The evening before last, George Soros offered some remarks at the launch conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking taking place in the Cambridge University Kings College environs where John Maynard Keynes imagined and drafted an entirely new economic system for that time in global history.
Soros said that appearing at and participating in a conference like this that he had helped fund was difficult because he had intellectual stakes in the game.
Soros said that he viewed himself as a “protagonist of alternative paradigms” particularly in the arenas of “human uncertainty, reflexivity, and fallibility.”
Soros acknowledged that many tended to confuse his status as a funder with his role as an intellectual provocateur. He shared a story of trying to launch some new ideas at Brookings and wanted to be challenged and have those ideas seriously debated. But the venture was a failure because the Brookings staff were entirely too nice to him and pulled their punches according to Soros.
Thus, Soros rarely funds ventures in which he really wants to intellectually compete. However, in the launch of the Institute for New Economic Thinking he was setting aside his concerns because he feels both the ideas he is working on now have their own maturity and also that the need for a paradigmatic shake-up in economics is critical and that there are key co-partners willing to be part of the process without biased deference to his own stakes in the debate.
Both the Center for International Governance Innovation and the Stiftung Mercator are now both official strategic partners of INET on this conference and an expansive new economic thinking research agenda.
The intellectual firepower at this conference is outstanding, and in the discussions thus far, when it comes to commenting one way or another on some of George Soros’ concepts, people are not pulling their punches.
— Steve Clemons