By Conference of Socialist Economists
Read or Download Capital & Class. - 1983. - Issue 19 issue 19 PDF
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Extra resources for Capital & Class. - 1983. - Issue 19 issue 19
Whether that is so is a decision that we in the capitalist heartlands may eventually have to take . The orthodox answer of the Marxist tradition to the dilemma this poses- that armed force is a neutral instrument of the social forces that wield it - is glib . At the least, we ought to reckon on the very real social and political consequences that may flow from resort to organised armed force . A troublesome problem of definition obstructs the start of our enquiry . There is no consensus as to the meaning of the term `militarism' .
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 .
In feudalism, the use of force was diffused through the entire society . Force could be directly employed by feudal lords to extract surplus from their peasantry . Under capitalism, surplus is extracted by `economic' processes ; the policeman and the soldier are not normally found inside the factory . Coercion is thus at one remove from the process of production . It needs to be there - otherwise there can be no guarantee that the `economic' rules of the game will be adhered to - but it can be kept as a last resort .
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