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An impassioned defense of open society, academic and media freedom, and human rights. George Soros -- universally known for his philanthropy, progressive politics, and investment success--has been under sustained attack from the far right, nationalists, and anti-Semites in the United States and around the world because of his commitment to open society and liberal democ An impassioned defense of open society, academic and media freedom, and human rights. George Soros -- universally known for his philanthropy, progressive politics, and investment success--has been under sustained attack from the far right, nationalists, and anti-Semites in the United States and around the world because of his commitment to open society and liberal democracy. In this brilliant and spirited book, Soros brings together a vital collection of his writings, some never previously published. They deal with a wide range of important and timely topics: the dangers that the instruments of control produced by artificial intelligence and machine learning pose to open societies; what Soros calls his "political philanthropy"; his founding of the Central European University, one of the world's foremost defender of academic freedom; his philosophy; his boom/bust theory of financial markets and its policy implications; and what he calls the tragedy of the European Union. Soros's forceful affirmation of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, social justice, and social responsibility as a universal idea is a clarion call-to-arms for the ideals of open society.


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An impassioned defense of open society, academic and media freedom, and human rights. George Soros -- universally known for his philanthropy, progressive politics, and investment success--has been under sustained attack from the far right, nationalists, and anti-Semites in the United States and around the world because of his commitment to open society and liberal democ An impassioned defense of open society, academic and media freedom, and human rights. George Soros -- universally known for his philanthropy, progressive politics, and investment success--has been under sustained attack from the far right, nationalists, and anti-Semites in the United States and around the world because of his commitment to open society and liberal democracy. In this brilliant and spirited book, Soros brings together a vital collection of his writings, some never previously published. They deal with a wide range of important and timely topics: the dangers that the instruments of control produced by artificial intelligence and machine learning pose to open societies; what Soros calls his "political philanthropy"; his founding of the Central European University, one of the world's foremost defender of academic freedom; his philosophy; his boom/bust theory of financial markets and its policy implications; and what he calls the tragedy of the European Union. Soros's forceful affirmation of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, social justice, and social responsibility as a universal idea is a clarion call-to-arms for the ideals of open society.

30 review for In Defense of Open Society

  1. 4 out of 5

    Юра Мельник

    Більше про історію фонду Сороса і особливості сучасної політичної картини світу, ніж про функції і структуру його фонду. Однак книга, як і особистість Сороса легендарна

  2. 4 out of 5

    Harvey

    The only reason why I picked this book is it was on the front shelf at my local library. Out of curiosity, I thought I would give it a try, so I could understand his philosophy and motives. I had low expectations from this book, and I was not disappointed. A good start would have been to define what exactly is this open society thing. I still don't know what it is after reading the book. In his book, Soros rewrites his own version of History. A romanticized version. He presents himself as a phil The only reason why I picked this book is it was on the front shelf at my local library. Out of curiosity, I thought I would give it a try, so I could understand his philosophy and motives. I had low expectations from this book, and I was not disappointed. A good start would have been to define what exactly is this open society thing. I still don't know what it is after reading the book. In his book, Soros rewrites his own version of History. A romanticized version. He presents himself as a philanthropist dedicated to "the good of humankind". "a selfish guy with a selfless foundation". In every country he intervened with his open society, he presented himself as the good guy, working for the greater good, versus the bad guys. I personally call this interference with a country's internal affairs. He's an advocate of democracy and people's freedom. He claims European countries should have the right to want to take in African migrants or not, and that he's working hard to solve this migrant crisis. A quick search shows however he is THE guy behind the migrant crisis, which he likely makes tons of money from. The source is like the most mainstream media we can find : https://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/20/georg.... We can fill a grid with all the buzzwords the democratic, progressive system uses to demonize its opponents, and shout BINGO by the end of the book : "the nazi", "Putin is bad", "Trump is bad", "the populists", "rise of nationalism", "anti-semitism". They are all there. To add a positive note, I would say he's right when he talks about the dangers posed by social media giants. There is nothing to take away from this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    Much as I admire the author, I don't often like books that are a collections of speeches and reprints of articles, and this is no exception. I saw it at the library and picked it up because it has a chapter on the Central European University, where my beloved niece Kathryn got a masters degree a few years back. That chapter was interesting, so I got what I came for. The rest of it was fine, but not satisfying the way a book that was written as a book would have been. Much as I admire the author, I don't often like books that are a collections of speeches and reprints of articles, and this is no exception. I saw it at the library and picked it up because it has a chapter on the Central European University, where my beloved niece Kathryn got a masters degree a few years back. That chapter was interesting, so I got what I came for. The rest of it was fine, but not satisfying the way a book that was written as a book would have been.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mārtiņš Vaivars

