Wednesday, January 21, 2004

George Soros offers a candidate for the official motto of the post-9/11 intellectual: Unfortunately, I don't have time to read; I only have time to write.

It's an interesting interview. I find myself going back and forth on the subject of Soros. On the one hand, he's a rich man who's put his wealth towards a very laudable, and successful organizational drive for practical democracy in Eastern Europe and the republics of the former Soviet Union. I mean, look at the success in Georgia late last year. On the other hand, he's a moral idiot of the first water. Observe:

By saying what I'm saying, I'm not comparing Bush to a Nazi. I'm not calling Bush a Nazi. I want to make it very, very explicit that I'm not. And I don't think that the comparison is helpful. In fact, I think it's harmful.

It's a different threat. And it's actually a very strange, unexpected [threat]. If you go back to this Doublespeak and the threat of deception, the Goebbels propaganda machine had a total monopoly of the media. The Soviets had such control that they could actually erase people from history, airbrush out leaders who fell, who were disgraced. The deception in America is practiced while you do have pluralistic media.

He wants - ever so badly - to call his enemies names, but he doesn't want to be caught, yet again, in violation of Godwin's Law. So he's going to say what he isn't going to say, then he's going to say it, then he's going to tell you he didn't just say what he just said.

You do have, you know, different channels that are available. Nevertheless, something is going on in the way of managing the interpretation of reality that is actually successful and poses a danger to open society.

I think what's going on here is a demonstration of just how little a career in currency manipulation prepares one for dealing with practical politics, or with people in general. Soros was not only a CEO, with all the authoritarianism and Big Man fetishism that goes with that lofty perch; he was a CEO in the currency markets, where social graces and consensual leadership are deeply discounted, and predatory behavior are rewarded disproportionately. To Soros, the normal bump-and-jostle of actual practical politics, of actual mass communications and public partisanship, are difficult to distinguish from totalitarian Big Lie propaganda.

Soros and Marshall both push heavily for a return to international legalism, and a dismantling of American supersovereignty, to coin a word. They think that the doddering old derelict can be picked up off of the curb, dusted off, put in a nice new suit, and be marched forth as Sheriff UN, ready to do battle with outlaws. To the Soroses and Marshalls of the world, the solution to the "anachronism" of national sovereignty is not an exploration of new alternatives, possible solutions - rather, it's a redoubling of effort behind the very institutions that failed so spectacularly and visibly in the late 90s and early 00s. There's some congitive dissonance that makes them fail to recognize that the very problem of national sovereignty for failed states cannot be solved by institutions reliant on the "legitimacy" of the national sovereignty of failed states. The problem isn't with an American supersovereignty; it's with a Libyan or Syrian or Zimbabwean sovereignty which is equal and interchangeable with the sovereignty of a Germany, a Norway, a Nicaragua, an India or a Singapore.

Soros and Marshall's dream world of strong international law will be nothing more than a fevre-dream until the day in which international institutions which regard legitimacy as indistinguishable from popular sovereignty are the rule, and not the exception.

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