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Politics & Religion

World events, politics and whatever (especially whatever)
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09/11/2001 WE REMEMBER

Can't remember the last time we did this.

List your top three selected. And when I say political figures, I don't necessarily mean politicians. They could be historical figures, essayists, philosophers, military officers, novelists, industrialists or corporate leaders.

And rather than just listing people you like, think you might like or think roughly aligns with your political leanings, I want people who have influenced you. Figures who you know about beyond a cursory examination, maybe have done some more extensive reading on, or could possibly quote from if pressed. Give us some reasoning for your pick.

In other words, imagine you've just been elected head of your country's government. You're given the opportunity to put up three portraits of figures in your office that you most admire, who you look to when you turn around on your swivel chair as you ponder the state of affairs. Portraits that also watch you work. Who do you pick?

Who gives you comfort, thinking back on or to, in our current political climate?

Will supply mine later as I'm on my phone.

There are 31 Replies

ghenghis khan, augustus, bernard montgomery.

Posted January 12th, 2017 by s.o.h.

Frederick Douglass, George Orwell, and Martin Luther King Jr.


Not a serious response, but some of my favs. I'll post my real top three and some more in depth thoughts later today.

Posted January 12th, 2017 by Temerit

1. George Orwell: one of the most ruthlessly honest and perceptive people who ever lived.

2. Friedrich Nietzsche: taught me that absolutely everything can be questioned; the value of art; and the perniciousness of contemporary morality. Every value I hold can be traced back to reading the Genealogy of Morals.

3. John Locke: invented freedom, and grew up just down the road from me.

Posted January 12th, 2017 by Smiling Apple

In no particular order:

George Washington - while not a particularly strong "political thinker," his approach towards leadership is inarguably the greatest the US has ever seen. Definitely leaned Federalist, to the chagrin of Democratic-Republicans, he was always measured and did his best to provide a fair decision. The fact that he assembled a cabinet of opposing political ideologies is crazy to consider at this point in time. He also took constant abuse from the press - and the press back then was literally 100% lies and insults - and yet he never sought any legislation against them. He railed on them in private, but he was always careful to present himself as calm, cool, and collected, giving the people peace of mind. That type of leadership is something I generally try to strive for.

John Adams - perhaps the most independent president we've ever had, and spent much of his career having to constantly explain himself when his political opponents frequently misrepresented his opinion. (The fact that Adams was presented as a pompous aristocrat while Jefferson was considered a common man of the people is still dumbfounding to me!) I appreciate his commitment to principles, such as when he took up the "despicable task" of representing British soldiers charged with the Boston Massacre in the court of law, because people have a right to a trial. I also appreciate that for a guy regularly viewed as vain and angry (of which he certainly was a little bit), he also did a pretty good job keeping it together in public. I don't even think he was wrong to worry about the hero worship of Washington and Franklin. A lot of Americans contributed, but never get credit. And I appreciate that he stuck to his principles in office even when under constant barrage from Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Neither party was possible to please. While Adams made some mistakes (signing the Alien and Sedition Acts being chief among them, although he campaigned for neither, and the Alien acts are largely still in effect today), his primary concern was keeping America out of war at a time when Democratic-Republicans wanted war with Britain and Federalists wanted war with France. In my opinion, Adams was a key thinker of the American revolution, and a key leader in early American history. War with Britain or France would have been a disaster at that time. I appreciate that Adams put national interest above party interest - arguably the last time a President has done that.

Hard to list a third because there are so many. I'd be tempted to list Alexander Hamilton, but more his writings and philosophy more than his actual political action. (His intrigue in the elections of 1789 through 1800 were highly ethically questionable, and I kind of wish Democrats would stop referencing him so much lately in political discourse.) Still, hard to argue with his contributions to both America and political theory. But then you also have the foundational European thinkers like Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, et cetera, who influence the development of America. For modern political thinkers, I always appreciate what Ta-Nehisi Coates has to say.

I think I'd ultimately go Locke as well, though. (Sorry, hard to narrow it to just three. This list is undoubtedly going to change depending on the day you ask.)

Posted January 12th, 2017 by Jet Presto

The list is easy:

Joan of Arc
Steve Irwin
George Carlin

Posted January 12th, 2017 by Red Leaf

Fight for what you believe in.
Judge a man by how he treats those weaker than himself.
Don't believe anything at face value.

Posted January 12th, 2017 by Red Leaf

I will also like to add three of the most powerful Orators in History.

These guys have influenced my public speaking skills greatly.

Adolf Hitler: Tapped in to the fear and hatred of the people with his Charisma and Presence. His ability to rally the masses the way he did has not been seen in a long time.

Reagan: The Great Communicator. Sincere, Simple and Honest. (or so we are forced to believe) Im not a huge fan of his Presidency. But by god the man can capture a rooms attention. Oddly enough he has the lowest number of press confreres than any other president.

