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The Open Society and its Enemies

September 13, 2021

Science is an amazing tool, but there are no agreement on how it actually works. Those kinds of questions bothered a guy named Karl Popper enough to spend most of his life thinking about them. I knew this author from the courses on the history of philosophy, but it turns out he has a lot of interesting thoughts on the other topics as well.

As many great thinkers of his age, he was kind of forced to search for the roots of evil. It’s hard not to, when you watch Hitler’s rise to power in real time. Finance has long been one of my main interests, and pretty much everyone in this space knows who is George Soros. But wait, why would I bring up this guy in a text about science, Popper and Hitler? It turns out, this trio has a lot in common.

The thing is, Popper was looking for the origins of totalitarian regimes, and Soros is a huge fan of Popper. Not only he is a fan, he’s also spending a lot of money on Open Society Foundations. This name can sound familiar if you’re into politics because many totalitarian regimes such as China and Russia are pretty vocal in their hatred towards Soros and his projects. That’s essentially how I got curious about Popper, if bad guys hate him so much, he must have done something good, and I wanted to know what.

Open Society and it’s Enemies is an attempt to figure out what kinds of ideas gave birth to the most evil and brutal regimes in the world. Popper tries to identify those ideas, and it calls this group of ideas “historicism”. In his view, it’s extremely dangerous to treat societies as conscious entities striving to reach some kind of end-state. That’s the essence of historicism, and accepting these premises normalizes the erosion of individual freedoms and ultimately leads to catastrophic outcomes.

Some people find it absurd to say that nazis and socialists have a lot in common, but they undoubtedly share a lot of their most fundamental assumptions.