Term Paper: History Book Video

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History Book Video

The History Book": major themes and patterns that characterize the development of the modern world

The History Book" is a series of documentary cartoons that dramatize modern Western history as a series of economic paradigm shifts. Most of these shifts result in the enrichment of a smaller percentage of the population that owns property or has aristocratic titles. This upper class uses its power to oppress and profit off of the labor of the lower classes. The upper class gains money and power by oppressing the vast majority of the lower-class population, until there is a class revolt, after which the class system reorganizes itself, with a different membership, but an equal level of exploitation.

The History Book" begins during the end of the Middle Ages of its Volume I and extends its narrative up to World War II and the post-colonial aftermath of Volume VIII. Initially, this unconventional means of cartoon storytelling may seem the most striking aspect of this educational video. Cartoons, however, provide a fresh and vivid way of looking at history, especially aspects of the past for which no filmed footage exists, or even many paintings, such as the feudal system chronicled in the section entitled "A Flickering Light in the Darkness" or "Blood Schemes" which depicts the slave trade. However, what is most striking about this video series is not the means it uses to tell a historical narrative, but the film's unabashedly Marxist or class-focused perspective upon history. Rather than attempting to tell history in an objective fashion, the filmmakers Li Vilstrup and Jannik Hastrup imply that true objectivity regarding is impossible. The supposedly pure, factual narrative of history taught in most curriculums is in fact a biased and capitalistic worldview. Thus, the filmmakers attempt to challenge this capitalist view by showing how history was lived and experienced by ordinary persons in economic terms and by taking a clear ideological perspective on Western economic development.

The narrator of the film is a rat, a perfect choice of a storyteller, given that this allows the viewer to see history from the perspective of the lowest of the low, from the point-of-view of a creature that must scrounge for food rather than a person who could possibly profit from the economic system of any particular point in historical time. The films shows how modern history has made several major paradigmatic shifts, beginning with feudalism to mercantilism, then to a mix of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism, and finally to the modern capitalism, socialism, or communism of the late 20th century. These shifts may have reorganized the wealth and class systems of the previous generation, but still kept the divide of the basic historical divide of haves and the have-nots in place. During the feudal period, the 'haves' or those persons in power were the nobility and the have-nots were the serfs. During the Industrial Revolution the haves were bourgeois bankers and factory owners and the have-nots were laborers or the proletariat, and in colonially dominated regions of the world, the haves were generals and the have-nots were the general, native populaces.

One of the most valuable aspects of the video series is the way that colonialism and the slave trade are integrated into its discussion of the ways that common persons have been oppressed and have struggled for survival. The slave trade's trafficking of human beings, and later colonial exploitation, were two other ways in which capitalist wealth was created through oppression, besides the oppression of have-nots in the home country. Through inexpensive slave labor, the great economic empires of the cotton-growing American South and the sugar-cane growing in the Caribbean enabled poorer residents of the home country consumers to have inexpensive goods -- but also allowed the enforcers of these colonial tyrannies to amass far greater fortunes, based upon the sweat, toil, and tears of enslaved labor. Later, the lands of India, Africa, Latin America, and other regions of the world would all be turned into profitable enterprises for the Mother Country through colonialism. Colonialism is defined as a policy "by which a nation maintains or extends its control over foreign dependencies," usually an economically or military stronger nation over a weaker one, and frequently by a "transplanted" people of a different culture, from a nation far away. ("Colonialism, Answers.com, 2006)

The History Book" shows how through colonialism, natives were forced to buy goods from the home nation, and to create cheap consumer goods for the workers… [END OF PREVIEW]

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History Book Video.  (2006, May 22).  Retrieved December 8, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/history-book-video/7476903

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"History Book Video."  22 May 2006.  Web.  8 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/history-book-video/7476903>.

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"History Book Video."  Essaytown.com.  May 22, 2006.  Accessed December 8, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/history-book-video/7476903.