Great men certainly do have a huge influence on history, but then again, they wouldn't be great if history didn't remember them. Who's to say there haven't been great men who had a major role in human history but just got forgotten? Or that some people we remember as great stole their glory from the real hero who is now forgotten?
I'm the OP btw and that guy's not even me. Alexander's influence on our culture alone (as evidenced by his post in conjunction with mine) is evidence of a single individuals potential for influence. But more than that Alexander changed the balance of power in the East for centuries. He rightfully earned the appellation of history-maker.
Great men make change. To make change, however, one must challenge the status quo. As such, those in power have made sure anyone who aspires to be a 'great man' is branded a pariah and utterly destroyed.
While "great men" do have a reasonable impact on history they couldn't get shit done without people backing them. It's like saying that the main gear in a machine runs the entire machine; it pulls everything together and can sometimes make something work better, but the main gear can't do anything without all the other thousands of gears and cogs backing it up
>>580351 No shit. One of the thing that makes some men "great" is their ability to bring so many people together to work towards a single goal. A bunch of cogs and gears that don't work together are just spare parts.
>>580351 >It's like saying that the main gear in a machine runs the entire machine; it pulls everything together and can sometimes make something work better, but the main gear can't do anything without all the other thousands of gears and cogs backing it up That's a false analogy but I understand what you mean.
A great person can take the energy of the masses, of the impetus of a situation, and channel it in to a route where without them it would shoot out in all directions and dissipate.
It just doesn't work if you separate. Groups of people and their leaders are in feedback. A leader is born out of determinated circumstances, whose make him the leader he is, and then his will changes the circumstances he is in.
How the fuck are people products of their environment? People like Alexander and Caesar took the fucking environment by the fucking cock and bent it to their will. They used their swords of destiny to impale history, and penetrate their ambitions to the future.
>>580907 What does this theory have to do with politics?
Anyways, both Alexander and Caesar were born into a royal family or senatorial family to begin with, Alexanders father and Caesars uncle both pushed massive military reforms. In the latter case they enabled military commanders to exert power in civil affairs to a degree previously impossible.
If Caesar was born a century or a half earlier he might have made it into history books are an unremarkable senator.
>>580923 Just because the universe is deterministic, does that make every achievement a man can make pointless? I think it's obvious how this approach seems dumb. The only reason you can wave off Alexander is because he was so far off in the past. I don't see modern leaders excused as "just the products of their time lol".
>>580907 Of course men Alexander was a very skilled and driven man.
But you can't ignore that he was in the right place at the right time. His Macedonia had, among other things, the army and the generals to conquer as they did. Alexander couldn't have conquered the known world leading literally any shithole of a kingdom by virtue of greatness alone.
>>580923 >If Caesar was born a century or a half earlier he might have made it into history books are an unremarkable senator. Fucking no. Caesar could have been born on a barren planet with no one left and his sheer brilliance would have made nations for him to conquer materialize around him. I think that's actually a decent, plausible creation story
>>580933 >>580980 I have to add I don't disagree with the idea that single people had massive influences on history but the wording strikes me a little off. Perhaps this is why some people (leftists as you call them) find the theory faulty.
Great man implies they are great and would be great in any era, I'd say it's more of a Having the right man at the right time type of thing. Man being allowed to achieve greatness.
Take a modern day PhD Hedge Fund manager, quite ambitious, well educated, good with administration etc etc. Unless he does something spectacular or is the best he might end up becoming a footnote in history at best. Now if we take a guy with the same personality and make him heir appearant to some kingdom during the early middle ages, suddenly this guy is equipped to get his own wikipedia page and all.
A guy like Beethoven can't achieve his real fame if he were living right now I reckon, Abe Lincoln born in Tsarists Russia might be lucky if he grew up to be a lawyer at all.
>>580351 For the most part, I agree; only to add that certain individual aspects of the machine play a more prominent role than others, though yes, without everything coming together, it all falls to shit.
>>581030 The fact that history may not take great account of the accomplishments of a hedge fund manager wouldn't make his accomplishments Less great. A hero who conquers is more interesting to most people than accounting minutiae. If they each did the best they could, then give them both participation trophies when they get to hell. Interesting theory, but it comes down to what history records. The creep who undercuts a nations currency and profits as it collapses may not be remembered as the general who led the charge of the light brigade, but who had the bigger impact? Lok tar ogar.
>>580258 If you believe in the Great Man Theory you most probably are some fat neckbeard who binge reads historical fiction and buys shitty books with glossy covers about some useless yet casually interesting topic or just generic biography of meme generals instead of serious essays that take several economic, political and cultural factors into account.
Anyone who says that great men weren't making the world go forward are fucking retards and obviously think their little snowflake lives will matter in the long run but guess what they don't you will be forgotten after two generations at best while Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Alexander the great, Leonardo da Vinci will be remembered forever because unlike you they weren't worthless. It was always 1% of great men who carried the world on their backs and always will be the filthy pleb like you won't even get a footnote deal with it faggots.
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95. In like manner, the beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he assimilates the spirit of the new language and expresses himself freely in it only when he moves in it without recalling the old and when he forgets his native tongue.
tl;dr great men can make the times but their agency is limited by circumstances
>>580284 >most 'great men' are in fact the products of their environments Well, that is correct, but I don't think they are mutually exclusive. It doesn't detract at all, since only a great man can reach high and achieve much in such circumstances. Don't forget that you have thousands or millions in similar conditions and yet their individual actions won't take things very far.
>In his 1940 essay "On the Concept of History," scholar Walter Benjamin compares historical materialism to The Turk, an 18th-century device which was promoted as a mechanized automaton which could defeat skilled chess players but actually concealed a human who controlled the machine. Benjamin suggested that, despite Marx's claims to scientific objectivity, historical materialism was actually quasi-religious. Like the Turk, wrote Benjamin, "[t]he puppet called 'historical materialism' is always supposed to win. It can do this with no further ado against any opponent, so long as it employs the services of theology, which as everyone knows is small and ugly and must be kept out of sight." Benjamin's friend and colleague Gershom Scholem would argue that Benjamin's critique of historical materialism was so definitive that, as Mark Lilla would write, "nothing remains of historical materialism [...] but the term itself. It is important to note, however, that Benjamin was arguing against a mechanistic form of historical materialist explanation then prevalent in Stalin's Russia, and was himself a committed, if unorthodox, Marxist. Later in "On the Concept of History," he writes: "Class struggle, which for a historian schooled in Marx is always in evidence, is a fight for the crude and material things without which no refined and spiritual things could exist. ... There is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. And just as such a document is never free of barbarism, so barbarism taints the manner in which it was transmitted from one hand to another. The historical materialist therefore dissociates himself from this process of transmission as far as possible. He regards it as his task to brush history against the grain."
To be honest the Idea that certain men sometimes have a great influence on history because of their unique personal qualities and the idea that men can only act with what they've been given and are influenced by historical forces beyond their control do not have to contradict each other. I believe sometimes it can be one, sometimes the other, and sometimes a mixture of the two. It depends upon the event. For instance it is probable that the events that gave rise to Hitler could have switched him out with any number of other radical tyrants. But at the same time it could have been a pro-soviet communist with nothing against the Jews. So here we have a rather famous situation which seems to confirm both sides of the argument,
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