[OPE-L:5126] Re: Re: Re: Fwd: Re: productive labour

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Thu Mar 08 2001 - 17:19:43 EST

re 5125

>On Thu, 8 Mar 2001, Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:
>>  Paul C, why would military development at least in the short run
>>  come at the expense of modernizing the means of production if the
>>  imperial country can import skilled labor and capital at will?
>The country doing the military spending may be able to import skilled
>labour and capital "without let or hindrance", but they can't import
>these things _free of charge_.  Access to international trade doesn't
>alter the basic trade-off that Paul is talking about.
>Allin Cottrell.

But if the pool of the reserve army of skilled labor is sufficiently 
large on a global scale, then why must there be a tradeoff? If the 
imperial country imports foreign labor for its military projects, 
this need not raise the costs of skilled labor in the production of 
capital goods. Their wages may be held down by that same global 
reserve of skill labor which is hardly exhausted by the small 
additional demand from military spending.

Of course there may be some crowd out effect from the state's 
financing of military research and development, but this was not the 
mechanism to which Paul C was referring. Paul C seemed to suggest 
that there was fixed sum of skilled labor, such that any diversion to 
the military came at the expense of the commercial sector.  Of course 
that the US boom in the 1990s coincided with military spending 
dropping from 6 to 3% of GNP does suggest that Paul C may be correct 
that there is a basic trade off.

But if the state borrows money which would have remainded idle, it's 
not clear that militarization at least in the short term is coming at 
the expense of the modernization of the means of production. 
Moreover, if militarization leads to war, then the consumption and 
destruction of the means of production may create scope for the 
investments by which the means of production can be modernized. The 
state debt can later be repudiated, inflated away, or even paid off. 
However, the incurring thereof in the period of militarization need 
not have come at the expense of modernizing the means of production.

It's not clear to me that militarization has to be  bad economics all 
the time. If it were, the history of capitalism would have been more 


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Apr 02 2001 - 09:57:28 EDT