of the West . So now they have a problem, but how to deal with it they have no idea because there isn’t a scintilla of empathy in those minds of theirs. And so now we have Trump and Brexit etc.
From a Guardian article on insecure “smart Meters” put up by Jerri-Lynn in the 12/31 Links, the humors line of the year: “The Power [players] have to understand that with great power comes great responsibility.” Nyuk nyuk nyuk… Should read, “with great power comes great power…”
democracy with a small d is a fine idea for your schools and other issues that affect your local community. Alas, for everything else, you are living in a complex post-agrarian society in which your very ability to eat depends on the amorphous structure called “the economy”. Which in turn depends on central banks, trade, national policies, etc. One could deconstruct this economy, but I somehow doubt that such deconstruction would lead to exceptional prosperity for all. There are multiple examples of deconstructed countries around the world, and they are not exactly an inspiration.
Soros is one of the few bright spots among billionaires, though I am sure he is not perfect. He understands that, through generational forgetting, the world is now facing a resurgence of fascism. He understands it better than most, because he is one of the very few survivors of the holocaust that are still alive. Fascism is so dangerous because, as a method of political advancement, it works well. Appeal to emotion, particularly fear, works better that appeal to reason. It has always been thus. You can second guess him all you want, but you have to give this to him: he is one of the very few left that are trying to do something to stop this wave before it plunges the world into a sequence of wars with nukes on day one.
You would do well to join him, rather than dis him.
As far as neoliberalism goes, one should also be careful throwing this label around indiscriminately. Human population more than doubled in my lifetime, and all these new people are competing for resources. The US will not escape unscathed. Governments can mitigate to some degree, but they cannot fully stop some decline in the living standard until technologies catch up and reduce pressures on resources. Furthermore, US relies on imports for 50% of her oil, which also means US needs to trade and be competitive on world markets. There are no free lunches and easy solutions that will magically make everything better overnight. Thinking there are is unrealistic in its own right.
Hillary Clinton, for all her faults, was a center left politician. She was defeated by a con artist who was riding a wave of about 10-15 years worth of fascist propaganda emanating from increasingly radicalized Republican party. The greatest danger now is actually radicalization of the left, as this will put the US on the path to become another South American permanent disaster. So, when you attack those “Democratic elites”, be careful what you wish for, and be careful not to become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
“Hillary Clinton, for all her faults, was a center-left politician.”
Her record at State, not to mention most of the policy positions she has supported throughout her career, is a vehement refutation of that assertion.
vehement according to you. The world is both complicated and violent place, while armchair advice makes it a simple place.
That’s a policy choice, not an inevitability, no matter how often John Kerry says otherwise.
I agree that we shouldn’t burn bridges with the “Democratic elites”. The Soroses of the world can help tremendously.
However, from my vantage point, the radicalization of the left is NOT the “greatest danger” at the present time. Rather, the establishment Dems are refusing to take responsibility for their failures, and are rather blaming the comparatively level-headed left. The battle is on and we must find new leadership that recognizes that changes such as Bernie proposed are desparately needed.
why can’t Soros pay down student debt?
We are living in the twilight of the ideologues. Whatever proves to be practical will now prevail. Soros always had one wheel stuck in the ditch. And Hillary, for all her experience, wound up knowing nothing. It was amazing. Very wizard of oz. Capitalism can morph – but it can’t go back. We have all new, complex circumstances now and free marketeering in an open society BS just hasn’t got a chance of fixing things anymore. Soros should try to understand this. So should Trump.
All I can say is, if Soros’s Quantum Fund performed the way the Democrats had the last 8 years, heads would definitely be rolling. Odd that he doesn’t demand the same accountability for his dollars when it comes to his Open Society Foundation.
All I can say is that if Soros’s fund, Quantum, delivered performance comparable to what the Democrats had delivered over the last 8 years electorally, heads would definitely roll and there would be no more dollars forthcoming. Interesting that this accountability doesn’t apply here.
