[Marxism] Re: Marxist analysis of US/Israel offensives

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 27 15:46:31 MDT 2006

At 05:39 PM 7/27/2006, you wrote:
>What I was hoping for in this thread was a more materialistic
>explanation. Cui bono? if you see what I mean.
>Financial profits, return on investments (oil, military corps.,
>etc.), redistribution or reimportation of profits to the US. More
>mayhem, more money, more weakening of the global competition.
>Lou is correct that irrationality does the talking, but I keep
>wondering whether cold rationality hides behind a seemingly madness.
>Think about the analysis of Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan:

Actually, I was going to point to Bichler and Nitzan as an example of 
monocausal explanations. I had a series of exchanges with Nitzan on PEN-L. 
Here's my last post in that thread 

Jonathan Nitzan wrote:
 > Granted, we cannot PROVE that these facts were "the cause" of anything.
 > We can only imply a certain logic here.

Okay, let me conclude with a few observations. You seem to take Michal
Kalecki and Seymour Melman seriously, whom you describe in the following

"Toward the end of his life, during the 1960s, he closed the circle,
pointing to the way in which macroeconomic policy, primarily military
spending, could affect the economic and social structure. In his
articles 'The Fascism of Our Times' (1964) and 'Vietnam and U.S. Big
Business' (1967), Kalecki claimed that continued U.S. involvement in
Vietnam would increase the dichotomy between the 'old', largely civilian
industries located mainly on the East Coast, and the 'new' business
groups, primarily the arms producers of the West Coast. The rise in
military budgets, he predicted, would effect a redistribution of income
from the old to the new groups. The 'angry elements' within the U.S.
ruling class would be significantly strengthened, pushing for a more
aggressive foreign policy, and propagating further what Melman (1974)
would later call the 'permanent war economy'."

I'm sorry, comrades, but I myself can't take this sort of thing
seriously. There are no "angry elements" in the US ruling class. There
is no real dichotomy between "old" money and "new" money. There is no
point in writing about "cowboy capitalists" grouped around oil and arms.
Kirkpatrick Sale wrote a book long ago titled "Power shift: the rise of
the southern rim and its challenge to the Eastern establishment" that
tries to make the same kinds of points that you appear to be making
although his terminology is different.

Melman's notion of a "permanent war economy" is utter nonsense. There is
no such thing as "Pentagon Capitalism" as he puts it. The USA has an
enormous military not because of "military Keynsianism" but because it
is as Thomas Friedman puts it:

"The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden
fist­McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer
of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon
Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy
and Marine Corps."

In any case, whatever criticisms I have, I urge people to buy your book.
Although I am skeptical about your methodology, your empirical research
seems to be first-rate.

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