4 People Who Shaped History

From the horrific Nuremberg trials to the Founding Fathers, here are five people who influenced the writing of history.

Since the 1960s, the history of racism, feminism, democracy, women’s rights, the environment, the civil rights movement, nuclear disarmament, the nuclear arms race, and the arms race in the Middle East have been on the receiving end of radical change. At the same time, understanding the historical roots of radical change takes time, and thinking about history can sometimes be even longer than the actual history.

It’s nice to celebrate people on a yearly basis, and many different people and groups will likely find themselves on the list of 100 Most Influential People (35 named in the first batch). But this list is focused on those people who have made a particularly significant contribution to human history, whatever that may be. This list includes four people who can potentially be declared the most influential and lasting person in history:

4. Joseph Stalin

It would be wrong to write off Stalin as a bad man. In fact, those were pretty fine words to use when writing about the man’s history. If we had to single someone out for the possible accomplishment of influencing our history more than any other individual, it’s most likely going to be Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Stalin amassed an extensive legacy of horrific and unjust deeds over a majority of the 20th century, and in death he remains entrenched in the debate on whether or not he was a villain. He has inspired countless biographies of both real and fictional figures, and countless historians have been criticized for studying him and his legacy too much.

However, his most important legacy may have been that of staying in power for decades without any major threats to his authority. This triggered political and psychological changes that later reshaped the world and caused significant upheaval within the Cold War rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States.

3. Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci lived three very different lives. One was his own — he was a Renaissance genius and a man of unparalleled creative genius. He created the techniques for sketching and outlined the principles of light, space, and man’s ability to understand the world. Still, for many people, he’s a mystery. It took a 500-year gap after his death before the Renaissance was immortalized in art.

The Renaissance lasted 500 years because that’s how long it took Leonardo to create a catalogue of ideas that would eventually be documented and understood by countless individuals and societies of the future. Unfortunately, he kept most of his ideas to himself for most of his life. Yet, because of that, he created one of the most definitive portraits of humanity. It is impossible to describe the genius of da Vinci, but his work can be studied at a microscopic level in a similar way to how physics can be studied at a microscopic level.

2. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a man dedicated to a single goal: ending the institutional racism that plagued the nation. He came from a poor, black middle-class family that often faced ridicule and harassment, and he became a prominent leader against racism through non-violent means. He was associated with the Civil Rights Movement for decades, but when he was assassinated in 1968, the legacy of racial discrimination would likely have carried on without him, even if he had lived to see it.

It’s difficult to speculate how many lives were saved by the efforts of King and his fellow civil rights leaders. It’s impossible to say. But we can look back on the Civil Rights Movement and say that King’s activism and sacrifices to end discrimination did have a large impact on the lives of countless individuals. He is undeniably one of the greatest political figures of the 20th century.

1. John Lennon

John Lennon had a singular talent for musical creativity, and he worked hard to live up to the expectations of the Beatles. He started out as an unknown musician, but he was soon surrounded by a rotating cast of talented songwriters who eventually decided he should lead the band. Over the course of the next few years, Lennon brought in eight new members, improved the sound, and developed the songs of a young group known as the Beatles.

Along the way, Lennon changed the course of music history. He wrote the immortal “Imagine” and introduced an up-and-coming form of pop music to the world. Over the last few decades, people have changed the way they think about art and artisanship, and that revolution to some extent continues to this day.

8 Features of Donald Trump

8 Features of Donald Trump(OR ANY POLITICIAN)

An essential insight about Trump — or any politician — is that they do not learn from history. That’s obvious, but interesting in its own way. Trump arrived in Washington intending to destroy public institutions, for example, and he’s now doing just that.

But Trump’s inability to learn much may only be a feature, not a bug. After all, on a number of the most important leadership matters, his ignorance is both common and widespread.

8. Calling out politicians for hypocrisy

This is not a new problem, but for far too long it’s been one of the few areas in which we have had to shout obscenities at politicians as a group.

There are several principal reasons for this, but no matter how much we’re watching public figures lie and deceive, we mostly just accept those lies as facts, and accuse them of lying. This is beyond embarrassing, it’s stupid. It is a sign of a media that, like all the media, has gone insane.

Do not take my word for it, consider the words of James Baldwin, who wrote a famous anti-war essay that’s often cited as a model of how to criticize, namely that “what appears politically correct today will be the equivalent of another popular saying tomorrow.”

7. Naming names

Once again, think of who spoke most forcefully against taking up arms to make war on other nations. It wasn’t Trump, it was the great John Steinbeck, who famously denounced the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a “policy of ethnic cleansing.” Steinbeck was an obscure voice in an obscure literary milieu, but his speech was electric and meaningful.

Because politicians don’t name names, we sometimes believe that our politicians are beyond reasonable criticism and are mostly just ploys, or a bunch of furrow-browed mortals of little consequence. The fact is, we need to call out Trump, Pelosi, the G7 summit. We need to say, “This man’s not telling the truth. It’s just not credible.”

6. Saying thanks

What kind of leader congratulates his opponents and then sends them out to be attacked? What kind of leader takes credit for his followers’ work and then sends them out to get punched in the face? What kind of leader, on the other hand, is right to be critical of his supporters and harshly criticized his opponents and put them out to be attacked?

If you say it’s “just politics,” you’re doing not just Trump, but any politician who thinks about politics as something to be played and often won. If you say it’s the truth, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You don’t know who is right. Nor are you aware of what’s already been said.

5. Refusing to compromise

Trump didn’t study foreign policy, but that didn’t stop him from governing it. No one who engaged in bipartisanship really believed that it was in their interests to entrust his “my way or the highway” approach with America’s indispensable role in the world. Similarly, no one gave Trump credit for his willing flexibility on China and NAFTA.

The real problem is that no one, particularly Republicans, who had a balanced and serious vision for what U.S. foreign policy should be.

4. Incorporating new ones

We have ceased to even bother to interrogate candidates for public office, judging them by who they are, where they come from, and what their attitude toward racial diversity is. Now that most candidates simply don’t have strong views, it’s no longer an issue.

This is a profound and dangerous mistake, and it says something about our political culture.

3. Not understanding how to compromise

Party loyalty is a grave luxury that most voters can no longer afford. Now that partisans know that they can rally around their chosen candidate, and lock out others who are not in agreement, they come to believe that they know better than anyone else what’s best for this country. That’s wrong.

The voters deserve better, and so does the country.

2. The excuses

The U.S. economy is fine, the world is fine, the federal budget will not be in deficit for 15 years. If it’s all the fault of the president, the blame should fall on the leader of the opposition, who could and should do much more to restrain spending and rein in tax cuts.

The majority of voters are not blind to the fact that they’re living in a very dangerous time, and they want sensible answers, not bad rhetoric and empty promises. But that is so rare that no one has a clue how to deliver them. What we desperately need is a Democonstruction.

1. The politics

All of these blind spots stem from a particular set of politics that is also a particular set of prejudices and social realities. Who knows what other qualities of leadership aren’t currently obvious?