New words, same old ideas

Hardly anyone could have failed to notice that the ‘stakeholding economy’ has become one of the buzz words of the 1990s - and even of the next millennium. Where has it come from and why does new Labour like it so much? Eddie Ford offers some explanations

For decades, the Labour Party had its own clearly defined and recognisable political lexicon. Sure, this language was not monolithic or invulnerable to change. When needed, the phraseology could wobble to the right or left, adopting either the rhetoric of conciliation or of militant stridency. It could even appropriate carefully selected nuggets from parliamentary enemies or the hallowed world of academia.

However, for the true believer there was always the comforting knowledge that the Labour Party was out, if not exactly to vanquish the capitalist beast, then at least to tame it. There was always clause four, the soul of the party, to ward off the unbelievers - whether they be lurking menacingly to the left or the right, mouthing off their ‘extremist’ doctrines and wild dogmas. We all knew - didn’t we? - that the Labour Party would eventually deliver the goods.

There were even those who thought the Labour Party, in conjunction with the benign Soviet bureaucracy, would usher in an era of peace and socialism. Parliament would be transformed, albeit grudgingly, into a ‘communist’ institution. Of course, it would take quite a few Labour governments to get to that phase, so in the meantime the best thing to do was to celebrate every Soviet diplomatic and military manoeuvre and feint another step closer towards the ‘glorious day’. Absurd? Check out those back issues of the Morning Star ... or even some of the current ones, for that matter.

Now this reads almost like ancient history. All that is holy melts into thin air, or possibly hot air. Tony Blair’s new Labour has acquired a bewildering new language, as part of its ‘Away with the old!’ new image. Clause four, nationalisation, the trade union link, ‘solidarity’, planning, etc - taboo, brothers. Worse than taboo, it is old politics. Within the Blairite universe, even if it is inhabited by political life forms of dubious origin, the most heinous crime is to be branded a member of the “traditional left” or to have “dinosaur” politics. A new stigmata has been born, with the Blair-friendly media always on the hunt for heretics and stuck-in-the-past ‘traditionalists’.

Dismaying the true Labourite believers, the new Blairite terminology is ridden with eulogistic references to the “rigours of competition”, the “efficiency of the market” and - holy of holies - the “stakeholder society”. To many this sounds suspiciously like the Tories’ shareholder economy - but to Blair and his devotees the “stakeholder economy” is the devastating trump card which will blast away the Tories at the next general election.

Will Hutton, recently anointed as editor of The Observer and author of the runaway bestseller, The state we’re in (Vintage 1996), is firmly convinced of the sheer potency of stakeholding, which he describes as a “genuine departure” from the “old left-right divide”. For Hutton, stakeholding is the product of a “century-long attempt to build a just society and moral community that is congruent with private property, the pursuit of the profit motive and decentralised decision-making in markets - the famous third or middle way” (quotes from The Guardian, January 17 1996).

It has to be said that it is a rather prosaic and banal “third way” - a far cry from the ‘third way’ New Left revolutionaries of the late 1960s and early 1970s, who signified by that term an (imaginary, as it so happened) alternative to capitalism-imperialism and communism, Stalinised or otherwise. OK, it was nonsense - but at least it was revolutionary nonsense.

We should not be surprised by Hutton’s effluence on this matter. The State we’re in has reached near cult status amongst the angst-ridden middle class, who regard Hutton as the new saviour of civilisation. Hutton, for his part, has been one of Blair’s staunchest footsoldiers - appearing almost daily on the media at one point, lamenting about the “casino” capitalism which bedevils Britain. Hutton’s endeavours, preparing the way John-the-Baptist-style for Blair, have been productive. Stakeholding has permeated the entire range of ‘official’ discourse and is not going to disappear in a hurry.

As Hutton suggests, stakeholding did not spring forth like Zeus from Tony Blair’s head. It has a pedigree and a history. The Observer has pointed out that stakeholding was “slowly nurtured in academic circles over the years, it was an idea waiting to be adopted by the right political owner” (January 21 1996). These “academic circles” were mainly in the United States, where in the 1960s there first started to develop a school of thought known as communitarianism.

Communitarianism never became a buzz-word in the US, unlike stakeholder here. Perhaps ‘communitarianism’ sounded alarmingly similar to ‘communism’ for American ears - like Major Dunbar in Catch-22 who distrusts the Anabaptist chaplain on the grounds that ‘Anabaptist’ has a sinister sounding ‘s’ in it, like communist. But ‘behind the scenes’, in government circles and the upper echelons of academia, the ideas of communitarianism began to percolate and take shape. Centrally, communitarian ideas became useful for the bourgeoisie, both in the US and in Britain.

The founder of communitarianism, if indeed there is one single person, is an American academic called Amitai Etzioni. Not just any old academic, it should be noted. Etzioni was previously the Thomas Henry Carroll Ford Foundation professor at Harvard Business School, professor of sociology at Columbia University for 20 years and the current serving president of the American Sociological Association. In other words, Etzioni is no ‘radical’ or scholastic nonentity - he has clout.

As both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton will happily tell you. The former made Etzioni a senior adviser to the White House in 1979 while the latter has thanked Dr Etzioni for the “inspiration that your work has given to me and to so many others ... in our common cause of building what is good about America and building up what is good within the character of our people”. Etzioni is a state-sanctioned and state-sponsored theoretician, like many a communitarian-influenced scholar. Francis Fukuyama, author of the now infamous The end of history and the last man and a ‘post-communitarian’, was a former deputy director of the US State Department’s policy planning staff and is now an analyst at the Rand corporation - an institution not famous for its pro-working class allegiance.

We can see that communitarianism, then, gestated in the womb of high-powered US colleges, especially business schools. Etzioni’s proto-communitarianism can be found in The active society: a theory of societal and political processes (1968) and a more advanced form can be found in the equally grandiose-sounding, An immodest agenda: rebuilding America before the 21st century (1983). Regular despatches from the communitarian front-line can be found in the quarterly journal, The responsive community: rights and responsibilities, which Etzioni founded. If you have always wondered where Blair gets his mind-numbing sound bites and infuriating homilies from, the mystery is now over. How often have you heard the phrase “rights and responsibilities” in recent years ...?

What does Etzioni say? On one level next to nothing of substance. As he writes himself in The spirit of community: rights, responsibilities and the communitarian agenda (Fontana 1995) - amazingly enough, his first semi-systematic treatment of the subject - the main criticism directed against communitarians is “that community is a vague, fuzzy term” (preface). This instantly brings to mind the words of Ken Livingstone, who in a display of deliberate obtuseness, said of Blair’s stakeholding philosophy: “It’s warm words time again. I haven’t a clue what it means. If anyone does, could they let me know?”

This has not prevented Melanie Phillips of The Observer, ‘moral’ critic and communitarian groupie, from hailing Etzioni as

“one of those unusual social science academics who actually speaks in plain language. This is because he does not fudge the issues. The spirit of community has hit a nerve because ... it appears to offer a way out of the terrible political impasse” (December 1995).

Whether you think Etzioni’s communitarianism is “vague, fuzzy” or is “plain” speaking all depends on what your political agenda is. If you are a Livingstone-type philistine that has been programmed to believe that the struggle for an ‘alternative economic strategy’ - plus achieving the correct arithmetical majority in parliament - is the essence of politics, then it is only natural that any sort of ethical/moral discourse is regarded as time wasting frippery. For the Melanie Phillips school, though, Etzioni’s belief in the primacy of “social responsibility”, “interpersonal bonds” and “one-on-one” dialogues enables one to chip away at the edifice of Marxian and leftwing world views.

This brings us to the true value of Etzioni’s work - for the ‘liberal’ bourgeoisie. For all his dislike of “aggressive individualism”, in the world according to Etzioni the individual - in the last analysis - is the vehicle for social change. All it takes is like-minded individuals to come together in ‘communities’ and everything is possible - with god on our side.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the religiosity which lies at the heart of the communitarian value-system, even if it is a far cry from the christian right politics we associate with a Ronald Reagan or Pat Buchanan. After all, Etzioni hardly disguises it. He stresses that the roots of communitarianism

“sprout from ancient Greece and the old and the new testaments. While each society must evolve its own communitarian answers, the challenges are simple. Man and woman do not live by bread alone ... We require that our daily acts be placed in a context of transcendent meaning and their moral import explicated” (my italics, The spirit of community, preface).

