Sunday, February 16, 2020

Running Commentary: It’s the greatest (1988)

The Running Commentary Column from the February 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

It’s the greatest

As Ronald Reagan's autocue prompts him to tell us, America is the greatest country in the world. It is the Land of the Free, awash with good living — where someone can rise from barefoot log-cabin poverty to become rich, famous and powerful; where even an actor playing second fiddle to Errol Flynn can be elected President. What a place to live.

At this point a recalcitrant autocue might begin to flash up a few facts about America which Reagan either doesn't know about or doesn't care to consider. For example there is the report, published last December, of a group of 23 doctors who found that for a significant number of Americans prosperity is a sick joke and freedom a choice between different adjustments of their destitution.

Describing it as an "epidemic of malnourishment", the report said that 20 million Americans now suffer from hunger. Nearly 14 per cent of the population live at or below the official poverty line, with the conditions worsening according to skin colour. For whites the percentage is 11; for Hispanics 27.3; for Blacks 31.1.

Even in sunny California — the home of so many good things American like Hollywood, oranges, smog and Reagan himself — the doctors found 3.6 million people existing within the definition of poverty, with ten per cent relying on regular food relief from charities. As hundreds of thousands of Californians can't afford to consult a doctor when they are ill. the infant mortality rate there is rising for the first time in 20 years.

Of course this account, grim though it is. is not nearly so bad as those of people in other parts of the world, where mass famine regularly wipes out millions every year (which is perhaps why Reagan can make such extravagant claims for American lifestyles). But it represents a fairly typical sketch of working class life in an advanced capitalist state, where the excessive wealth of capitalists like Reagan stands in contrast to the most desperate and degrading deprivation.

When they are confronted with the stark facts about working class poverty — about slums, malnourishment. needless disease and death — the politicians' conditioned response is a programme for a few financial re-arrangements like changes in state benefits or charitable grants. The apparent plausibility of such programmes is effectively undermined by the fact that poverty is persistent within capitalism and universal to it. Its degree will vary from time to time and from place to place but it is always present, always degrading, always repressing, always killing.

The reason for this is to be found in the basic nature of capitalist society, whose class division over the ownership of the means of life causes the majority to have only a limited access to wealth. At times this can mean a relatively genteel impoverishment. At others it can mean clinging to life at the most basic, essential level. This is the everyday experience of millions of workers throughout capitalism, including those who are so fondly addressed by Reagan as his "fellow Americans". inhabitants of the greatest . . . Well, yes.


Revenge

Fearless fighters against terrorism, like Thatcher and Reagan, are agreed that the one effective way to wipe out the problem is to create the certainty of swift and complete repression. Send in the Marines, or the SAS or, in the face of some extreme outrage, get Thatcher to denounce it in the House.

Among the world's most ardent practitioners of repression are the Israeli ruling class whose state, let it be remembered, was supposed to be founded on humane motives, forged in the Holocaust. Israel is now among the most powerful military states in the Middle East, with a reputation for dealing ruthlessly with anything it sees as a threat to its stability. This policy has brought about many bloody episodes and has been vented particularly harshly on the Palestinians for whom, it might be supposed, an Israeli government should have some fellow-feeling.

What has been the effect of this policy? Has it dissuaded potential guerrilla fighters? Can guerrilla terrorism be suppressed by officially sanctioned, state organised, terrorism?

In 1985 a group of Palestinian guerrillas made an apparently indiscriminate attack on people at Rome airport, throwing hand grenades and spraying the terminal with machine gun fire. They were opposed by Israeli and Italian security staff; it is not entirely clear — and does not matter — who fired first but what is not in dispute is that 16 people were killed and about 80 injured.

Last December one of the Palestinians — Mahmoud Ibrahim Khaled — was on trial in Rome for his part in the attack. Just turned 20 years old. Khaled expressed his remorse for the "gesture full of horror" and, in what was unlikely to be an influential part of his statement, told why he came to be at the airport on that awful day.