    Esejas un raksti par plašu tēmu loku (hedžfonda vadīšanu, Eiropas Savienību, filantropiju, Open Society darbību u.c.) no ļoti skaidri, sistemātiski un empīriski domājoša cilvēka. Ja iepriekš esat sekojuši Sorosa rakstiem New York Review of Books, dažas nodaļas jau būs redzētas.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    Maybe he likes her for 2020, as the "most qualified". I am positively sure she doesn't like him. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nyti... Maybe he likes her for 2020, as the "most qualified". I am positively sure she doesn't like him. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nyti...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    The name "Soros" seems to be thrown around a lot lately. One might suggest it has become synonymous with a rather insidious form of what Soros himself refers to as "political philanthropy". Another might suggest criticism of Soros is not rooted in reality, but rather in the anti-Semitic attitudes of critics. All this leads to large scale skepticism whenever his name is evoked. Never the less, who Soros is and what his political philanthropy entails are of particular interest at the moment I write The name "Soros" seems to be thrown around a lot lately. One might suggest it has become synonymous with a rather insidious form of what Soros himself refers to as "political philanthropy". Another might suggest criticism of Soros is not rooted in reality, but rather in the anti-Semitic attitudes of critics. All this leads to large scale skepticism whenever his name is evoked. Never the less, who Soros is and what his political philanthropy entails are of particular interest at the moment I write this (June 14, 2020). There are those that would suggest much of the current division in American and western society falls, at least financially, at Soros' feet. I am skeptical of this claim, just as I am skepetical of those who would write off his detractors as "conspiracy theorists". It is this position that led me to seek out this book, written by the man himself. “Book” may be an overstatement. It's really a collection of previously published essays and speeches. While it does not tell you what role Soros has played in recent events, it does unintentionally provide a plausible explanation for many of the seemingly disparate threads of our time. Like the title suggests, Soros sees himself as a defender of "open societies". What is an open society? Soros never really defines it here. He references Karl Popper's concept of an open society (with which I am not familiar) and paints a broad picture by stating: "open societies recognize that different people have different views and interests; they introduce man-made laws to enable people to live together in peace." While that sounds good, this definition would undoubtedly include both the Persian Empire and the Roman Empire. I suspect Soros wouldn't want to defend either of these. He does point to an example of an open society, and it's defense is central to much of his book. Still undefined, he describes in contrast: "repressive regimes like the Soviet Union were collapsing and open societies like the European Union" The European Union is an open society. The Soviet Union was a closed society. "Open societies have many more enemies, Putin’s Russia foremost among them." Putin's Russia is an enemy of open societies. But open societies, like the EU, "have more enemies": "Externally, the EU is surrounded by hostile powers—Putin’s Russia, Erdogan’s Turkey, Sisi’s Egypt, and the America that Trump would like to create but can’t." Trump allegedly envisions the United States as a power "hostile" to Europe. "President Donald Trump would like to establish a mafia state, but he can’t because the Constitution" Like "open society", "mafia state" is left undefined. But we are told that Putin, an enemy of open society also runs a mafia state, as does Hungary's Viktor Orbán Rhetorical flourishes aside, two things are clear: 1. George Soros perceives himself as a defender of "open societies". 2. George Soros perceives Donald Trump as an enemy of open societies. How does Soros defend open societies from their enemies? His description of his foundation's work in Hungary in the 1980s tells us much: "the foundation supported every cultural initiative that was not an expression of official dogma—from zither clubs to farmers’ cooperatives. The amounts awarded were very small because most of the initiatives used facilities provided by the state and the people engaged in them drew salaries from the state. We used the state’s own resources to undermine it." Funding of any and all dissident groups to undermine a government that Soros views as an enemy of open society. Back in the present day: "The activities of the Open Society Foundations were concentrated in foreign countries; it was time to do something at home. I reflected on the deficiencies of open society in America" "The rest of our programs in the United States were the outgrowth of our programs in the rest of the world: social justice, vulnerable populations, civil rights, and the criminal justice system." "I consider the Trump administration a danger to the world. But I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020, or even sooner." The above strike me as particularly ominous considering Soros' lifelong belief that: "In turbulent times, the impossible becomes possible." With all this in mind, one has to wonder if the rapid rise of prominent dissidents today are not actually a reflection of public sentiment, but unknowing expendable pawns in the machinations of someone else; an unseen actor who does not share their beliefs but wishes to exploit their anger. It doesn't have to be George Soros, but Soros provides a convincing hypothetical playbook for whomever that actor might be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    "In Defense of Open Societies" is a collection of speeches or essays tagged by George Soros. There are two main problems with this book that really hampers any meaningful connection with the audience: 1.) Most of the book is clearly ghost-written. Because of this, many of Soros' actual beliefs and thoughts are incomprehensible. A lot of the early parts were purely biographical. There were several times where I became quite frustrated by the matter-of-fact style the excerpts took. 2.) There's just "In Defense of Open Societies" is a collection of speeches or essays tagged by George Soros. There are two main problems with this book that really hampers any meaningful connection with the audience: 1.) Most of the book is clearly ghost-written. Because of this, many of Soros' actual beliefs and thoughts are incomprehensible. A lot of the early parts were purely biographical. There were several times where I became quite frustrated by the matter-of-fact style the excerpts took. 2.) There's just a clear class difference between Soros and us mere mortals. He talks about the workings of his organizations, as they are spread across the globe with extreme political leverage. Most readers aren't going to care about Soros discussing meetings with business men in China, and the like. No one here on Goodreads has a comprehension of what it's like to spend $2million like it's nothing. The style of the book also meanders around issues. He calls what he does promoting 'open-societies'. These open-societies he essentially describes as non-mafia state. Mafia states are countries ruled by 'strong-men' who conveniently tended to piss or frustrate Soros in some manner. He described them as being democratic, probably so they're easy to buy and influence. I was under the impression immigration would be discussed. It was a tad, but the manner it's done is just so detached and uninvested. For example, it describes immigration in massive terms with various causes and responsibility again being placed at the feet of those Soros doesn't like. What I got out of this book, was that Soros admits to using both pride and envy in his methods of operation. He has a chapter entitled 'Selfless Man With a Selfless Foundation'. In this way, he's a lot like Oliver Stone's character Gordon Gekko, as he extols Greed. "Greed for a lack of a better word, is good." Soros doesn't explicitly use the word 'greed' here, though he does use envy and being selfish to avoid tropes of philanthropy. More can be learned about Soros from watching Stone's film, "Wall Street," and doing a character analysis on Gordon Gekko. To be frank, there was too much blatant lying along with tactical obfuscation to recommend reading this to anyone else.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zin Sham