Winston Churchill: Inspired the masses, and Rallied the people during dark times.

never thought I would have the words "influenced" and "hitler" in the same post in regards to my personal life lol.

Edited January 12th, 2017 by S.O.H.

Damn, this was harder (and more fun) than I thought it would be.

1. Aldous Huxley: Between "Brave New World" and "Ends & Means", his work has had a huge influence on my worldview, both solidifying my belief in individualism and the potential dangers of non-authoritarian forms of opression.

2. John Kenneth Galbraith: Although some of his views are slightly more leftwing than my own, his way of presenting complex economic analyses and how it affects government and society has heavily influenced my work as an economist. Unlike other economists of the time, he studied problems [almost exclusively] from a general equilibrium perspective and focused on dynamic economic relationships: interactions between market agents, evolving technology, organizational effectiveness and corporate governance, etc. His theory of countervailling power, although imperfect, has proved extremely useful in my work.

Thomas Paine: He was the first political author I ever read and his pamphlets and essays against British Rule in the Thirteen Colonies were very influential on my early political views (which have changed quite a bit, nonetheless).

SA, I'm suprised that you listed Nietzsche, given that I've always understood him to be anti-nationalist.

Posted January 12th, 2017 by Malas

SA, I'm suprised that you listed Nietzsche, given that I've always understood him to be anti-nationalist.

In a sense he was, but not in the modern sense.

He saw nationalism - at that time very much tied up with race, especially in Germany - as being petty. That to be a nationalist in Europe one had to deny the shared cultural weight of European civilisation and quarantine oneself against it.

But he valued Europe's cultural baggage a great deal. Nietzsche was more of a post-nationalist than an anti-nationalist. He was a fervent advocate of cultural forces insofar as they enriched the individual.

Nietzsche today would despise the European Union. But he would also despise "Brexit" - perhaps even more so. Both are limiting in their own ways and miss the point of what Nietzsche valued.

I don't think Nietzsche's aims are in any way achievable or desirable, but I think the direction he points in is the right direction, insofar as it has the power to inspire greater things.

Edited January 12th, 2017 by Smiling Apple

Aldous Huxley: Between "Brave New World" and "Ends & Means", his work has had a huge influence on my worldview, both solidifying my belief in individualism and the potential dangers of non-authoritarian forms of opression.

Same here.

Posted January 12th, 2017 by Smiling Apple

1. Adolf Hitler
2. Mao Zedong
3. Donald Trump

Posted January 12th, 2017 by Nazi Genetics

Angela Merkel - A strong, successful global leader in liberal politics, Merkel carries with her a presence that speaks as large as Germany itself. The New Christian Democrats are giving a rejuvenated meaning to what it means to be a "left Christian" in Europe that speaks to the modern world. Advocating strong governments as a force of good, she lead Germany to become a global leader in renewable energy. She is also a pragmatic choice as she constantly refers to the need of Europe to grow its economy and competitiveness to match the incredibly high social expenditure. The way she respectfully commands attention to the issues, and running the EU's largest economy, it might be safe to say this woman runs Europe. Of course, she has a fatal flaw: her kindness sometimes comes at the nation's expense, obviously the often-criticized open-borders policy, and the ravage left in its wake. But history will remember her efforts to save Syrians just as well as it remembers everyone else's efforts to do nothing. She is the world's most powerful woman, and a current leader in governmental and capital development.

Bernie Sanders - Well, obviously! As a mayor, Bernie fought for fair housing prices. He stopped a major waterfront development from converting the shore to an exclusive club. As a senator he filibustered a tax cut on the wealthy, a move that would've lost us billions of dollars every year, and he pushed for major changes to the deeply partisan political landscape of America without stepping back on his values as an independent thinker. The man has integrity, and boy does he have perseverance. He should've won the 2016 election, and he almost did without the media's help. Now, after a sharp media blackout, CNN finally hosted a town hall meeting with him, perhaps in the final realization that his politics are not going to leave. Paid maternity leave, $15 minimum wage, income inequality, single payer healthcare, the 1% owns more than 99% of the entire wealth of this country, you know his talking points. He won't let you forget it!

Oh, and he was involved in the civil rights movement. Why is this guy not our President? Oh yeah, because Democrats thought Hillary Clinton could win. Psh. The world in its current state is too narrow minded to allow someone like Bernie Sanders to become President. But history will remember that it almost happened.

