Tutor profile: Zachary M.
What do you like most about writing? What do you find most challenging, and how do you overcome those challenges?
On the positive side, I feel as if writing allows me to communicate at my best. Through writing, I can take the time to carefully lay out my thoughts, presenting them as creatively or as methodically as I want or need. When we write, we have the chance to tell the stories that fly around in our heads, to create or recreate entire worlds on the page or screen. On the negative side, I often struggle with perfectionism, or finding just the right words to achieve the goal I want. When this becomes too much of a barrier, I have learned to put my uncertainty or misgivings about real or perceived flaws aside, reminding myself that I can go back later to edit or that perfection shouldn't be the enemy of the good-or even great! My perfectionistic tendencies also encourage me to be more careful with my writing, however, and make me a much better editor of other people's writing.
Subject: World History
What are the causes of World War II?
Though often and over simplistically presented as a Manichean conflict of freedom and democracy versus fascism and tyranny, the Second World War was rooted in the same conflict that led to the death of millions some thirty years earlier: the rivalry between various capitalist empires and aspiring empires fighting to dominate the world system. The states that later became known as the Axis Powers, led by Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy, wanted to expand their economic, political, and military influence. When their actions did not come into conflict with the interests of countries like Britain, France, and the United States, these latter powers tolerated it. When those actions targeted mutual enemies of the ruling classes in both anti-democratic and "democratic" countries, the latter powers even aided and abetted them. Full-fledged world war broke out when the fascist powers began threatening the interests, and even survival, of their rivals. On another level, we can understand the war as a massive, global war between the political Left and the Right-or to put it another way, between the forces of revolution and counterrevolution, between those sectors of society that were ruled and those that ruled others. The existence of the Soviet Union, which represented an existential threat to some and an inspiring alternative to others, is an illustrative example. On yet another level, we can understand it as a collection of national liberation, anti-colonial wars, as people fought to free themselves from invaders and occupiers. Analyzing the war through these lens forces us to look beyond States and governments and to the masses of ordinary people. Many of the hundreds of millions who fought in the war or were directly impacted by it saw the conflict as a choice between freedom and oppression.
Subject: US History
What brought about the abolition of chattel slavery in the United States?
While the causes of abolition are complex, the most important factor was the agency and power of enslaved people themselves. During the U.S. Civil War, for example, Black slaves in the Confederate States effectively organized a massive general strike that devastated the Southern economy and therefore the power of the slaveholding class and its ability to wage war. This general strike took many forms, including work stoppages and slow-downs, sabotage, and fleeing the plantation or workshop to join the Union Army. Though the former slaveholders were able to reassert much of their power after the Reconstruction era, creating new forms of legal slavery with the cooperation or tolerance of Northern whites, Black slaves were able to shatter the old system of bondage on their own.