Re: [OPE] "Parasitism"

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Sat Jan 24 2009 - 10:00:26 EST

> As has been noted on this list before, many - if not most - of the
> technological breakthroughs of the 20th Century which both resulted in
> new means of consumption and new productivity-increasing means of
> production were a consequence of state spending on the military. So, your
> claim that the military sector "impedes the growth of the real
> capital stock and of productivity" is - from a historical perspective -
> simply not correct.

I was aware of this when I wrote it. You have to distinguish between two
things: actual production of arms and military research in the arms
industry. Both live off the surplus labour of the basic sector and the
former clearly impedes capital accumulation.

The latter generates innovations that *may* find spin-off applications
that raise productivity indirectly. My point that it impedes
productivity growth can be illustrated in the following way: Suppose the
labour and resources used in the Manhattan Project was instead directly
targeted to, say, improving production technologies in the autoindustry,
or developing high-speed trains, or nuclear fusion power plants. The
person hours spent on refining weapons are the person hours not spent on
improving production directly.

As for the historical data, a comparative study would be needed. Japan
is a clear example of spectacular technological development with very
low military expenditure.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Sat Jan 24 10:13:00 2009

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