If a lifetime could resemble a carefully constructed doctorate program – a program that promised the ne plus ultra of experiential instruction in the subjects of vigilance, reinvention, penetratingly astute social and economic observation, and epically successful wealth building – that lifetime degree program would look like the life of George Soros, legendary financier, Nazi and Communist occupation survivor, internationally influential thinker and philanthropist. Mr. Soros has not only learned how to survive, but thrive, even in uncertain times.
So when George Soros speaks on Bloomberg, he does from a depth and a breadth of experiences that make us, if we are smart, sit up and listen. Any mentor who has mastered life as Mr. Soros has might reasonably excuse himself to the private enjoyment of his fortune far from the public eye and the eschewing scrutiny of critics and commentators. But not Mr. Soros, who is, in fact, driven by more complex and compelling forces and motivations. Among them is the desire to warn, to teach, and to guide. Oh, and “to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people” (“About Us,” 2016).
Now Mr. Soros is warning of the imminent collapse of the European Union. At the root of the headline-grabbing prediction that has put George Soros back in the hot seat and spotlight is a fundamental belief in humanity and change. And like any good prophecy, the point is not to instill fear and a catatonic sense of “pessimism,” a word far too often associated with Mr. Soros’ views. Rather the point is to alert us to change course, while there’s still time.
Since the 2014 release of his book The Tragedy of the European Union: Disintegration or Revival? Mr. Soros’ message has become more timely and pressing. And people are listening. Soros, whose book and predictions have been the focus of numerous interviews, essays, and articles in major financial and popular news outlets, is predicting the end of the European Union as we know it.
Collapse? Really? Soros, who well knows that to understand the complex, you must understand subtext and context, has carefully monitored the Greek crisis, the immigration crisis, terrorist attacks in Europe, and a number of the crises, unprecedented in scope and consequence, conspiring to test the viability, strength, resilience, and cohesion of the European Union.
But all is not without hope, or opportunity. Soros is not a man who indulges in hopelessness, nor is he a man without a plan. He believes the key to the EU’s survival is an intelligent, planned, and humane approach to Europe’s new wave of refugees from Syria and other countries, an approach that would be financed through the use of long-term bonds and the EU’s “largely untapped AAA borrowing capacity” (Kollmeyer, 2016). Soros also believes that the key to the EU’s survival may well be Germany and the leadership of Angela Merkel. Soros notes that Merkel, whose views and actions have not always aligned with his own, correctly forecast the immigration crisis and saw the real possibility of an EU collapse. Soros believes that the real test for the continued existence and promise of open society in the EU may well be in the hands of “The Chancellor of the Free World,” and her country.
The beginning of the answer may simply lie in the full embrace of Soros’ powerful warning. When interviewed recently on the possibility of the collapse of the EU, one interviewer told Soros, “You paint a bleak picture.’ Mr. Soros responded “But it is a biased view and deliberately so. Recognizing a problem is an invitation to do something about it” (Schmitz, 2016). And so it is.
About us. (2016). Open Society Foundations. Retrieved from https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/about
Kollmeyer, B. (2016, January 21). George Soros says the ‘EU is on the verge of collapse. MarketWatch. Retrieved from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/george-soros-says-the-eu-is-on-the-verge-of-collapse-2016-01-21
Schmitz, G.P. (2016, January 20). The EU is on the verge of collapse – an interview. The New York Review of Books. Retrieved from http://www.georgesoros.com/essays/the-eu-is-on-the-verge-of-collapse-an-interview/