Skip to content
15 min read

Thinkers

Many of the ideas espoused at OnPoliticz.com may well have been influenced by thinkers, authors, writers, books, and videos.
If you want to check our work, please do so.
If you want to read more, please do so.


Influencers? People whose ideas we stole? Credit for ideas? Probably “Yes”


Carl von Clausewitz

A 19th century military general who fought against Napoleon several times, primarily for his native Prussia, he died before Germany came into existence but not before instructing his wife to posthumously publish his master treatise, “On War”.

Carl von Clausewitz gives us the modern aphorism that Politics is War by another means (and vice-versa).

His book also makes clear why war involves crossing a red line, how to know what war is, and why it can be so difficult to end a war.

Almost all of Carl von Clausewitz’s contributions to modern society are through his book, “On War”.


Simon Sinek

An accomplished public speaker and author of five books, Simon is typically first encountered by people on his #3 most watched TED talk of all time, “Start with Why”.

People usually find Simon to be an inspirational person, often because he brings insights into the mindset of doing, creating, or accomplishing amazing things.

For example, Simon noticed that there is often very little difference between being excited to do something and being scared about what happens next. With a simple change of mindset, one can switch from scared to excited!


David Frum

A former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, he coined the phrase, “Axis of Evil”. He is also a journalist, author, and prominent member of the (former GOP) NeverTrump thinkers., and an Editor-At-Large for the Atlantic Magazine.

David Frum wrote the most important two sentences of this part of history in an Atlantic magazine article, which was an excerpt from one of his books. We fear he is correct:

If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.

David Frum, Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic. Printed in the Atlantic, Jan 18, 2018

There’s more to understand, but the quote fits, does it not?


Sebastian Junger

Perhaps most famous as the author of the book that led to the George Clooney movie, “A Perfect Storm”, for this site he is foremostly a very hard working journalist who has been under fire and in physically demanding places reporting on war in Afghanistan (10+ years, pre and post 9/11) and Bosnia.

Sebastian Junger is fore mostly a journalist who has taken on some of the most demanding assignments in foreign war in our lifetimes, and it is in these workplaces that he invariably built human bonds of such connectedness that they exceed what most people will ever experience in their entire lifetimes. His experiences have been so acute that he developed PTSD and talks about his difficulties in enclosed spaces in one of his videos.

What does the bond of brotherhood mean? Sebastian knows.


Robert Caro

An author of extensively researched biographies, Robert Caro is known for his depth, detail, and dogged research. While he has only written biographies of two men – Robert Moses and President LBJ. However, the true subject of his research is power – how men wield power and how it is used.

His biographies of the colorful historical figure of Lyndon Baines Johnson, from the Hills of Texas to local politics to the Senate and Presidency was intended to be a trilogy, but has four books so far and promises to end with the fifth.

Writing about Power is his magnum opus.

From Caro’s videos the evidence emerged that power reveals corruption within someone’s character that was masked by that person’s previous lack of power.


Timothy Snyder

A preeminent American historian, Timothy Snyder is a articulate about using history to inform the present decisions, with confidence that History does not (have to) repeat. Fluent in five and able to read ten European languages, his focus has been on eastern Europe. His current course on Ukraine is being published on YouTube, with thanks to Yale University.

On Tyranny: Twenty lessons from the Twentieth Century is the most recent book from Timothy Snyder and it is both short and empowering, each with actions individuals should take to prevent or forestall a society’s fall into autocracy.

His course on the history of Ukraine as a war is underway speaks for itself.

With many talks on YouTube, his wisdom can be found and once encountered, will be easy to appreciate.


James Baldwin

Somehow, James Baldwin is still somewhat of a secret to most Americans despite being articulate, outspoken, Gay and Black and an early figure in the Civil Rights era of both the 1960s and even the 1950s. One of his unfinished manuscripts was turned in to the recent move, “I Am Not Your Negro”. He lived exceptionally from 1924 (Haarlem, NY) to 1987 (Cannes, France).

James Baldwin wrote innumerable insightful plays, essays, books, short stories, and other writings – often containing a quote that still cuts to the truth of today:

The most dangerous creation of any society is a man who has nothing to lose.

The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat

James Baldwin – from various writings or interviews


Daron Acemoglu

Born in Istanbul (not Constantinople) to Armenian parents, Daron Acemoglu is a preeminent Economist, teaching at MIT (Cambridge, MA) since 1993 after graduating with a Ph. D. from the London School of Economics. Daron is the author of several political-economy-government books in collaboration with co-authors Simon Johnson and James A Robinson.

Acemoglu and Robinson weave historical examples throughout their book, The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and The Fate of Liberty in a truly compelling work. Yet they give us a language to describe things which have always been there that we need to understand, and one of them is the idea of the “Cage of Norms”

A law, written that in the USA, people drive on the right side of the road is a functional one. A law that restricts people’s social abilities simply to keep an oppressed minority in a subservient place – what is that? A bar in the Cage of Norms. Many insights come from Acemoglu & team.


Heather Cox Richardson

Perhaps most publicly appreciated for her voice of calmness and rationality in a time of social distress, Heather Cox Richardson is both a skilled podcaster and Professor of American History at first MIT, then UMass, and now Boston College. She has six published books covering US History from the Civil War, Reconstruction, and westward expansion.

History often seems so distant and unrelatable, but one of the attributes of her research and publications is to question, challenge, and understand the economic forces of the time period she is writing about.

In the present day, why do we often do things? Usually, our perceptions of how we can best make money and achieve higher status is our motivation, and this context often changes historical figures from weird people from the past to individuals whose motives we understand better.