It will not come as a shock to discover that Tony Blair was a keen student of Etzioni in his Oxford days. The communitarianism preached by Etzioni fuses in a relatively painless manner with the christian and ethical socialism we associate with the British Labour Party - then just add a dash of slightly warmed-over Fabianism and a pinch of old-fashioned liberalism and you have virtually arrived at a definition of Blairism, or stakeholding. The only missing ingredient is the overall world political context, which allows such a favourable niche for communitarianism/stakeholding. This is supplied by the near total collapse of ‘official communism’ and the workers’ movement, which appears to have relegated all collectivist ideologies based on an monistic outlook to a minor footnote in history.

The demise of the Soviet Union and its bastard offspring in Eastern Europe was accompanied by a chorus of intellectual prostitutes who delivered the final rites to Marx’s supposed economic determinism and rigid teleology. That fool Marx believed that history was geared towards a ‘fixed target’! Aha, ‘communism’ is no more and we must all know now that history can end up going down any path ...

Funnily enough though, an alternative teleological schema has emerged - a real one this time. Etzioni has already indicated that each society must “evolve its own communitarian answers”. Francis Fukuyama, in The end of history mocked the idea of history as a broad evolution of human societies advancing toward a final goal. Yet in his latest work, Trust: the social virtues and the creation of prosperity (Hamish Hamilton 1995), he has no compunction in affirming:

“The enormous prosperity created by technology-driven capitalism, in turn, serves as an incubator for a liberal regime of universal and equal rights, in which the struggle for recognition of human dignity culminates ... The world’s advanced countries have no alternative model of political and economic organisation other than democratic capitalism to which they can aspire” (p4).

Here is a shining example of what the Marxist scholar, Istvan Mészáros, called a “perverted and hypocritical cult of a capitalist millennium”, yet this is a cult which “cannot help having at least some suspicion as to the reality of class struggle” (Marx’s Theory of Alienation, Merlin Press 1970, p307).

The advocates of communitarianism certainly have “some suspicion” that all is not well in capitalist society: unemployment, growing inequality, crime, mass alienation from the ‘democratic process’ and - crucially for all those under the communitarian spell - the growth of ‘greed’.

Etzioni, for his part, attributes this escalating trend to an unfortunate state of mind, which has to be redressed and altered if a properly functioning ‘moral community’ is to be built: “An ideology has developed, supported by some scientists and intellectuals, that claims there is no such thing as community-wide (or ‘public’) interest, only the give and take of particular interests” (p218).

The communitarians boo and hiss: their project is to promote the idea that a non-class solution is possible - within the parameters of capitalist society. Class peace is possible, they plead, if we all put the “public interest” first and forget our “particular interests”. This is the constant message we hear from Tony Blair, of course, whose mantra is the “national interest” and a “one-nation Britain”. Along with Etzioni, Tony Blair wants to rebuild our faith in ‘the community’ - which will be a new Jerusalem where the rich man on the company board is of equal worth to the poor man working in Burger King.

For all those eager readers of Will Hutton’s, The state we’re in, this is the comforting message they want to hear. He promotes the fiction that British capitalism can be “made more humane and productive” (preface). Indeed, Hutton looks forward to a “transformed culture of capitalism” (Ibid, p341), where the “dynamism of capitalism is to be harnessed for the common good” (Ibid, p326). To achieve this noble aim, to return to the capitalist Garden of Eden which has been corrupted by the Tories’ “individualist, laissez-faire values” (Ibid, p23), it is necessary to rally the nation behind the “moral economy”. As Hutton puts it, almost breathlessly, this is “not simply the assertion of a different value system. It is a call to arms in a world in which time is running short” (Ibid, p26).

This apocalyptic tone is shared by all advocates of communitarianism/stakeholding; a Huttonite “call to arms” is always present. The capitalist system is in danger: we must forget our differences now, before is too late.  Hutton, for instance, presents us with a nightmare scenario where “degenerate capitalism” (as opposed to “dynamic capitalism”, remember) paves the way for the “return of totalitarian parties of right and left” (Ibid, p318).

