Amongst peace researchers Melman’s work looms large in this field of study yet in the preceding chapter it has received scarcely a mention. This is not so much by design as simply a reflection of the distinctive approach he has taken, in a series of books written over nearly thirty years, explaining the economic and social consequences of high levels of military spending. Melman himself does not use econometric techniques to test or help elaborate his theory of the ‘permanent war economy’ (though he does sometimes cite such work undertaken by others). His findings relate to the US economy in particular and, indeed, in his main work on the subject The Permanent War Economy: American Capitalism in Decline (1974) he stated that other major capitalist states do not follow the American pattern.1 However, as in an earlier book, Melman has more recently emphasised the applicability of his ideas to other industrialised countries, particularly the USSR and the UK.2 Unlike some of the hypotheses and theories adopted by peace researchers which have just been discussed, his theory cannot easily be refuted on empirical grounds. It has not been disproved because it cannot be tested. And it cannot be tested because Melman’s theory does not abstract economic relationships from their political context but, on the contrary, attempts to explain the multi-faceted and complex events of American post-war economic history in terms of a military economy dominated by politicians and institutions that believe in, and sustain, an ideology derived from the premise that war brings prosperity.
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- The Impact of High Military Expenditures (II)
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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