II. The Revisionist Neo-Iiberal
The cause of business is poorly served when corporate spokespeople concentrate their fire on corporate critics but refuse to speak out against business people and business practices that are illegal or socially irresponsible. By refusing to take a public position against wrong-doing, they invite criticism against all business and convey the image of business as unresponsive to the public interest. Finally, no amount of advocacy advertising is likely to yield results if there is a large gap between the image business is trying to promote and what business is actually doing.
—S. Prakash Sethi
I introduced my discussion of the classical free-enterprise model by noting that it embodied two primary dimensions of political and social economy, one having to do with the role of government vis-a-vis business and the economy, the other concerning the relation between business (especially corporations because of their size) and the rest of society. In the classical model the first dimension is marked by the normative ideals of laissez-faire and free-markets that stem from the classical liberal political tradition; the second is characterized by prescriptions for exclusive profit maximization and moral disinterest. The competing neo-liberal ideology also can be represented clearly by delineating these two issues. But before doing so, a note is in order regarding the set of circumstances that is generally conceded to have prompted the revisionist views: recognition of the growing power of the corporation during the first half of the 20th century, and the resultant managerial revolution.