Khaled's childhood was spent as a refugee, in a camp for displaced Palestinians where both his parents were killed in a raid by Israeli bombers. What did this experience teach him? Raised in conditions of the most fearsome deprivation and assault. Khaled's defence was to become hardened into an easy prey to the delusions of Palestinian nationalism. In this, he was not unlike those other guerrillas who, many years ago, committed what were called acts of terrorism to make the case for an independent Jewish state. He joined what was intended to be a suicide squad to launch an indiscriminate massacre. It probably seemed a way of coping with the terrors and indignities he experienced every day of his young life. The Israelis who went in to attack the refugees certainly taught them a lesson — but it was not one they intended to teach them.

The fact that he now bitterly regrets what he did is not entirely to the point: "The sentence does not matter to me." he wrote to the court in Rome. ". . . I expect nothing from life".

Ideas are not to be eliminated through violence; the more likely response is counter-violence, if only in revenge. The people of the Middle East are suffering now under their appalling burden of fear and destruction, not because any of them are especially cruel or reckless but because there are huge, supranational investments absorbed in the mineral wealth and the strategic importance of the area. That is the problem to be dealt with if there are to be no more massacres and no more desperate young people for whom life is cheap because they expect nothing from it.


Celebration

Off the top of the head it is difficult to remember a time when CND thought there was anything to celebrate so it came as a jolt to see them dancing and breaking open the champagne to toast a more hopeful future for the human race. Plainly, something was up.

In the more sober morning after they might have taken a calmer look at the reason for their celebration — the INF treaty between Russia and America which promises, among other things, to remove Cruise missiles from Britain.

Well apart from the fact that this may eventually make the winding lanes of Berkshire and Cambridgeshire rather easier for civilians to use, was that anything to get happy about? By even the most sanguine of estimates, it is likely to be some years before the missiles leave Greenham Common and Molesworth.

Then there is the fact that such missiles are only a part of the nuclear powers' armoury. There still exists the fearsome array of super weapons, which can virtually wipe out settled life on this planet in a day or two and render whoever and whatever survives in no state to carry on.

Another uncomfortable, but largely disregarded, fact is that the warheads are not to be destroyed because this is to all intents and purposes impossible. The delivery systems will be dismantled. leaving the knowledge and the productive techniques, as well as the motivation for their original production, intact.

And as we pointed out last month, the superpowers were soon at work seeking out ways of bridging any gaps the treaty might leave in their capacities to kill and destroy. Anyone who thinks that capitalist states easily and voluntarily surrender positions which they have expensively and painstakingly built up, over a long time, in opposition to each other suffers from a tendency for self- delusion which alcoholic celebration is likely to exacerbate.

In any case the worth of the INF treaty must be seen in its perspective. The history of capitalism is crammed with pacts which were solemnly signed only to be ignored. The Locarno Treaty of 1924 was seen as a cause for celebration because in a war weary Europe the powers committed themselves to keep the peace but come 1939 the signatories were at war with each other. The Russo-German pact of 1939 did not stop Germany invading Russia, nor Russia expecting the attack to happen. Signatories to the United Nations Charter consider themselves bound by it only when it suits their ruling class' interests to be so. And so on.

There is no cause to invest any more hope in the INF treaty. No reason to dance, to quaff champagne in celebration. No cause to think that war, in whatever form, is less of a threat. No reason to be diverted from the work to abolish the cause of war the capitalist system whose ugliness is so aptly characterised in nuclear weapons.

Power to the people (1988)

From the February 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Standard apologises for being a little late with the news but last month Margaret Thatcher became the longest-serving Prime Minister of the century. The great, national sigh of gratitude and relief which greeted the fateful day when she passed the record of Herbert Asquith was quickly blotted out by the sound of frantically hammered typewriters, as political scribes launched into yet another assessment of her time in office, now compared with that of Asquith.

Modern capitalism demands that its executives in the state machine work a great deal harder now than they did eighty years ago. Thatcher, for example, rises at 6am and carries on throughout the day until the small hours of the next one. Only under protest does she take one brief holiday a year. Asquith, who was accustomed to taking several leisurely breaks, would have been horrified; but Thatcher revels under the pressure, drawing energy from the sense that she is at the centre of decision-taking, where policies are laid down and changes are wrought. She is, the scribes were agreed, politically dominant now; amid the column inches of awed admiration for her, a certain phrase began to creep in more and more often elective dictatorship. It means that Thatcher, having won power through the votes of millions of workers, uses that power as if she has an eternal grasp of it — as if she is a dictator. Her method is to ensure that British capitalism is run as she wants it to be by purging her government of all doubting or dissident influences and surrounding herself with people who, although nominally her advisers, rarely if ever question what she is doing.

