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Neotenic
748980.  Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:30 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Actually, I think the "obsession" with WWII is mainly down to it being the major factor in shaping our modern world.


I think that was true, yes - but it's becoming increasingly less so. The world post-1945 has been shaped by other significant developments subsequently. Like the opening up China to international trade, Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, numerous events across the middle east.

Oh, and the end of the British Empire. But I guess we don't really dwell on that one.

 
Efros
748988.  Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:20 pm Reply with quote

Why not we're equal opportunity dwellers here you know.

 
Sadurian Mike
749030.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:27 am Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:
I think that was true, yes - but it's becoming increasingly less so. The world post-1945 has been shaped by other significant developments subsequently. Like the opening up China to international trade, Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, numerous events across the middle east.

I don't see how you can claim that WWII shaped our modern world less now than before. None of those events you mentioned would have come about without WWII* - no Chinese Communist revolution, no Soviet Bloc, a very much different Israeli situation (if it had even been created in the first place).

Neotenic wrote:
Oh, and the end of the British Empire. But I guess we don't really dwell on that one.

That'll be accelerated by WWII again.


*Well okay, it is possible that history would have seen some parallels, but it was WWII that triggered them in this timeline.

 
AlmondFacialBar
749034.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:43 am Reply with quote

But then World War II was a direct result of World War I, which was a direct result of the Franco-Prussian War, which was a direct result of the Napoleonic Wars (funny how so much upheaval in European history has basically been about Germany and France bashing each other over the head) and so on and so forth. For all I can see, the world the way it looks right now, with both its advantages and threats, is a result of the fall of communism. The direct aftermath of World War II ended in 1989.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Sadurian Mike
749040.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:56 am Reply with quote

AlmondFacialBar wrote:
But then World War II was a direct result of World War I, which was a direct result of the Franco-Prussian War, which was a direct result of the Napoleonic Wars (funny how so much upheaval in European history has basically been about Germany and France bashing each other over the head) and so on and so forth.

Quite so, which is why "modern history" usually starts with the French Revolutionary period. WWII had a more immediate impact on our current world, however; the rise of the the two great superpowers, the present map of Europe, the final break-up of the British Empire (and indeed the empires of many other nations), nuclear weapons, computers, and so on and so forth.

From a TV producer's point of view it also has the advantage of being the first war to be filmed extensively at the front line and sometimes in colour (WWI saw filming of set pieces, but very little actual combat footage was taken).

AlmondFacialBar wrote:
For all I can see, the world the way it looks right now, with both its advantages and threats, is a result of the fall of communism. The direct aftermath of World War II ended in 1989.

Look deeper. How many in the USA are still suspicious of anything with a taint of communism? How many in the East and Middle East are opposed to "American Imperialism"? Have either a united Korea or Vietnam reverted to monarchies or empires? Is Japan still headed by a divine Emperor or is it under a US-drafted American Constitution?

WWII turned much of the world on its head and, whilst it is easy to take it for granted, the effects of the War are still very much with us. Although other changes have taken place, and took place beforehand, WWII saw many fundamental changes take place all at the same time, which is why it is still seen as such a pivotal event.

 
Neotenic
749061.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:54 am Reply with quote

I think I'm a bit dubious about the rise of communism in either Russia or China as being a direct result of WWII - and, as I say, the collapse or gradual dismantling of those regimes have shaped the world today just as much.

My point, though, is that the blanket coverage is focussed - as you yourself allude to - combat operations during the years of conflict. We hear about D-Day, we hear about the Battle of Britain, Dunkirk, Hiroshima, Pearl Harbour. We continually hear about how frightful the Nazis were and how wrong it is to want to wipe out an entire race of people. Lest we forget? I'm not convinced we really need reminding any more.

But we don't hear about Bretton Woods, and the subsequent creation of the World Bank and the IMF. Will there be a big deal about the sixty-fifth anniversary of the inception of the United Nations towards the end of this month? I doubt it.

By and large, we don't hear about the events of WWII in the context of how they shaped the world - it's rather more likely to be 'death or glory' type propaganda about battleground bravery. And tanks, bombs, square-jawed heroes and pantomime villains.

 
masterfroggy
749065.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:03 am Reply with quote

AlmondFacialBar wrote:
*YAWN* Can we leave the pope/ nazi thing already? The man is not and never has been a nazi, for FUCK's sake! It's getting boring! Membership of the Hitler Youth was compulsory at the time, I repeat, COMPULSORY! I have no vested interest in defending the man, but this is ridiculous! There are about six million good, valid reasons to bitch about the pope as an institution, and probably a couple of decent ones to bitch about Josef Ratzinger as the person currently holding that office (though, I suspect, not a lot, given that most of the things he says are simply him doing his job, hence go back to the pope as in institution), but the Hitler Youth membership is not one of them. Please, please use sharp weapons in that debate, not shite like that!

