Home > Uncategorized > George Soros’ INET, the Trojan horse of the financial oligarchy

George Soros’ INET, the Trojan horse of the financial oligarchy

from Norbert Häring

Four years ago, I framed it as a question: “George Soros‘ INET: An institute to improve the world or a Trojan horse of the financial oligarchy?” Today I would not use a question mark any more.Frances Coppola came to a similiar conclusion after attending the big INET gathering in Edingburgh in October.

On her blog Coppola reports about the conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, bankrolled initially by George Soros. He was joined by other hedge fund managers to provide this institute with extremely lavish funds. Do read Coppola’s entertaining conference review in the original, if you have time.

She reports of “panel after panel of old white men discussing economic theories developed by old white men, many of them dead. Economic beliefs that I thought had been comprehensively debunked have reappeared, dressed up as “new thinking”.” No new voices, no exiting ideas. She gets agitated about the gender issue, and understandably so. “When a young female attendee pointed out that there were 84 white male speakers at the conference, 14 women and 9 people of colour, and called for INET to be more inclusive, the audience applauded. But the panel went quiet. Her comment was not even acknowledged.”

A lunchtime session on Gender Economics had an all-woman panel, the only panel in the entire conference that had a majority of women, as she reports.

It is the equivalent of handing a woman a dishcloth and telling her the kitchen sink is all hers. Women can discuss gender balance, while men discuss important things. This is insulting and demeaning to the many intelligent and highly educated women who have important contributions to make.

One of the many old white men on the podium even “said that the approach to sovereign debt in the Eurozone should not change, because governments need fiscal discipline. The others nodded in agreement.” This is really brand new economic thinking.

In the same spirit, INET announced an “Independent Commission on Global Economic Transformation”, which is supposed to come up with solutions for all the big questions: stagnant growth, flaws in the international financial system, income inequality, climate change, migration and more. The set of members of this commission, Coppola classifies as: “senior academics, rich businessmen, former and current public servants and policymakers. There are no new voices here, no-one from the heterodox economic community, no-one who has their feet in the real world. Everyone is at the top of an establishment hierarchy.”

Her conclusion:

This is not “new economic thinking”. This is the establishment, reasserting itself at the behest of the elite, which fears the loss of its status and its privileges as the threat of populist revolt rises. The young crowd round the elite, hoping to be picked as their proteges: and the old scan the young to pick out the ones most like them. So the system perpetuates itself.

  1. February 7, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I have felt this damping effect ever since old men wanted me to go kill Vietnamese humans to keep them from becoming dominos.

    Now I am old. Every cell in my body and every living cell on Earth is loaded with a mixture of carcinogenic chemicals created to make profits for immortal beings designed to grow to infinity on a small blue dot floating in Cosmos.

    How many times on how many planets has this happened? Sentience leads to technology and the biosphere is wiped out.

    As far as I can tell I am the only person on this forum who looks at the abrupt end of life on Earth and suggests that representative democracy and capitalism are extremely simple rules for a monopoly game set up by old men with no morals who lived when humans were few and they could more easily hide their nefarious schemes.

    • February 7, 2018 at 2:24 pm

      “As far as I can tell …”? Then you cannot have been listening to what I’ve been saying.

      “Now I am old” – indeed an old white man and a former public servant – I can agree with Coppola about INET without it thereby becoming true we must look to young people and women for REALLY new thinking. That comes from having time and motivation to look at the facts and no interest in defending one’s own future. In my case the motivation was Thatcher’s undermining of the ideal of public service.

    • February 7, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      You are not listening to me either. We live in the Neoliberal Age of Austerity where the values are: Money trumps life, Profit trumps people and Corporations trump community. What would it look like to reverse those values? Michael Hudson’s Killing the Host is brilliant and he is an old white man with a publication here called Finance as Warfare.

  2. February 7, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Points well taken and not to pick on Coppola, who is often quite insightful, but the list of “exciting ideas” of which “serious discussion” was expected makes the old white men look youthful:

    radical reform of the financial system
    You say you want a revolution?: Yes, let’s reinvent the wheel one more time, rather than understanding rotation.

    digital ledger technology and cryptocurrencies
    It’s always a fine time to invest in a company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.

    universal basic income (recently cautiously endorsed by the IMF)
    Stupid, insane or incoherent? UBI = Hyperinflation, or slavery revived.

    wealth taxation (also recently endorsed by the IMF)
    We need a man like Herbert Hoover again. (Twas Hoover who raised taxes, more than FDR)

    robots and the future of work
    Pie in the sky by and by.

    • February 7, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      “Universal basic income” stupid, insane or incoherent?

      The really new idea is that the “income” should be its converse: “credit”. Freedom to both take on debt and to earn one’s living, i.e. justify the debt’s being written off in whatever way you are able to in the prevailing situation. There are always jobs needing to be done and volunteers doing some of them, but others are not being done because in a monetrary system they appear to be “uneconomic”.

      Come to think of it, that is not such a new idea (though it is a rather lonely one) for old ideas tend to recur when young bloods, having rejected what their fathers keep telling them, eventually rediscover the truth for themselves. Usually by the time they have become old (perhaps incidentally white male) retirees.

  3. Rob Reno
    February 7, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I am so grateful for this post. It confirms what I thought and experienced a while back.

  4. February 7, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    Economic thinking has to include dangers from 1) Climate Change, 2) income and wealth inequality, 3) too many billionaires (I’m waiting for the first Trillionaire!!!), 4) poverty created by inequality, 5) austerity, 6) not understanding how money is created and used to create more wealth for white males. If women and people of colour were given more power, we would at least see something different in economic thinking. Whether the thinking would be innovative and creative, we have yet to see.

  5. February 9, 2018 at 7:32 am

    Things are bad now, no argument there. But by comparison this is the best they’ve been in a few thousand years. The ancient Greeks included slavery as a routine part of their culture, persecuted and tortured those unlike themselves: the Sumerian monarchy was absolute as shown by Hammurabi’s Laws; we all know about the Roman Empire; then there’s all the European monarchs who worked hard to rule the world by destroying it; and the post 1848 “democracies” didn’t do much better; not to forget the Japanese empire and the Nazis; and of course the USSR and the post WW2 US empire. All generally bad for the common person and the welfare of the planet. But today unlike those in the past there are multiple models we can look to rebuild both democracy and fair/just economies. As of 2017, the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) estimate there are roughly 7,000 employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) covering about 14 million employees in the US. Another 9 million employees are involved in partial plans. ESOPs increase democratic governance in the companies and ensure that the companies are more community oriented and environmentally concerned. Service, production, and labor cooperatives have been part of America for 200 years, and have been expanding since the 1980’s. There are other options as well. So, the situation is improving. Still must kill some plutocratic dragons but that’s clearly possible.

  6. February 11, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    That sounds reassuring! The Soroses and their ilk aren’t even able to coopt decent people anymore, they can just go on with their usual buddies in an ever-shrinking crew.

  7. February 18, 2018 at 8:56 pm

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