    Whata load. NOTHING this guy says makes any sense at all. He grabs statements out of the air likening Trump to Jong Un, saying they both are willing to risk nuclear war....when Trump may not be perfect, but he has kept us out of war completely. Obama started seven wars in comparison, taking us into Afghanistan a week after winning that peace prize by comparison, so Soros should at least explain why he is calling Trump a warmonger. Warmongers do not promote peace like Trump has thus far. And he m Whata load. NOTHING this guy says makes any sense at all. He grabs statements out of the air likening Trump to Jong Un, saying they both are willing to risk nuclear war....when Trump may not be perfect, but he has kept us out of war completely. Obama started seven wars in comparison, taking us into Afghanistan a week after winning that peace prize by comparison, so Soros should at least explain why he is calling Trump a warmonger. Warmongers do not promote peace like Trump has thus far. And he managed to deal with n Korea better then any other president. In fact it just seems like Soros is determined to say Trump did the wrong thing despite the obviously positive results. Which would be OK if he explained himself instead of just pointing the finger and saying its bad. But he doesn't. Soros also never explains why exactly the EU is such an open society. It certainly doesn't value personal freedom. Or freedom of the press; British press was told NOT to post stories which featured Muslim refugees committing terrorism, or crimes in the interest of acceptance, which I understand, but it is no less dishonest, and not free. All in all its propaganda.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike Cheng

    Over the past few years, and especially more recently, George Soros has become a sort of boogeyman to conservatives. For that reason I felt it was important to see what he has to say in longform. This book is a collection of speeches and articles Mr. Soros has written wherein he discusses his background and fears of authoritarian regimes past and present (Nazi Germany, the PRC, and Russia) and the potential for tech companies such as Google and Facebook to manipulate and surveil us, his concerns Over the past few years, and especially more recently, George Soros has become a sort of boogeyman to conservatives. For that reason I felt it was important to see what he has to say in longform. This book is a collection of speeches and articles Mr. Soros has written wherein he discusses his background and fears of authoritarian regimes past and present (Nazi Germany, the PRC, and Russia) and the potential for tech companies such as Google and Facebook to manipulate and surveil us, his concerns about the rise of nationalism in the U.S. (which is presumably one reason behind his strong disdain for President Trump), and the application of the Theory of Reflexivity not just to financial markets but to individuals and societies. Perhaps the most interesting takeaway for me was seeing how influential Sir Karl Popper (who libertarians may recognize given the relationship to Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman) was in Mr. Soros’s life as his mentor, and accordingly Mr. Soros’s professed desire to protect and promote open societies (the titular (lol) basis for this book, based on a similar name by Popper).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robert Pinto