This is the fundamental message at the heart of communitarian doctrines. The growth of mass unemployment and poverty inevitably creates a dispossessed ‘underclass’, which becomes alienated from the ‘normal process’ of politics. This lurking force threatens to invade and overrun the garden. Tactics and strategies must be devised to negate this threat. This can be seen in Hutton’s much-touted ‘30/30/40’ thesis - 30% are “disadvantaged” (the unemployed); 30% are “marginalised” and “insecure” (temporary, casual and part-time workers); and 40% are “privileged”. Hutton worries that the “disadvantaged” bloc could upset the capitalist apple cart. Yet this is a crude, sociological approach, long adopted - albeit from the opposite direction, of course - by groups like the Revolutionary Communist Group and the Independent Working Class Association, who pin their hopes on a spontaneous revolutionary upsurge of “the dispossessed” (blacks, gays, the Irish, long-term unemployed, etc).

Bearing this in mind, if you slice away all the bleeding-heart, moralistic froth from communitarianism - the outpouring of concern for the poor and the ‘underprivileged’ - you are left with a deeply conservative ideology, which is not that far removed from the politics of The Bell Curve. Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s ‘final solution’ is, admittedly, a bit drastic - ie, increased state repression and a semi-eugenicist masterplan. Yet the Etzionis, and Huttons for that matter, share the same concern. They all regard the working class with dread and wish it just did not exist at all.

Etzioni worries that if there is a serious malfunctioning in the civic order, the “public authorities are overburdened and markets don’t work” (The spirit of community, p247). He wants the “moral order” to be restored to its proper place.

It is not hard to see why Blair is attracted to Etzioni’s communitarianism. Blair’s stakeholding vision is constructed on the backs of a defeated working class movement - but one which still has a sort of residual existence, a cultural afterlife. The beauty of Etzioni, and American political discourse in general, is the complete absence of this mild irritant. The working class, as an agency for social and political change, has been consigned to permanent non-history. Political ‘struggle’ is reduced down to the level of a (more or less) polite disagreement over moral values. Change can be brought about by reason and dialogue. Personal and civic responsibility is the social glue which will hold society together and keep the show on the road. Rationalism reigns.

These uplifting virtues are to be found in the Communitarian Platform, written by Etzioni. This document has an unrelentingly folksy beat to it, with the spectre of mom and apple-pie ever present. The Platform tells us that:

“Americans should foster a spirit of reconciliation. When conflicts do arise, we should seek the least destructive means of resolving them ... We should treat one another with respect and recognise our basic equality, not just before the law, but also as moral agents (Ibid, p261).

The promised land is also offered to us, as the bible is the unaccredited source of the Platform. Falling into purple prose, it pledges, “Our communitarian concern may begin with ourselves and our families, but it rises inexorably to the long-imagined community of humankind” (Ibid, original italics, p266).

The phrase “long-imagined” could not be more appropriate. The spirit of community is an elaborate piece of fiction, in which we all close our eyes and agree to abide by the rules of the communitarian game - rule number one being that the reality of capitalist society is ignored, covered up or turned on its head. Whether this is done out of cynicism or wilful stupidity is an open question.

This desire for a “long-imagined” form of capitalism can be found in Will Hutton. Even though the hard-hitting style and content of The state we’re in is many miles from the chatty, homespun wisdom found in Etzioni, it is similarly animated by an ‘in denial’ spirit. If only capitalism was not capitalism ... then we could have real capitalism, agonises Hutton throughout The state we’re in.

At one point, almost comically, Hutton lambasts the economic policies of the New Right, which “attempt to turn labour into a commodity - not only in the way wages and conditions are, but the way labour is managed in the workplace” (Ibid, p103). This has nothing to do with the fact that under capitalism that is precisely what the worker is, a commodity. No, this regrettable commodification of workers is all down to the wicked “policies” of the Tory government. Before 1979, we presume, capitalism was non-exploitative and treated workers as human beings.

This misty-eyed ‘utopianism’ is carried to ludicrous extremes by Hutton. Stakeholding theory is based on the “knowledge that most firms are reluctant to treat their workers as commodities” (The Guardian, January 17). We are back in Etzioni land, where the company director really wants to be nice to his workers - if only he was given the chance.

Hutton also hankers for a touch-and-feel capitalism. Plundering the world of therapy-speak, Hutton writes:

“We can contrast ‘spot-market’ capitalism, with its facility to allow buyers and sellers the ever-present chance to break their existing commitments and do better in a new market deal (as happens in London’s financial markets), with ‘relationship’ capitalism, where contracts are tokens of long-term relationships. The first is flexible but short-term; the second is committed and long-term, fostering relations of trust” (The state we’re in, preface).

