Davos 23: going pear-shaped

This week, the jamboree of the rich global elite of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has started again after the COVID interregnum.  Top political and business leaders have flown in on their private jets to discuss climate change and global warming, as well as the impending global economic slump, the cost of living crisis and the Ukraine war.

Their mood is apparently downbeat.  Two-thirds of chief economists surveyed by WEF believe there is likely to be a global recession in 2023, with nearly one in five saying it is extremely likely to occur. Corporate leaders are also anxious, with 73% of CEOs around the world reckoning that global economic growth will decline over the next 12-months. That’s the most pessimistic outlook since the WEF survey was first done 12 years ago.

Just before the start of the Forum in the snow of the exclusive ski resort of Davos, Switzerland, the WEF published its Global Risk Report.  It makes shocking reading on the state of global capitalism in the 2020s.

The report says that: “the next decade will be characterized by environmental and societal crises, driven by underlying geopolitical and economic trends.”  The cost-of-living crisis is ranked as the most severe global risk over the next two years, peaking in the short term. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse is viewed as one of the fastest deteriorating global risks over the next decade and all six environmental risks feature in the top ten risks over the next ten years. 

The report goes on: “Continued supply-driven inflation could lead to stagflation, the socioeconomic consequences of which could be severe, given an unprecedented interaction with historically high levels of public debt. Global economic fragmentation, geopolitical tensions and rockier restructuring could contribute to widespread debt distress in the next 10 years.”  It notes that “technology will exacerbate inequalities; while climate mitigation and climate adaptation efforts are set up for a risky trade-off, as nature collapses.  And “food, fuel and cost crises exacerbate societal vulnerability while declining investments in human development erode future resilience.”  Apparently, the risk of a ‘polycrisis’ has accelerated.

What do the organisers of the WEF and its participants plan to do about this ‘polycrisis’?  Well, the WEF starts from the assumption that capitalism must survive, but the best way to achieve this is by ‘shaping’ capitalism into something “inclusive of all.”  Klaus Schwab, the co-founder of the WEF likes to call it ‘stakeholder capitalism’.

Schwab explains: “Generally speaking, we have three models to choose from. The first is “shareholder capitalism,” embraced by most Western corporations, which holds that a corporation’s primary goal should be to maximize its profits. The second model is “state capitalism,” which entrusts the government with setting the direction of the economy, and has risen to prominence in many emerging markets, not least China. But, compared to these two options, the third has the most to recommend it. “Stakeholder capitalism,” a model I first proposed a half-century ago, positions private corporations as trustees of society and is clearly the best response to today’s social and environmental challenges.”

The big corporations should be the ‘trustees of society’ and the main force in solving “today’s social and environmental challenges”.  But we need to replace ‘shareholder capitalism’ where “the single-minded focus is on profits so that capitalism becomes increasingly disconnected from the real economy”. According to Schwab, “this form of capitalism is no longer sustainable.”  In contrast, the big corporations, in conjunction with governments and multi-lateral organisations, can develop ‘stakeholder capitalism’ instead, which, according to Schwab, can “bring the world closer to achieving shared goals”.

Every year Oxfam releases its annual report on inequality to coincide with the WEF meeting, in order to expose the hypocrisy of ‘stakeholder capitalism’. This year’s report told the story of increased inequality of wealth and incomes since the pandemic.  “Over the past two years, the world’s super-rich 1 per cent have gained nearly twice as much wealth as the remaining 99 per cent combined”, Oxfam said.

While there are nearly 8 billion people in the world, just over 3,000 are billionaires as of November 2022. This tiny group of people is worth nearly $11.8 trillion – equivalent to about 11.8% of global GDP.  Meanwhile, at least 1.7 billion workers live in countries where inflation is outpacing their wage growth, even as billionaire fortunes are rising by $2.7 billion (€2.5 billion) a day. 

The annual global wealth report from Credit Suisse is the most comprehensive analysis of global personal wealth and its distribution.  The 2022 report revealed that by the end of 2021, total global wealth had reached $463.6 trillion, or more than 4.5 times world annual output.  Global wealth rose 9.8% in 2021, far above the average annual 6.6% recorded since the beginning of the century. If you exclude the movement of currencies, aggregate global wealth grew by 12.7%, making it the fastest annual rate ever recorded. 

This rocketing rise was down to two factors: sharply rising property prices and a credit-fueled stock market boom.  So nearly all of this wealth increase went to the richest in the world.  Indeed, in 2020, 1% of all adults (56m) in the world owned 45.8% of all personal wealth in the world; while 2.9bn owned just 1.3%. In 2021, that inequality worsened. In 2021, that the top 1% now owned 47.8% of all personal wealth while 2.8bn owned just 1.1%!  And the top 13% own 86% of all wealth.

The Oxfam report points out that for every $1 raised in tax, only four cents come from taxes on wealth. The failure to tax wealth is most pronounced in low- and middle-income countries, where inequality is highest. Two-thirds of countries do not have any form of inheritance tax on wealth and assets passed to direct descendants. Half of the world’s billionaires now live in countries with no such tax, meaning $5 trillion will be passed on tax-free to the next generation, a sum greater than the GDP of Africa.

Top rates of tax on income have become lower and less progressive, with the average tax rate on the richest falling from 58% in 1980 to 42% more recently in OECD countries. Across 100 countries, the average rate is even lower, at 31%. Rates of tax on capital gains – in most countries the most important source of income for the top 1% – are only 18% on average across more than 100 countries. Only three countries tax income from capital more than income from work.  

Many of the richest men on the planet today get away with paying hardly any tax. For example, one of the richest men in history, Elon Musk, has been shown to pay a ‘true tax rate’ of 3.2%, while another of the richest billionaires, Jeff Bezos, pays less than 1%.

Oxfam’s policy answer is to tax the rich.  Oxfam calls for a tax of up to 5% on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires that could raise $1.7 trillion a year “enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty and fund a global plan to end hunger.  “The eventual aim should be to go further, and to abolish billionaires altogether, as part of a fairer, more rational distribution of the world’s wealth.”

The question that will be naturally asked is how realistic is it to expect that governments that support ‘stakeholder capitalism’ are likely to introduce higher taxes on wealth and income, let alone abolish all billionaires through taxation?  That is going to require mass struggle to bring governments of working people to power to work in coordination globally. In which case, why stop at taxing the rich but instead aim to end capitalism altogether.

