Guns and butter refers to a popular production possibility curve in macroeconomics.
The model presents the codependent relationship between the production of guns, symbolizing the overall military spending of an economy, and the production of butter, which stands for consumer goods.
With the “guns and butter” model, an increase in gun production comes with a decrease in the production of butter.
The term originates from the Wilson Administration, when William Jennings Brian resigned in 1915.
With the outbreak of The Great War, the question of increased military spending came into United States politics and the “guns and butter” model was conceived as an apt method of visualizing the question.
The “guns and butter” model has been often referenced during the dubious decades of the 20th century, with one of the biggest mentions coming from Joseph Goebbels in 1936, stating: “We can do without butter, but, despite all our love of peace, not without arms. One cannot shoot with butter, but with guns.”
It would appear in several songs, from The Prodigy, Gang of Four, Flatbush Zombies as well as A$AP Rocky.