Monday, June 12, 2006


It's the military-industrial complex, stupid!

I feel that one of the benefits of a broad commitment to "the materialist conception of history" is that it prevents you from writing silly sentences like this:

Defense spending [in the US] got very high due to the plausible (though perhaps mistaken) view that it needed to be very high because of superpower rivalry with the Soviet Union.

Now, because that sentence's author, Matthew Yglesias, is not a silly person, I'm sure he would acknowledge, if he thought about it (and the great benefit of blogging is that there's no shame in not thinking about it), that that's a fairly silly (because so woefully, and significantly, inadequate) attempt at an explanation of the expansion of US military spending in the postwar era. Why this is so is hinted at in Yglesias's next two sentences:

When that threat receeded, spending got lower, but there was a lot of
political resistance to these cuts so they were modest in scope. Once the
deficit crunch alleviated, spending started going up again even though nobody had any particular antagonist in mind.

I'm tempted to ascribe some blame also to the lack of any strong socialist or Marxist tradition in the States, and the consequent colonisation by "liberals" of the space where there should be a "left", but I suspect that would be reading too much into it, since even Dwight Eisenhower could probably have put Mat straight. But I'll get on that particular hobby-horse at a later date.

UPDATE: Looking at this post again I'm a little concerned that its title may be a bit hackneyed. Is "it's the x, stupid!", like "x-gate" (as in affixing "-gate" to every new scandal), so terribly old as to provoke groans? Also, the use of exclamation marks always makes me somewhat uncomfortable, though I think it appropriate in this case.

Just saying.

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