It’s same story with climate change.  COP 27 and COP 15 were complete ‘cop-outs’ in trying to meet even the Paris COP target of limiting global average temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Last year was the fifth warmest on record, with the average global temperature almost 1.2C above pre-industrial levels, according to the EU’s earth observation programme.

The year was marked by 12 months of climate extremes, with Europe registering its hottest summer on record despite the presence for the third year in a row of the La Niña phenomenon that has a cooling effect, Copernicus Climate Change Service found in its annual round-up of the earth’s climate.  At the same time, US greenhouse gas emissions rose again in 2022, putting the country further behind its targets under the Paris climate agreement despite the passage of sweeping clean energy legislation last year.

Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement increased by 1.0% in 2022, hitting a new record high of 36.6bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2). Emissions “are approximately constant since 2015” due to a modest decline in land-use emissions balancing out modest increases in fossil CO2. But remember, stable emission levels are not enough to stop the world continuing to heat up beyond official target limits. A 50% reduction in emissions by the end of this decade and zero emissions by the end of the century are needed at the very least.

Instead, US emissions increased by 1.3 per cent last year, according to preliminary estimates by environmental consultancy Rhodium Group, led by sharp increases from the country’s buildings, industry and transport. “With the slight increase in emissions in 2022, the US continues to fall behind in its efforts to meet its target set under the Paris Agreement of reducing GHG emissions 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030,” the authors said. Last year, US emissions were just 15.5 per cent below 2005 levels. 

But don’t worry, the US spokesman on climate, John Kerry, was at Davos this week to complain about slow progress.  And former Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, now the organizer among international banks of a climate financing fund, was also there to complain about slow progress.  I am sure that will lead to action.

And then there is the state of the world economy itself.  Just before Davos, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva warned that a third of the global economy would be hit by recession this year. The IMF reckons that global real GDP growth will be just 2.7% in 2023.  That is officially not a recession in 2023 – “but it will feel like one”.   And the IMF is set to lower its forecasts again at the end of this month.  “Risks to the outlook remain unusually large and to the downside,”. 

And the IMF’s forecast is the most optimistic. The OECD reckons global growth will slow to 2.2% next year.  “The global economy is facing significant challenges. Growth has lost momentum, high inflation has broadened out across countries and products, and is proving persistent. Risks are skewed to the downside.”  Then UNCTAD, in its latest Trade and Development report, also projects that world economic growth will drop to 2.2% in 2023. “The global slowdown would leave real GDP still below its pre-pandemic trend, costing the world more than $17 trillion – close to 20% of the world’s income.”

The World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report is even more pessimistic.  The WB reckons that global growth will slow to its third-weakest pace in nearly three decades, overshadowed only by the 2009 and 2020 global recessions. It will be a sharp, long-lasting slowdown, with global growth declining to 1.7% in 2023, with the deterioration broad-based: in virtually all regions of the world, per-capita income growth will be slower than it was during the decade before COVID-19.  And that was the decade of what I call the Long Depression.  By the end of 2024, GDP levels in developing economies will be about 6% below the level expected on the eve of the pandemic.

Then there are the growing geopolitical tensions. – not just the Russia-Ukraine conflict but the increasing ‘fragmentation’ of the world economy.  The US hegemony, built round ‘globalisation’ and the Great Moderation of the 1980s up to the 2000s, is over. 

Georgieva is particularly worried.  In her pre-Davos message, she groaned: “we are facing the specter of a new Cold War that could see the world fragment into rival economic blocs”.  The gains of globalisation could be “squandered”.   But it’s another myth that ‘globalisation’ benefited the majority.  Georgieva says that “since the end of the Cold War, the size of the global economy roughly tripled, and nearly 1.5 billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty.”   But what improvement in global output and living standards that has been achieved has been confined mainly to China and East Asia.  World economic growth has slowed since the 1990s and poverty has not been reduced for some 4bn on the planet, while inequality has risen (as revealed above). 

Georgieva wants to reverse the surge in new trade restrictions which is “a dangerous slippery slope towards runaway geoeconomic fragmentation”.  She reckons that the longer-term cost of trade fragmentation alone could range from 0.2 percent of global output in a ‘limited fragmentation’ scenario to almost 7 percent in a ‘severe scenario’ —roughly equivalent to the combined annual output of Germany and Japan. If technological decoupling is added to the mix, some countries could see losses of up to 12 percent of GDP.  Globalisation increased inequalities and and did not deliver on reducing poverty; fragmentation is likely to intensify those outcomes.

What is Georgieva’s answer to all this? First, strengthen the international trade system. Second, help vulnerable countries deal with debt. Third, step up climate action.  She summed up: The discussions in Davos will be a hopeful sign that we can move in the right direction and foster economic integration that brings peace and prosperity to all.”  Some hope. Davos wants to ‘shape’ capitalism, but instead it’s going pear-shaped.

48 thoughts on “Davos 23: going pear-shaped

  1. “Oxfam’s policy answer is to tax the rich. Oxfam calls for a tax of up to 5% on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires that could raise $1.7 trillion a year “enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty and fund a global plan to end hunger. “The eventual aim should be to go further, and to abolish billionaires altogether, as part of a fairer, more rational distribution of the world’s wealth.””

    The problem here is that Neoclassical Economics – the dominant form of Economics of the present day – states that the free market is either the only perfectly rational system of distribution of resources or, at least, the most rational possible. The billionaires are the most perfect personification of modern-day free market. Oxfam, as an institution of the “Mainstream”, is contradicting its own principles with that statement.

    –//–

    “The IMF reckons that global real GDP growth will be just 2.7% in 2023. That is officially not a recession in 2023 – “but it will feel like one”.”

    Good to know Ms. Georgieva has finally publicly admitted the IMF’s methodology is useless.

    –//–

    “Georgieva is particularly worried. In her pre-Davos message, she groaned: “we are facing the specter of a new Cold War that could see the world fragment into rival economic blocs”.”

    This process is what the Americans call “Neofeudalism”.

    Ironic part is that the process of neofeudalization started by the USA’s own initiative, not on some alien factor. It is trying to, through economic sanctions, stop the development of productive forces in the socialist part of the world and its satellites, that is, China and friends. We’re going from a world of globalization to a world divided by what the American military calls “spheres of influence”.

