John Hawkins has solicited entries for his latest list, this one being "Bloggers Select History's Biggest Impact Players." The release of his list has been delayed for a couple of days, but since the entry date has passed I don't think I'll be unduly influencing anyone else's choices. Therefore, I don't feel as though I am violating Mr. Hawkins' request by publishing my list now.
As I mentioned in my e-mail to Mr. Hawkins, I think there are some problems with this kind of list having to do with adequate shared criteria and a lack of sufficient historical knowledge on the part of just about everyone (myself included) to do such a list justice. My criteria for selection on this list focused on who had the longest lasting, most important influence on the world as we now find it. These are mostly observations, not value judgments -- except for the really bad guys. Here's my list with some commentary:
Moses (Mr. Old Testament, assuming, of course, that he existed)
Plato (Western Civilization 101)
Aristotle (Western Civilization 102)
Alexander the Great (Practical application of Western Civilization 101/102)
Jesus Christ (Here primarily as an inspiration to others)
Muhammad (Here primarily as an inspiration to others)
Henry II, King of England (We owe the Common Law to him)
Timojen -- Genghis Khan (A real overachiever, mostly bad though)
Martin Luther (Mr. Protestant Reformation)
William Shakespeare (The most read author in history)
Immanuel Kant (Deep thinker, for good and ill)
Abraham Lincoln (FDR and Reagan pale in comparison, Bush and Kerry? Puhleeze)
Karl Marx (Bastard, though I'm not sure he really deserves all the blame)
Henry Ford (Harnessed the industrial revolution)
Albert Einstein (Ushered in the atomic age)
Mahatma Ghandi (Delivered the death knell of colonialism)
Winston Churchill (Mr. 20th Century)
Adolf Hitler (The apex of evil)
Werner Von Braun (Made it possible for us to slip the surly bonds of earth)
W. Edwards Deming (Mr. Statistical Process, this is the way the world now works)
Michael Moore (21st century master of propaganda -- sadly, his wickedness has just begun)
Yes, I know the list is pretty heavy with DWEMs, but that's how it happened and it is silly to pretend otherwise. Less than half of my list was alive during the 20th century. I was surprised how few bad guys made the list overall, though as you can tell from my last entry, I think Michael Moore's has just started to scratch the surface of the wickedness he will unleash. With so many in what used to be thought of as polite society encouraging him and enough money to proceeed unfettered, the amount of mischeif and grief he is going to cause in the future will be immense.
I welcome your thoughts in the comment section.
DOWNDATE: Perhaps Stalin should have been on the list, and maybe Mao, but I already had more than enough on the bastard side of the ledger.