[OPE-L:5379] Re:Luxuries in the New Solution

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Wed, 20 Aug 1997 05:47:08 -0700 (PDT)

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Anjit wrote
> Why do you think nuclear reactor is non-basic? Is it because arms
> production is non-basic? If nuclear reactors are used in the production
> electricity etc., which by any account is basic, then nuclear reactors
> would also be basic.

It depends upon the reactors. The first generation reactors
for plutonium production on the Hanford reservation in the US
and the Windscale site in the uk just dumped the energy produced
by uranium fission, into a river at Hanford, and into the air
at Windscale. As such they produced nothing but plutonium for
bombs. With the advent of the 'super' they were also used for
tritium production, and tritium is very definately non basic.

>However, if you are arguing that arms are non-basic
> (and I would agree with that) and that nuclear reactors etc. are only
> in arms production, then they would be considered non-basics. The second
> point is that, of course, the capital invested in non-basic goods
> production would earn profits; otherwise why would a private business
> invest in such sector. The point is that in a competitive long term
> situation all sectors must earn the same rate of profit basics and
> non-basics alike. Now, if there is a change in the production conditions
> non-basics, then allocation of labor would change between basics and
> non-basics; however, it is not clear at all why the general rate of
> be affected by this. I don't think that stock and flow has much to do
> the argument.

You have to be very careful here. The Sraffian analysis is basically
a flow analysis and one has to be careful about assuming that
its results apply to the stock case. The stock extension that
PS provides is a mapping of the stock problem to an augmented
flow model which is:
a. questionable in terms of realism, since it posits competitive
market prices for second hand capital goods
b. introduces the complication of generalised joint production
with all the indeterminacies that this allows
in the case of the armaments industry it is particularly
unrealistic to assume the existence of production prices for
partially used plutonium reactors or gaseous diffusion plants.

>The long term for the armament industry would certainly be
> much longer than say textile industry. The other point, I think, we need
> keep in my is that in the real world situation we are dealing with
> imperialism, where armament industry plays a role in maintaining an
> imperialist rate of return on capital invested world wide. But this, of
> course, is not the theoretical competitive case we are dealing with.

It may not be the theoretical competitive case, but the cold war
between socialism and capitalism and the armaments it entailed
had a major impact on the structure of economies for 50 years.
Weapons production has been a major component of the value