    In my opinion, if the USA still wants to call itself a universal empire, it will need to keep the Pacific Ocean as its private lake. If China manages to draw the Western Pacific to the “sphere of influence” of Eurasia, it would “close” SE Asia to the Americans. Only the outposts of Japan, South Korea and Australia would be left. If it loses Latin America, it won’t be able to call itself an empire in any sense of the word.

    1. stop the development of productive forces in the socialist part of the world and its satellites, that is, China and friends.” Seriously? Well, the genocidal Kissinger’s favourite Chinese friend, the Harvard Business ”trained” Vice=Premier,Lui He, is also at Davos, where he has declared: We must let the market play the fundamental role. the planned economy. That is by no means possible.” But markets do nothing; people do, and capitalist companies plan. So beneath the ideological posturing he is saying in China the market i.e. capitalism will prevail and not the planned economy i.e.socialism. Then all these millionaire can get even richer.Maybe like Deng Hsiao Ping’s granddaughter they could charge about Peking in a red convertible Rolls-Royce!

      1. You raise a very interesting and important question, which is related to Michael Roberts and Guglielmo Carchedi’s newest book: is the Chinese elite (i.e. the CPC as a whole, as a superstructure) an anti-communist double agent or, at least, a farce?

        In my opinion, it is not. As was not the elite of the CPSU (i.e. the members of the Politburo).

        The first important factor that must be highlighted is that, although the members of the politburo of the CPC do live better, do have some perks, and that their respective families do benefit from that, their position and benefits are not hereditary: they live and die by their fathers’ status as current members of the politburo. That was also the case with the CPSU: we don’t see Stalins, Krushchevs, Brezhnevs or Gorbachevs as the main oligarchic families of the Russian Federation; most of the Russian oligarchs came from the middle managerial class, i.e. they were middle managers in the USSR.

        Yes, in theory, some son or daughter of some member of the CPC politburo may use the temporary opportunity to perpetuate their material comfort by becoming capitalists themselves. But, even if that happens, that would be a factor outside the metabolism of the CPC, a byproduct of Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening Up, not of Marxism-Leninism. This was also true in the USSR up to its very end.

        Another important factor we must observe is that families rarely (or never? We have to check it up) perpetuate themselves in the politburo: if the so-called “bureaucrats” really composed a distinct dominant class in China, we should be observing the same families having a tendency to elect most of the members of each new politburo. That’s definitely not the case, and was also definitely not the case in the CPSU – on the contrary: Gorbachev had an impeccable communist resume when he became General Secretary of the CPSU, as he rose from the very bottom of the Party gradually up to the very top. Xi Jinping was a son of a minor militant of the CPC that was on the losing side of the Cultural Revolution and he himself was banished to the countryside as a result of the conflict.

        Whatever the case, the facts on the field are undeniable: the CPC is, essentially, a meritocratic party that is connected directly to the people. Everybody can be, potentially, a member of the CPC. As members of the CPC, everybody can be, potentially, the General Secretary of the Party. Elections to the CPC and the local governments happen regularly and consistently at all levels of China’s public administration. Indeed, statistically, it is easier for a family to perpetuate in power in the USA (see the Bushes and the Clintons just for the most recent examples) than in China. There is also no evidence the families of the former general secretaries of the CPC struggle for power, let alone the monopoly of power, in the party; or that the CPC and the Chinese people in general have a tendency to like dynasties.

        So, in my opinion, there is no evidence for the Trotskyite hypothesis that Marxist-Leninist socialist countries developed a dominant class based on bureaucracy. If there is a bureaucratic class that exerts disproportional power, it is no more powerful and influential than in the advanced capitalist countries (which are the closest thing to a control group we have). Theoretically, it doesn’t pass the most basic Marxist principles of societal formations, the main one being that every dominant class must have a correspondent dominance in the material base – which is the material base of domination of this hypothetical bureaucrat class? How can a class dominate only with the power of the paper and pen?

      2. “So, in my opinion, there is no evidence for the Trotskyite hypothesis that Marxist-Leninist socialist countries developed a dominant class based on bureaucracy. ”

        That’s not a Trotskyist thesis. Trotsky and his adherents argue that the bureaucracy is not a class with a unique property relation that organizes the means of production. Rather the bureaucracy is the reaction due to the isolation of the revolution, and the previous undevelopment of capitalist production relations in both city and countryside. Trotsky and the “ists” emphasize that the “property relation” established by the proletarian revolution, the abolition of private property and the elimination of the bourgeoisie, and the nationalization and conscious direction of forces of production are “healthy” remnants of the revolution.”

        Trotsky and the “ists” considered the former Soviet Union to be a “degenerated workers’ state” not “state capitalist.”

      3. Yes, in theory, some son or daughter of some member of the CPC politburo may use the temporary opportunity to perpetuate their material comfort by becoming capitalists themselves. But, even if that happens, that would be a factor outside the metabolism of the CPC, a byproduct of Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening Up, not of Marxism-Leninism.” I fear I cannot comprehend this. Is driving a convertible red Rolls-Royce a temporary perk? If China is socialist give me Japanese capitalism anyday. Never saw such vulgarity flaunted in Japan,even by the Yakuza!

      4. @ jlowrie part 2

        It is “a temporary perk” because driving a Rolls Royce comes from the fact that said person had the money to buy it, not from the fact that he or she is a child of a CPC politburo member, let alone the fact that his/her family perpetuates itself in the CPC politburo. Not all Rolls Royce drivers in China are children of CPC politburo members, and a lot of Chinese millionaires and billionaires who do not come from politburo fathers do have even more “vulgar” habits than the one you mentioned. You only don’t know because you never bothered to look it up.

        In fact, Japan — the country you mention as the shining, ideal anti-China model — is very famous for having very traditional political families who perpetuate in power (Shinzo Abe’s being the most famous, involved in WWII atrocities in China, but not the only one). Either way, as for the alleged lack of vulgarity in Japan, well, that’s a hypothesis you have to prove.

