Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism

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Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism (2005) is a three-hour PBS documentary film (sometimes recut as a 3 episodes documental mini-series) hosted by Ben Wattenberg and narrated by Henry Strozier. The series' Executive Producer is Andrew Walworth. The series was produced for PBS by New River Media, Inc. (re-incorporated as Grace Creek Media, Inc. in 2008) and first broadcast as a special edition of the television series Think Tank in June 2005.

Heaven on Earth begins with the pronouncement: "This 3-hour documentary explores one of the most powerful political ideas in history. Socialism spread farther and faster than any religion. Then, in almost the blink of an eye, it all collapsed. What happened?"[1]

Synopsis[edit]

The documentary is broken up into three distinct hour-long sections:[2]

Hour 1: The Rise[edit]

This hour describes Robert Owen and early utopian socialism before discussing the development of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Attention turns Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution, the American labor movement, and finishes with an examination of Canadian socialism.

Hour 2: Revolutions[edit]

This hour focuses on revolutions in the 20th century, including the rise of Benito Mussolini and the spread of communism in China. Focus turns to democratic socialism in Great Britain, the Kibbutz movement in Israel, and socialism in Tanzania. The hour ends with discussion about perceived failure of many of these movements.

Hour 3: The Collapse[edit]

This hour focuses on showing setbacks in established socialist/communist states, specifically in showing how capitalism has gained favoritism as the economic philosophy of formerly socialist states. The documentary ends with a return to the Kibbutz and discussion about how market forces have transformed the community.

Companion book[edit]

Its companion book is Joshua Muravchik's 2003 book of the same name, which covers around the same material and follows pretty much the same structure (although it has a first chapter on Babeuf's Conspiracy of Equals, it adds George Meany to the Samuel Gompers chapter, the Kibbutz data are all in one conclusion, the Tanganyica/Tanzania chapter on Third World Socialism is not divided in two, just like the chapter on Mikhail Gorbachev is not, and the decay of the Labour Party and rise of Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s are just referred to in the beginning of the Tony Blair chapter).

Criticism[edit]

The book has been accused of factual errors and right-wing bias.[3] Some criticism of conservative bias comes because many of the people involved with production of the documentary are self-proclaimed neoconservatives and host Ben Wattenberg and author of the companion book Joshua Muravchik were scholars at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute.[4]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Official website
  2. ^ http://www.pbs.org/heavenonearth/synopsis.html
  3. ^ Schulman, Jason (Summer 2003). "Review: Heaven on Earth". Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture 2 (3). Retrieved October 2013. 
  4. ^ Johnson, Alan (Winter 2007). "The Neoconservative Persuasion and Foreign Policy: An Interview with Joshua Muravchik". Democratiya (11): 260–287. Retrieved October 2013.