Jeffrey Epstein: Under Capitalism, the Scum Rises to the Top

This article was originally published by Socialist Appeal, the British section of the IMT.

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of publicized sexual crimes perpetrated by the superrich and powerful. On August 10, the billionaire financier and convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, was found dead in his Manhattan prison cell. He was being held pending charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking of women—including underage girls.

His death has been officially attributed to suicide. But conspiracy theories run rampant to the effect that Epstein was, in fact, murdered to keep him quiet. Given his shady connections and the web of murky scandals involving other high-profile figures—including rumored links to the British monarchy—many in the capitalist establishment will have breathed a sigh of relief at the news of his death.

Not only was Epstein once a high-flyer in the finance industry, but he also had many wealthy and famous friends, including none other than Donald Trump. He also had close ties to the Clintons and other liberal darlings. The earliest allegations of Epstein’s sexual abuse of children date back to 2002, seventeen years ago. We produce here a timeline of the sordid events leading up to his death:

2002: The earliest allegations of abuse take place at his Palm Beach mansion.

October 2002: Donald Trump tells New York magazine he has known Epstein for 15 years, and that he is a “terrific guy . . . it is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

2005: One of Epstein’s alleged victims, aged 14, reports him to the police in Palm Beach—triggering the first police investigation.

May 2006: Epstein is charged with unlawful sex acts with a minor. Later in 2006, the case is referred to the FBI.

2007: A plea deal is struck with Alex Acosta, the US Attorney in Florida, and instead of facing federal sex-trafficking charges, Epstein pleads guilty to a far lesser sentence.

June 2008: Epstein is sentenced to 13 months in prison in a private wing of a county jail. He is allowed to leave the prison (officially “for work”) for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

April 2017: Alex Acosta is appointed Secretary of Labor by now-President Donald Trump.

July 2019: Epstein is arrested on new sex-trafficking charges, which he denies. Alex Acosta resigns due to the media storm, after the sweetheart deal he brokered for Epstein is reported on extensively.

It is impossible not to feel disgusted at the blatant abuses of power at every level of this case. To receive only 13 months in prison—and able to leave for half the day, six days a week—after sexually abusing a child, is shocking when compared to the sentences imposed on workers and the poor for relatively minor crimes. As an example, the average prison sentence in the US for selling small quantities of cannabis is just over two years.

What’s more, following his year of “prison,” Epstein was able to enjoy a further decade living his depraved billionaire lifestyle before his past caught up with him for the last time. Epstein maintained his properties and assets after his conviction and maintained his privileged social position within ruling-class circles.

A decade ago, such stories of disgusting sexual crimes from the rich and famous would have shocked us to the core. Now, while the crimes are no less horrendous, we have almost come to expect this kind of behavior from the super-wealthy—as well as the blatant hypocrisy and lack of genuine justice from the criminal justice system.

The vast majority of ordinary people are not sexual predators, pedophiles, or rapists. Why are these disgusting criminals so overrepresented in the upper echelons of society? Why does the legal system allow these monsters to walk away effectively scot-free, while disproportionately punishing the poor?

The answer is that the dog-eat-dog capitalist system rewards the most callous, selfish, and cut-throat individuals. Under capitalism, the entire criminal justice system—from the police, to the courts, to the prisons—is an arm of the state, a tool used by the ruling class to defend their wealth and power.

And the same class of people who make the laws believe that they can personally ignore and disregard them. The superrich think that they can act with impunity—because they know that the laws of society will bend to their wealth and wishes. As the old saying goes: the law is like a spider’s web—the small and vulnerable get caught, but the powerful rip right through it.

Honesty, fairness, and kindness may be highly regarded by ordinary workers—but these are not the traits required to ascend to the top of Wall Street, Washington, or Hollywood. Instead, human scum like Epstein rise to the top—the perfect embodiment of this cold and corrupt system. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that so many sociopaths are in positions of power. Capitalism is sick through and through—and the only cure is to abolish it altogether.

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