    George Soros gives the readers an insight into his younger days as a student at the London School of Economics. George Soros conveys himself to be someone who is passionate about democracy and the importance of a civic education. He puts his money where his mouth is by establishing the Central European University. George Soros certainly keeps a keen eye on economies like China which is a formidable rival to the economy of western nations like the United States. His background in economics and fi George Soros gives the readers an insight into his younger days as a student at the London School of Economics. George Soros conveys himself to be someone who is passionate about democracy and the importance of a civic education. He puts his money where his mouth is by establishing the Central European University. George Soros certainly keeps a keen eye on economies like China which is a formidable rival to the economy of western nations like the United States. His background in economics and finance are presented here with excerpts of speeches he has given.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dustan Woodhouse

    Whether or not your a fan of Soros or not has little to do with my rating of the book. And little to do with whether or not to read the book. Anyone who lasts 89 years on this planet has some perspective we can all benefit from. And understanding what’s shaped their perspective may also help you to better understand what’s shaping your own. Interesting presentations and stories complained into an easily digested book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dave Mevis

    The writing was choppy and pedestrian. The author, nauseatingly egotistical. But the history and economic theory were worth the price of admission. Especially since I got this free from the library. This is a quick read, also partially making up for some of the flaws. Reading this is not a long-term commitment. I wanted to read something by the enemy of Fox News and the right, George Soros, and now I have. Check.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karan Bangia

    As much as I admire Soros, he misses the mark on this one. I learnt more about his open society foundation by spending 5 mins on the website than spending 3 days reading this book. Chapter 6: takes on theories that at times feel streched out or otherwise too obvious. A soft 3 star rating for a few ideas that I found interesting. Although, enough to get me interested in reading the alchemy of finance.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    After all the falsehoods about George Soros, I really learned more about how he views the world. Yes, it is a collection of his essays. But, it truly does explain his reasoning and viewpoints. His warnings are important for all. I enjoyed the book and found it full of good information about where and why he puts money into learning.

  15. 4 out of 5

    ETTORE MENGUZZO

    I liked this book even if it is a collection of writings and articles. It gives a multilevel knowledge of core Soros values and objectives. I personally tend to agree with his view of the world, practical and idealist at the same time. I think his economic beliefs are solid and well positioned in the context od New Keynesian doctrine. Easy to read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Parker

    A collection of essays previously published. Chapter 3 is an interesting history and philosophy of his philanthropy foundation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Soros' mind is sharp and wide ranging. I found particularly interesting his accounts of where he had made mistakes, learned, and changed his mind, in the course of his political philanthropy. Soros' mind is sharp and wide ranging. I found particularly interesting his accounts of where he had made mistakes, learned, and changed his mind, in the course of his political philanthropy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Yuni Amir

    Collective of his essays. Better of subscribing Project Syndicate.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diego Carrillo

    He made me laugh, his arrogance is of uncommon parallel. He likes Keynes and collectivism....not my kind of camper....

  20. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    First chapters are very good.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yesenia Cash

    I’m so glad I won this on a goodreads giveaway! I’m glad I got to spend time with George Soros and I’m glad I learned so much which opened up so many other people of interest.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Val

    Nothing particularly novel in the book. Largely about Mr. Soros tooting his own horn.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joanie Schirm

    Whether known as an open society or cosmopolitan society, the bottom line of the nomenclature is that the philosophical movement allows for the human race to live together, respecting each other's cultural differences and celebrating our similarities. George Soros, in this book, describes his many attempts to preserve and protect outlets in countries under dictators or emerging from dictators to allow for freedom, while not trying to control the ideas and actions of others. He hopes that by cult Whether known as an open society or cosmopolitan society, the bottom line of the nomenclature is that the philosophical movement allows for the human race to live together, respecting each other's cultural differences and celebrating our similarities. George Soros, in this book, describes his many attempts to preserve and protect outlets in countries under dictators or emerging from dictators to allow for freedom, while not trying to control the ideas and actions of others. He hopes that by cultivating democracy, respecting justice and civil rights and using educational reforms, he and those who support his effort will help guide a better future. Mr. Soros is forthright on recognizing when his approach may not have been appropriate for the moment and why it matters that we take action in big and small ways. It also becomes apparent why autocrats in the past and now target him and spread false information attempting to stop his determination and the work of his foundation. Too bad his zealous, mostly ill-informed critics won’t read this book and learn from it. I recommend In Defense of Open Society as a timely and easy read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Henrique Medeiros

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vinny

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katline Craig

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brad Luse

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hansen

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