Christian Picciolini

Perhaps the most unique person on this whole list is the co-founder of Life After Hate and the Free Radicals Project, both roughly focused on teaching people how to move beyond their racist past experiences. Why? Because from age 14 to age 22, Christian joined a local skinhead gang and became a global leader of hate before he was given forgiveness from someone he least deserved it from. He is also a producer of media and music, a rock band manager, and an entrepreneur in addition to being a world-class humanitarian and public speaker.

Christian was telling the world ten years ago that skinheads and white supremacists were working to camouflage themselves and use marketing spin to make themselves more palatable to the mainstream public so as to hide their growing numbers and the overall surge in hatred.

How did he know? He worked directly with people to help them let go of hate.

One of them wrote to him on Jan 6th, 2021 to say that it was only through the gifts and tools Christian taught him that he was not in Washington DC that tragic day.

He is one of a kind, although the world could use a million more just like him.


Brene Brown

Distinguished author and researcher Brene Brown has taught people about true human connection by sharing the results of her research into what inhibits the best things in life. Three of her answers are tough: Shame, Vulnerability, and Fear. But the last one is thankfully just a misguided belief. With the #5 most watched TED talk of all time, Brene Brown has enlightened many on living a richer, fuller, more amazing life.

If our group is about Love, Brene Brown’s insights are the centerpiece of first loving yourself and then others.

While most think of Brene Brown when it comes to learning how to live a more rich, fulfilling, human-connected life on a personal level, we believe that her lessons, combined with Christian Picciolini and Sebastian Junger represent the solution to the tears in the fabric of every society on earth.

Maybe the masculine figures of Christian and Sebastian open the door, but Brene is the emotional closer of the group – her learning and decade plus as a “researcher of shame” show that as emotional beings, there are clear mistakes we might make – both as human beings and as members of a society that is tearing itself apart – and how to heal them. Enjoying life more than before is just a side benefit. 😉


Gustave Le Bon

Gustave Le Bon was an eccentric, observant and inquisitive French man who lived from 1841 to 1931. He had credentials to be a physician but never practiced, and instead he wrote medical articles and travelled. He lived at the time of Napoleon III, Napoleon’s nephew, and the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1871. He is most well known as the father of Crowd Psychology with his book, The Crowd: A study of the popular mind.

In his book on on Crowd Psychology, he posits that the crowd ceases to be the sum of its parts, and instead has the entire body become posessed of different, more base, more animalistic (our word) motivations. Individual responsibility and individual identity disappear; raw power and supernatural courage are conjured.

What’s more, the crowd is given permission to desire things that are normally forbidden.

Despite its many flaws, his book captures the essential behaviors of crowds. And his book documents his personal experience of crowds, and most readers say it eerily predicts the Nazis of 1933, even though the book was written in the 1870s.


Paolo Friere

Born to a middle class family in Recife, Brazil in 1921, Paolo’s life was upended a decade later by the Great Depression and his family’s descent to poverty and his personal experience of daily hunger. He fell four grades behind because hunger impeded his ability to learn. Paolo qualified to be a lawyer but instead taught literacy to the poor, eventually teaching sugar cane harvesters to read and write in only 45 days.

Published in 1970, Paolo’s best known book, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” is so powerful that international graduate students in the USA from oppressive countries around the world will smuggle home photocopied versions of this banned book, often to great personal praise and at great risk.

Why?

It inspires oppressed people and articulates the mindset that is handed down by oppression that inhibits students from living lives full of agency and learning in countries where dictators don’t want intelligent citizens – instead they want obedient laborers and thus the education system strengthens the power of the dictator instead of the enlightenment of the student..


CGP Grey

CGP Grey was born as a citizen of the USA with Irish relatives that enabled him to be a dual citizen in the EU. He has spent his professional career east of “The Pond” as a teacher in London and now as a professional educator on YouTube, among many other endeavors.

This stick figure is how he chooses to represent himself in his videos.

CGP Grey gave inspiration to this site – in the idea that it is possible to put informative videos on social media that also are perhaps entertaining and perhaps uplifting and definitely obsessed with being factually rich and correct.

I mean…wouldn’t it be terrible to be *WRONG* about something on the internet?

I only want to “meet” this hero on the phone – not in person. I don’t want to be disappointed when I realize he looks nothing like his picture.


Russell Brunson

Perhaps no entrepreneur has spent more time and effort teaching other people to become successful entrepreneurs than Russell Brunson, a guy whom others doubted was “College Material”. By whatever measurement you like, Russell is a success who teaches it to others.

Russell has an inspiring story and lives an inspiring life. Most of it has little direct overlap with civic virtue, government/economics/culture, and the main messages of this site.

However, we are (slowly) also reading his books, in part because he teaches how to reach people online and sell things.

What do we sell? Civics. Civic virtue. Patriotism. Our price? Zero, except there’s lots of blood, sweat & tears. But his Hero’s Journey? 100%. We use that. And more.


Digital Marketing
News & Blog

Sit nunc quis viverra commodo risus integer imperdiet massa blandit odio eu nunc, sed gravida nisl, sit eu auctor id ut pretium ultrices in.

Elit mattis platea rhoncus

Id nullam massa morbi tellus ullamcorper dui mauris sed placerat at lacus lorem fringilla


Nisl eleifend vulputate ultricies

Id nullam massa morbi tellus ullamcorper dui mauris sed placerat at lacus lorem fringilla


Porttitor quam dolor

Id nullam massa morbi tellus ullamcorper dui mauris sed placerat at lacus lorem fringilla