This brings us to a core concept in communitarian-type works, a near mystical elevation of trust. If the workers trust the boss and the boss trusts the workers - bingo, a “social partnership” or “regulated capitalism”. This is just as well, as there is no role for independent, vigorous trade unions in the communitarian/stakeholding future. Naturally, trade unions represent a narrow ‘interest’ group and have to be kept under wraps. In fact Will Hutton has argued that “The Conservative critique was correctly based on a recognition that the public sector and trade unions acutely needed reform in the late 1970s”, which required “weakening the negative power of the trade union barons” (The Observer June 2 1996).

Francis Fukuyuma, in Trust, pursues this theme. The triumph of capitalism in Russia and Eastern Europe did not produce the ‘end of history’ as hoped for - ie, a cessation of wars and ideological conflict. So, the thesis has to be amended. The persistence of conflicts, strikes, political discord and general discontent across the globe is to be explained by the fact that trust has broken down. Somehow, this trust has to be regenerated.

In this vein, Fukuyuma divides the world into “high-trust” and “low-trust” societies. No guessing which category the advanced capitalist states fall into. Rewriting history with enthusiasm, Fukuyama believes that it is

“no accident that the United States, Japan, and Germany were the first countries to develop large, modern, rationally organised, professionally managed corporations. Each of these cultures had certain characteristics that allowed business organisations to move beyond the family rather rapidly and to create a variety of new, voluntary social groups that were not based on kinship. They were able to do so, as we will see, because in each of these societies there was a high degree of trust between individuals who were not related to one another, and hence a solid basis for social capital” (my italics, p57).

Unfortunately, Russia just happens to be one of those “low-trust” societies, where there is very low “social capital”. Damn it, the Russkies just are not as civilised as the rest of us. Fukuyuma makes this evident by lecturing the Russians on their chronic inability to cooperate, sternly reminding them:

“The ability to cooperate socially is dependent on prior habits, traditions, and norms, which themselves serve to structure the market. Hence it is more likely that a successful market economy, rather than being the cause of stable democracy, is codetermined by the prior factor of social capital” (Ibid, p356).

Luckily, the United States possesses this “prior factor of social capital” in abundance. Russia - and all the other states not found in the G7 or ‘tiger’ economies, by the look of it - are not destined to be ‘successful’. A cultural flaw is embedded in them, which will not allow it. History moves on inexorably: “Since community depends on trust, and trust in turn is culturally determined, it follows that spontaneous community will emerge in differing degrees in different cultures. The ability of companies to move from large hierarchies to flexible networks of small firms will depend, in other words, on the degree of trust and social capital in the broader society” (Ibid, p26, my italics). It appears that the US and Japan are predestined to come out on top - nothing to do with imperialism and the power of capital, of course.

Communitarians, and Fukuyuma can be counted as one, take for granted the civilising power of American imperialism. The world is to be recast in the American mould. Etzioni may declare, “Communitarian thinking is not an American import” (The Spirit of Community, preface). But it cannot survive without the soil of American imperialism to nurture it.

Fukuyuma is more blunt. He even has doubts about the ability of German capitalism to make the grade and become fully ‘communitarian’ capitalism. He suggests that there

“continues to be controversy over exactly how much German culture has in fact changed since the war. Suspicions about the dark side of German communitarianism - the closed and intolerant character of German society - still abound and have been stoked by skinhead violence since the fall of communism ... There is also a fanatic character to leftwing German politics, evident among Greens who argue that Germany needs to be de-industrialised, or supporters of the Palestinians who readily compare the Israelis to the Nazis. This suggests that something of the hardness of the Germans’ old protestant culture has not yet disappeared” (Ibid, p408).

If it was not for these ‘national characteristics’ the Germans might even be mistaken for Americans ...

Etzioni’s communitarianism, while not as bellicose as Fukuyuma’s, pivots on the necessity of restoring truly American values, rediscovering those lost roots. Suddenly whipping out the flag, Etzioni exclaims:

“Communitarians are concerned with maintaining a supracommunity [ie, American imperialism? - EF], a community of communities - the American society ... A commitment to core American ideals - democratic political institutions, the legal concepts of the constitution and its bill of rights, and the notion of social and religious tolerance - are the linchpins that maintain the American society, protect minority members, and undergird individual rights” (original italics, The spirit of community, p160).

