A recent documentary about the lives and crimes of the Maxwell family, including media mogul Robert and his sex-trafficking daughter Ghislaine, reveals the corruption and depravity of the capitalist class – and of their rotten system.
Recent three-part BBC documentary House of Maxwell shines a light on the infamous Maxwell family: a wealthy dynasty built through corruption, deceit, and criminality.
Revolving around the most infamous family members, patriarch Sir Robert Maxwell and his daughter Ghislaine, the documentary provides an insight into the ruthlessness of the capitalist class.
For most younger viewers, the only Maxwell they will be familiar with is Ghislaine – a socialite who groomed young girls for sexual exploitation at the hands of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. But she’s far from being the only Maxwell with a murky past.
Rise and fall
Through the documentary, we also get to know Robert Maxwell: a sociopathic playboy tycoon who makes Elon Musk look amateurish. Maxwell was a man in search of wealth and power – willing to do whatever it took to get it.
As a soldier in Berlin after WW2, Maxwell ran a lucrative black-market operation, moving whatever goods he could get between the occupation zones. Eventually, he became an agent for MI6 and the KGB – playing one off against the other, and even using MI6 to fund his first publishing company!
After six years as a Labour MP (1964-70), Maxwell turned his full attention to building his publishing business, Maxwell Communications. The way he ran his business empire can only be compared to that of a paranoid dictator – tapping phones and bugging rooms of anyone remotely close to him.
Maxwell built his growing media empire, across Europe and the world, looking to rival Rupert Murdoch. However, in the process he was accumulating huge debts of hundreds of millions.
Ghislaine’s relationship with her father is revisited many times. Throughout the programme it repeatedly goes back to Maxwell’s suspicious death in 1991. His body was found floating in the water near his yacht, named Lady Ghislaine after his daughter.
Soon after his death, he was found to have plundered hundreds of millions from the Mirror Group pension fund to aid his failing business empire. The ensuing fallout revealed that Maxwell had created an enormous fraudulent web of lies – a web so complicated that only a few had worked out anything fishy was going on at all.
The Epstein connection
Inevitably, the documentary focuses on the introduction of Jeffrey Epstein into Ghislaine’s life. It is heavily suggested that Epstein and Robert Maxwell were connected, and even points to this as the ‘original sin’ for her relationship with Epstein.
After Maxwell’s death, staff on the Lady Ghislaine were allegedly ordered to destroy many documents detailing agreements between him and Epstein. Given that Epstein’s entire career effectively involved hiding money for billionaires, this doesn’t exactly seem an out of place theory.
The third and final episode looks at the crimes of Ghislaine and Epstein. Here we see the relationship between the two deepen, and the true scale of their sex trafficking of vulnerable young girls.
After her father’s death, Ghislaine was left with “nothing”. But in Epstein, she found someone “very special”. He was her ticket to continue the life that her father had provided: the wealth, status, and all the eventual disgusting indulgences that came with it.
Their depraved scheme of exploitation began at Palm Beach. But Ghislaine would continue to groom girls all over America, and indeed the world. Seemingly glamorous, she would use her skills and wealth to manipulate and convince these girls that she could offer them a better life.
These girls were then sexually assaulted by Epstein and others, with one victim saying she had met at least 50 other girls doing the same as her in their sordid system.
The documentary ends with Ghislaine’s trial, posing the question: how could they have done this alone? How could nobody else have known?
One interviewee correctly points out that: “It could not have existed, on the scale it existed, for the time it existed, without the participation of very rich and powerful people.” But this point is not developed.
The only reason the Maxwells have been hung up to dry, is because they were caught taking part in the abhorrent indulgences of a corrupt system, and could no longer be ignored.
Ultimately, the capitalist media will always attempt to portray people such as the Maxwell family as corrupt anomalies and rogue operators, as is the overall theme in this documentary.
In reality, capitalism rewards callous individuals who are willing to exploit other people in order to gain a profit. Under these conditions, the super-rich and powerful will do whatever it takes to secure their wealth. Corruption, deceit, and control, have always been key features of all ruling classes, but tend to be kept hidden from view.
The Maxwells simply reveal the ugly face of the capitalist class, which is otherwise hidden behind a smiling mask. Our task is not to rid the world of a few ‘bad apples’, but to clear away the entire rotten system.