Dwight D. Eisenhower - Hot after the success of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and roaring WWII success, our nation was ready for a strong and capable leader to replace Truman. A moderate conservative by modern standards and a general by trade, Eisenhower made some incredibly surprising moves as President. He advocated peace as a means of reducing deficit, saying we pay for bombers with schools and food for the hungry. He taxed like no other, initiating taxes as high as 93% for high-income earners. And he also spent like no other: inspired by the German autobahn, he spent 20 trillion dollars instating a massive interstate highway system here. And for every dollar he spent, we got 6 back in the economy. His Presidency oversaw some of the only years our government was in surplus, a trait shared alone with Bill Clinton. And he was even fantastic with social issues of the day: when the school board wouldn't help, he used the National Guard to protect the Little Rock Nine, speaking large on where the President stands on integration. Not bad for a man who lead the charge to defeat Hitler.

A lot of what people loved in the 50s was due to this man, who doesn't get enough credit in the history books for setting America on a course for prosperous business grown and development following the dark yesteryears of the Great Depression and war. Like all Presidents he had his flaws, notably contributing to McCarthyism and expanding US influence in global politics, but I'll be damned if he wasn't one of the best. Yes, FDR was America's best Presidents and Teddy Roosevelt was the most awesome, but Eisenhower could be argued was the most significant: he left a deep mark on America's postwar identity for ages to come. If only we took his words about the military-industrial complex seriously, we might've been even greater.

Honorable mention goes to Ronald Reagan. Because of him grossly promoting "trickle down economics" I can now prove to Republicans how wrong they are about everything.

Posted January 12th, 2017 by mariomguy

ghenghis khan, augustus, bernard montgomery.

Would be interested in hearing your reasoning for Montgomery and Augustus, not least as I include Augustus in my top 3.

Posted January 13th, 2017 by Arch

1. MLK - a huge leader in the civil rights movement using civil disobedience for equal rights for all people

2. Bernie Sanders - arguably the most honest, least corupt, and caring high profile political candidate in America. He got me into politics, and as much as he supported Hillary(like he said he would if he lost), it was never about him. It was about his ideas that are revolutionary in America(which are "mainstream" in Europe) to help the people(in the US and all over the world) and our environment, while trying to remove the 1%'s political influence in politics and life in general, as well as tax breaks they get through loopholes.

3. Probably Noam Chomsky. Fantastic historian and political activist.

Posted January 13th, 2017 by ShadowFox08

There are no surprises in my list.

John Locke is indispensable, and the source of my favorite quote: "There cannot be greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse." More than merely being rude, those that employ interruptions as a tactic in public debate usually do so for dishonest reasons. Always question the motives of someone that looks to silence his opposition.

There's a certain strain of revisionist history that comes from some people evaluating the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, and I think this is because they cannot bring themselves to believe that Americans were willing to kill (and die) for the institution of human bondage. It is a testament to the evils of slavery that anyone's sense of self worth could ever be predicated on having a class of people held below them. As our society continues to recover from this practice it is worth remembering that the defeat of slavery and the preservation of the Union would have not occurred without the incredible leadership of one man. Had Stephen Douglas or anyone else been our 16th president America would almost certainly not exist as it does today, and considering what we've managed to do since 1860 that is not an alternate reality I consider acceptable. Cynics will point to the more folkloric aspects of the modern conception of Lincoln, but I don't think I need to appeal to those in order to conclude that he was our most essential president and a truly great man.

I can only be a product of my time, and so my hypothetical office will have Ronald Reagan for the third portrait. If socialism is entropy then a figure like Reagan is revered because he helped halt the decay of our values that threatens freedom every generation. He packaged classical liberalism into a big tent, successful national campaign that appealed to the natural desire of Americans to have less government in their lives. That's about as noble as modern politics can ever hope to be.

Edited January 17th, 2017 by Famov

More than merely being rude, those that employ interruptions as a tactic in public debate usually do so for dishonest reasons. Always question the motives of someone that looks to silence his opposition.

Sounds like Trump....


My top 3 in no particular order: MLK, Bernie Sanders, and Ike Eisenhower.

Posted January 14th, 2017 by Blazer72

Erwin Rommel, Lena Dunham, Ted Kaczynski

(OK, but seriously, I'm just holding my place. I'll have a real answer for you soon.)

Posted January 14th, 2017 by Pink Peruvian Flying Bear

Orwell for sure. I'll need some more thinking time for the other 2.

Considering everything that's been happening in the news, a knee jerk answer for me might also be Ed Murrow.

Edited January 16th, 2017 by Jahoy Hoy

Murray Rothbard, Lysander Spooner, Larken Rose.

Posted January 16th, 2017 by tnu

I keep pushing my response back, so I'll also opt to give a proper response to my own OP later.

Mine are:

  • Clement Attlee
  • Augustus
  • Tony Judt

  • Edited January 16th, 2017 by Arch

    * Jello Biafra
    * Jon Stewart
    * George W. Bush

    i know that these aren't great political thinkers or philosophers (although i would argue half-seriously that jello is the greatest of our time), but they're the once who got me fired up, pissed off, and interested in politics as an adolescent.

    dubya is on the list because he made me realize how garbage the GOP is. carthage must be destroyed

    Edited January 16th, 2017 by poptart!

