Economists as varied as Mises, Mills, and Keynes agree that even in times of economic growth and abundance there is still a need for the group to protect the freedom of the individual, provide some form of justice in relations among individuals, and limit government regulation. They differ greatly on what to do in times of economic decline and scarcity, when people are in a depressed-collapsed state, which they call a recession or depression. Some like Keynes suggest government intervention to increase demand, while others like Mises suggest individual freedom to increase supply. One focuses on a group response and the other on the self response.
Ecosynomics shows this depressed state as the experience of the inner circle of HV, where all five relationships are collapsed – the inability to see potential in the self, other, group, nature, and spirit. From this perspective, then the debate is about what to do to get out of the completely collapsed state.
Common sense suggests that to move back to healthy levels of relationship, one needs to strengthen all five relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit), not just one. To achieve a moderate level of health in all five relationships requires knowing the existing health of each of them. Any intervention that proceeds before knowing the existing health of each relationship is at best inefficient and more likely to damage the healthy relationships already there.
For example, if I find that in our group, the relationships to the other, group, nature, and spirit are healthy and only the relationship to the self is weak, then a clear focus on the self, the freedom of the individual is important, while maintaining the health of the other four relationships. Likewise, if I find that the relationship to the group is weak, while the other four are healthy, then strengthening the group relationship makes sense, while maintaining the others.
I suggest this as a lens for what these leading economists saw. In a culture where the relationship to the individual, other, nature, and spirit remain healthy in a recession, but the relationship to the group is weakened in the economic downturn, then a focus on group interventions might make sense. To be clear, this might make sense, in this specific setting, but would not be generalizable to other settings. Following this logic, if an economically recessed group found healthy relationships in the other, group, nature, and spirit, with a weaker relationship to the self, then focusing on individual freedom might make more sense. Again, contextual.
Rather than debate the generalizability to all situations of self-focused or group-focused interventions in times of economic recession, it might be more fruitful to explore what interventions can strengthen all five relationships and the economic agreements supporting them, depending on the existing health of each of the five relationships. As I have documented in previous posts, there are many examples around the globe of groups doing just that. Maybe what they are learning could inform this debate. After all, all of these economists agree that we want both healthy relationships and healthy resources.
 See chapter 24 of Keynes, John Maynard. (2009). The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. New York: Classic Books America. See p. 141 of Mill, John Stuart. (1984). On Liberty. New York: Penguin Books. See p. 88 of von Mises, Ludwig. (2006). The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science: An Essay on Method. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.