      5. ”The main one being that each ruling class should have a corresponding dominance in the material base, what is the material base of domination of this hypothetical bureaucrat class? How can a class dominate with just the power of pen and paper? ‘
        What do you think of the existence of a material base called the State (socialists and capitalists) that owns and produces approximately 50% of GDP/year and that also owns an even higher % of the fixed capital of each country? Fixed capital and flow that that ruling bureaucratic class, according to you of a socialist character, which appropriates for itself during its ENTIRE working life. Well, that is exactly the material base that dominates, commands and controls that bureaucratic class that you perceive without any power and that only has control over “pen and paper”.¡¡?? If you are unaware of the existence of States and their economic and political power, may I kindly suggest that before declaring yourself (a continuous, surprising, improper and unjustified statement, by the way) as knowing the ‘basic principles’ from Marxism” take urgent lessons in basic political economy.

      6. VK: “How can a class dominate only with the power of the paper and pen?”

        Are you arguing that the CPC doesn’t represent a class because it possesses, uses only “pen and paper” to organize social labor?

        CPC is not yet a class, but that sure isn’t because of the absence or hesitancy to use police against those protesting against land grabs, layoffs, working conditions, unpaid leave, unpaid work…which of course leads to the question, in those circumstances, which side are you on? Or do those circumstances never really occur and are just the misinformation deployed by the bourgeois press to obscure the real achievements of the CPC?

      7. @ Antonio

        It is well established that, in Marx, the State is always the superstructure, never the material base.

        I think it is you who should “take urgent lessons in basic political economy.”

    2. ”In fact, Japan — the country you mention as the shining, ideal anti-China model ” Of course, I say nothing of the sort. In any case, we do not require to go as far back as Trotsky. The Chairman himself predicted that after his death China would resort to capitalism. Challenged by the Dengists as to where the nascent bourgeoisie was, he affirmed it sat in the ranks of the Party Central Committee! And so it has come to pass. Where do the children, the Princelings, get their money to fund their lavish lifestyles? In the sweat of their brow? Already in his own day, Marx had pointed out that the development of capitalism was leading to the attenuation of the role of private capitalists.. owning shares in a company does not make one a part-owner.It is quite alien from Marx’s thinking to conflate juridical status with economic relations of production and posit state activity per se as non-capitalist. Where for example the State advances capital to a company, the state is the juridical capitalist and the company the economic capitalist. Thus even if the state has appropriated all the private capitalists nothing much has changed. As Mao himself argued by analogy to the situation of women in China, the mere fact that women had been granted equal status in law did not empower them, merely changing their juridical status. Now Mao towards the end confessed his failure: ”I haven’t changed the face of China; only a few places in Peking. But I have done what I could, it is now up to others.” You are one of the others vk, but your failure to criticise previously existing socialism,, and vague and wooly assertions are not at all enlightening or even helpful.

      1. But for the so-called “princelings” to configure a dominant bureaucrat class, they would have to derive all their material privileges from the bureaucracy.

        In the original example you gave, princeling x got his Rolls Royce from the free market: he or his politburo member father exchanged a given amount of money in the free market in order to purchase said luxury car. That is a typical mercantile behavior, not a bureaucratic one.

        For your example to illustrate the formation of a bureaucrat dominant class, said princeling should have gotten said Rolls Royce through some kind of bureaucratic device, e.g. a decree, a law, a memorandum, an internal communication paper (office) etc. Since the power of the bureaucrat is the bureaucratic state machine, it is self-evident he/she cannot exert his/her dominance through the power of money, but instead through the power of bureaucracy – e.g. the privilege of use of some Empire-era dachas by the General Secretary of the CPSU, which was exerted through the force of law and not the free market (but even this example is not evidence of a bureaucrat dominant class, because the office of General Secretary was not hereditary, and there was never a socially sustainable form of perpetuation of such privileges in the form of ossification of the office of General Secretary).

        Every dominant class has to have, 1) a corresponding material base to legitimize its domination, and 2) a social metabolism that enables it to perpetuate itself for as long as the corresponding mode of production endures. The Politburo of the CPSU certainly exerted hegemony over the material base of the USSR for a certain period, but the office of General Secretary was always tenuous and fragile and was never consolidated (on paper, it was never highest post of the USSR, and was only de facto the most important office and only after Stalin; Lenin, for example, was never General Secretary). The General Secretary had to accumulate multiple offices in order to consolidate himself as the de facto Head of State of the USSR (Gorbachev, e.g. was also chairman of the Presidium, chairman of the Supreme Soviet and Head of State). This is also the case of China, where at least two offices are necessary in order to be the “President of China”. Lenin himself had to accumulate offices at the same time in order to exert his function of de facto leader of the RSFSR/USSR (although Lenin was a very special case: the most important office of the USSR was the office he had, not the office itself, because he was the incontestable leader of the Revolution; he was the most powerful man of the USSR by universal acclaim).

        The General Secretary system was evidently very unstable and fragile. This is evident not only in its historical origins, but also in the fact that it was easily extinct by Gorbachev himself — who extinguished it precisely because he wanted to perpetuate himself and probably his family in power. It definitely didn’t configure a class system. Most important evidence in this case is the fact that the General Secretary/Single Party system never survived beyond the generation of the October Revolution: Gorbachev was the first and last General Secretary born after 1917. That is an indication there was not a sociometabolic system for the biological perpetuation of this alleged “bureaucrat class”. Put in other words, there was never the equivalent of inheritance system (patriarchal system) for this alleged bureaucrat dominant class — and a class that cannot biologically reproduce is not a class, let alone a dominant class.

        In conclusion, there’s no empirical evidence nor a theoretical base that indicate a bureaucrat dominant class ever existed.

      2. “.. owning shares in a company does not make one a part-owner. It is quite alien from Marx’s thinking to conflate juridical status with economic relations of production and posit state activity per se as non-capitalist. ” But, owning shares in a company literally does make you a part-owner. The fact that most “owners” own a negligible share, hence are promptly neglected, doesn’t change that. It’s why the big bourgeois want to bind their hired managers at the top with stock options, to create a community of interest (they hope) so that the managers will operate in their ultimate interest, as they would if they had the energy and competence to do the managerial work themselves.