An example of this was in the appointment of the new Cabinet Secretary, to replace Robert Armstrong who will be remembered for his squirming euphemism about being "economical with the truth" long after all his other work is forgotten. Poor Armstrong, going faithfully into the jaws of a ruthless cross examination on the other side of the world and, as always seemed inevitable, ending up an international laughing stock. But at least it proved one thing; it laid to rest the old myth that it is the Civil Service which runs capitalism rather than the people who are elected to be the government. Armstrong's successor, Robin Butler, is renowned as a Thatcher devotee, having been her principal private secretary. An all-powerful Civil Service would hardly have allowed such an appointment, so soon after Armstrong s humiliation.

But as the myth of the omnipotent Civil Service faded, it was to some extent replaced with concern over the influence of the lobbyists. These are the people who operate behind the scenes of government, with the object of influencing decisions in favour of the organisations who have hired them. Lobbying is a growth industry — if that word can be applied to it — which has expanded over the past few years from a few small firms competing for a small total annual fee into a business with some big companies, often subsidiaries of advertising agencies (of course Saatchi and Saatchi has one) able to command fees in tens of thousands for their services. The lobbyists need to know their way around the corridors of power; many of them once worked as senior civil servants or advisers to politicians. Recent events where they were active were the Westlands affair, the Guinness bid for Distillers and the SAS attempt to take over a slice of British Caledonian. While there is no reason to accept the lobbyists' estimates of their own influence — they have an obvious interest in exaggeration — it is true that they are an addition to what seems to many people a mass of confused influences, all operating on the government, which effectively blanket out any democratic content. There is Thatcher behaving as if she is a dictator; there is the civil service, through their position of the permanent factor whichever government is in power; there are the lobbyists, working behind the scenes to distort and frustrate governmental decisions. In all this, what happens to the wishes of the voters? To the promises on which the government was elected? Is there any point in ever voting again?

Anyone who suffers nightmares about a Britain in the grip of the faceless mandarins of Whitehall, or of the slick operators in the public relations business, can be re-assured. Whatever influence these people may be able to exert they can operate only within a certain system (after all, no recalcitrant civil servant has ever sabotaged a minute so as to help along the case for abolishing capitalism). We live under a social system based on a class division, into owners and non-owners — into capitalists and workers. This society cannot be democratic — it has to have its secrets, whether they are military, commercial or governmental (as Robert Armstrong knows only too well). The owning capitalists hold a privileged social position — privileged in their access to wealth, to information, to power and to the process of decision taking. The working class are never asked about decisions like the take-over of British Caledonian; it is simply not within the scope of their social position under capitalism.

This situation exists because the working class allow it to. At present the capitalist class — the ruling class — hold power but they do this through the fact that the working class agree to it. The workers are the majority; they are the useful, productive people who design and produce and operate all that society needs. As the majority they have the potential power; at present they surrender this power to the capitalists by voting in their millions for one or other of the parties which, whatever their incidental differences, are agreed that capitalism should continue. People who are concerned about the subversive distortion of governmental decisions should consider where the responsibility lies — how it is that an undemocratic system can be energised, again and again, through millions of democratic votes.

And that brings us to the important question of what can be done about it. How do we bring Thatcher's elective dictatorship to an end? How do we unmask the shadowy figures behind Whitehall's desks? How do we see off the subversive lobbyists? Well it is possible to have a society in which all people stand in equality in the sense that they all have the same rights of access to what society produces, whether it is wealth or a service or information. This will be a society which will work on majority consent, in the interests of the majority. It will have a universal, human unity in its objects and its achievements. Minority class interests will not exist and neither will the mess of deceits and cynicism which they entail. So there is no need to be down-hearted at Thatcher's record; like all the events of capitalism, it puts some important questions and offers some illuminating answers. We can change things; as soon as the society of common ownership and free access arrives, the Socialist Standard will not be late with the news.
Ivan

World without frontiers (1988)

From the February 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

For the Socialist Party socialism will be a world without frontiers; a world in which there will be no such thing as nations or national boundaries, in which every person on the earth will be completely free to travel anywhere they like at any time. If the reader wonders what socialists have got against existing national boundaries and divisions, perhaps the following will explain our view.

