George Soros | Charlie Rose | 1994 | Summary and Q&A

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George Soros | Charlie Rose | 1994

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Summary

In this video, George Soros, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, discusses his shift from focusing on making money to giving it away through his foundation. He talks about the missed opportunity to transform Eastern Europe into an open society after the fall of communism and the negative consequences of the rise of ethnic nationalism. Soros also talks about the Bosnian war and the lack of action from Western European countries and the United States. He shares his views on the fragile state of Russia and his thoughts on Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. Soros reflects on his own experiences during the Nazi occupation of Hungary and the communist regime, which shaped his belief in the importance of open societies. He also discusses his trading strategies and the impact of his philanthropic work.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why did George Soros shift his focus from making money to giving it away?

Soros explains that he shifted his focus because he cares deeply about the concept of an open society. He sees it as the values of our civilization and believes that society should make sacrifices to protect and promote it. He uses his money to support and promote open societies, particularly in Eastern Europe.

Q: Why does Soros think the opportunity to transform Eastern Europe into an open society was missed?

Soros argues that although there was an opportunity to establish open societies in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, it required a lot of help from the outside world. However, he believes that the rest of the world did not share his vision and did not believe in the concept of an open society enough to make the necessary sacrifices.

Q: How serious a mistake does Soros consider the missed opportunity to transform Eastern Europe into open societies?

Soros believes that it is a very serious mistake because the breakdown of the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia has led to the rise of close societies based on ethnic nationalism. He sees this as a dangerous trend that scapegoats and mobilizes society against ethnic groups instead of working towards an open society.

Q: What does Soros think should be done about the situation in Bosnia?

Soros believes that the primary goal should be to deliver humanitarian aid and protect the civilian population. He argues that the international community should use whatever means necessary, including force, to protect the designated protected areas. Soros describes the situation in Sarajevo as almost like a concentration camp, and he criticizes the lack of action and negotiation attempts instead of taking a stand against aggression and genocide.

Q: Does Soros condemn Western European countries and the United States for their inaction in Bosnia?

Soros strongly condemns Western European countries and the United States for their inaction. He believes they have taken the wrong approach by trying to negotiate and conciliate instead of standing up against aggression and using force. He sees their lack of will to protect the civilian population as a weakness of open societies.

Q: How does Soros view the stability and future of Russia?

Soros believes that the stability of Russia is extremely fragile both economically and politically. He thinks that reform has failed, partly due to the ineptitude of the reformers, the magnitude of the problems, and the lack of support from the West. Soros sees two potential outcomes: the rise of nationalism with a strong central state or continued disintegration and regionalism leading to anarchy.

Q: What does Soros think of Boris Yeltsin?

Soros considers Yeltsin a spent force and believes that he has no new ideas and is unprepared for the challenges facing Russia. He sees Yeltsin as a weak read standing between Russia and disaster.

Q: What does Soros think will happen in Russia in the future?

Soros believes that without successful reform, the most likely direction for Russia is a breakdown into regionalism and anarchy. He sees the lack of political will and support as major hindrances to successful reform and stability in the country.

Q: How does Soros view his own power and influence?

Soros compares his feelings about power to how porcupines feel about love—very careful. While he acknowledges having a significant impact with his opinions on interest rates, markets, and currencies, he believes in the fallibility of everyone, including himself. He sees the stock market and financial markets as a historical process shaped by the fallibility and mistakes of individuals.

Q: What brought Soros the greatest satisfaction in his life?

Soros finds the work of his foundation, the promotion of open societies and philanthropy, to be the most satisfying aspect of his life. He values doing something beyond his own self-interest and contributing to causes that align with his beliefs.

Takeaways

George Soros shares his shift from focusing on making money to giving it away through his foundation, prioritizing the promotion of open societies. He discusses missed opportunities to transform Eastern Europe, the negative consequences of ethnic nationalism, the Bosnian war, the fragile state of Russia, and his thoughts on Boris Yeltsin. Soros reflects on his experiences during Nazi occupation and the communist regime in Hungary, which shaped his belief in open societies. He emphasizes the fallibility of individuals and the importance of making sacrifices for an open society. Soros also discusses his trading strategies and the impact of his philanthropic work.

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