Sounds lovely. But there is a sting in the communitarian tail. “Subgroup differences” will be tolerated, of course, so long as they “do not threaten a limited set of core values and shared bonds” (Ibid, p160).

Now, let me guess what those “core values” are. The church, family values, Stars ‘n’ Stripes, capitalism, imperialism ... All I can say is, thank god these values are “limited”.

These “core values” are by definition shared by all Americans. Etzioni is concerned that the aggressive, individualist right (as he likes to term it) has secured a monopoly over these “shared bonds” - therefore they need to be shared out equally. Sounding unnervingly like Tony Blair, Etzioni reminds us:

“Just because a Pat Robertson talked about family values, community and morality when he tried to keep social conservatives in the Bush camp during election campaigns should not mean that the rest of us should shy away from applying these pivotal social concepts ... Just as we should not give up on patriotism because some politicians wrap themselves with the flag when it suits their narrow purposes, so we should not give up on morality because some abuse it to skewer their fellow community members” (Ibid, p13).

Tony Blair has studied his Etzioni carefully, as we all know that new Labour is maddened by the suggestion that the Tory Party is the party of the family and of the flag. In a flagrant act of plagiarism, Blair wrote in The Guardian: “Today, the search is on to reinvent community for a modern age, true to core-values, of fairness, co-operation and responsibility, but applied to the world as it is, not the world as it was” (my italics, January 29 1996).             

To sum up the essence of communitarianism, you would have to point to the underlying fear which sustains it. Even though capitalism is, obviously, the only socio-political system open to mankind, there is the haunting possibility that it could spin out of control. Etzioni looks on aghast at the “levels of moral anarchy and the crumbling of social institutions” (Ibid, preface) in the United States.

When confronted by what Istvan Mészáros calls the “shadow of uncontrollability”, the only answer open to Etzioni and company is to retreat into a nostalgic longing for the certainties of the past - and to yearn for an imaginary future. “In the fifties we had a well-established society” (Ibid, p248), but since the early 1960s we have lived in a “state of increasing moral confusion and social anarchy” (p12).

John Kay, head of the London Economics consultancy, also wants to take us back to a time - 30 years ago! - when ‘stakeholding’ defined the “objectives of corporations more widely than just maximising their profits. It was capitalism with a social conscience” (The Observer, January 14).

They are victims of their own system. Capitalism cannot ‘de-evolve’ itself, return to a state of purity. It is organically ‘programmed’ to disrupt the “social bonds” that tie society together. The quest for profit is the force that drives capitalism - and nothing is sacred.

Mészáros, in Beyond Capital, makes the typically trenchant observation that capitalism

“blindly subjects to the same imperatives healthcare no less than commerce, education no less than agriculture, art no less than manufacturing industry, ruthlessly superimposing its own criteria of viability on everything, from the smallest units of its microcosm to the most gigantic transnational corporations, and from the most intimate personal relations to the most complex decision making processes of industry-wide monopolies, favouring always the strong against the weak” (Merlin Press 1995, p41).

This is a refreshing contrast to the Huttonite idiocy which maintains that,

“Stakeholding simultaneously endorses the market economy while attempting to achieve some proper balance between capital and labour. It does involve a challenge to powerful vested interests. It emphasises inclusion above equality” (The Guardian, January 17 1996).

Communists know, even if Will Hutton and Amitai Etzioni do not, that there can never be a “proper balance” between labour and capital. Capital will always strive to exploit and oppress labour, even if in the process of doing so it brings itself to the point of self-destruction. Dreams of a ‘rational’, planned capitalism are just that - delusions.

But they are dangerous delusions, which must be exposed, particularly so when peddled by those supposedly batting for the labour movement. Jack Dromey, national secretary of the TGWU and newcomer to our planet, commented: “A company does not simply exist to make profit and deliver for its shareholders. It is also a social entity which must also deliver for the employees, the local community and the wider national industrial interest” (quoted in The Guardian, January 17 1996). The working class must realise that capitalism has to be overthrown, not reformed, tamed or made ‘nicer’. The task of the Communist Party is to hammer home this point ruthlessly and point to the necessity of building socialism - before it really is too late.