From the Russian citizen's earliest childhood. the regime in the USSR does its utmost to inculcate the belief that the "enemies of communism" (sic) are awaiting a favourable opportunity to attack from every side. But in reality, the Russian border guards are constantly watching out, not only for any saboteurs or spies trying to get in. but also for Russian citizens trying to get out. As s/he grows up. the Russian citizen no longer believes the official fairy tale and realizes the true purpose of the "frontier system”.

The frontier system does not have the automatic firing-devices found on the East German border, but it is still well-equipped. Briefly, the security arrangements of a typical stretch of Soviet frontier are divided, as one approaches from the interior, into three distinct zones:

  1. The frontier zone. i.e. the adjacent area. Every resident must have a special permit with a special ID stamp; permission to enter the zone must be obtained from the militia even if only in transit; special troop units enforce security. Any unauthorised person found in this area is arrested and investigated — thoroughly.
  2. The fortified zone: this, an area about 100 yards wide, contains various "systems" including (a) barbed-wire entanglements supported by concrete posts covered with protective metal layers. This zone is interrupted by numerous "corridors" which can be electronically operated, opened from observation posts. A guard phones the post commander to request opening a corridor using a password that is changed every day. Posts at which guards can plug in the receiver worn on their belts are scattered around the "neutral zone" following the line of the frontier (low-voltage current causes the slightest contact with the wire to set off an alarm signal in the control box), (b) Immediately beyond the wire is a five- or six-yard-wide strip in which the soil is regularly turned over so that any footprints would stand out distinctly, (c) Then there's a system of "concertina" barbed-wire entanglements supported on short stakes, (d) Another system is hidden in the long grass and brush — a spider's web of steel loops. One border guard reported: "Whoever catches his foot in a loop falls down; when he tries to rise he gets caught in another loop. The harder you struggle, the more entangled you get" (from Posev no. 4. 1977. p. 37). And finally:
  3. The "neutral zone" (no-man's land) belonging to no-one. but Russian border guards with submachine-guns and dogs patrol it in pairs day and night.
Any border guard who shoots a fugitive is awarded a government medal "for valour", although shooting an unarmed civilian in the back with a burp-gun doesn't require any exceptional courage. Fugitives are sometimes hunted down illegally outside of Russian territory if they somehow manage to pull off a Houdini-like escape.

Perhaps now it is easier to see why we socialists prefer a world without any national boundaries; a world without frontiers.
DEF

Let’s have free access (1971)

Editorial from the February 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard

“Abolish money? That’s impossible.” Is it? Surely all we need to produce wealth are human beings who are prepared to work and materials from nature. So if it is impossible to abolish money, it cannot be because money is an essential ingredient of the production process.

Before we go any further let us establish what money is. The metal discs and coloured paper which people carry around with them are not money. They are only almost worthless tokens for the real thing— gold. Gold of course is itself wealth in that it is the product of human labour on nature-given material. This is an important point since many people assume that money itself is not wealth, but merely a voucher entitling a person to so much wealth of his choice.

Money is useful wherever wealth is exchanged. Exchange is a simple word whose meaning should be clear —when things are exchanged one is given in return for the other—but it is commonly confused with distribution. When things are distributed they are not exchanged; they are merely being taken from one place to another. The work involved in this is strictly speaking part of the process of producing wealth. Money, then, does not distribute wealth. Wealth is distributed by men loading and driving lorries or trains or ships or planes.

Perhaps this confusion arises because the word “Distribution” means sharing-out as well as dispersing and so fits in well with the mistaken view that money is a voucher entitling a person to such-and-such a share of the wealth that has been produced.
Historically, the most common kind of exchange has been that of equivalents and this is the only kind that need concern us now. So much wheat would be given in return for so many sheep or so many pots in return for so much cloth. This process of barter is cumbersome and becomes impractical when exchange grows to any extent. At this stage the need is felt for something that can be exchanged for anything else — money, for that is what money is, an item of wealth that can be exchanged for any and every other item of wealth. We can now see why money is itself, and must be, wealth. For, with the exchange of things of equal value, nobody is going to give his wheat or sheep or pots or cloth in return for something that is not worth the same.

