This little video clip from 2004 is trending on Facebook.
That short clip is included in this longer video (at 11:06 mark) which establishes the context.
Transcript of the first several minutes to get you going.
Starting at 0:22
GEORGE SOROS: What am I going to do with this money? I really went through an extended period of reflection. And I came to a conclusion that what I really care about is a rather abstract idea, which is the idea of an open society.
George Soros In His Own Words
Democracy based on the recognition that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth
GEORGE SOROS: I then decided to set up this foundation, Open Society Fund, with the objective of opening up closed societies, helping to make open societies more viable and fostering their critical mode of thinking.
There are basically two major sources of poverty and misery in the world today. One…is bad location. The other is bad government. And THAT is something you can, you COULD really DO something. Now I think the one thing you can do is offer incentives, encouragements, reinforcements to countries that are moving in the right direction.
You know, giving money away, in a funny way, is much more difficult than making it, because when you make money you have a bottom line and it tells you, are you are successful or not. When you try to, let’s say, improve society, you affect different people and different interests differently, and they are not actually commensurate. So you very often have all kinds of unintended adverse consequences. So I had to experiment. And it was, it’s a learning process.
The first part was this subversive activity, disrupting repressive regimes. That was a lot of fun. And that’s actually what got me hooked on this whole enterprise.
Then after the system, the communist system, started to collapse, one had to build an open society. And that was much more laborious and hard slugging. Education was clearly something where there were relatively few adverse consequences. So giving scholarships to outstanding talents. That was good and important. For instance, we introduced HeadStart in other countries where we had foundations, spent over 100 million dollars doing it, and it was really questionable whether we would have a systemic effect. So, I think we have done quite well. But it was touch and go. Health, another issue. Helping civil society.
So, it was a gradual learning process, with foundations in each country, run by people in the country who were in charge of determining how the money should be used because they know the conditions in their countries better than somebody coming from the outside. And then seeing what works in one country, trying it in the other countries. It was like, a kind of, what developed a matrix, in fact. So we had national foundations and then we had certain specialized activities.
The Open Society Institute (OSI) aims to
shape government policy and support education, media, public health, human and women’s rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform.
GEORGE SOROS: I got here through a rather circuitous route because I first started out in South Africa, which at that time had an apartheid regime, which had all the institutions of an open society, but it was only for the Whites. So to try to open it up seemed like a very worthwhile objective. I wasn’t very successful.
And then I turned to my native Hungary, Poland, the countries of Eastern Europe that were under Communist rule, and there the foundation was really successful in providing an alternative. And the idea there was that the dogma, the state party line is false because it’s imposed by force. And if you provide an alternative then people can see the falsehood and the regime will crumble. And in fact it did. As the system collapsed, I moved in to help build an open society. Because the collapse of a closed society it doesn’t lead automatically to an open society, because open society is more complex. It’s a higher level or organization. So you need a helping hand, a step up. You need somebody from the outside helping you to make that step up. And unfortunately, the West didn’t quite realize this. And so I did and I moved in there and concentrated on those countries; set up foundations locally and they made their contribution.
But then I became concerned with the problems of globalization where you have global markets, but you have politics based on the sovereignty of states. So how do you deal with that issue? And then I came to the realization that open society is endangered by our current leadership in this country. And that is when I refocused my attention on the United States…
The short clip was taken from 2004’s Take Back America Conference, which is archived at C-Span.
Take Back America Conference
C-Span | JUNE 3, 2004
Campaign for America’s Future hosted a “Take Back America” conference at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel. This portion of the program featured speeches by politicians, activists, and others. The speakers generally agreed on the importance of creating a new Progressive movement in America, and criticized the actions and policies of conservatives and the Bush administration.
[ VIDEO AT LINK (2:08:36)