        And, if Marx really thought juridical status had nothing to do with economic relations of production, he was wrong. That’s like saying there’s no difference between serfdom, chattel slavery, capitalism and socialism because surplus product is expropriated by oppressors in every case. And frankly, the notion that state activity is carried out for profit, that the need to accumulate capital is the driver of the state, is nuts. States would almost never wage war if that were the case, because war is almost always a money-losing proposition. If this idiocy is Marxism, down with Marxism!

        It took centuries before capitalism managed to successfully conform its mere laws to predominantly capitalist mode of production, flowering in (liberal) bourgeois democracy. And even that bourgeois democracy took centuries to give women the suffrage. The insistence the final society should be created the day after the revolution is raising the bar to impossible standards. Marxism I thought was opposed to utopian socialism, not the epitome of it.

      3. ”But, owning shares in a company literally does make you a part-owner. The fact that most “owners” own a negligible share, hence are promptly neglected, doesn’t change that.” This illustrates the confusion I am trying to elucidate. Your shares entitle you to only that part of the profits that the Board of Directors( the bearers of the capitalist relationship in Marx’s formulation) determine to be distributed as interest. In juridical terms you may be a part-owner, but in economic terms you decide nothing. Of course, large shareholders such as a bank can exercise power on the board by threatening to withdraw their investment.

      4. ”And, if Marx really thought juridical status had nothing to do with economic relations of production, he was wrong. ” Of course, Marx thought nothing of the sort. He explained that behind property relations lay the more concrete relationships of class, namely that of dominance and servitude within which surplus labour is extracted from the subordinate class. In capitalist society such servitude is veiled by the seemingly equal and voluntary contract entered by the proletariat. Thus Marx’s condemnation of Proudon’s claim that “property is theft.’! One of the richest men in Tsarist Russia was a serf i.e. juridically a serf, economically a merchant. The richest man in ancient Athens, Pasion, was juridically a slave, economically a banker., which activity allowed him to buy his freedom and citizenship.

      5. Let us for a moment revert to the the 18th century nomenclature of Adam smith. A landlord employs two servants, one a worker down his mine, another his butler. Both have the legal status as hired employees, but their economic function produces quite opposite results: the former increases, the latter diminishes his master’s wealth. Speaking of China and butlers, a few years back I read that the new bourgeoisie in China were advertising for butlers. Marx’s most famous slogan has been transmogrified: “Butler of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but our spoons”!

      6. Courtesy of Michel Chossudovsky:” : starting in the early 1980s, China has become a full fledged capitalist country. There are powerful US business interests including Big Pharma, major hi-tech companies, banking institutions which are firmly entrenched inside China.

        The United States has faithful allies within China’s business establishment as well as among academics, scientists, medical doctors who tend to be “pro-American”.

        China’s Academy of Sciences (中国科学院), China’s business schools (e.g. Beijing, Dalian, Guangzhou) going back to the early 1980s have ties with Ivy League institutions. Many of them have joint MBA programs, e.g. Shanghai’s Fudan University School of Management with MIT. Stanford has a campus in China as well an agreement with Beijing University, etc.

        Another example is Tsinghua University’s School of Journalism’s graduate program which is funded by Bloomberg together with several Wall Street banking institutions.

        The interests of powerful Chinese business groups (specifically within the pharmaceutical industry) including China’s billionaires (Forbes List 2022, Forbes New Billionaires) are represented at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership.

      7. “Of course, Marx thought nothing of the sort. He explained that behind property relations lay the more concrete relationships of class, namely that of dominance and servitude within which surplus labour is extracted from the subordinate class.” But, property relations are concrete class relations. The reason officeholders in a state or party are not a ruling class by virtue of their office is precisely because they lack a property right, which is to say, a concrete relationship to the state power. Pasion bought his freedom because the juridical status of slave was a very concrete relationship that mattered.

        And reverting to the other response, where the insignificant stockholder is ignored? The thing is, the power of the big stockholders and banks nominating representatives to boards of firms they loan money too and such, all the practical exercise of that power depends crucially upon the “mere” juridical status of the big stockholders et al. Indeed, the power of the board depends upon juridical status. Again the exercise of that power is not straightforward, but again, the commonest resolution of that problem, exorbitant remuneration of top managers to conscript them into the propertied class also depends upon laws of property.

        All variations on state capitalism harken back to very old ideas about abstract power, abstract “domination.” And all of them forget too that people are not isolated individuals—that’s an illusion or projection or fetishization of the bourgeois ideal of a market of sovereign buyers and sellers—but members of families and other groups that must be reproduced over time.

        The only prima facie case to make for a party/state as some sort of autonomous property is northern Korea. The curious thing about that is how much the Kim family resembles the pre-Japanese conquest model of the Korean emperors, something that is apparently deliberately played up. The ritual three year mourning for Joseon as applied to Kim Jong Il, as I understand it. But one thing everyone knows is that the Kims could lose their hold on power at any time, which is exactly why the US and the southerners refuse to make peace and work so hard to overthrow the north, and why China helps continue the siege of the north. They know the Kims lack a concrete property relationship to the state.


      8. Marx attended Savigny’s lectures regularly for two terms, and the immense erudition and power of close historical argument for which the latter was notable was probably Marx’s first contact with the new method of historical research, which demanded minute knowledge of facts as a basis for broad general theses.” Savigny was famous for his exposition of ‘possessio;’ a concept Marx was later to employ. Now what is the point of this concept if property relations are concrete class relations.? When I first bought a house I had to pay feu duty. Do you conclude from this that I was still subject to feudal relations of production?

      9. ” The reason officeholders in a state …. are not a ruling class by virtue of their office is precisely because they lack ……… a concrete relationship to the state power.” Oxymoronic?

      10. Yes, the phrasing is terrible, which sort of thing is one reason why I don’t write my own blog for Michael Roberts or you to comment on. “Concrete” is used in two senses in the same sentence. I blame my copy editor, who tends to see what was meant, not what’s literally written on the page.

        But the reference to Savigny prompted me to google Savigny theory of possession, which reportedly has something to do with physical possession, physical force and intent to exclude others at will. Nobody has physical possession of a coal mine or intangible assets, which is why the physical force of the state power, defender of property, is so essential. That sort of thing is why I can’t see any sense to denying the importance of mere laws of property to actual economic relations. In the case of officeholders in modern states, there are very few, if any, laws enforcing the officeholders possession of office in the sense of occupying the role and being able to exclude others. By contrast, kings were regarded as in possession of all manner of powers of office. That’s the sense in which officeholders do not have a “concrete” relationship to their powers of economic domination.

