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Yet what emerges from Kolko and Kolko's mammoth account of this history (1972) is that in actual practice those economic goals MILITARISM AND THEORY became totally enmeshed in attempts to reform, shore up or recreate an entire social system threatened by collapse and rebellion . In those attempts economic considerations had as often as not to be subordinated to political, ideological and military ones, and the lot given a quite spurious coherence as'anti-communism' . Indeed those who did try to submit policy to considerations of cost-effectiveness seem to have ended up as its opponents, even as isolationists .

Of course, since the mid '70s military spending in the United States has shifted to a sharply rising trend line - the Reagan Administration is currently trying to raise it by 8% per annum in real terms - though its NATO allies, with the partial exception of Britain, have avoided doing likewise . But whatever explanation one constructs for this - domestic political circumstances, the crisis, the changing world balance-it clearly involves factors outside the military production system . There is no plausible evidence that the military-industrial complex, on its own, has the capacity to achieve such dramatic shifts in state policy .

One important consequence of this is that direct attempts by firms to `convert' from military production to production for capitalist markets have often gone badly wrong . Gansler (1982 :49) writes that it can be `very difficult to convert engineering and manufacturing forces to the lower-cost practices of the commercial world' . Kaldor (1982a :42-49) describes in some detail the problems faced by Vickers in attempting to turn to civilian production during the periodic down-turns in twentieth-century British military spending .

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Capital & Class. - 1983. - Issue 19 issue 19 by Conference of Socialist Economists

by William

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