By Anna Porter
He has been called “the only private citizen with his own foreign policy,” and there is no doubt that George Soros plays a unique and unprecedented role: a billionaire social activist pursuing his own specific ideas for transforming the world into a more progressive and democratic society. Directing the flow of billions of dollars through his Open Society Foundations to causes from promoting climate change research to ensuring the survival of the European Union, Soros has emerged as a public intellectual and a political force politicians and business leaders can’t afford to ignore.
In Buying a Better World, Anna Porter gives a critical examination of the new world of billionaire philanthropy on the international stage. Chronicling the growth of the Soros behemoth from its beginnings as a simple tax loophole, Porter takes up the causes Soros has championed over the past three decades and the activists who hold some of the most powerful positions in his network.
The One Percent Solution
A few years ago, when Warren Buffet unveiled The Giving Pledge, a commitment from the world’s richest to donate most of their wealth to philanthropic causes, one signature noticeably missing was that of George Soros. The reason is because Soros (estimated net worth, $23 billion) had already begun giving away scads of money to promote his own pet causes: global democracy, human rights, education and health. In her new book, Buying a Better World, Anna Porter attempts to understand the complex philosophy that drives all of Soros’ investment and philanthropic decisions, asking whether his efforts have had a positive impact on the world. Describing her elusive subject as “an idealist … who seems to believe that you can change the world to suit your benevolent theories if you only spend enough money,” Porter tracks how Soros, now 84, escaped Jewish persecution as a youth in Hungary before landing in America in 1956 and starting his Quantum Fund in 1969, the source of much of his riches. Unlike many of his fellow “one percenters,” Soros isn’t making vague, down-the-road commitments. Instead, he’s plowing much of his wealth into his Open Society Foundations which, over the past 30 years, have spent upward of $11 billion bankrolling the Solidarity movement in Poland, backing democracy movements in Eastern Europe, funding the Arab Spring in the Middle East, shining a spotlight on corruption in Africa, investing $1 billion in clean energy and, controversially, spending $27 million in a failed bid to block George W. Bush’s second term as U.S. president. Porter notes that even though he continues cutting big cheques, Soros has be-come an inscrutable, even isolated figure, “hated on the right for being too much of a leftie and by those on the left for being an unabashed capitalist.” So has this older, fabulously rich guy made a difference with his charity? Porter hedges her answer, leaving us with a quote from Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Peter Muggeridge, Zoomer Magazine
Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy
George Soros is in his mid eighties. This is his last active decade,” said Anna Porter in her new book Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy. “He has been in feverish overdrive since his seventieth birthday, wishing to accomplish what he set out to do back in his fifties: inspire people to embrace ‘open society’ and convince the world of intellectuals that his theories and ideas are fundamental to understanding the human condition.”
Titans of industry have long sought redemption and some measure of immortality in the charitable work they have undertaken. Think Nobel, Carnegie, Rockefeller and Pew. Men today like Bill Gates and Toronto’s Peter Munk carry on in much the same tradition, endowing charitable works and academic institutions with their very public benevolence. As Porter reveals, Soros is consumed with an even grander vision: to use his riches to promulgate his own ideas in an attempt to steer the broad course of events.
Literary Review of Canada
Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy
George Soros built his financial empire trading in high-risk derivatives while giving away billions of dollars to scholars, human rights activists, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. Based on interviews with Soros and his friends, colleagues, and business partners, Porter (The Ghosts of Europe) writes an extraordinary biography of the billionaire, focusing on his legacy. She traces numerous activities of the Open Society Foundation, an international charitable organization founded by Soros “to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens.”
Buying a Better World, a book review
Anna Porter, a Hungarian-born Canadian writer and publisher who since 2004 has been devoting her time to writing, is out with a new book, her third in eight years. All three in one way or another, fully or partially, have something to do with Hungary. In 2007 she wrote Kasztner’s Train, the story of Rudolf Kastner (Rezső Kasztner) and his controversial effort to negotiate with Adolf Eichmann for the release of hundreds of Jews. Three years later The Ghosts of Europe, a history of post-Soviet Eastern Europe after 1990, appeared. And now she has given us an introduction to George Soros’s philanthropic activities, Buying a Better World. By Eva S. Balogh, Hungarian Spectrum
Can George Soros buy a better world?
Will billionaire George Soros’ philanthropic campaign to support democracy and change public policies to reflect liberal democratic values have the desired effect?
The Toronto Star, Mar 24 2015
The Soros principle: A billionaire’s plan to change the world
Ottawa Citizen, March 20, 2015
Despite spending billions on promoting democracy and Western-style liberalism around the world, Soros seems to have relatively little to show for his efforts, writes reviewer Chris Sorensen. Maclean’s, March 6, 2015
Buying a Better World questions the legacy of financier George Soros, but doesn’t give us a full answer. Paul Waldie, Buying a Better World, The Globe and Mail, February 27, 2015
Vásárolni egy jobb világot – Új monográfia Soros Györgyről
„A milliárdos személyiségét, életét és küldetését már eddig is számos könyv és még több publikáció taglalta, így Anna Porternek nem lehetett könnyű dolga – a figyelmes olvasó mégis e munka révén döbben rá, mennyi mindent nem tudott korábban Soros Györgyről.” Magyar Narancs