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John Kenneth Galbraith on the Military–Industrial Complex

Adem Yavuz Elveren (American University in Bulgaria, Bulgaria)


The goal of this chapter is to reexamine the nature and structure of the military–industrial complex (MIC) through the works of John Kenneth Galbraith. MIC, or military power as he prefers, is a coalition of vested interests within the state and industry that promoted the military power in the name of “national security” for their interests. Galbraith’s theory of giant corporations helps us understand the role of military corporations in the MIC. Moreover, he is a critical scholar in examining this topic because he was a political insider in the Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations and a prominent public intellectual against the Vietnam War. Against this background, this chapter has three parts. After explaining the development of military Keynesianism with respect to the main economic thoughts, it examines the history of the MIC and its impact on economic priorities during and after the Cold War through Galbraith’s works. Finally, this chapter discusses MIC’s relevancy today and evaluates Galbraith’s prophecies.




I would like to thank Ric Holt for his help and James K. Galbraith for his invaluable comments.


Elveren, A.Y. (2024), "John Kenneth Galbraith on the Military–Industrial Complex", Fiorito, L., Scheall, S. and Suprinyak, C.E. (Ed.) Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology: Including a Symposium on John Kenneth Galbraith: Economic Structures and Policies for the Twenty-first Century (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 41C), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 73-92.



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