        But all that was actually clear enough in other comments, I think. And it’s even truer is you remember intent to possess should include intent to leave the property to an heir. In that sense essentially no office holders have a reliable power to do so, not even the Kims. If Savigny doesn’t include that in his notion of property, of possessio, he should have.

      11. ”Well, if Michel Chossudovsky is your guy, I don’t know what you’re doing here.”vk Most of the words in. this sentence are redundant. You should have limited your comment to :I don’t know’!

      12. ”Well, if Michel Chossudovsky is your guy, I don’t know what you’re doing here.”vk Most of the words in. this sentence are redundant. You should have limited your comment to: “I don’t know’!

      13. ”But, property relations are concrete class relations.” Not according to Marx: ”There is no property anterior to the relations of dominance and servitude which are far more concrete relations.” ( Critique of Political Economy” Quoted in R. S. Neale ”Class in English History” 1981). So when the pirate buccaneer or other slave dealer seizes some wretch to be sold at a slave market, he affirms:’You are my property. I have it here in property law!”‘

      14. Don’t have the Critique at hand, and won’t waste time on religious proof-texts either. The pirate or slaver who seizes someone most certainly does have an interest in legal title when he wants to sell or bequeath that slave. The buyers or heirs certainly do too. Pirates and other slavers want legal protections once they have it. Libertarians conceive of social reality as a universe of individual transactions, but to be a class there has to be some mechanism to reproduce as a group, both spatially and temporally. If Marx truly anticipated Herr Durhing’s force theory in the Critique, he was in error.

      15. Plutarch computed that according to Caesar’s own figures he had enslaved 1 million Gauls. Did Caesar produce at the time the legal documentation for each of these slaves that their slave status. Did Roman law pertain in Gaul before its Roman conquest? Alan Winniggton in his ”The Slaves of the Cool Mountains” gives an account of his visits to the most remote and backward regions of China. Cool Mountains had slavery but absolutely no concept of legal property. The slave owners were literally the most physically dominant group.

      16. Plutarch computed that according to Caesar’s own figures he had enslaved 1 million Gauls. Did Caesar produce at the time the legal documentation for each of these slaves confirming their slave status.?Did Roman law pertain in Gaul before its Roman conquest? Alan Winniggton in his ”The Slaves of the Cool Mountains” gives an account of his visits to the most remote and backward regions of China. Cool Mountains had slavery but absolutely no concept of legal property. The slave owners were literally the most physically dominant group.

      17. Plutarch computed that according to Caesar’s own figures he had enslaved 1 million Gauls. Did Caesar produce at the time the legal documentation for each of these slaves confirming their slave status.?Did Roman law pertain in Gaul before its Roman conquest? Alan Winnington in his ”The Slaves of the Cool Mountains” gives an account of his visits to the most remote and backward regions of China. Cool Mountains had slavery but absolutely no concept of legal property. The slave owners were literally the most physically dominant group.

      18. lowrie
        January 22, 2023 at 10:32 am
        Your comment is awaiting moderation.
        Plutarch computed that according to Caesar’s own figures he had enslaved 1 million Gauls. Did Caesar produce at the time the legal documentation for each of these slaves confirming their slave status.?Did Roman law pertain in Gaul before its Roman conquest? Alan Winnington in his ”The Slaves of the Cool Mountains” gives an account of his visits to the most remote and backward regions of China. Cool Mountains had slavery but absolutely no concept of legal property. The slave owners were literally the most physically dominant group.

    3. “Fixed capital and flow that that ruling bureaucratic class, according to you of a socialist character, which appropriates for itself during its ENTIRE working life. Well, that is exactly the material base that dominates, commands and controls that bureaucratic class that you perceive without any power and that only has control over “pen and paper”.¡¡??” The discovery that government is tyranny was made many, many decades ago. The anarchists who made it have never made a revolution anywhere and they are now libertarians. I can’t recall any previous posts by Antonio but I’ve heard Trumpers talking up the ultimate menace of Big Government aka Socialism, as well as Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Grover Norquist and too many businessmen to remember. I’ve argued points against vk many times, but vk’s Marxist credentials are better than those of Goldwater, Reagan, Norquist and Trump. Von Hayek and Milton Friedman as the prophets of freedom? Sorry, I don’t agree.

      There is a certain dark humor in the fact that the true statement that the state is very material but this observation only reveals the ideological affinity with reaction. The point is that office holders do not have a genuine control of the state, no more than managers ever do. They don’t even get stock options or golden parachutes. And their families are guaranteed squat. They do not get to retire when they want, they don’t get to pick their own salary, they don’t get to set their policies by themselves, not even with their peers. Office holders are on salary. All their perks are either beholden to the rich, as when they take consultancy gigs, or take speaking fees, or possibly have their memoirs subsidized. The occasional board seat or foundation presidency or policy institute sinecure is a gift for services rendered, not their right.

      And middle management doesn’t get that!

      The notion that taxes are the engine of power and government office is the road to tyranny has been promoted by the elite who hate taxes since before this country was independent. The old English Whigs were spouting this stuff (they were also called the Country Party.) The notion that corruption of office was the way the King turned himself into a despot has been wrong. A standing army has is not the same thing at all. The thing about that is the role of aristocrats in the officer class, especially when commissions were for sale. The US version, where the imperial President uses patronage to seize power has been tried and has failed so miserably as to make one of these guys (Tyler) look like a fool. Didn’t work for Fillmore either. Of course many conservatives feel FDR’s “tax, tax, tax; spend, spend, spend; elect, elect, elect” turned the US onto a downward path. Sorry, but I think the New Deal wasn’t enough.

