Getting to Yes, And

Warriors, Rebels & Saints


Moshik Temkin

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Kelly takes a look at leadership through the lens of history with Moshik Temkin, a professor of history and leadership at Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University and a faculty affiliate at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His new book is titled, "Warriors, Rebels & Saints: The Art of Leadership from Machiavelli to Malcom X."

One of the historic leaders you write about is Franklin Delano Roosevelt and how the New Deal was more than just an economic program.

“Yeah, he knew as opposed to a lot of politicians that artists also have to eat. Yes, and writers and artists and actors and people need to survive. That's their job right? And they're all out of work. So he put everybody to work. Writing! Painting, doing all these things. And it's actually a stroke of genius, because you're putting everybody to work. That's already good. Second, you're creating a whole world of artists who are committed to you and your political project. It turns the New Deal from not just an important economic arrangement, but to a powerful, cultural, and attractive cultural institution. And it gets thee the most eloquent, talented people in the country singing your praises.”

And you note that America’s founding fathers were considered rebels in their time.

"We consider them today as these great founding fathers. But, to the British, you know, these rebels needed to be defeated. Or you could call them terrorists, to use a more modern word. We also know that other countries: China, India, the list is long of countries that had to gain - or Israel also is a good example of this - countries that gain their independence through rebellion. They had been oppressed or under colonial control. When you're a sovereign country, you also are often dealing with people that want freedom from you or from under your control. And so, we see that all over the world. And I think that it's very interesting that people tend to identify with that first part of their history but be more  involved in the second part of that history. And so, there's a gap there between people's self-perception and people's actual work and the things that they that they do in life.”

Understanding our history should help us understand our present in a much more profound way, right?

“There's a lot of revisionism going on nowadays about colonialism and its history. So, without obviously justifying any horrible acts, we must insist that we are ourselves the products of history. No one is outside or above history. But also, we have the ability to change history. We have the ability to step out of the frame that we're in and look at what we're doing and maybe change paths. And that's hard to do.”

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