    Would be interested in hearing your reasoning for Montgomery and Augustus, not least as I include Augustus in my top 3.

    will do. should have something by tonight or tomorrow night.

    I would also like to add castro to my list. the more I read about him the more I like him.

    Posted January 16th, 2017 by s.o.h


    I havent studied or read up on Augustus in a long time. So Im going based on memory here.

    Augustus learned from Julius Caesars mistakes. Julius Caesars arrogance lead to his death. Several of his actions such as arraying himself in some of the attributes of Juniper after one of his many victories protrayed him as a man well above the people. IIRC one of his servants told him to cut that crap out.

    In contrast Augustus portrayed himself to be nothing more than the Princeps Civitatis. After his resignation. A clever tactic of propaganda that showcased him to be a man of the people instead of the ruthless dictator that he was.

    In addition to this his adoptive fathers murder played an important role in the way he ruled. As he needed to balance his best interest, the best interest of the people and the best interest of Rome. Had he faltered he would have murdered just like his pops.

    Augustus and Agrippa donated a lot of their own money to the roman people in the form of public works in addition to a lot of money to their soldiers. His defeat of Antony and Cleapatra not only gained a great deal of land (iirc) but also catapulted him to reign as the First Roman Emperor which resulted in massive public work renovations, social reforms and an extremely powerful military force that provided an era of peace and prosperity for the Romans for nearly 1500 hundred years.

    Granted I also think Agrippa is equally as important. As he was the stronger military tactician of the two. I am blanking but there was another guy during this time that practically crippled and starved the romans. I dont remember his name though. I just remember he took over sicily or something.

    this isn't as in depth as I would like it to be. But Like I said I havent studied this period of history in a long time. It did leave an impression on me though.

    Posted January 17th, 2017 by S.O.H.

    reasoning for Montgomery

    I havent read much about him. There are a few books that I have yet to pick up. (His Memoirs, Battles of Field Marshal Montgomery, and Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War)

    But I do know that he was a tactless asshole who clashed with Churchill multiple times and believed he was the sole reason the allies won the war. Churchill despised him probably hated the man at times but from what I have read he respected his abilities to lead and to wage war.

    If I may quote the old slobbering bull dog: "Indomitable in retreat; invincible in advance; and insufferable in victory"

    He was a man that did not care about popularity. He spoke his mind and while that made him a controversial leader, he was often always correct after assessing a situation.

    He subdued the Desert Fox at El Alamein, and the initial phase of his Market Garden operation was a success (the overall operation being a tactical defeat) and while the out come failed to achieve all the plan objectives, it did lead to the liberation of areas in the southern Netherlands along with the capture of some bridges. Had the operation been a success I am sure it would have ended the war sooner (not by christmas thats for sure)

    And while he was not the most powerful of orators during this time (compared to FDR, Hitler, or Churchill) His Address to the 21st army Group on the Eve of D-day never fails to sends chills down my spine.

    His address to the 8th army is equally as captivating.

    "If we cant stay here alive, then let us stay here dead"

    Thats good stuff right there.

    He apparently said this little gem:

    'My business, as you know, is fighting. Fighting the Germans. Oh, and anybody else too who wants to have a fight!"

    but I havent been able to find an actual source of when or where he said it though aside from the COH2 trailer.

    Edited January 17th, 2017 by S.O.H.

    Jello Biafra

    Is this a pseudonym or did his parents give him a terrible name in anticipation that he would become a punk musician?

    Posted January 17th, 2017 by Famov

    "Is this a pseudonym or did his parents give him a terrible name in anticipation that he would become a punk musician?"

    lmao it's a pseudonym. if it were me, i would have gone with something a little... cooler... like snackpack mugabe

    Posted January 17th, 2017 by poptart!

    George Orwell
    Edward R. Murrow
    Noam Chomsky

    Posted January 19th, 2017 by Jahoy Hoy

    The Dalai Llama

    John F. Kennedy

    Barack Obama

    In other words, imagine you've just been elected head of your country's government. You're given the opportunity to put up three portraits of figures in your office that you most admire, who you look to when you turn around on your swivel chair as you ponder the state of affairs. Portraits that also watch you work. Who do you pick?

    Put it that way, I may have some very different choices, because I wouldn't mind having a few leaders' portraits used as dartboards in my office.

    Posted July 20th, 2017 by Agis

    Was Obama a serious pick ?

    Posted October 25th, 2017 by #85

    George C. Scott (General George S. Patton by proxy)

    Can't find a good pick for my third.

    Posted October 25th, 2017 by Kohlrak

    Anyone who supports legalization of recreational marijuana use, and opposes the taliban!!

    Posted December 26th, 2017 by Dark Muhammad, smoker of hashish
    Reply to: Name your top 3 political figures
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