Billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros warned tonight in New York that the combination of Fox News, Glenn Beck, The Tea Party, and the ability of Americans to fantasize unrealistically about their political system might lead "this open society to be on the verge of some dictatorial democracy."
Soros mentioned George Orwell's novel, 1984 as a possible precedent for the kind of fantasies being promulgated in our culture today. Orwell's 1984 satirized the Communist system of absolute control over society and politics that prevailed in the Soviet Union until 1990.
Soros was speaking extemporaneously in conversation with CNN newsman Fareed Zakaria at a International Crisis Center dinner that honored him at the Pierre Hotel.
Former President Bill Clinton, Lord Christopher Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University, hedge fund multibillionaire Paul Tudor Jones, all spoke eloquently about Soros' contribution to global order.
Many financiers, mutual fund managers, and former diplomats like Thomas Pickering and John Whitehead were in the audience.
Soros was especially bitter and harshly critical of the rolke played in our political discourse by the Fox News Channel, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. as a very dangerous precedent for the "open society" that has prevailed in the U.S. for 200 years.
Soros also characterized Fox newscaster Glenn Beck, who has been falsely vilifying Soros publicly, as a throwback to the wild and crazy radical elements that never before were given such a public pedestal to foment their hate.
Beck has been trying to stir up public hatred of Soros, suggesting that the investment genius and significant philanthropist was maliciously trying to take over the U.S. for his own purposes.
In reply to Zakaria's prodding about Europe, Soros said there was a need today to recapitalize the banks, rather than waiting for their financial situation to worsen.
A second necessity is to give interest rate relief on sovereign debt, to lessen the ramifications of the excessive debt in the financial system.
The doubts about the future of sovereign debt of Greece and Ireland, as well as other nations, requires a solution.
But, he reckoned that the "euro is here to stay."
In the U.S. Soros said that QE2 has created "bad side effects " by pushing up the price of assets.