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New Seymour Melman work debuts in Vanderbilt journal, AmeriQuests publishes War, Inc., a critique of America’s permanent war economy

Apr. 30, 2008, 3:51 PM

A posthumous book by social critic Seymour Melman has been published by the Vanderbilt University online journal AmeriQuests.

War, Inc., is a concise overview of America’s shift to a “permanent war economy” after World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. Melman outlines the consequences of the shift – faltering American infrastructure, lost jobs and growing disparity between the superrich and everyone else.

“The many priorities given to the military have hastened the decline of America’s civilian economy and spread deindustrialization,” Melman writes. “And deindustrialization – by crippling economic power – has increased … reliance on military might. The classic proposition that you can’t have both guns and butter without limit is proving true.”

AmeriQuests is an academic e-journal based at Vanderbilt University and the official publication of the Center for the Americas at Vanderbilt. War, Inc. and other AmeriQuests content can be accessed for free at

Melman, a professor at Columbia University who died in 2004, was uniquely positioned with his background in engineering and economics for his role as a vocal dissenter to the last six decades of American foreign and domestic policy. In books including After Capitalism: From Managerialism to Workplace Democracy, Profits Without Production and The Permanent War Economy, Melman laid out his belief that it wasn’t too late to turn back the tide and create a new peace-centered economy.

Robert Barsky, founder and co-editor of AmeriQuests and professor of French and comparative literature at Vanderbilt, said that War, Inc., “should be discussed in every classroom in which current issues facing America are of concern.”

“We are forever hearing from teachers, politicians and policymakers at all levels that ‘utopian thinking’ is to be shunned,” Barsky said. “I disagree, because we really can do better; we can demand more and we can dream of a better future for ourselves and for our children.

“This book is utopian thinking at its very best, it seems to me, and we ought to be fighting for it rather than giving in to the non-choices of resource depletion and murder that have become the gold standards in our domestic and international legislation.”

Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS