How George Soros used Hungary as his testing ground to build his ‘Soros empire’

Troubled spots offered the billionaire financier the best opportunities to expand his influence, according to a new scholarly analysis

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Krisztina Kincses

“Just write that the former Soviet Empire is now called the Soros Empire.” billionaire George Soros told an American journalist who was accompanying Soros on a tour of Eastern Europe in 1993. The core of Soros’s statement has become the basis of a new comprehensive analysis from Hungarian scholar Márton Békés, which examines Soros’s so-called empire building that began in Hungary between 1984 and 1994.

Békés, who serves as research director of the House of Terror Museum and editor-in-chief of the commentary journal XXI, focuses on events mainly related to Hungary. Despite Soros having been described as everything from a billionaire philanthropist to a global stock market speculator, but Békés describes him as “the world’s greatest philosopher”.

In the study entitled The Birth of the Soros Empire, Békés begins the story towards its end, when Soros was visiting Romania in 1993 as part of a several weeks-long European tour — the same one where Soros claimed that  the Soviet empire became the “Soros empire”. The tour included visits to Temesvár and Bucharest in Romania, Kishinev in what is now the Republic of Moldova, as well as the Bulgarian capital Sofia, and the Albanian capital Tirana.

Békés writes that while intended as something of a victory tour to celebrate the completion of his Eastern European empire, Soros was rather disappointed with the results achieved up until that time.

Soros, who described himself as “having had quite strong Messianic desires from childhood” and “considered himself a genius or Messiah”, set for himself the goal of influencing the future of the entire world. In fact, he has been honest about his intentions, once saying his “goal is to become the conscience of the world.” By the mid-90s, his goals were still far from being achieved, but he was by all appearances on the right track.

The years between 1984 and 1994 played a key role in Soros’s influence building operations and partly culminated in November 2017 when he reallocated much of his personal wealth, about $18 billion, to his Open Society Foundation, which he has since chaired.

The organization is one of the most influential progressive organizations in the world, if not the most influential, in part due to its enormous wealth.

Soros used his wealth to gain enormous influence

Despite his very limited philosophical background, Soros based his stock market trading on the “general theory of reflexivity”, his own invention which purports that the roots of human action lie in the mistakes made as a result of insufficient information and the consequences of these wrong decisions.

Taught by his father, who witnessed the Soviet Revolution first hand, he is not seeking equilibrium, but rather exploits the imbalances of demand and supply. Consequently, he began his empire-building in parts of the world where balance has temporarily given way to revolution, migration or regime change.

He never made it a secret that “opening up closed societies” and his machinations on financial markets were intertwined. His initial company, the Quantum Fund, founded in 1969, had a share capital of just $4 million at its inception, but its value quadrupled between 1979 and 1981, from $100 million to $400 million. It was at this time, in 1979, that he formed an organization that, in honor of his mentor Karl Popper, was named the Open Society Foundation.

Hungary became the ‘testing ground’ for Soros

The foundation began its expansion in Hungary in 1984, through the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. One year after its founding, in an agreement with the communist state party, it began paying scholarships to Hungarian researchers to attend American universities.

Many of those involved with Soros at the time would go on to be influential members of the Hungarian opposition, such as Miklós Haraszti and János Kenedi, who both played pivotal roles in Soros’s organizations. Later, Soros asked Miklós Vásárhelyi, who spent a year in 1984 at Columbia University, to represent him in Hungary, and his lawyer became Alajos Dornbach, who defended Haraszti in a notable lawsuit ten years earlier.

These individuals all became founding members of the now-defunct Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) in 1989, with Dornbach, Haraszti and Vásárhelyi serving as the party’s members of parliament from 1990, and János Kis serving as its first president. Kis is considered the first leader of the Hungarian opposition serving in parliament.

The SZDSZ went on to become the junior coalition partner of the majority Socialist Party in Hungary from 1994 to 1998.

Back in the 1980s, Hungary’s then ruling communist strongman, János Kádár, was not particularly happy about Soros supporting his opponents, but they eventually came to an understanding which allowed Soros to continue expanding his network while Communist Hungary could demonstrate its openness to the Western world.

By the end of the 1980s, the Soros Foundation had a direct grant agreement with the Hungarian Ministry of Culture, the Karl Marx University of Economics and the Budapest University of Technology. In the decade from 1984 to 1994, the billionaire donated an average of $3 million a year to his goals in Hungary, including more than 2,000 grants, 700 xerox machines, more than 700 domestic scholarships, and help with maintaining nearly 140 newspapers and magazines.

In essence, Hungary became a testing ground during the crumbling Soviet regime for the future expansion of Soros’s Open Society Foundation. In 1987, he established offices and a foundation committee in Moscow and Warsaw and between 1989 and 1990, he established his first foundation office in Kiev. From there, he began expanding further across Central and Eastern Europe, establishing 22 foundations in the region by 1993.

By 2018, Soros’s network grew to include office in 37 countries, but effectively active in 140 countries of the world.  

According to Magyar Nemzet, Soros’s “long march through the institutions” lasted a total of ten years in Hungary and ultimately led to him gaining or securing key positions for local supporters of the “open society”. These positions were not only directly involved in politics but also in culture where they were well suited to indirectly influence the politics of the nation.


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