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John Palmer

Arms Economy

(Autumn 1963)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.14, Autumn 1963, p.35.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Warfare State
Fred J. Cook
Jonathan Cape. 25s.

This book is an absolute must for all socialists who see the nexus between the spiralling arms race and the continued stability of world capitalism as being of prime importance. Although mostly concerned with simply describing the US arms mobster, which has consumed (directly and indirectly) trillions of dollars since the end of World War II, Mr Cook effectively describes the development of the ‘military top brass-big arms business’ junta. Even ex-President Eisenhower was moved to observe that ‘as a military-industrial complex they had a potential for disastrous use of misplaced power.’ It is clear though that Mr Cook does not see the arms system as the essential in-built stabiliser of the US economy, though he comes near to it at times when he tells how all important sections of US capitalism fight any reduction in arms expenditure. He also does not outline the new contradictions of the permanent war economy (a phrase first used by US Secretary for Defence Charles Wilson in 1945 when he called for ‘a continuing and growing programme of arms spending’). These include the technological changes from tanks to rockets, and from battleships and aircraft to missiles which have meant that in economic terms American capitalism is getting less and less return in terms of labour employment and industrial usage from the ever-increasing levels of capital consumed by arms, In turn this means the coincidence of arms-spending inflation, and growing levels of unemployment and economic stagnation. In the near future a socialist who sees the class content of the arms system will have to take up where Mr Cook left off.

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Last updated: 25 March 2010