At the Davos conference last week George Soros read a speech entitled “The fight of our lives”.
He started by noting that the course of history had been changed dramatically by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – there is no going back, it “may turn out to be the beginning of World War III, and our civilization may not survive it.”
Soros grew up in pre-war Hungary in a time of stability or “equilibrium”. Then Hitler invaded resulting in “a far from equilibrium situation”, this was followed by a second far from equilibrium state when Communist Russia took over.
Now in his 92 year, the way he sees it is that, 70-odd years after WW2:
“The world has been increasingly engaged over the past half-decade, or longer, in a struggle between two diametrically opposed systems of governance: open society and closed society. In an open society, the role of the state is to protect the freedom of the individual; in a closed society, the role of the individual is to serve the rulers of the state.
It is because we might have to engage in this struggle that we become distracted from other issues of great concern, that is “fighting pandemics and climate change, avoiding nuclear war, maintaining global institutions…That’s why I say our civilization may not survive.”
As well as the leaders of the two big autocratic states joining together to challenge the west’s open societies we have the problem of the Omicron variant spread through China.
“Xi persists to this day with his zero-COVID policy, which has inflicted great hardships on Shanghai’s population by forcing residents into makeshift quarantine centres instead of allowing them to self-quarantine at home. Shanghai’s inhabitants have been driven to the verge of open rebellion.
“Many people are puzzled by this seemingly irrational approach to the pandemic, but I can give you the explanation: Xi harbours a guilty secret. He never told the Chinese people that they had been inoculated with a vaccine that was designed for the original Wuhan variant of the disease, but which offers little protection against new variants.
“Xi cannot afford to come clean about this, because he is at a very delicate moment in his career. His second term in office expires this fall, and he wants to be appointed to an unprecedented third term and eventually become ruler for life. He has carefully choreographed a process that would allow him to fulfil his life’s ambition, and everything must be subordinated to this goal.”
National pride, and Xi’s stubbornness, mean that the RNA-based western vaccines are not welcome. This is likely to mean millions of deaths if lockdowns are relaxed. Given the high transmissibility of Omicron the disease is not going away, thus lockdowns will continue.
Both Putin and Xi, rule by intimidation:
“And as a consequence they make mind-boggling mistakes. Putin expected to be welcomed in Ukraine as a liberator; likewise, Xi is sticking to a zero-COVID policy that can’t possibly be sustained.
“The continuing lockdowns have had disastrous consequenc..........
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