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Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism Hardcover – November 7, 2000
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About the Author
George Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management and is the founder of a global network of foundations dedicated to supporting open societies. He is the author of several bestselling books including The Crash of 2008: The New Paradigm for Financial Markets; The Crisis of Global Capitalism; The Bubble of American Supremacy; Underwriting Democracy; and The Age of Fallibility. He was born in Budapest and lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
The "reflexivity theory", already developed by George Soros in his earlier books (e.g. "The Alchemy of Finance") can be summed up in his own words: "We are part of the world we seek to understand, and our imperfect understanding plays an important role in shaping the events in which we participate." This entails recognition of the fundamental limitations of the social science and our own understanding of society. "It (reflexivity) creates a cleavage between the natural and social sciences and it undermines the postulate on which economic theory has been based: rational behavior in general and rational expectations in particular."
This is a powerful statement indeed. It immediately follows that the future of humankind is not only unknown, or too difficult to predict, but unknowable, because self-awareness and attempts at prediction influence events and change the course of history. This line of reasoning has more immediate application in the financial markets. The widely accepted "efficient market theory" postulates that market participants absorb all available information in an objective and efficient manner, and new information is random and unpredictable relative to previous expectations. If any statistically significant pattern appears in the market data, it should be exploited by many players and will soon disappear. This seems to be similar to the conclusions of the "reflexivity theory".Read more ›
1) Learn why George Soros, one of the world's wealthiest men, a billionaire financial speculator, says that dogmatic belief in the so-called "free market" is every bit as dangerous as a comparably dogmatic belief in Marxism-Leninism (a topic Soros knows something about, given that he grew up under a Marxist-Leninist government in Hungary).
2) Learn about the philosopher Karl Popper, a beacon of rationality in a tribalistic world. Soros is an intellectual follower of Popper, author of the renowned THE OPEN SOCIETY AND ITS ENEMIES (see my review), and Soros attempts to apply Popper's thinking to the current crisis of global capitalism. Whether he draws the correct conclusion in every case is less the point than the serious thinking involved. Popper is widely misunderstood to be an advocate of the free market. What he is actually in favor of is freedom of thought -- skepticism of any received dogma, including the dogma of the Free Market, to which many now say There Is No Alternative.
Rubbish, says Popper, and so says Soros. A legal, regulatory framework is required. Without the appropriate regulation, the result is the "gangster capitalism" of Russia, and of Enron. Along with Nobel Prize-winning economists Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz among others, Soros is absolutely right in his basic point, and is making a contribution to the construction of an appropriate institutional architecture for an increasingly global society.
Although economists of great traditional standing (Robert Samuelson comes to mind) have been very quick to denigrate, even trash, the ideas of George Soros, my personal reaction, and my own reading of 225 or so books that I have reviewed for Amazon, suggests that he is right on target. Unfettered capitalism and corporate consumerism is killing us, and is part of the problem between Western secularism and Islamic fundamentalism--we don't have a model for sustainable faith-based prosperity they can buy into (I am mindful of Bernard Lewis's What Went Wrong thesis).
Most recently, in The Washington Post of 24 February 2002, George Soros is quoted as saying, "We can't be successful in fighting terrorism unless we fight that other axis of evil--poverty, disease and ignorance." Right on. Both The Future of Life and The Future of Ideas (see my reviews of those titles), and many other books now coming together in a critical mass, support basic propositions about the failure of politics, the erosion of moral contexts, and the dangers of capitalism upon public health, the environment, and the social fabric.
I would normally have rated this book with 4 stars for its lack of reference to others, but in light of the importance of the argument that George Soros makes, and the value of his own unique experiences bridging the worlds of poverty and wealth, American and Eastern European challenges and biases, I have to give this a 5--and wait to see our academic economists do better.
The book starts out by presenting a 'Conceptual Framework' that serves to outline the basic principles, such as fallibility and reflexivity, upon which Mr. Soros analyses the present and builds a vision for the future. In many ways, this is the best written, most original and most coherent and convincing part of the book. This is achieved by a fair amount of repetition but also good logic and evidence of the author having thought about the ideas for a long time and researched them thoroughly. Mr. Soros is undoubtedly an intelligent and well-read man.
The second part of the book deals with the present moment in history and can actually itself be divided into two parts. It begins by analyzing the global capitalist system, and then discusses the Asian crisis and the events that have taken place in Russia and eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The first two of these are very interesting and give good introduction to the global financial system. The section on Russia is not as engaging and one might suspect that Mr. Soros' personal feelings perhaps interfere a bit with his analysis.
Part two of the book concludes with the author's suggestions for a new global economic and political architecture. There certainly are nuggets of great wisdom and even brilliance here but the writing is hopelessly unconvincing compared to the first part of the book and at times quite frustrating. Mr. Soros draws up inadequate straw men representing his main opponents 'market fundamentalists' and 'geopolitical realists' and then in due course attempts to cut them down.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Above you will see people call names of anyone who does not agree with this book. It seems calling names like children on a playground is the way to be if you don't agree with... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Karen Miller
In this book, George Soros, explains his theory of reflexivity in length and uses the financial markets as a field of example to demonstrate its workings. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Fyers Securities
This is my first exploration into the mind and thinking of George Soros. This book was not difficult to read. Mr. Soros is not a deceptive writer.
It seems that Mr. Read more
It's a good idea to find out what financiers like George Soros are thinking because it may give some hints of what is in our future. Read morePublished on May 8, 2006 by Truth Seeker
One of Soros' most compelling arguments comes out of his experiences during the 90's- mostly during the Clinton years- that the Open Society should take an active role in becoming... Read morePublished on December 28, 2005 by Matthew E. Harbowy
George Soros, one of the greatest speculators of all time wrote this book which is an ode to govenment and bureaucracy intervention. Read morePublished on July 21, 2005 by Mephisto
The ideas in this book are based on Soros' experience as successful speculator and market observer, and are described further in "The Alchemy of Finance". Read morePublished on May 25, 2005 by Professor Joseph L. McCauley
George Soros is something of a house-hold name, not in every home across America like Martha Stewart of course(post-ImClone), but especially in those of the Upper West Side of... Read morePublished on October 4, 2004 by M. BELL