Exchange implies something else, too. It implies that the wealth to be exchanged is owned by different people. After all, if one person or one community owned all the wheat as well as all the sheep, the question of exchanging them just would not arise. Exchange presupposes the private ownership of wealth.

This is why the establishment of the common ownership of the means of production and distribution will mean the end of exchange and so the disappearance of money. All the wealth that is produced, as well as the means and instruments for producing and distributing it, will belong to the whole community so that the problem will be simply to distribute it to where it is needed. This is just a question of organisation. When the wealth has reached the stores then people can freely take of it what they need. This — free access — is our alternative to money.

We are witnessing how the other alternative works in the present upset over the introduction of a decimal coinage in this country. The official propaganda, a vastly expensive advertising campaign, has been directed at getting us to understand the new system and to accept it. We have seen the photo-strips of the crotchety old lady being won round to a decimal enthusiast. We have had, coming through the door with the detergent coupons, the booklet from the Decimal Coinage Board.

And we have been told that it is all to do with efficiency. Decimals will be easier to work, the system will save money in the long run. It will bring the British currency somewhere into line with those of other countries and, as we point out elsewhere in this issue, is a step towards a common European currency. What this amounts to is that decimal coinage is an efficiency measure designed to benefit British industry and commerce, by which is meant the owners of industry, by which is meant the British capitalist class.

It has yet to be demonstrated, how “efficiency” helps the other side, the people who have to bumble through the shops with the unaccustomed coinage, the people who have to worry about whether they are being swindled in the changeover, the people whose lives depend on the wage which comes in the form of money. The interests of these people — the working class, the vast majority of society — are not concerned with “efficiency” or export drives or international trading tie-ups or rearrangements of currencies.

What the change to decimals does show up is the basic inefficiency of capitalism. The apologists for the system tell us that money is itself an efficient thing, that it oils the wheels of production and distribution. Yet here we have had a situation in which those same apologists have been telling us that money is a hindrance, that the different currency systems lead to inefficiency and we need a huge, expensive, time consuming propaganda campaign and a mighty upheaval to adjust it all.

Yet if we are interested in efficiency (as we are) there is something which is of top priority. If we want a society where wealth can move around the world freely, where it can be produced as human beings need it, we must think about a system which excludes money. The capitalist social system hinders distribution and restricts production. Its priority is not efficiency but profit for a minority. It must be swept away and replaced by Socialism, the world of free production and access.

World at Work: Slaughter of South American Indians for Oil (1971)

From the February 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard

Slaughter of South American Indians for Oil

Oil has been called ‘black gold’. Not an inapposite comparison with the precious metal since it has meant the enrichment of a few, has been fought over by many and has reduced human beings to the most degraded levels of behaviour in the endeavour to get their hands on it.

The blood-stained hand of capitalist violence is now poised ready to deal a death-blow to a small tribe of South American Indians in Colombia. The systematic attempt at extermination of the Guahibo tribe in the Planas region by the Colombian army and settlers came to light as the result of certain Colombian clerics writing for help to the World Council of Churches. Subsequent enquiries on behalf of the Sunday Times (15 November 1970) has substantiated the truth of the letter, which the Colombian Government at first tried to discredit.

To the misfortune of the Indians “their” lands may have oil underneath and it is for this that they are being slaughtered. Many of the seven thousand Indians are virtually the slaves of the settlers and their condition and treatment at the hands of these unscrupulous men is very harsh. Their numbers are also being decimated by disease and malnutrition.

A number of Indians took refuge in the Jungle with a former police inspector sympathetic to them and resisted the settlers with violence. This seems to have given the Colombian government an excuse to crack down on them. As one settler put it: “There will not be any peace in this region until the Indians are gone”— a sentiment echoed all over the world today and in the past to justify the grabbing of the world’s wealth by a few and one to be heard in the future for as long as capitalism lasts.


