'It felt almost like toppling Milosevic all over again. I was just really very happy.' -- Slobodan Djinovic, former Serbian student leader
'We are working with civil movements in several countries, and I don't want to name them. But Georgia is the first success story.' -- Slobodan Djinovic, former Serbian student leader
'Otpor was a huge source of inspiration. Our goal was to make things fun, unusual and tell people that it's they who are in charge of this country.' -- Tea Tutberidze, Kmara activist
'Our best PR was done by the government. The more they condemned us, the more popular we became and stronger we grew.' -- Tea Tutberidze, Kmara activist
'It is generally accepted public opinion here that Mr Soros is the person who planned Shevardnadze's overthrow.' -- Zaza Gachechiladze, editor Georgian Messenger
'The Georgian coup was a feel-good movement. But far more inspiring are the revolts of the cocaleros of Bolivia - or the piqueteros of Argentina who have toppled five presidents in two years, and all without a peso from currency speculators who in the past decade have destabilised Latin America's economies.' -- Leigh Phillips
'It looked like a popular, bloodless revolution on the streets. Behind the scenes, it smells more like another victory for the United States over Russia in the post-Cold War international chess game.' -- Mark MacKinnon, journalist
'The main enemy of the open society, I believe, is no longer communist but the capitalist threat.' -- George Soros
'The collapse of the global market place would be a traumatic event with unimaginable consequences. Yet I find it easier to imagine than the continuation of the present regime.' -- George Soros
'Doing good may be noble, but fighting evil can be fun.' -- George Soros
'The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.' -- Karl Marx, 11th thesis on Feuerbach
'There is no single sustainable model for national success. The supremacist ideology of the Bush administration stands in opposition to the principles of an open society, which recognize that people have different views and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth.' -- George Soros
A few days after the coup that forced the former Georgian President from office, Eduard Shevardnadze pointed the accusatory finger firmly in the direction of international financier George Soros. The people on the streets did not disagree.
Otpor is the student organisation that brought people out onto the streets of Belgrade and helped topple former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Georgians first formed links with Otpor in the spring of 2003, when several civil society activists visited Belgrade on a trip sponsored by the Soros Foundation (created by billionaire financier George Soros).
Within days of their return, Tbilisi had its own version of Otpor. Graffiti reading "Kmara!" - Enough is Enough - appeared across the city.
'We needed to find a message that everyone could relate to. Enough is Enough was just that,' says Tea Tutberidze, who was part of the initial group of some 20 student activists and is now one of the leaders of a 3,000-strong movement.
Kmara carried out activities which would grab the public's attention, and that of the authorities. They cleaned rubbish from the streets, organised concerts, collected money for charity, protested against police violence and ran TV ads condemning the government. Whatever the action, the message was always the same: the government had failed to keep its promises and it was time for the people to hold it to account.
The authorities hit back by accusing the students of being spies for Russia, raided Kmara's office, arrested the activists, threatened to close down Rustavi2 television channel (which was running Kmara's advertisements).
The action by the authorities simply gave greater publicity to the activities of Kmara, highlighted the corruption of the leadership, and brought more Georgians out onto the streets. The rest as they say is history.
In addition to forging the initial links, the Soros Foundation funded Kmara (to the tune of $500,000 according to the Georgian press). Soros also funded Rustavi2, the TV station that became the voice of the people, and an anti-Shevardnadze newspaper, 24 Hours.
Soros also has strong links to the pro-Western opposition leader, Mikhail Saakashvili, who is tipped to win the Georgian elections due to take place on 4 January 2004. According to Business Week, Mikhail Saakashvili, a US-trained lawyer, has been courting Washington for some time with promises to block Shevardnadze’s plan to give Russian oil interests a foothold in the country.
Soros is no friend of George W Bush, and his comments on Bush are little different than those of John Pilger. To this end he has put his money where his mouth is and has poured money into opponents of George W, including opponents of the illegal war on Iraq.
In addition to Soros, who may have acted out of pure philanthropy and the desire to see free and fair elections and democracy restored (Shevardnadze accused him of wishing to bring 'democracy' to Georgia), the dark forces of the US, CIA, and BP, have been meddling in the internal affairs of Georgia.
Prior to the toppling of Shevardnadze, he received visits from Bush senior adviser Stephen Mann, who came with a warning: 'Georgia should not do anything that undercuts the powerful promise of an East-West energy corridor', and James Baker (strong links to the Saudi Royal family, Bush cabal Carlyle Group).
The first calls the self-declared interim president, former speaker Nino Burjanadze, made, to say everything was okay, was to the UN and BP!
