Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) on Wed, 5 Feb 97 20:55 MET

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

nettime: The Capitalist Threat, NGOs and Soros


I've just finished reading George Soros' amazing article, "The Capitalist
Threat" in the current Atlantic Monthly (http://www.the  We should all
read and then discuss it, IMHO.  It is a manifesto for what Jaron Lanier
called "The Stewards."  It is the Yang to WIRED's Ying.  It is
sophisticated and it's important.  After that, we could contract it with
Bill Gates' interview in JFK Jr.'s post-political rag "George."  Night and

Soros, of course, is no philosopher and no historian -- he is a currency
speculator (and a fan of Francis Bacon, to boot).  But, in the barrenness
of current discourse on world affairs, Soros' point position on expressing
oligarchist designs for the future and his aggressive organizing efforts --
particularly in East Europe -- demand that he be taken seriously.  This is
no joke.   Ignore this at your own peril.

What is his argument?  Because human knowledge in most realms outside
natural science is inherently imperfect (or "reflexive" in his terms), we
cannot grant scientific certainty to any approach to or theory of society
and must ground all our thinking in this fundamental epistemological
fallibility.  Laissez-faire economics commits the error (just as Communism
and Fascism did earlier) of claiming that perfect knowledge is embodied in
markets.  This error has dire consequences and now threatens us all. 
Therefore, we need both markets and some new form of *global* regulation.

What is he doing?  He's taking an ideological weapon (i.e. Karl Popper's
1945 "Open Society") which was fashioned to fight the oligarch's
mid-century opponents (anyone who still believed it was possible to know
something as detailed in Horkheimer's  "Authoritarian Personality", etc.)
and turning it against their modern opponents -- run away nations pursuing
economic growth.  He's trying to provide an ideological basis for global
control over what is still largely  soveriegn national affairs.  He's
arguing for a new global class to emerge which will have the clout to
actually run a global empire.  He's saying that someone -- not markets --
needs to be in charge and he intends for it to be him and his accomplises. 
He's giving us the rationale for the latest version of H.G. Wells' "New
Samurai" -- the technocrats who embody Bacon's dictum that ultimately
"knowledge is power."

This directly bears on the question of NGOs.  Why NON-governmental?  How
about ANTI-governmental?  Or, better yet, POST-governmental.  Yeah, PGOs,
that's it.  

In the context of the all out push to dismantle effective national
opposition to zero-growth globalism, Soros' efforts are *not* hard to
interpret.  He has set out to undermine soveriegn national governments --
no doubt with ingenious and clever local means -- in order to accelerate
the shift towards an anticipated and "stable" global empire.  

Libertarianism is useful up to a point.  It's great as a sedative to
convince the mob that they are free.  But, nobody seriously thinks you can
run a world that way.  We need responsible (i.e. oligarchist) global
leaders who can "steward" our precarious and self-destructive world towards
stablility (i.e. stable looting relationships).

In his own words regarding the bankruptcy of geopolitics, 

"The Cold War was an extremely stable arrangement. . . . This extremely
stable world order has come to an end due to the internal disintegration of
one superpower.  No new world order has taken place.  We have entered a
period of disorder.  

"Laissez-faire ideology does not prepare us to cope with this challenge. 
It does not recognise the need for a world order.  An order is supposed to
emerge from states' pursuit of their self-interests.  But, guided by the
principle of the survival of the fittest, states are increasingly
preoccupied with their competitiveness and unwilling to make any sacrifices
for the common good."

Hmm . . . so Soros wants a new world order which will be able to impress on
nations the need for "sacrifices for the common good", I think I've got it.
 No national competition and no independent efforts at economic growth. 
Now, who's "common good" is he taking about here?  And, stability for whom
doing what to who?

Remember the three tenets of H.G. Wells' new imperial religion -- no
growth, no war and no nations.  It seems that Fabian London School of
Economics graduate George Soros has learned his lessons well.  I bet old
Herbie is getting a good laugh out of this one.

I'll leave some of the more important (and obvious) philosophical and
political issues for the discussion to come but let me close with a
request.  If there are any Italian newspaper readers out there, I
understand that there has recently been a flap in the Italian press
indicating that Soros has had a role in the obvious destablization of the
Italian nation-state over the past few years.  If I understood it
correctly, he's under investigation and may be indicted.  What's going on
there?  And, what's this about a meeting on the royal yacht, "Britannia"?

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City
*  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
*  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
*  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
*  more info: and "info nettime" in the msg body
*  URL:  contact: