Example Of Critical Analysis – Origins Of World War I Critical Thinking
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This video, Causes of World War I – Second Edition was produced by EAV, and has a very ‘educational school special’ feeling to it. One gets the impression it was made for social studies classes in order to examine the sociopolitical causes of the First World War in a comprehensive, attention-grabbing and short manner. This video would presumably be shown in classrooms in order to accompany units on the subject, making their intended audience middle school or high school students who would not know much about World War I beyond its basic facts.
The overall message of the video is of the prosperity and wealth of Europe before World War I, and how WWI broke out as a result of the need to maintain the resources for its colonialist and imperialist interests. The narrator refers to “The Golden Age of European Imperialism,” and points out the flaws inherent to imperialism – namely, that it took more and more resources and shows of force to maintain the lifestyle and economy that imperialism provided these European nations. Imperialism is staunchly criticized, with the major European powers being taken to task for relying too much on ‘colonial possessions’ which led to the competition and conflict that would bring about the First World War. Even Britain is implicated as contributing to these conditions, the British Empire being shown as the premier colonial presence in the world prior to World War One.
The interesting thing about this video is that, unlike most narratives that lay the blame squarely on the German’s feet, the video blames the overall rise of nations and their thirst for conquest and competition as the cause of World War I. I find myself agreeing with it more and more the more I watch it, particularly given the dangers of imperialism and colonialism – while the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the catalyst for the war’s beginning, the seeds of conflict and rampant military proliferation had long been in place – a powder keg waiting to explode.
The thing that interested me most in the entirety of the video was the use of still photographs and maps and diagrams to convey the information – this allowed the information being given to have a greater sense of accuracy and veracity, rather than seeing fictionalized elements. The maps themselves give a grander sense of scale to the various alliances and rates of colonialism in Africa, while paintings and propaganda posters also give an insight into the cultures that are being discussed. The presentation overall is fascinating, lending mood and telling a whole story without using a single moving image.
Apart from that, the main question I have is the overall agenda of the video, which seems to be a stark critique of capitalism and the forces that contribute to colonialism and imperialism I would love to have seen a greater sense of the effect of colonialism from Britain on countries like India and the African continent. In many ways, the blame is squarely laid on the developed world and industrialization for this gearing up for war; if not for each country’s need to compete with each other for resources and military might, perhaps World War One might not have occurred. This video in particular cements the true motivations of countries to go to war – wanting what the other person has, and doing whatever it can to get it.
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