For a society that pays lip service to checks and balances you’d think that there would be widespread concern about the concentration of unchecked power that is the billionaire class. Perchance to dream…
Soros is an asshole. Trump is an asshole’s asshole, and hence dangerous to assholes like Soros. The assholes have had their way for quite some time, and they did what assholes always do — they shit on everybody and became incredibly rich and powerful while doing it. People are dumb, but they eventually figure things out. They see the incredible wealth these assholes now have, and as they look at their always declining lifestyle, know who they took it from. Trump is an asshole and they know it, but at least he had the good sense to steal his wealth, not from them, but from the assholes who stole theirs. Who wins the election??? Robinhood i.e. Trump, or the sheriff of Nottingham i.e. Hillary??? History repeats, at least in part. As for the doom and gloom about fascism, we already live under fascism and have been for quite sometime.
What are some good small-d democracy supporting orgs your new readers (as I am) should be aware of?
There are two things wrong with Lambert’s ,very generous and probably undeserved, suggestions to Mr. Soros. #1. “Stop funding democrats” – that is , giving them money. There many reasons to give someone money. Mr Soros is giving money to the democrats because they are willing to turn his policy desires into reality ,to work for him, which leads into, #2. “Stop funding neoliberalism”. Mr Soros is actually all in it for the neoliberalism. If he stops funding that, there wont be anything left for him to do. Its been his political life’s work. Look at the grievous harm his ideas, pushed by his foundations and money, have caused in Eastern Europe in particular, but also in American cities like Baltimore. Mr Soros is ideologically devoted to neoliberalism and therefore, it must be presumed, to all the outcomes of its polices.
Far from being the lesser evil, in Europe-MENA-Near East Soros is considered the Greatest Evil due to his regime change and colour revolution funding and organisational infrastructure, his funding / organisational ditto of the fake Human Rights industry and his massive funding/ organisational ditto of the orchestrated migrant crisis and its negative, working-both-sides-of-the-street propaganda. Soros simply works hand in hand with the neocon State Department to further its agenda.
Therefore, the neoliberal project, considered under the aspect of justice, was destined to implode, and known to be so destined from the very beginning, since ultimately for popular acceptance it depends on redistribution, but “winners seldom, if ever, compensate the losers.” So why throw good money after bad
Some liberal thinking ……
“Testifying before Congress in 1997, Greenspan attributed the “extraordinary’” and “exceptional” performance of the nineties economy to “a heightened sense of job insecurity” among workers “and, as a consequence, subdued wages.”
Alan Greenspan’s traumatised worker is today’s Trump supporter.
US workers have been traumatised for 25 years and it’s not surprising they are a bit fed up.
Obama offered hope and failed to deliver, well he did deliver but not to the people that matter in a democracy.
Wall Street hopes it will be bailed out at 100c in the dollar – Obama delivers
Afro-Americans hope they won’t be thrown out onto the street – Obama doesn’t deliver
Favouring Wall Street over Main Street doesn’t win elections.
Trump shouldn’t have been a surprise, it’s just everyone was looking in the wrong direction.
The Trump graph and why headline US stats. mean nothing at the ballot box.
Those at the top stopped passing on productivity gains to US workers in 1973.
The tide is turning against liberalism, it contained the seeds of its own destruction.
Globalisation was accompanied by an ideology, neoliberalism, that was guaranteed to fail. Globalisation isn’t really the problem, it’s neoliberalism.
The problems were there at the start but were ignored, it was always going to go wrong in exactly the way it has.
Francis Fukuyama talked of the “end of history” and “liberal democracy”.
Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas.
Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many.
Democracy – that requires the support of the majority.
Trying to bring two mutually exclusive ideas together just doesn’t work.
The ideas of “Economic Liberalism” came from Milton Freidman and the University of Chicago. It was so radical they first tried it in a military dictatorship in Chile, it wouldn’t be compatible with democracy. It took death squads, torture and terror to keep it in place, there was an ethnic cleansing of anyone who still showed signs of any left wing thinking.
It was tried in a few other places in South America using similar techniques. It then did succeed in a democracy but only by tricking the people into thinking they were voting for something else, severe oppression was needed when they found out what they were getting.
