To hear Breitbart, Drudge Report and other right-leaning media outlets report on it, George Soros is the devil incarnate–at least when it comes to their interests. How did the billionaire hedge fund manager become the right wing’s favorite scapegoat? How much veracity, if any, is there to their claims? For years now, conspiracy theories have swirled around Soros, muddying his reputation with those who only get their news from places like Fox News. Here’s the rub: Soros isn’t out to control the world, as is often reported. Rather, he has a proven track record of using his substantial wealth and influence for good. What is truth? What is fiction? Read on to learn more.
For an 86-year-old man, George Soros manages to strike incredible fear into the hearts of many. More than anything, many people are under the mistaken impression that he wields such power that he can quietly control the forces of politics. Of course, in reality, no single person in the world possesses that kind of power. Money is power in this world, to be sure, but suggesting that a single billionaire–who happens to be among the 30 richest people in the world–is poised to single-handedly transform the political landscape of the country is absurd.
Why is it that these conspiracy theories persist? It helps to understand how George Soros rose to the heights that he has attained. His main claim to fame in the world of investing has been his uncanny ability to bet against currencies to produce amazing profits. In the early 1990s, he famously bet against the Great Britain pound. In so doing, he made out with more than $1 billion. Not surprisingly, the move was met with disgust by many who saw it as pure greed. The fact that he did basically the same thing in the late 1990s during the Asian financial crisis only solidified his reputation for making money off of actual money.
Given that George Soros is a billionaire hedge fund manager who made much of his fortune speculating on the foreign exchange currency markets, it is easy to see why some people see nefarious motivations in what he does. Unfortunately, however, the idea that he somehow “holds the strings,” acting as a puppet master of sorts, has very disturbing roots indeed. During the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis often compared Jews to octopuses, using the analogy to imply that Jews run the entire world. The fact that this concept is rooted in anti-Semitism is especially alarming given that Soros and his family had to flee Nazi-occupied Hungary when he was a child.
The real irony about all of the conspiracy theories concerning Soros is that there are far more ultra-wealthy, ultra-powerful members of the Republican Party than on the left. Indeed, more people are aware of the incredible influence of the Koch brothers than they are of Soros. The irony is that the very people who support the Koch brothers’ actions, which are made possible due to their incredible wealth, malign Soros for using his own wealth to promote causes that he holds dear.
One only needs to check out publications like Breitbart or Fox News to get a healthy dose of anti-Soros sentiment. This is hardly a new development, either. For example, in 2007, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly devoted more than 10 minutes of air time warning viewers about the supposed evil of George Soros. O’Reilly warned viewers that if Soros got his way, open borders, legalized illicit drugs, legal euthanasia and other “frightening” developments would come to pass. He even went so far as to describe the billionaire as “off-the-charts dangerous.”
Funnily enough, however, George Soros has only done what other wealthy, politically connected billionaires have been doing since time immemorial. Actually, that’s a little misleading because rather than strictly funnel funds to candidates and PACs that support his business interests, Soros has spent years actively promoting social justice and other issues through his Open Society Foundation. The organization has invested more than $1.2 billion to promote the development of democracy in Eastern Europe and another $1.5 billion on democratic reform in the United States. Indeed, it has been estimated that between 1979 and 2011, Soros has donated more than $11 billion to various philanthropic causes.
For a minute there, the conspiracy theories regarding Soros seemed to settle down. The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in November 2017 changed all of that. George Soros, not surprisingly, is not a fan of the 45th president, and he hasn’t been quiet about it. Following Trump’s inauguration, major protests broke out across the country, including the Women’s March and the March for Science. Many on the right claimed that Soros paid people to participate in these protests, which is patently false. What they don’t seem to realize is that Soros does, indeed, support progressive organizations like the ones that organize these protests. However, he has done so for years and has always been completely open about it.
How did a man who was born in Budapest during a period of serious political and social upheaval become one of the richest men in the world? Born on August 12, 1930, Soros spent his childhood in Budapest. When the Nazi occupation began, Soros and his family emigrated to England, arriving in 1947. Therefore, Soros arrived in the U.S. at the tender age of 17. Little did he know that someday he would have a starring role in some of the most far-fetched conspiracy theories in the world.
Soros earned a bachelor of science as well as a master’s degree in philosophy from the London School of Economics. In 1969, he founded his first hedge fund, Double Eagle. The following year, he started his second: Soros Fund Management. Since then, he has poured most of his efforts into supporting his Open Society Foundation, which works to promote democratic governments and causes around the world.
Because of his personal background, George Soros has long been a supporter of promoting the peaceful transition to capitalism in Eastern Europe, and he was actively involved in many initiatives for doing so in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Contrary to what outlets like Breitbart claim, however, Soros’s power is not limitless. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, however, the rumors persist. Just a few years ago, InfoWars’ Alex Jones claimed that Soros would “overthrow the U.S.” in 2016. Needless to say, nothing of the sort came to pass. No, Soros is not trying to control the world. He is, however, using his power and influence to openly criticize the government, and that’s something that is as American as apple pie.