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Week 14: The Cold War and Decolonization

Watch the Following Supplemental Videos

  1. Communists, Nationalists, and China’s Revolutions [Enter key starts video]
    In which John Green teaches you about China’s Revolutions. While the rest of the world was off having a couple of World Wars, China was busily uprooting the dynastic system that had ruled there for millennia. Most revolutions have some degree of tumult associated with them, but China’s 20th century revolutions were REALLY disruptive. In 1911 and 1912, Chinese nationalists brought 3000 years of dynastic rule to an end.China plunged into chaos as warlords staked out regions of the country for themselves.The nationalists and communists joined forces briefly to bring the nation back together under the Chinese Republic, and then they quickly split and started fighting the Chinese Civil War. The fight between nationalists and communists went on for decades, and was interrupted by an alliance to fight the invading Japanese during World War II. After the World War II ended, the Chinese Civil War was back on. Mao and the communists were ultimately victorious, and Chiang Kai-Shek ended up in Taiwan. And then it got weird. Mao spent years repeatedly trying to purify the Communist Party and build up the new People’s Republic of China with Rectifications, Anti Campaigns, Five Year Plans. the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. These had mixed results, to say the least. John will cover all this and more in this week’s Crash Course World History. Created by EcoGeek.
  2. World War II [Enter key starts video]
    In which John Green teaches you about World War II, aka The Great Patriotic War, aka The Big One. So how did this war happen? And what does it mean? We’ve all learned the facts about World War II many times over, thanks to repeated classroom coverage, the History channel, and your grandfather (or maybe great-grandfather) showing you that Nazi bayonet he used to keep in his sock drawer and telling you a bunch of age-inappropriate stories about his harrowing war experiences. So, why did the Axis powers think forceful expansion was a good idea? (they were hungry). So why did this thing shake out in favor of the Allies? HInt: it has to do with the fact that it was a world war.Germany and Japan made some pretty serious strategic errors, such as invading Russia and attacking the United States, and those errors meant that pretty much the whole world was against them. So, find out how this worldwide alliance came together to stop the Axis expansion. All this, plus Canada finally gets the respectful treatment it deserves. Oh, and a warning: there are a few graphic images in this episode. Sensitive viewers may want to use caution, especially around the 9:15 mark. Created by EcoGeek.
  3. USA vs USSR Fight! The Cold War [Enter key starts video]
    In which John Green teaches you about the Cold War, which was occasionally hot, but on average, it was cool. In the sense of its temperature. It was by no means cool, man.After World War II, there were basically two big geopolitical powers left to divide up the world. And divide they did. The United States and the Soviet Union divvied up Europe in the aftermath of the war, and then proceeded to spend the next 45 years fighting over the rest of the world. It was the great ideological struggle, with the US on the side of capitalism and profit, and the USSR pushing Communism, so-called. While both sides presented themselves as the good guy in this situation, the reality is that there are no good guys. Both parties to the Cold War engaged in forcible regime changes, built up vast nuclear arsenals, and basically got up to dirty tricks. If you had to pick a bad guy though, I would point out that the USSR had no intention of bringing Laika the Cosmonaut Dog home alive. That poor dog never had a shot. Created by EcoGeek.
  4. Decolonization and Nationalism Triumphant [Enter key starts video]
    In which John Green teaches you about the post-World War II breakup of most of the European empires. As you’ll remember from previous installments of Crash Course, Europeans spent several centuries sailing around the world creating empires, despite the fact that most of the places they conquered were perfectly happy to carry on alone.After World War II, most of these empires collapsed. This is the story of those collapses. In most places, the end of empire was not orderly, and violence often ensued. While India was a (sort of) shining example of non-violent change, in places like The Congo, Egypt, Rwanda, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, things didn’t go smoothly at all. John brings you all this, plus pictures of Sea Monkeys. Sadly, they don’t look anything like those awesome commercials in the comic books. Created by EcoGeek.
  5. Globalization I – The Upside [Enter key starts video]
    In which John Green teaches you about globalization, a subject so epic, so, um, global, it requires two videos. In this video, John follows the surprisingly complex path of t-shirt as it criss-crosses the world before coming to rest on your doorstep, and eventually in your dresser. (Unless you’re one of those people who never puts their laundry away and lives out of a laundry basket. If that’s the case, shame on you.) Anyway, the story of the t-shirt and its manufacture in far-flung places like China, Guatemala, and India is a microcosm of what’s going on in the global economy. Globalization is a bit of a mixed bag, and there have definitely been winners and losers along the way. In this episode John will talk about some of the benefits that have come along with it. Next week, he’ll get into some of the less-positive side effects of globalization. Created by EcoGeek.
  6. Globalization II – Good or Bad? [Enter key starts video]
    In which John asks whether globalization is a net positive for humanity. While the new global economy has created a lot of wealth, and lifted a lot of people out of poverty, it also has some effects that aren’t so hot. Wealth disparity, rising divorce rates, environmental damage, and new paths for the spread of disease. So does all this outweigh the economic benefits, the innovation, and the relative peace that come with interconnected economies? As usual, the answer is not simple. In this case, we’re living in the middle of the events we’re discussing, so it’s hard to know how it’s going to turn out. Created by EcoGeek.