:-)

AlmondFacialBar


I'd google the name Father Rupert Berger if i was you, it might shed a bit of light

 
Sadurian Mike
749209.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:20 pm Reply with quote

That should teach me to save my posts before trying to Submit them. Two posts, one a long and detailed response to Neo's comments/questions, and the other a "oops my post has vanished", both vanished into the ether. If anyone finds them please send them on to me at Salford.

I'll try again if the Uni network calms down a bit, assuming anyone is interested, of course.

 
AlmondFacialBar
749211.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:24 pm Reply with quote

Of course! :-)

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Sadurian Mike
749218.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:06 pm Reply with quote

Okay, let's try again....

Neotenic wrote:
I think I'm a bit dubious about the rise of communism in either Russia or China as being a direct result of WWII - and, as I say, the collapse or gradual dismantling of those regimes have shaped the world today just as much.

I did say the Soviet Bloc rather than Russia, Russia was obviously Communist before WWII. However, the likes of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, etc, were not Communist before WWII and only became so as a direct result of Moscow's intervention. That intervention came about because Eastern Europe was given to Russia as her sphere of influence during and following the War. Without WWII Russia would not have had the free hand that she did to subvert the governments of the countries that became the USSR/Soviet Bloc.

Following the break up of the Soviet Bloc, Russia was still relatively far more powerful than she had been before the break-up. Her economy was better, she was technologically almost up to Western standards and beyond them in several areas, and her industry had been modernised. In other words, Russia post-USSR was not the same beast as Russia pre-USSR, even talking relatively.

China's civil war occurred because the Communists had grown more powerful during the war with Japan, and the Nationalists were no longer strong enough to contain them as they had been before the War. The War therefore allowed Mao and the Communists to move in to fill a power vacuum, just as happened in plenty of other Far Eastern countries. The spread of Communism in the Far East brought about both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as well as various other such struggles (such as Malaya).

Neotenic wrote:
My point, though, is that the blanket coverage is focussed - as you yourself allude to - combat operations during the years of conflict. We hear about D-Day, we hear about the Battle of Britain, Dunkirk, Hiroshima, Pearl Harbour. We continually hear about how frightful the Nazis were and how wrong it is to want to wipe out an entire race of people.

There is actually more research and written material concerning WWI than WWII (I only learned that this morning from one of my professors). The period 1890-1918 receives far more scholarly attention than 1939-45.

Neotenic wrote:
Lest we forget? I'm not convinced we really need reminding any more.

You and I know about WWII, but without teaching the history of WWII the next generations will not. The very fact that our own immediate relatives (parents and/or grandparents in the main - people we speak to) lived or fought in WWII makes it a more immediate focus than earlier conflicts. Contemporary History is usually defined as being within living memory of people able to relate their stories, so in twenty years time it is unlikely that WWII will fit the category any more and we will be talking about the Gulf Wars or whatever new conflict has occurred.

I do think that the Holocaust is something that we need to remember, however. The implications for an entire race and religion are too powerful just to throw aside.

Neotenic wrote:
By and large, we don't hear about the events of WWII in the context of how they shaped the world - it's rather more likely to be 'death or glory' type propaganda about battleground bravery. And tanks, bombs, square-jawed heroes and pantomime villains.

That probably has more to do with what you are watching or reading than what is available. If you watch an action film then you'll see caricatured depictions of warfare and violence. If you watch a programme about a specific battle of WWII then you'll see that battle (plus maybe a little supporting context).

You need to study the War as a whole to see the world-shaping results. The old "World At War" series was quite good for that as it had an episode about the War's aftermath. The other option is not to watch TV programmes that are the TV equivalent of the coffee-table book and to instead try reading something a little more scholarly.

 
Jenny
749267.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:15 pm Reply with quote

Article including an interview with Father Rupert Berger.

 
Neotenic
749338.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:10 am Reply with quote

Quote:
You need to study the War as a whole to see the world-shaping results. The old "World At War" series was quite good for that as it had an episode about the War's aftermath.


I think this sums up my point quite neatly. One episode on the aftermath of the war. One episode on the prelude to the war. Twenty four episodes on the war itself.

I'm not denying that there are scholarly works on the aftermath of the war and it's impact on the modern world - my point is more to do with what happens in the mainstream on a day-to-day basis.

Throw a rock at one of the History channels (not least the Military one), and you're as likely to hit a documentary about 39-45 combat as you are about pretty much every other period in history combined.

Need to find a handy dictator for some spurious and asinine comparison? People are way more likely to go for Hitler, even if more people died at the hands of Mao's regime than the Nazis.

Of course I'm not saying that the war is something we should Never Speak Of Again, just that I think it continues to punch above it's weight in terms of how much attention is devoted to that period in the mainstream media, and the amount of time we devote to picking over that particular time frame should be dialled down, and replaced with more relevant things.

 
Sadurian Mike
749342.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:27 am Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:
Quote:
You need to study the War as a whole to see the world-shaping results. The old "World At War" series was quite good for that as it had an episode about the War's aftermath.


I think this sums up my point quite neatly.