      1. StevenJohnson
        Some clarification of your misunderstanding of my point of view on the State, probably derived from my necessarily very short previous comment.
        The tyrannical state.- I have not used the adjective tyrannical for the state, although I could do so especially in its current reactionary phase, but it also has progressive phases. Long to explain at this point. Its possible tyrannical character was already discovered not a few decades ago, but Thomas Hobbes began to do so in his Leviathan in 1650. But my position on the State is not to be against it, as anarchists surely do, but rather, quite the opposite in favor of him. Going deeper into the State, is any type of State worth it to me? I am only worth a Socialist one in which its entire population, having eliminated classes, has command, dominance and control over it. A radically egalitarian State. So, a State dominated by a bureaucratic class that extracts benefits, privileges and even surplus value derived not from labor exploitation of its citizens but derived from an unequal commercial exchange with them is not worth it to me. Therefore I am against the current capitalist states, and, for the same reason, I am against the alleged and false socialist state that the commentator Vk defends against all evidence, starting by saying the nonsense that the Chinese CCP bureaucratic class does not He has no power since he only has it on “pen and paper”. It’s been a long time since I read such nonsense, really. For this reason I made my answer.
        On the real and “de facto” power, although not legal property, that the bureaucratic classes have over both socialists and capitalists, it is convenient that he take a look in this article at J.lowrie’s comments on the difference between property real and legal property and specific examples. Well, the bureaucratic class does not own the property of the State, but it does have absolute domination and control over it. Speaking of economic structures and superstructures, I know very well the position of Marxism, which understands that the economic structure is dominant over the political, cultural, religious and ideological superstructures. I know it and I share it. But having said this, and in discharge of the capacity of Marx, it must be said and I say it, that the State of the 19th century is not the State of 2022. In what are they mainly different? In its size. The State of Marx produced 5% of the annual GDP and the current State is close to 50% in all countries. In other words, and without a doubt, it has multiplied its size by 10 and is the main economic structure (the main material base) of each country. It is the big fish in each of the 194 existing ponds. And being a fish that always favors the capitalist class of its private sector, it is also true that there is no capitalist company that dares to contradict the State under penalty and risk of being a fish divided into multiple parts. These are the antitrust laws and examples you already know. Laws that prevent any capitalist company from shadowing or approaching the State in size.) Therefore, it was objectively impossible for Marx in the 19th century to include the State in the dominant economic structure, but today he would undoubtedly do so because he knew Lots of political economy. That is, just what the commentator Vk lacks, in my modest opinion.
        And regarding the type of socialism for which I work and defend, it is convenient that I take a look at the blog of Comrade Anti-Capital and review his concept of ”On big wave” in a recent article. I assure you that this concept and its meaning of decent and equal income for all socialists is light years ahead and is much more favorable for the working classes than the desire of the commentator Vk to defend, without any real data and only based on their quasi-religious beliefs, the current CCP socialism in which a bureaucratic elite rides red Rolls Royces around China and owns grandiose real estate in HonKong (the JiPing family). In addition to sending the police to stop workers’ demands at Foxconn. Yes, it is true that the Chinese working classes have improved a lot in the last decades, it is true that this progress is even greater than that experienced by the capitalist working classes, but it is also true (there are plenty of data that support it, and many of them they have been exposed in this same blog) that Mao’s initial socialism in China is in decline. In clear regression to Capitalism -the theory of the Revolutionary Cycle predicts and explains it, but that is another topic unrelated to this commentary- for at least 3 or 4 decades. They are irrefutable economic data, unless he wants to do it based not on data but on religious beliefs. And the truth is, I don’t know what you want, but I am not in this world to make JiXiping rich. I’d rather keep making Jeff Bezos rich, what at least I understand their language and their nonsense.
        Religious beliefs. Vk’s response to my comment is full of those beliefs. Instead of refuting – it is impossible to do so, of course – my data on the power of the current State in terms of its percentage of annual GDP and its percentage of ownership of the fixed capital of each country, he limits himself to saying, just like a priest of any religion , that “it is established” that the State has no power. Such religious nonsense only forces you to ask: Established by whom? The socialist God or the Marx prophet of him? Since when is he, in what holy book was it made,? Is it an absolute truth or a universal constant factor such as the speed of light, which will never change? Other religious pearls of this commentator, very abundant pearls in his comments, comments always scarce of real data: ”basic principles of Marxism” (of which he is its best priest”), ”The CCP is connected to the people ” (what sociological scientific data prove it? ” ”the Chinese people don’t like dynasties” (and since they ”don’t like” dynasties, they don’t allow them,” it would be missing!) If the people have governments that they “like”, what is the problem? Why are a few hundred/billion people working for socialism today and yesterday wasting our time? I fear that religious beliefs, This is demonstrated by the philosophical of science, it is a type of knowledge prior to and prior to technical and scientific knowledge of the real world. And that lack, that deficiency, can only be cured with many hours and years of study and work. And it is not cured making comments every day on a blog, by the way, and although That’s not my business.

      2. “Well, the bureaucratic class does not own the property of the State, but it does have absolute domination and control over it.” There is no social, political, economic or legal sense in which the bureaucracy is a class. It is a collection of individuals holding office who cannot control their tenure, who cannot sell or lease or bequeath or simply leave idle “their” property. They have no common interests with each other in the way capitalists have a common interest in exploiting labor. They are rivals with each other. They cannot determine “their” share of the rewards of their fictional class existence. When they lose office, for whatever reason, they have no superior social position that enables them to determine the policy of the bureaucracy. If they really want to become ruling class, they try to acquire property in sufficient quantity, because they know holding office makes you an agent of the ruling class. I they are disloyal agents and try to steal property, they make themselves vulnerable to…the state, which allegedly they control. If you wish to redefine the bureaucracy to focus solely on the prisons, courts, police and soldiers, then you not only deny your own claim “the bureaucratic class” dominate the State: You also have the empirical problem that the capitalist state serves the bourgeoisie. (If you deny that, I fear your sympathies for them have misled you.)

        If the size of the state somehow makes a difference, then the size of fortunes surely does. As galling as it may be to a levelling resentment (or barracks communist, if you wish) to see a scion tooling around in a six figure vehicle, that’s is *nothing* compared to true bourgeois wealth. True bourgeois buy superyachts or luxury apocalypse shelters or indulge hobbies like buying Da Vinci notebooks for millions of dollars. Equal wages? Real wealth comes from owning property. It’s something of an exaggeration to say that equalizing wages is irrelevant but it’s shockingly close. That’s why economists are always appalled at the limited wage differentials in socialist countries. Democratic reformers in Czechoslovakia if I remember correctly were horrified that a skilled artisan could possibly make more than a physician!

