Philanthropy - George soros and the capitalist threat




A leading global philanthropist, the Hungarianborn George Soros was attacked as a corporate raider, a speculator who achieved billionaire status via fluctuations in stocks, commodities, and currencies, but he has also been recognized as a billionaire who, like others before him, seemed determined to give away much of his money. He also received substantial attention because of the books he wrote that sought to explain his ambitious agenda for strengthening democracy and the rule of law on a global scale. Born in Budapest, he moved to England in 1947 and graduated from the London School of Economics; he moved to the United States in 1956 and founded the Open Society Fund (1979) and Soros Foundation–Soviet Union (1987). Soros's goals were "to help open up closed societies, to help make open societies more viable, and to foster a critical mode of thinking." He established some thirty semiautonomous foundations, principally in central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union but also in Guatemala, Haiti, and southern Africa. Established in 1993 in New York City, his Open Society Institute provided administrative, financial, and technical support, as well as establishing network programs to address certain issues on a regional or network-wide basis. In 1997, the various Soros foundations spent a total of $428.4 million on philanthropic activities. Along with the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper and others, Soros juxtaposed totalitarian ideologies with recognition that nobody has a monopoly on truth. Different people have different views and different interests, and he notes a need for institutions that encourage people to live together in peace and respect democracy and the rule of law. His goal was to protect individual rights and ensure freedom of choice and freedom of speech, and as an ardent supporter of toleration, he sees questions of choice and freedom as keys to the open society. By 2001, Soros had donated $1 billion: $350 million in 1997, including $50 million to a fund to help legal immigrants, and $100 million to set up Internet centers at universities in Russia. Soros's donations strengthened U.S. commitments in Eastern Europe and helped compel the realization that the region was vital to American foreign policy.

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