From many public sources we are being told that the current economic conditions constitute an “unprecedented” global economic recession. Economic commentators, financial experts, market consultants, public officials, and politicians are all predicting the direst gloom and doom. And of course the media are revelling in the sensationalism of it all. These public sources are the “crisis exaggerators”. What is unprecedented about the current global outcome of financial mismanagement and excess is the breathlessness with which the crisis exaggerators are trying to beat-up the possibility of global economic disaster.
Nothing catastrophic has or will happen, but the sideshow crystal-ball gazers are continually telling us that disaster lies just ahead. What could be their objective? Could it be that these crisis exaggerators are using the very fear they are generating to facilitate their hidden agenda of making “unprecedented” interventions into the global economy? Is this, one is led to wonder, just a rehearsal for the truly massive intervention that will be required for the forthcoming major programme of climate mitigation? What will the future hold in a world dominated by these new interventionists?
The purpose of this paper is to examine the interventionist intentions of these crisis exaggerators and to show how this constitutes a derailing of the traditional role of strategic leadership. That traditional role involves facilitating the requirements of the dynamic strategists through the provision of appropriate infrastructure that is beyond the financial resources and self-interest of individuals and corporations, the negotiation of political and economic deals with other societies, protection of the dynamic strategy at home and abroad, encouragement of the emergence of new strategies during recessions and depressions, and provision of basic facilities for education, training, and research needed to nourish the modern technological strategy.
It is an enabling role rather than the controlling, directing, and even coercive role advocated by the “new interventionists”. I will also show how these new interventionists relate to the neoliberal policy makers – the old global crisis makers who helped to create the current global economic problems.
Varying perceptions of leadership
Perceptions of economic leadership are usually thought of as forming a spectrum of approaches, with minimal intervention at one end and maximal intervention at the other. Unworkable ideas such as anarchy at one extreme and divine rule at the other can be dispensed with. At one end of the workable (at least in the short term) spectrum are the various conceptions of “neoliberalism” and at the other various conceptions of “socialism”. Social democrats like to think of themselves as holding the central position.
The neoliberal position is based on the desire of wealthy individuals and big business to minimise government interference in their determined pursuit of material prosperity. It is a position supported by neoclassical economics, which advocates freely operating markets and, hence, small government along the lines proposed by Adam Smith, Friedrich von Hayek, and, more recently, James Buchanan, Gordon Tulloch, and Mancur Olsen.
What is not clearly understood, however, is that recent governments advocating a neoliberal philosophy are neither non-interventionist nor even practitioners of small government. Indeed, all so-called neoliberal governments throughout the developed world are actually dangerously interventionist in practice.