Hardly. The point of the series was to show the world at war (hence the title) and it naturally followed the course of the war from the early grumblings and diplomatic cock-ups through to the peace and rebuilding. It would have been rather daft to have a series called "World At War" which didn't show the war. What it most certainly didn't do, however, was portray the war in the grotesque cartoon-like style that you suggested. I would urge you to watch the episode dealing with the discovery of the death camps and see if that fits your descriptor of glamorising the war and its effect.

Neotenic wrote:
I'm not denying that there are scholarly works on the aftermath of the war and it's impact on the modern world - my point is more to do with what happens in the mainstream on a day-to-day basis.

Throw a rock at one of the History channels (not least the Military one), and you're as likely to hit a documentary about 39-45 combat as you are about pretty much every other period in history combined.

If you go to a magazine stand you'll find more magazines aimed at women than at men. Does this mean that we need to alter things or does
it just mean that the publishers know their main target audience and the rest of us need not read them?

I repeat my point that WWII is popular with TV producers because it is TV-friendly, far more so than any other major conflict (even Vietnam, because Vietnam involved only a handful of countries and was not as globally significant). That does not mean that we need to stop teaching and talking about WWII, it means that we need to be able to decide which sources we want to watch or read, and which to avoid.

I have no interest in trawlers or deep-sea fishing so I avoid those programmes. I also avoid Top Gear (which always seems to be on, or around the corner, on Dave). I do not, however, claim that we need to stop talking about fast cars and deep-sea fishing.

Neotenic wrote:
[Need to find a handy dictator for some spurious and asinine comparison? People are way more likely to go for Hitler, even if more people died at the hands of Mao's regime than the Nazis.

Again, Hitler's war (I use the term loosely) fundamentally affected the whole world whereas Mao didn't. The Communist revolution in China did not lead to any technological advances, it didn't see new states created (aside from Taiwan), and it didn't lead to the creation of new organs of statesmanship (NATO, WarPac, UN, etc). It was certainly a significant event, but was eclipsed by WWII. Therefore, its personalties are also eclipsed by the main protagonists of WWII.

Neotenic wrote:
[Of course I'm not saying that the war is something we should Never Speak Of Again, just that I think it continues to punch above it's weight in terms of how much attention is devoted to that period in the mainstream media, and the amount of time we devote to picking over that particular time frame should be dialled down, and replaced with more relevant things.

Again, it is Contemporary History, something that directly affected the lives of those within living memory. As time plods on its significance and interest in it will fade, just as happened after the Napoleonic Wars and WWI.

Trying to accelerate that diminishment, however, is probably doomed to failure and rightly so (in my opinion, of course).

 
Neotenic
749388.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:53 am Reply with quote

Quote:
That does not mean that we need to stop teaching and talking about WWII, it means that we need to be able to decide which sources we want to watch or read, and which to avoid.


For the record, I have seen WaW, and I agree that it is a cracking documentary series.

Again, I've never said we need to stop teaching or talking about it. If we could maybe stop obsessing over it, that would be nice, though.

But, as it was probably the last time we were quite so clearly and demonstrably right, and so clearly and demonstrably won, I suspect that's not going to happen any time soon.

Quote:
Again, Hitler's war (I use the term loosely) fundamentally affected the whole world whereas Mao didn't.


I think this shows why more documentaries on China, and fewer on Panzer tank attacks are probably required.

I agree with AFB - the War set up the world as it was until the late eighties/early nineties. But the break-up of that particular world order, especially with the Fall Of The Wall, reunification, the collapse of the USSR, the emergence of Japan as a powerhouse economy and the way China is still slowly tippy-toing towards a free market - while still setting itself up simultaneously as the single biggest creditor of the largest free market have rather more bearing on how things are today than, say, Rommel charging about in the desert.

I guess WWII does represent some kind of watershed moment, because from then onwards, the great leaps forward (to appropriate a phrase) in international relations - especially between the dominant powers - have been acheived through diplomacy and economics.

This, I think, is probably good news for humanity as a whole, but rather less good news for the makers of whizz-bang documentaries.

 
Sadurian Mike
749503.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:19 pm Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:
But, as it was probably the last time we were quite so clearly and demonstrably right, and so clearly and demonstrably won, I suspect that's not going to happen any time soon.

Falklands? Malaya? Borneo?

All had Britain in the moral high ground and all were clear victories. None, however, was a world-changing as WWII.

Neotenic wrote:
Quote:
Again, Hitler's war (I use the term loosely) fundamentally affected the whole world whereas Mao didn't.


I think this shows why more documentaries on China, and fewer on Panzer tank attacks are probably required.

I don't follow your logic there at all.

WWII was more significant than the Chinese Revolution because it fundamentally changed the world far more than the Communists winning their civil war. This fact alone almost certainly accounts for their being more documentaries about WWII than the Revolution.

I don't see how you can retroactively make the Chinese Revolution to be the direct cause of new global organisations, destroy ways of life on a global scale, lead to new technological developments, change the industrial and economic power of a country half-way around the world, or promote a nation to the position of superpower, all through making new documentaries about it.

 

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