What historical figures do you most admire for transforming society? I am primarily thinking of national leaders, but others are eligible as well, if you think they merit it. Do you think that the role of leaders should be to reshape how people think, or to reflect them? Do you prefer statesmen (typically defined as reshaping the people and/or acting with significant autonomy) or politicians (presumably representing the thoughts of the people)? To phrase it another way, should the people be looking for people they can respect, or people they can control? Are there circumstances where you would approve of politicians/philosophers acting against the will of the people, or managing the nature and timing of consultation of the people, for some notion of a greater good? If so, under what circumstances, and is it important to rejoin the public opinion at some later time?
Also, do you respect philosophers less if they are involved in activism? Take, for example, Soros or Chomsky.