The Commanding Heights

In this thread, Muad’Dib recommended a documentary available on the web called The Commanding Heights. The title refers to the ‘Commanding Heights of the Economy’ - A term coined by Lenin when he tried to institute market reforms in the lower levels of the economy while reserving the ‘Commanding Heights’ for the state. Basically, the documentary covers the 20th century struggle to determine whether our economy should be ruled by markets or governments. The whole story is bookended by two eras of Globalization - the one immediately before WWI, and the current globalization era.

This may be the best documentary I’ve ever seen, and the best use of the web for learning I’ve ever seen. You can watch the entire show on the web at PBS’s site (yes, it was produced by PBS). As you watch the documentary online, links pop up as people or topics are discussed. You can click on the links and see deeper discussions while the main presentation pauses. Brilliant.

I highly recommend it to anyone interested in economics, globalization, and 20th century history. Or even those who are interested in the web as a learning resource.

I put this in Great Debates because I thought the show might make for an interesting debate after people have seen it. The show has a definite position, but gives a good airing to all sides of the debate.

That’s going to take a while to watch, but it’s really good so far. Just got through the first dozen chapters. I wonder why some pictures are ‘not available for internet’?

Great link Sam! I’m totally enjoying it so far.


I saw this show 2 or 3 years ago when it first was shown. I thought the first episode was the best. I’m not sure what the debate is here, but I’d recommed watching this for anyone interested in economics.

I’ll check it out… seems interesting.

Do check out “The Corporation” when it hits the USA.

It was actually required watching for part of a Finance test. Suprisingly the death of Keynesian economics made a better movie then all the stuff we had to read about it. I aced that section at least.

I don’t like those “neat” divisions of keynesian, monetarist… etc…etc…

Well, they are fairly accepted divions of the various schools of economic thought.

I would also recommend seeing this PBS documentary series - excellent overall view of how interconnected and interdependent the economies of the world are today. I especially liked how the events of 97-98 that had a ripple effect across the globe were detailed (I believe starting with the collapse of the baht in Thailand).

I also enjoyed gaining insight into how the oligarchs of Russia were able to easily amass such huge fortunes, and the issue raised on whether US influence in shaping the Russian economy after the fall of Communism was designed to further weaken Russia geo-politically or whether it was an unintended consequence in Russia’s attempt to transition towards free market capitalism.

Quoting Lenin as a force for argument is highly questionable, to say the least, for he was a profoundly evil man.
To compound the falseness, you post it seems because you saw a telly program. Oh dear!
Most telly is complete rubbish. I think you should smash yours to bits, or at least flog it for some tiny sum. Having said that, I keep meaning to get rid of mine, but hypocrisy is infinite!

Uh, sure.

You DO know that quoting someone does not mean you approve of them, right?

I take it you mean that you do not approve of Lenin. I apologise for offending you if you thought that I thought you thought well of Lenin. What I tried in above post was just a brainwashing attempt in saying that he was pure evil. No Lenin, no Hitler. Oops! My attempts at ‘discussions’ are just rants!

Lenin et al would love the power of the telly. It is the prime medium for ‘engineering of souls’. Not necessarily yours or mine, but beware!

Woody - You didn’t actually check the link or watch the documentary, did you?