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Reflection Paper:
Commanding Heights: The Battle of Ideas

The battle of ideas as the title suggests is the dominant theme of the film. This is seen through
the lens of renowned economists with rival views and those who followed their conception. There
are several facts which I have observed in the film that I consider rather impressive. Most of them
are known eventualities, common knowledge among people, but what fascinates me are the
individuals behind them. For instance, during the Great Depression there was a staggering
decrease in economic activities worldwide. A catastrophic event with disastrous consequences
that varied from one country to another. What makes this fact interesting is the emergence of
ideas from several people on how to solve the difficulties of the circumstance. The ideas can be
considered revolutionary, although most of them are contradictory such as Hayek and Keynes
as well as the people who adhered to their beliefs and economic concepts. It is amazing how
these ideas, in more ways than one, created the foundations of economics as a field of study
which consequently influenced social mobility and paved the way for the development of
economic policies. Another fact which caught my attention is how Keynes and Hayek both had a
certain period where their ideas were the most influential over others and how rival views can
continually exist without dissolving another. Additionally, how one idea can produce extremely
desirable outcomes on a certain day and cause economic difficulties on another is also a reason
for wonder. Why can one idea be less sustainable in a day, or in a month, or in a year, or in a
decade? Is there any way to anticipate changes in society so that the idea may be considered
adaptable?
Furthermore, it is interesting how we humans create our own catastrophes. We start a war and
we suffer its aftereffect, yet sometimes instead of solving them, we end up sustaining them; either
by electing the people who we think can lift us out of our situation, or doing nothing ourselves.
Another fact which I recognized while watching the film is how every world leader has his/her
beliefs rooted from an idea of another thinker and struggles to sustain the economy based on this
thinkers idea. Eventually, this persons administration comes to an end and the next person to be
elected might or might not have ideas compatible to those administered by the other. As seen in
the documentary, this can cause complexities for both the state and the market because
incumbents have different ways of enforcing certain ideas in society. Lastly, it was evident in the
film how the economy is an important determinant of a countrys progress. When most of the
aspects affecting the economy are handled correctly, a country will be well off and its effects will
be felt in the future, yet when one of these features fail to reach the desired outcome, the entire
economy will fail and the nation along with it will suffer the consequences immediately.
The film makers did a good job in convincing the audience of the position it supports. They were
able to provide historical evidences and most of the information came from primary sources such
as direct interviews with relatives of the famous economists, biographers, and other experts of
the field. One downside is the projection of certain events as oppressive circumstances which
occurred during a certain persons administration, thus this idea is linked to the economist to
whom he/she was mostly influenced by. Margaret Thatcher once said I'll strive unceasingly to try
to fulfill the trust and confidence that the British people have placed in me and the things in which
I believe. She was greatly influenced by Hayek upon reading his book while she was in Oxford.
It was mentioned by the narrator in the film Thousands of bankruptcies and higher unemployment
followed. Many saw her as uncaring. Britain had rarely been so divided. This statement is
indicative of her failure to sustain the economy and this may be linked to Hayeks ideas.
Throughout the film, I did not find statements which seemed to be weak or misleading for the
reason that each of them were substantiated well enough to consider. Although some propositions
by people did have underlying personal motives, it still aided in the development of concepts and
arguments necessary for thorough understanding. Some of the cinematic techniques used to
appeal to the audiences emotions did play a role in convincing the viewers of the position
advocated by the film which I believe is the existence of conflicting ideas of famous economists
and how their ideas have influenced notable leaders throughout the decades which still drive our
economies today. Without stating facts or logical arguments, the film makers were able to deliver
their points through the projection of events which occurred at certain periods in several countries
driven by a noteworthy economists idea, under a someones administration. Being a part of the
audience, I consider the film thought provoking because they provided strong evidences to their
claims.
The documentary film did not change my mind regarding any aspect of the subject matter it
presents, but rather developed my comprehension of it. I was able to grasp the role of both the
state and the market and what happens when one dominates the other through the insights
provided by knowledgeable people. The information was also organized in a way that the claims
and statements are followed by eventualities and scenarios which support the stated assertions.

Reference:
Commanding Heights : Episode 1 | on PBS. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/minitext/tr_show01.html#3