        And as for further speculations on the socialist “state?” The state is an arena of class struggle, because the core of the state is its role as a weapon of class struggle. Whatever administrative arrangements a sane society would make, they will not be a state of any kind found in class society. The notion that it is a classless society that creates the pure state is not only kind of utopian, it’s backward causality, which is to say, not.

      3. I will answer you just a little. Little because my work prevents me from doing so, unlike other commentators -I’m not referring to you and you know who I’m referring to- who seem to have all the time in the world, in addition to knowing about all possible topics in the Universe without being seen specific knowledge on any subject. You do seem to know something about the State issue. With errors but knows something of the State. Interesting because the State is the main economic subject today, interesting because I do consider the State as the main instrument of the class struggle, and finally, because the State is my economic “specialty” derived from the study of revolutionary cycles of struggles of classes.
        Their errors in the characteristics of the bureaucratic classes. You mention in this comment and the previous one a long list of characteristics (officials do not choose their salaries, they cannot retire when they want, they cannot sell/lease/bequeath state property, they do not have common interests, they lose their jobs and are left without a position higher, the salaries of officials are nothing compared to the wealth of millionaires and their superyachts, etc…) that you expose to demonstrate the little power of officials (the bureaucracy class) over the State. ALL of his characteristics of underpowered officials are easily refuted. All of them. But, as I already told you, my real working class duties prevent me from responding to all the characteristics. Just choose one at random and I answer: you say that officials cannot sell/lease/bequeath State assets. And what if they can’t do it, I tell you? Yes, of course, we must always take into account the concept of the ”degree” of something to assess its effects, and, for this reason, if officials were legal owners of their means of production (school, hospitals, libraries, etc.. ) and could sell them, etc. I would get more benefits and you would have more power. But here you still do not understand the difference between property and real economic power (for example, the concept of the right to usufruct of a property without having to be its owner, which in this case makes its officials without being the legal owners of the State, if they have a real usufruct of their means of production and their work and usufruct capacity that makes them have command and control over many important variables of their own work such as temporary organization of work, means at their disposal and, above all and especially , the time of their dedication. Does it make you feel bad that I tell you that I know many civil servants in Spain who work 3 hours/day? There are serious professional scientific studies that amply demonstrate the widespread absenteeism of the bureaucratic class in Spain and throughout the planet What do you think of a 3-hour-a-day job? It seems to you that this official is exploited, poorly paid, alienated from his job or that he has little decision-making power over the What do you think that working 3 hours a day the average salaries of civil servants almost double their counterpart salaries in the private sector? What do you think that civil servants have their job and salary guaranteed for life and yet in the private sector they should be changing, if they get a job, every so often?
        I have asked him before if it seemed wrong for me to ask him these questions because as I was writing this comment I remembered that you repeatedly mention in your comments that you have been a teacher. If you have been a teacher, it is most probable and certain, due to your long exposed list of the characteristics of a public office, a list so extensive that only an official can know, it is that you have been a public teacher, that is, that you yourself have been BUREAUCRATIC CLASS throughout his working life. Well, then you will perfectly understand that I have decided to leave this comment right here because I do not consider that you are the most impartial and objective person possible to comment on the benefits or not of the state bureaucratic class and its possible power over the State. I’m sure you understand, being a cultured and reasonable person, which you are. All the best,

  2. GDP can be misleading enough in its own right but isn’t per capital GDP better when thinking about how economy meets human needs? Yeah, that’s not the orthodox bourgeois standard but still?

  3. For things to change to a direction that would benefit the majority of people, participation of people is needed (— unless we unrealistically consider that the current elites will somehow become benevolent, unaffected by their immediate interests, and will do things according to people’s needs. The question thus is: how can people engage and become more active? This is not an economic or climate question anymore, but a significant one nonetheless.

  4. Yup pear shaped rather than fair shaped as desired by the delusional reformists, will they ever learn. As for stakeholder capitalism, let the mob eat steak, has a historical ring to it. Yes this is the decade of war or revolution, of make or break for humanity. What is interesting is the intelligentsia, loyal until recently, are becoming restless and beginning to question the existing order. The ideological crisis of capitalism in my opinion has become, and that is always the overture to revolution.

  5. The lack of a coherent alternative socialist plan of action is what is lacking. This is what needs to be put forward . More work needs to be done in this field. The crisis of capitalism is no longer a marxist doom mongers’ prediction ,it is a living reality for all to experience. However the alternatives to capitalist anarchy and advantages of planning democratically society is not on the table to discuss.

  6. Hi Michael

    You have written:

    “in 2020, 1% of all adults (56m) in the world owned 45.8% of all personal wealth in the world; while 2.9m owned just 1.3%”

    Should that read 2.9bn rather than 2.9m ?

    Cheers, Dave

  7. Capital itself can’t be viewed as taxable meaning it gets in the hands of the (capitalist) state. Profit from capital is not exactly personal income but the driving force behind growth and that includes growth of population, being the pink elephant that no one wants to discuss. Capital must be controlled by different means and with different goals. Abolishing it altogether is no option. The real agenda of the WEF is to prevent this.

    1. “The real agenda of the WEF is to prevent this”.

      That capitalism is inherently violent and indifferent to its profitable destruction of all the Earth’s living beings has become so emprically self-evident even to the grasping, blind-mouthed stakeholders at Davos that they cannot deny it. But what to do?

      You seem to know, there is “no option” but to continue capitalism’s criminally insane war on nature and humanity, but, somehow….. do it differently.

  8. What, in your opinion, is driving the building boom in certain metropolitan cities? I’m a union tradesman in Chicago and I haven’t seen this many tower cranes dot the skyline since before the Great Recession.
    Corporations are moving their HQs to these new buildings (multiple floors at a time even though the pandemic gave workers a taste of telecommuting) while new apartment mid-rises are priced above affordability for working-class families which pushes them to the suburbs.
    I’m wondering if it’s a case of “money already in the construction pipeline” (ie banks having lent money before they suspected a recession was imminent)? I sense a G.R. II. Thanks for the great work.

    1. I think your last suggestion is probably right. All the US housing and commercial property data are showing significant doiwnturns. This looks like hangover from last year’s boom.

    2. Chicago is an outlier. Many corporations headed South to states like Florida but are now returning. I suspect it is due to incentives as well as weather concerns relating to the Gulf Coast where insurance premiums have skyrocketed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: