[OPE-L:5119] (un) productive labour, the state and technological change

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Thu Mar 08 2001 - 07:28:24 EST

Re Paul C's [OPE-L:5118]:
> If a nation maintains a large military establishment, a large part of
> its best engineers are involved not in the design and production
> of capital goods but in the production of machines which do
> not constitute capital. This slows down capital accumulation in
> those countries. The person hours spent on Trident submarines
> and aircraft carriers are hours not spent modernising the means of
> production.

Unproductive labor employed by the state *can*
promote capital accumulation within an individual
nation if that labor brings about revolutions in 
technological change for capitalists in that nation.
Indeed, it is an enduring myth to believe that the
only source of technological change are capitalists
and that the state merely represents a hindrance to
technological change. Consider such mid- to late
20th Century technological breakthroughs as radar, 
jets, satellites,  computers, GPS, and the Internet.
(Not to mention atomic energy and Tang!)

For the most part, these technological advances were
the result of research and development work done by
state employees employed by the DOD or NASA. In
time, the technologies were diffused in the private
sector because the state essentially gave these 
technologies gratis to domestic corporations. 

Yet, this by itself doesn't mean that the labor 
employed by the state on R&D etc. is productive
labor -- even though the "wealth of the nation"
may ultimately be increased as a result of such

In solidarity, Jerry

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