• Frank Furedi
  • Frank Furedi
  • Sociologist, commentator and author

My encounter with George Soros’s bright-eyed missionaries left me deeply disturbed

Why am I not surprised that the billionaire George Soros has decided to give £400,000 to the anti-Brexit crusading group Best for Britain? Because, since the 1980s, Soros has acted as if his considerable wealth entitles him to influence and alter the policies of governments throughout the world.

Soros believes that if the people voted the wrong way, he is entitled to thwart decisions made by them. From his perspective, the vote for Brexit was a big mistake, which needs and can be fixed by a well-financed propaganda campaign such as Best for Britain.

Soros does not believe in the legitimacy of borders nor in the authority of national electorates. Consequently he feels entitled to influence and if possible direct the political destiny of societies all over the world. Today it is the future of Britain; tomorrow it might be Italy or Hungary that will be the target of Soros’ largesse.

The problem with Soros is not that he is rich. The rich, like the poor, are entitled to act in accordance with their political views. However, there is something morally wrong when a single individual seeks to use his wealth to alter the will of millions of people who constitute the electorate. It is even worse when an oligarch is able to exercise significant influence over the future of a society that he is not a part of.

My most memorable experience with the Soros operation occurred in May 2013. I was invited to speak at an event funded by one of his foundations in Budapest. This meeting of the Open Society Youth Exchange was attended by NGO activists from many parts of the former Soviet Republics and Eastern Europe.

Most of those in attendance were smart, idealistic young people who appeared to be committed to making the world a better place. My only concern with the gathering was it regarded its participants as a group of democratic missionaries, who would go back to homes to spread the good word.

It was later during lunch at a plush Budapest hotel that I encountered the full force of the arrogant ethos promoted by the Soros network of organisation. At my table I listened to Dutch, American, British, Ukrainian and Hungarian representatives of Soros NGOs boast about their achievements. Some claimed that they played a major role in the Arab Spring in Egypt. Others voiced their pride in their contribution to the democratisation of the Ukraine. Some bragged about their influence in preparing the ground for the overthrow of the Gadafif regime in Libya.

I set quietly and felt uncomfortable with a group of people who so casually assumed that they had the right to play God throughout the world. At one point, the head of the table – a Hungarian leader of a Soros NGO – asked me what I thought about their work. Not wishing to offend, I quietly remarked that I wasn’t sure whether the external imposition of their idea of democracy on the people of Libya was legitimate nor that it would work. Without a second’s hesitation, my interlocutor rounded me with the response: “I don’t think that we have the luxury of waiting until the Libyan people come with their own Jefferson!”

To this day I remember the haughty tone with which she lectured me about performing the role of the American democrat, President Jefferson. I remain taken aback by the arrogance with which I was informed that if the Libyans were too slow to get their democratic act together, a Soros-linked foundation would step in to be their Jefferson. The disaster that unfolded in subsequently in Libya is in no small measure due irresponsible western actors playing the role of Jefferson.

Since my encounter with the would-be Jeffersons, I learned that criticism of Soros is not allowed. The revelation of Soros’ financial support for Best for Britain has led some of his supporters to denounce their critics as anti Semitic. The cause of fighting anti-Semitism is ill-served by such opportunistic use of the term.

As someone who lost most of his Hungarian Jewish family in the Holocaust I am appalled by baiting critics of Soros as anti Jewish. Let me assure them: probably the only unobjectionable feature of the biography of George Soros is that he happens to be Jewish.

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