Accordingto Zinnand Loewen, history is not merely the study of the past, which justprovides information regarding what happened. History according tothem is the idea of providing linkage between what truly occurred inthe past and what exist in the present time. Unlike many otherhistorians, Zinn and Loewen argue that no difference because whatoccurred in the past is still happening today but in a different formand no forces are in place to prevent the continuation of what usedto happen. While stressing the idea, they state, “Slavery is not ahorror safely considered in the past it continues to existthroughout the world even in developed countries like France and theUnited States. Across the world slaves work and sweat and build andsuffer, Slaves in Pakistan …” (The New Slavery 3). This presentsthe idea that history is a continuous event equally found around allcorners of the world.
Also,Zinnand Loewen argue that the effects of the past keep on increasingrather than reducing as argued by most historians in the manner, theydefine history. In this case, history is not the study of the pastbut an inquiry that aims at understanding the present and predictingwhat and how the events will be in the future and the way they shapethe world and the lives of the people. For example, they state,“Slavery is a booming business and the number of slaves isincreasing. People get rich by using slaves. Moreover, when they havefinished with their slaves, they just throw these people away. Thisis the new slavery, which focuses on profits and cheap lives. It isnot about owning people in the traditional sense of the old slavery,but about controlling them completely. People become completelydisposable tools for making money” (The New Slavery 4). Therefore,this provides a new definition of slavery as it occurs in thecontemporary society, which is in opposition to the idea that slaverywas just evident in the past. Zinn and Loewen hold strongly thatslavery is still present in a new improved form.
Whyshould we study history?
Zinnand Loewen present the core objective for studying history as a meansof relating what happened in the past with what is going on currentlyand predicting what will occur in the future. In this case, historyis just a reflection of what we see and what we will do in thefuture. In explaining slavery, we see points that emphasize that themodern slavery is even much worse than the old one regarding themethod employed to continue enslaving people. “Slaves are now socheap that they have become cost-effective in many new kinds of work,completely changing how they are seen and used” (The New Slavery14). This reveals a clear comparison of the cost of having a slave inthe past and the current society and proves that slavery isincreasing and not disappearing. Therefore, the study of the waypeople owned and catered for slaves in the past enabled a comparisonin the manner slaveholders are currently catering for their slaves.The reduced cost of slavery proves the idea of increasing slavery inthe world and eliminates the myth that it is a forgotten idea thattook place in the past.
Also,Zinn and Loewen stress the idea that the study of history isimportant is revealing the truth concerning our history and the pathwe used in our transformation process. For example, the comparison inthe manner that traditional slavery occurred in the past and the waymodern slavery continues in the society serves to reveal the truthregarding what constitutes slavery and the way slavery hastransformed and the steps are taken to preserve it for economicgains. “We can no more expect there to be one kind of slavery thanwe can expect there to be one kind of marriage. People are inventiveand flexible, and the permutations of human violence and exploitationare infinite. The best we can do with slavery is to set down itsdimensions and then test any particular example against them” (TheNew Slavery 19). This reveals the idea that slavery as a historicalevent is continuous and people will always find new ways ofpracticing it rather than stop it, which reflects the real situationand shades the truth regarding the issue.
Comparisonof the past with the present helps to create a thorough understandingof the historical theme and provides answers to the numerouscontroversies regarding the issue. “One critical dimension isviolence – all types of slavery depend on violence, which holds theslaves in place … Another dimension is the length of enslavement….”(The New Slavery 19). This lays down the foundation for understandingslavery as it is and the way slaveholders continue to practice it inthe contemporary society to benefit economically. Therefore, thestudy of history is about revealing the truth and understanding wherewe currently stand and how we are transforming rather than just areport of the past.
Howthe Readings Differ from those in Class
Thereadings are more reflective and portray the issues in a morescientific way, which gives history the characteristics of science.The readings provoke reasoning and prepare a historian fordecision-making and reflecting history in real life situations. Thereadings also shade new light regarding the nature of history as adiscipline and make it a tool for shaping or revolutionizing criticalmatters that affect the society. “When most of the population has areasonable standard of living and some financial security … slaverycannot thrive. Slavery grows best in extreme poverty …” (The NewSlavery 31). This is a clear manifestation that Zinnand Loewen transform history into a tool for decision-making ratherthan a report of the past as mostly portrayed in class.
Inthe quote, W.E.B.DuBoismeans that much distortion occurs when reporting about some criticalissues that present our past evils, which denies us with theopportunity of understanding the truth. This leads to a wrongunderstanding of our history that weakens the ability to learn fromour past events as a means of correcting our present mistakes andpreventing such adverse effects in the future. Consequently, historyloses its value and influence wrong decisions that make us blindconcerning what we see in the society and the means we use to correcthistorical injustices. This leads to poor reflection and inability toreflect what we learn in class with what is happening in the realworld.