Billionaire George Soros has unveiled a new ambitious project: creating a global university network that would save the world from climate change and rescue democracy itself from ‘dictators' like US President Donald Trump.
The 89-year-old grey eminence of liberal globalism announced "the most important project of my life" on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Describing the current state of the world as dire, with the strongest powers "in the hands of would-be or actual dictators," Soros said he would put forth $1 billion towards the creation of the Open Society University Network, revolving around his own Central European University (CEU).
Soros revealed that the CEU has already partnered up with Bard College in the US and a network of European social science schools called CIVICA, which includes the London School of Economics and the Paris Institute of Political Studies, also known as Sciences Po. He is seeking to expand the network into something "truly global" in the coming years.
The announcement came as part of Soros' meandering speech to the gathering of global elites, which painted a dire picture of the world in the hands of "would-be or actual dictators" - he singled out Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi by name - and paragons of "open society" such as the European Union being defeated by the UK decision to vote in a pro-Brexit government.
Soros described Trump as a "con man and the ultimate narcissist who wants the world to revolve around him," accusing the US leader of wanting to "impose his alternative reality not only on his followers but on reality itself." Just moments later, however, he praised Trump's hard-line China policy and lamented that it does not go far enough.
The Hungarian-born billionaire held up climate change as a possible rallying cry of the "open society" adherents. He also praised the student-led protests in Hong Kong, holding them up as an example of what young people around the world can do when properly motivated.
This was the lead-in to his university project reveal, through which Soros hopes to unite all "academically excellent but politically endangered scholars" across the globe, whatever that means.
Continuing his crusade against social media, which he also launched in Davos two years ago, Soros slammed Facebook as having "a kind of informal mutual assistance operation" with Trump.
"Facebook will work together to re-elect Trump, and Trump will work to protect Facebook so that this situation cannot be changed and it makes me very concerned about the outcome for 2020," he said, according to Bloomberg.
"This is just plain wrong," Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said when asked about Soros' comments, for which the ‘Open Society' magnate did not offer any evidence. Soros has previously funded Facebook's third-party "fact checker" programs officially designed to "defend democracy."
While claiming to champion democracy and "open society," Soros has used massive amounts of money to influence national and local politics in the US, giving $5 million so far to the Democrats' 2020 efforts to unseat Trump but also bankrolling local prosecutors with radical agendas.