In George Soros On Globalization, Soros fills out and firms up the enlightened vision of globalization formulated in his previous books and articles. For Soros, globalization is not simply an economic venture that will lead automatically to social and political advancement. Laissez-faire policies that may have seemed prudent from a strictly financial point of view have ultimately proved to be counter- productive. Indeed, such policies have often been sabotaged by wayward social and political circumstances that must be anticipated and dealt with. To accomplish this goal, Soros advocates the strengthening of global political and social institutions. While not uncritical of the World Trade Organization (WTO), he believes that it serves a positive purpose and that, instead of being disbanded (as radical anti-globalists advocate), it should be complemented by similar institutions which will coordinate progressive social and political policies. Such policies should be aimed at fostering economic equality, which, according to Soros, is not necessarily a by-product of free trade alone, as well as “open societies” (a concept borrowed from twentieth century philosopher Karl Popper) that will allow not only vibrant economic activity but also free political and social expression. These policies must also counterbalance rather than feed the rampant political corruption that blunts the positive effects of global investment.
Many moderates will be attracted to the combination of idealism, practicality, and transparency (or accessibility) of Soros’s gritty centrism. On the other hand, lay readers will probably have to educate themselves on the fine points of finance, foreign aid, international law, and global trade in order to fully follow Soros’s conclusions and proposals. This is, nevertheless, a provocative and hopeful book, well worth the effort needed to unravel its message.