Like Turkey under Clinton, and Colombia now, Georgia is a major recipient of US aid, $64 million. Where US aid flows terrorism and human rights abuses follow. Ironic when the aid is in the name of terrorism, nominally fighting rather than creating. The reality is oil pipeline routes.
At $64 million, Georgia is the highest per capita recipient of US aid after Israel. And yet poverty in Georgia has rapidly increased under Shevardnadze (they were relatively prosperous under the old Soviet Union), with the World Bank saying over half the country now live below the poverty line.
The reason for this strong interest in Georgia, is not Georgia per se, it is the strategic location of Georgia, it lies between Russia and Turkey and straddles an important oil pipeline route, the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, for which the World Bank and European Development Bank have each recently approved £300 million.
George Soros, the man, is something of an enigma. A multi-billionaire, and yet driven to do good deeds. An international financier, who has brought down economic systems, he is now in favour of controls on the free movement of capital. He came to prominence during Black Wednesday (now known as White Wednesday as it pulled the UK out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism), as the man who brought the Bank of England to its knees with his run on the pound, and yet at the same time he exposed the farce of what has become the euro, and sowed the seeds for what brought down the hated Thatcher government and all she stood for.
Soros grew up in Communist Hungary, and thus was familiar with the works of Karl Marx. In the 1950s, Soros studied under the eminent philosopher, Karl Popper. Known as a philosopher of science, Popper's philosophy of science is that we cannot know anything with any degree of certainty, that is nothing is all knowable, we have to proceed on imperfect knowledge: 'it is impossible to prove anything with total confidence. You can only disprove things. Therefore, we cannot build science, or society, on absolute knowledge, but only on earnest attempts to disprove our assumptions.'
This leads to what Karl Popper and George Soros mean by Open Society: Any society built on certainties imposed from above, communism, fascism, capitalism, any -ism, indeed any big idea, is bound to fail, because the correct rules for life and science can never be verified, only proved untrue. Like many other eastern European émigrés, Soros came to this belief from his experiences of fascism and communism.
This leads us to what we call participatory democracy, not representative democracy. Representative democracy, where a rapidly dwindling electorate votes for a corrupt elite, to be replaced by participatory democracy, as practiced in parts of Latin America, where all the citizens participate in determining their fate, no matter what their status.
Rather than finance parties, or leaders, as we see in the UK with the paymasters of the Tories and lately Neo-Labour or in the US with the the big business backers of George W Bush who are now reaping their rewards in the rape and pillage of Iraq, Soros seems willing to finance grassroots rebellions as we have seen in Georgia.
Grassroots rebellions are messy, determined by the will of the people, not some semi-cretinous leader in the pocket of big business.
In Georgia, there has been a temporary coincidence of interests between the people, big business and the US. It will not remain thus. The people have tasted power, that genie is already out of the bottle. The main thing that deters activism, is the feeling of isolation and powerlessness. That is why we have seen such bloody repressive clampdowns in Seattle, Prague, Genoa, and now Miami. The people cannot be allowed to see they are winning. In Georgia, the people have won, albeit with some strange bedfellows. They are now talking of spreading their velvet or rose revolution to neighbouring countries. Maybe Soros has planted an unstoppable seed that will spread across Europe. Maybe it will even spread to the UK. How many people does it need to take to the streets to topple Blair, or Bush?
Soros is already putting up the money for the overthrow of Bush. His thoughts on Bush differ little from those of John Pilger. Both see Bush as a force of evil in the world, and realise it is a mistake to dismiss Bush as figure of fun.
'When I hear Bush say "you're either with us or against us", it reminds me of the Germans', says Soros, a 'supremacist ideology' is driving the White House.
Soros is not alone. James Goldsmith was always seen as a billionaire on the far right, and yet before his death he was financing the main opposition to the EU. He wrote about the dangers of globalisation. He had long been the backer of The Ecologist, then edited by his brother Edward Goldsmith, and now edited by his son Zac Goldsmith. The Ecologist is one of the few progressive magazines in the UK. It was raising the ills of the World Bank, IMF and globalisation, and many other issues of social and environmental justice, long before it was fashionable to do so, long before the words had even been coined.
The questions still remain: is the money clean, is control or undue influence being exerted?
No money is ever clean. What can be said is that it is not dirty money as it would be if it came from Jarvis, Balfour Batty, BAE Systems, Shell, BP, Exxon, Coca-Cola, Nike (the list is endless). In terms of control, it is difficult to control a mass movement, and to do so would be contrary to the views of Karl Popper and George Soros on Open Society.
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