Re: SV: [OPE] Studying unproductive labor: CEPR report

From: paul bullock (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2008 - 18:36:03 EST

This interchange seems to overlook the profound integration of state 
operational needs and the ongoing activities of multinationals. It really is 
quite an artificial  task to 'separate' business and government in the way 
you seem to be trying... after all what is 'state monopoly capitalism'? or 
do you really - substantively - believe that the state is currently separate 
from or ignorant of all the scientific advances of business?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Thursday, February 28, 2008 4:22 PM
Subject: Re: SV: [OPE] Studying unproductive labor: CEPR report

>I think that this is factually wrong.
> Whilst some early computers had government funding: Collosus at
> Bletchely Park devised
> for breaking th 'Fish' code and Zuse's Z3 developed for the Luftwaffe,
> these models
> were secret and had virtually no influence on comercially developed
> computers.
> The first working programable computer, the Manchester Mark 1 or 1948
> was developed
> by an academic group without military funding. The first comericially
> produced
> programmable computer Leo was developed by Lyons Teashops and derived from
> an academic design at Cambridge University.
> The best selling IBM computers of the 1950s the 700 series were an
> outgrowth of their business tabulator
> line, the 7000 series developed for the NSA had little commercial
> impact, though it is
> arguable that a couple of the top of the range 1960s machines produced
> by IBM used technologies
> protoyped on 'Stretch' a machine developed for the NSA.
> Disk drives, one of the crucial technologies for computers were developed
> by IBM at the behest of one of their insurance company customers.
> Manchester University as academic research exercise developed virtual 
> memory
> on the Atlas.
> The microprocessor was developed by Intel in response to the request of
> a Japanese
> desktop calculator company.
> Firms like Feranti and GEC in Britain developed microprocessors shortly
> afterwords
> but these, targeted at the defence market, with its special requirements 
> for
> radiation hardening, never made a significant impact on commercial
> development.
> The same goes for the DARPA project VHSIC in the 80s, it developed chips
> that
> were of some use in airforce radar, but which have had no general
> commercial carryover.
> The most rapid development today comes from the needs, ironically, of the
> home entertainment industry.
> It is at least arguable, that the sucesses of US and UK industry in
> mobilising
> for war in WWII rested on the prior development of consumer mass 
> production
> industries -- car production, radio production and television production.
> It is more often the skills developed for civilian use, that in time of
> war are converted
> to warlike purposes rather than the reverse.
> GERALD LEVY wrote:
>> > While military spinoffs can have a positive effect on productivity and
>> > output I think there can be little doubt that had the military budget
>> > been spent in civilian R&D instead the effects would have direct and
>> > greater.
>> Hi Dave Z:
>> At least insofar as we're talking about capitalist economies, there
>> is indeed room for doubt.  Most of the major technological advances
>> of the 2nd half of the 20th Century (including rockets, jets, satellites,
>> atomic power, computers, the Internet, radar, GPS, etc.)  were a
>> consequence of military spending. Indeed, to the extent that
>> government spending was key for the development of the computer
>> then it could be fairly claimed that every _other_ technology
>> developed since
>> which includes a microprocessor (and that means just about _all_
>> new technologies) was an indirect consequence of military spending.
>> Had that money been spent on civilian R&D then other technologies
>> would have indeed developed but there is no way of knowing whether
>> the effects would have been greater.
>> In solidarity, Jerry
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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