[OPE-L:5083] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: faux frais, armaments, and security guard services

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 22:43:48 EST

in 5082 Paul C writes:

>In my response I started by arguing that surplus value was  produced 
>by armaments industries  but that the nature of such production ( 
>following Howell) was such that whilst  it produced surplus value 
>it could not  produce the form of relative surplus value. Rakesh has 
>agreed to accept this point I think

  From the perspective of the individual (military) capitalist,  state 
orders are an occasion for rapid enrichment but from the standpoint 
of total capital, militarism is a sphere of unproductive consumption. 
Militarism  slows down accumulation for the reason you state.

>Of course, we both agree to the banal observation that the use 
>values produced cannot themselves be used in accumulation in the 
>future (eg Marx in the Grundrisse refers to  unproductive 
>expenditures of the Crimean War  , that war's impact is exactly the 
>same as if a nation were to drop a part of its capital into the 
>ocean etc), and clearly this is, in the end, a real loss of 
>reproductive capacity on the use value side.

Grossman argued that this was more complicated. Exactly because war 
enables the consumption (if not destruction) of the extant industrial 
apparatus, it can create scope for investments in which capital 
saving technological  innovation will be embodied (if there is an 
overhang of fixed capital, the formation of new capital can be 
blocked for the micro-economic reasons given by Makoto Itoh and 
Robert Brenner). If such investments are undertaken in the post war 
period, surplus value will then  be calculated on the basis of 
reduced constant capital and the profit rate and rate of accumulation 
thereby increased--there may be the added stimulus of enlarged 
valorization base vis a vis capital if population continues to rise 
despite war time losses.  War can clearly be good economics.

>To underline the view I elaborated here is a quote from Marx, 
>Grundrisse,  Penguin/Pelican/  p753
>'Ramsey and other economists correctly distinguish between whether 
>productivity grows in the branches of industry  which make fixed 
>capital, and naturally wages, or in other industries,[ and these 
>others include for us armaments PBl.) eg. luxury-goods industries. 
>The latter cannot diminish necessary labour time.'
>This is of course the production of relative surplus value. Marx 
>adds that such production can only lead to a reduction in  necessary 
>labour time by  exchanging for agricultural products from other 
>countries ... ie the same result as if productivity had been raised 
>in agriculture ay home. One can add, for any product that enters 
>into the historically constituted neds of the working class or means 
>of production thereof. This of course explains the desperate world 
>wide export of arms by producers who must try to escape the economic 
>obstacle that   such production places on offset  the tendency of 
>the rate of profit to Rakesh, I hope this helps.

I don't think arms are exported as a substitute mechanism for the 
increase of relative surplus value. Even the US' arm exports are less 
than $30bn a year, so I doubt very much arms can be much help in 
getting cheap food and reducing necessary labor time.

Best wishes, Rakesh

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