[Marxism] Fwd: George Soros and the Central European University | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Apr 1 23:27:49 MDT 2017

> https://louisproyect.org/2017/04/01/george-soros-and-the-central-european-university/ 

No dispute on your overall analysis and examples (though you could have 
added the big one: shorting the quid in 1992, which ironically has made 
Brexit that much easier).

But I'll say two things. First, like your FB friend who's a graduate of 
CEU, I had an excellent experience there briefly, as a visiting faculty 
member (in 2005, in a 'Summer School on Transnational Flows, Structures, 
Agents and the Idea of Development' which had extremely critical faculty 
and excellent students). Whatever pressure can be put on Orban's regime 
on this matter, will be a force for progress.

And second, in terms of my experiences with Open Society as a donor 
agency, for all the valid concerns about Soros' role in fomenting 
neoliberal and State Dept-approved versions of the color revos, as well 
as the agency's dubious core assumption that by shining light on a 
market transaction through ("publish what you pay") transparency, the 
widespread transnational corporate corruption in the extractive sectors 
can be sanitized, consider the positive side. There are a great many 
progressives and even radicals who have found ways to use Open Society 
funding for the greater good. The broad theory of change that the 
institution adopts is sufficiently vague that genuine 
grassroots-oriented forces do occasionally feature as beneficiaries 
(disclosure - including some groups I've worked with). In other words, 
as in many funding arrangements, there is room for maneuver there.

In South Africa (where I've lived since 1990), the role of these 
international funders in keeping not just liberal but progressive 
political ambitions alive within an often beleaguered civil society, is 
generally appreciated by the progressive forces. Other situations may be 
very different, but aside from the early 1990s when the 
neoliberal-ideological onslaught began here, most of the major funders 
operating in Joburg but with resources from US auto or financial empires 
or British charity have inexorably had to shift from 
political-democratic orientations to economic justice (this is the 
world's most unequal society and it's gotten far worse since liberation 
in 1994). One important exception is the Bill and Melinda Gates 
Foundation, which has a much more openly adverse role: 

Actually, the much more insidious international forces working to make 
South Africa a pliable sub-imperial power are financial, trade and 
military agencies, and their direct lines to the SA ministries of 
finance (until Friday morning, that is), international relations and 
defense are a much greater priority for those with a delinking agenda, 
than are the charitable funders.

To illustrate ,things got very messy here on Friday, as the state's core 
neoliberal bloc leadership was pushed out of government by the 
patronage-oriented Jacob Zuma. Within 12 hours, a demo consisting mainly 
of several hundred leftists was assembled in Pretoria at the finance 
ministry chanting, "Hands off Treasury!" (weird - but vital, they argue, 
to prevent looting of the state by the most corrupt elements). The 
ruling party is desperately trying to cover its tracks - just as did 
Robert Mugabe two decades ago - with a zig-zag towards "radical economic 
transformation" rhetoric, which is a talk-left walk-right gimmick to 
disguise deeper patrimonialism.

This could soon lead to an amalgamation of forces similar to those which 
successfully tackled the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes in 2011 (one 
crucial difference is the complicated racial dynamic that, like in 
Mugabe's early 2000s Zimbabwe, will probably allow a core nationalist 
majority within the ruling party to close ranks and support Zuma's 
ongoing misrule). Though it's unlikely to emerge rapidly, such an 
opposition bloc - with constituencies ranging from the left (e.g. a 
brand new SA Federation of Trade Unions plus social movements), to the 
civ soc liberals, to the pro-biz (and white-dominated) centre-right - 
would probably enjoy resources from funders like Open Society, although 
in a very discrete, indirect way. And the SA intelligence agencies used 
precisely that kind of framing to allow Zuma to justify knocking out his 
finance minister late last week.

So the devil is in the details in each of these concrete situations, 
making it difficult to establish a general critique of agencies like OS. 
I am curious to know, for example, whether in the US, the anti-Trump 
left (e.g. in community, racial justice, anti-xenophobia, women's 
rights, religious tolerance, climate action, environmental justice and 
associated movements) will establish a much more coherent approach to 
these funders, so as to build resistance in an interlinked manner, not 
just within the silos where liberal foundations like to segregate 
movements for social change...

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