Margaret Thatcher bought these ideas to the West and the plan to eliminate the welfare state has only recently been revealed. Things had to be done slowly in the West due to that bothersome democracy. The West has now seen enough.
It was implemented far more brutally in the developing world where Milton Freidman’s “Chicago Boys” were the henchmen of “The Washington Consensus”. The IMF and World Bank acted as enforcers insisting on neoliberal conditionalities for loans.
Global markets punished those not towing the neoliberal line and kept nations in their place. As Nelson Mandela was released from prison the South African Rand fell 10%, someone like this was going to be pushing up wage costs and would be bad for the economy.
Looking back it was a grand folly of an international elite whose greed overcame even a modicum of common sense.
Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” will take you through all the gory details.
Underlying neo-liberalism is a different economics, neoclassical economics, which is heavily biased towards the wealthy. Inequality and a lack of demand in the global economy were also guaranteed from the start.
Neoliberalism – an ideology that never had a long term future from the outset.
If robots are a problem there is something wrong with the system.
Everyone in the 1970s and 1980s believed automation would lead to increased leisure time as robots would be doing so much of the work. Many boring, dull and repetitive jobs could be done by robots freeing human beings up for better things.
As this has started to come true we are starting to realise how the capitalist system turns this into a massive problem.
Capitalism had started to run into difficulties with over-production by the 1920s and extensive advertising became necessary to shift all the stuff the system could produce. Demand for the goods had to be manufactured along with the goods themselves, which no one really needed.
Consumerism had to be actively encouraged in the thrifty population of the time as they were not used to wasting money on things they didn’t really need. Today we have to build storage units to house the surplus stuff from the private sector that people can’t fit in their houses.
As natural resource limits become apparent such a wasteful system looks as though it’s approaching the end of the line.
In the 1950s John Kenneth Galbraith wrote a book “The Affluent Society” discussing how they were still bound by pre-1920s ideas where increasing productivity and efficiency were seen as essential although they lived in a land of plenty. By the 1950s the only problem was shifting all the stuff the system produced and advertisers faced an uphill struggle. He also noted how a world of private luxury co-existed with a world of public squalor and there were no advertising campaigns for better schools and hospitals.
We still think in terms of those pre-1920s worries today, productivity and efficiency. Larry Summers and the IMF have noted that demand is the problem that even today’s ubiquitous advertising can’t overcome.
Capitalism is a way of organising society. The lower class does the manual work, the middle class does the managerial and administrative work and the upper class live a life of luxury and leisure. Since the dawn of human civilisation nearly all societies have been organised along these lines.
The UK Aristocracy where there for the transition from feudalism to capitalism and barely noticed the difference as there life of luxury and leisure continued as before. They are still living the same life of luxury and leisure today as nothing has really changed.
Adam Smith observed:
“The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers.”
It was all much easier to see in the early days of capitalism.
In the early 19th century things were much the same and the great wealth of the British Empire was claimed by those at the top. The men, women and children at the bottom of society were housed in slums, worked almost every hour they were awake in the factories of the wealthy and still lived a bare subsistence existence. It was only organised labour movements that bought an end to the natural order of 5,000 years of human civilisation and those at the bottom had a mechanism for getting a larger slice of the pie.
This internal welfare state to look after the lords of the manor was just the norm. in the days when capitalism came into being, today we have moved on and expect everyone to do their bit, even the descendents of feudal warlords (aka the aristocracy).
We need a system that is efficient and doesn’t use advertising to shift the massive excess it produces. Natural resources are approaching their limits.
We also need a system that can use improvements in technology like robots to benefit all. A system like capitalism, that makes robots a problem, obviously has fundamental flaws.
It’s time for something new, a finite earth cannot cope with this wasteful system.
It’s time for something new as robots prevent capitalism from being a way to organise society. Either over-production becomes so excessive even advertising can’t cope or far too members of society become surplus to requirements.
It’s time for something new, a system without an internal welfare state for the lords of the manor, it’s the 21st century.
Previous systems used technology to expand the area in which workers provided for those at the top from villages, to city states, to regions, to nations, to empires and now globally.
2014 – “85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world”
2016– “Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world’s population”
Doing the maths and assuming a straight line …….
5.4 years until one person is as wealthy as poorest half of the world.
It’s working at the moment but its end is near.
A better future awaits when we can think of a new system.
The US has always favoured private luxury and public squalor.
John Kenneth Galbraith captures the 1950s American Dream where private luxury and public squalor are de rigeur:
“The family which takes its mauve an cerise, air-conditioned, power-steered and power-braked automobile out for a tour passes through cities that are badly paved, made hideous by litter, lighted buildings, billboards and posts for wires that should long since have been put underground. They pass on into countryside that has been rendered largely invisible by commercial art. (The goods which the latter advertise have an absolute priority in our value system. Such aesthetic considerations as a view of the countryside accordingly come second. On such matters we are consistent.) They picnic on exquisitely packaged food from a portable icebox by a polluted stream and go on to spend the night at a park which is a menace to public health and morals. Just before dozing off on an air mattress, beneath a nylon tent, amid the stench of decaying refuse, they may reflect vaguely on the curious unevenness of their blessings. Is this, indeed, the American genius?”
With robots, too many people are surplus to requirements and those people don’t just disappear. A stable society provides for all its citizens, to give them a role and keep society stable. Even the welfare state has a purpose in pacifying those at the bottom to keep those at the top in luxury and leisure, although the current incumbents have forgotten.
Those at the top always have a tendency to take too much out of the system and never appear to realise …..
all emplyees = all consumers (approx.)
“The Marxian capitalist has infinite shrewdness and cunning on everything except matters pertaining to his own ultimate survival. On these, he is not subject to education. He continues wilfully and reliably down the path to his own destruction”
The introduction of a billion workers apiece from China and India has caused problems in maintaining jobs, wages and demand, add robots and things get a whole lot worse.
With the rich being so greedy, the chances of capitalism staying afloat are about zero.
The globalists play a game above national politicians and just can’t help destroy the system through their own short sightedness and greed.
In 2017, let’s use a modicum of common sense to realise the belief set that drives today’s world is fundamentally flawed.
“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Irving Fisher 1929.
Irving Fisher’s belief was based on an absolute faith in markets based on neoclassical economics which states markets reach stable equilibriums.
In 2007, Ben Bernanke could see no problems ahead.
Ben Bernanke’s belief was based on an absolute faith in markets based on neoclassical economics which states markets reach stable equilibriums.
In 2015, everyone was panicking about the fall in the Chinese stock market.
Everyone’s panic was based on an absolute faith in markets based on neoclassical economics which states markets reach stable equilibriums.
In 2016, no one can see any problems with the housing markets in Australia, Canada, Sweden and Norway.
Everyone’s belief is based on an absolute faith in markets based on neoclassical economics which states markets reach stable equilibriums.
Market participants themselves talk of the “bigger fool” and understand the mechanisms by which markets can be ridden for capital gains.
UK television and the mainstream media encourage everyone to ride the housing market for capital gains. This is repeated around the world.
Market crashes are the stuff of history with the first recorded incidence being “Tulip Mania” in 1600s Holland. People went crazy over the new tulips and everyone saw the capital gains that could be made by trading in the new tulips hoping there would be a “bigger fool” so they could make money from capital gains.
In 1999, everyone was in full Tulip Mania mode over the new internet companies.
What is behind this collective insanity?
“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Irving Fisher 1929.
After the crash he was ridiculed and the belief in markets was shattered, collective sanity was restored. Neoclassical economics with its belief in stable equilibriums was dumped in favour of Keynesian thinking.
In the 1970s Keynesian ideas started to go wrong and for some reason they were replaced by the old failed ideas of neoclassical economics and its belief that markets reach stable equilibriums.
Today’s economists refuse to acknowledge that markets have two modes of operation:
1) Price discovery
2) “Bigger Fool” mode when everyone rides the bubble for capital gains leading to horrendous crashes.
How can we break free from this collective insanity?
Place your faith in today’s experts?
I don’t think so; I came to my senses some time ago.
Is 2017 going to be the year of evaporating imaginary wealth?
Wealth – real and imaginary.
