Whether it’s the USA, Britain or Europe we are suffering a lack of leadership and belief in the ability of the political elite to solve the world’s problems at a time when we face the greatest crises for eighty years. From David Cameron Prime Minister of Britain, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Angela Merkel the Chancellor of Germany, Silvio Berlusconi Prime Minister of Italy, Naoto Kan Prime Minister of Japan or Barack Obama President of the USA. None of them have the theoretical/intellectual or political will to tackle the crisis of global capitalism, their centre-right neo-liberal/neo-conservative ideological solutions have only either held at bay the general crisis or at worst increase the likelihood of the global economy going into a deep depression on a scale not seen since the great depression of the 1930’s.
The financial crisis of 2008 thanks to the leadership of Gordon Brown was prevented from turning into a total collapse of the world economy by adopting neo-Keynesian economic and political strategies. Now we face a possibility of a second global economic and financial crisis, but our leaders are following the political and economic policies that lead from the 1980’s to the crisis of 2008. President Barack Obama will probably be forced by the right-wing conservatives in the Republican Party to follow right-wing social and economic policies and make deep cuts in government spending and welfare rather than neo-Keynesian economic and political strategies that could kick start a recovery.
The current world leadership either have very little understanding of economics and the nature of the deep crisis in which the global economy is in, or they are complicit in making the people pay for the crisis caused by deregulation and privatization following the Reagan/Thatcher years in the 1980’s. Gordon Brown was himself party to the neo-liberal/neo-conservative ideology of new-labourism in the late 1990’s and early 21st century, calming that capitalism had reached a point in which the cycle of boom and bust had been abolished until the crash in the financial system of 2008. Thankfully he was able to abandon some of the neo-liberal consensus and adopt a neo-Keynesian approach and to carry the world leaders along with him or by now we would already have been plunged into the vortex of a great depression.
David Cameron and the Tory/Liberal coalition are ideologically tied to the neo-liberal/neo-conservative economic and political strategies of Thatcher and Reagan which go back to the pre-Keynesian theories revived in the 1970’s by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. The economic and political policies of John Maynard Keynes came to be known as welfare capitalism and produced the long boom after 1945 in which the working classes of Britain, Europe and Scandinavia and to a lesser degree the USA saw working conditions and living standards improve thanks to a strong labour movement, full employment and health and social security through government planning and management. This created a crisis of class power and by the mid 1970’s the capitalist class set about a strategy to reclaim its class power from the working class.
Across Europe and in Britain the traditional centre-left parties have abandoned social-democratic Keynesian economic and political ideology and accepted the neo-liberal/neoconservative ideology of Hayek and Friedman as followed by Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Barack Obama was elected by the American electorate as the centre-left Democrat, but may well now be forced to follow centre-right neo-liberal/neoconservative political and economic policies by the Republicans. In Britain the three main parties are all led by politicians of the centre-right from David Cameron, Nick Clegg to Ed Miliband, although Ed Miliband was elected by the labour movement as the least right-wing candidate.
David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi are all right-wing conservatives which puts Barack Obama in a minority as a representative of the centre-left and by British, European and Scandinavian politics he would still be seen as centre-right leader. If we accept that whilst the neo-liberal/neo-conservative political strategy may serve the interests of the capitalist elite it no way serves the interests of the majority of people living on this planet. There is a need for political leadership that represents the interests of workers and their families, if this role is no longer fulfilled by the centre-left social-democratic parties such as the Labour Party which parties and leaders will fill this political vacuum.