Central Banks and the wealth effect.
Real wealth comes from the real economy where real products and services are traded.
This involves hard work which is something the financial sector is not interested in.
The financial sector is interested in imaginary wealth – the wealth effect. Hardly any of their lending goes into productive lending into the real economy.
They look for some existing asset they can inflate the price of, like the national housing stock. They then pour money into this asset to create imaginary wealth, the bubble bursts and all the imaginary wealth disappears.
1929 – US (margin lending into US stocks)
1989 – Japan (real estate)
2008 – US (real estate bubble leveraged up with derivatives for global contagion)
2010 – Ireland (real estate)
2012 – Spain (real estate)
2015 – China (margin lending into Chinese stocks)
Central Banks have now got in on the act with QE and have gone for an “inflate all financial asset prices” strategy to generate a wealth effect (imaginary wealth). The bubble bursts and all the imaginary wealth disappears.
The wealth effect – it’s like real wealth but it’s only temporary.
The markets are high but there is a lot of imaginary wealth there after all that QE. Get ready for when the imaginary wealth starts to evaporate, its only temporary. Refer to the “fundamentals” to gauge the imaginary wealth in the markets; it’s what “fundamentals” are for.
Canadian, Australian, Swedish and Norwegian housing markets are full of imaginary wealth. Get ready for when the imaginary wealth starts to evaporate, its only temporary. Refer to the “fundamentals” to gauge the imaginary wealth in these housing markets; it’s what “fundamentals” are for.
Remember when we were panicking about the Chinese stock markets falling last year?
Have a look at the Shanghai Composite on any web-site with the scale set to max., you can see the ridiculous bubble of imaginary wealth as clear as day.
The Chinese stock markets were artificially inflated creating imaginary wealth in Chinese stocks, it was only temporary and it evaporated.
It’s what happens.
Once we question neoclassical economics and its “stable equilibrium” hypothesis that doesn’t exist in the real world we should have another look at the Euro that lurches from crisis to crisis.
The Euro’s design relies on the neoclassical economic belief that the nations within the Euro-zone will just naturally reach a stable equilibrium.
A problem emerges.
Keynes studied this failed neoclassical economics in the 1930s and when he was designing the Bretton-Woods agreement after the Second World War he put in mechanisms to recycle the surplus to keep the whole thing going forever without these mechanisms international trade would result in polarization and collapse as the rich nations got richer and the poor nations got poorer.
Greece has just collapsed and the Club-Med nations are sinking deeper into the mire.
The real world tells me the Euro-zone is polarizing and collapsing and not heading to a stable equilibrium.
More Keynes observations derived from studying this failed neoclassical economics.
Income is just as important as profit; income looks after the demand side of the equation and profit the supply side.
Today we just concentrate on maximizing profit and global aggregate demand is in trouble.
Monetary policy in a severe recession just leads to a “liquidity trap” and fiscal stimulus is needed.
After eight years we are starting to come back to this way of thinking. The Central Bankers are scratching their heads about the “savings glut” (neoclassical economics provides no answers).
The fatally defective capitalist system put Soros in power. Trump is not much different. As long as that system remains in place, corruption reigns supreme and humanity circles the evolutionary drain.
Soros is hot, hot, hot. everybody is talking about him it seems.
Anyway As Steve Keen said about Brexit it is good because it is like leaving an abusive relationship. Let the democrats die to let other parties blossom.
Inherent problems that won’t go away soon without the party dying. generational shifts in parties takes time. it took some 15-20 years to neoliberalize the social democrats in sweden but now they are firmly anti-labour and pro-privatizers.
family dynasties: after bill and hillarious they are already floated chelsea as having a role in the future. what other families are leading out there in the provinces? a leadership on all levels that is just as fundamentally corrupt as the clinton. so even if you get rid of hillarious and donna debbie it wont matter because there is a looooong queue of like-minded. the castration of the unions as well as the general passivity of the population in terms of political engagement (real, not facebook likes) you wont be able to prop up the party with sensible people.
Must be excruciatingly frustrating to be so wealthy and to have so little positive impact on society.