Trading in the sword for a plough-share

To banish strife and discord from among the nations of the world, as capitalist politicians might put in their more lyrical and biblically inspired moments, has long been one of their dreams, and it was at one time believed that all that had to be done to achieve this happy state was to liberalise trade between countries by abolishing tariffs, import quotas and other barriers to commerce. The principal exponents of this doctrine in Britain were the Liberals. A new variation on this antique theme has been composed by an international lawyer named Samuel Pisar and he has dedicated it to Russia in a book called Commerce and Coexistence.

In Pisar’s opinion the best way of countering and prevailing over the threat posed by Russia is to demonstrate the West’s superior capacity for economic progress. Presumably what Pisar has in mind is that when and if the Russian consumer tastes the fruits of American affluence (no doubt Ralph Nader and Vance Packard can give them some advice on what to choose) the aggression in those breasts will be soothed and lowering brows unknitted by having a good splurge.

So far from bringing peace to the world it is trade and commerce which give rise to the tensions and conflicts between nations, the military conflict of war merely being an extension of the economic struggle going on all the time. One 19th century economist bluntly stated that “When goods cannot cross frontiers, armies will.” Sebastian de Ferranti, chairman and managing director of the electronics firm of Ferranti, also used strong language in describing the real situation when he referred to the support which Britain gives the U.S.A. in a speech at the opening of a new plant in Dundee. “It is an extraordinary state of affairs where our enemy in these advanced fields is encouraged and given financial support to come particularly to Scotland to compete with us” (Times, 23 April 1969). In the same article it was also reported that he had said that in the more advanced fields of technology Britain had only one enemy, that was America with whom we were at war.

The economic causes of the First and Second World Wars have been well documented for all to read, as have the admissions of capitalist statesmen on this subject. Perhaps when Pisar takes off his rose coloured spectacles he may discover this too.


Conserving Conservation

As might be expected in European Conservation Year, no positive steps have been taken to preserve the natural environment from further depredations of industrial expansion. In Britain we have been regaled with news that members of the capitalist class, anxious to make more profit and to help their sacred cow, the balance of payments, are turning their rapacious eyes to one of Britain’s most beautiful areas, Snowdonia, with a view to open-cast mining.

So far all that has been done to this end by Rio Tinto Zinc International Mining Co., the industrial concern involved, has been the placing of two applications for mining tests to be carried out at Coed-y-Brenin Forest and in the estuary of the Mawddach river.

There is considerable unemployment in the area and RTZ are playing upon this to gather local support. Furthermore exploitation of national natural resources could be said to be in the “national interest” by helping the balance of payments which is the concern of British capitalism generally. One of the ploys regularly used in getting new and controversial industrial projects accepted is to emphasise the increase of jobs, and to the unemployed this probably has very great appeal. To the socialist it reveals the degradation and servility of the worker in welcoming his own exploitation and the destruction of natural and social amenities which he and his fellow workers enjoy on rare occasions and then only briefly as a respite from the tedium of everyday life in capitalist society.

What is ultimately at stake here is the entire concept of national parks as areas of countryside of outstanding and unique natural beauty set aside for leisure and recreational purposes and accessible to anyone who cares to visit them. The Conservationists fighting the threat may win the day, but it will not be the last battle they will have to fight against the rapacity of capitalism.


The Elusive Millionaire
They seek him here, they seek him there,
The pressmen seek him everywhere.
Is he in Nassau or has he come back?
Or is he in Vegas playing Black Jack?
The most publicised man in the world today is an American multi-millionaire who has been seen by very few people during the past 13 years (he was last photographed in public in 1957) and has attracted more sensational publicity by trying to avoid it, so it seems, than any film star getting divorced for the umpteenth time.

Howard Hughes first gained a reputation as a film producer and then as a record breaking aeroplane pilot and designer. His fame now largely rests upon his withdrawal from, and lack of contact with, the world outside his hotel suite. The story of Howard Hughes’ career is not the usual romantic one of a man who went from rags to riches but of a man with a wealthy father who went from riches to super riches. No doubt Hughes could always have counted on his father to supply him with a pile of dollars on which to have a soft landing in the event of a fall.

Today Howard Hughes is the owner of a vast business empire whose value runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. To help him run it he employs an army of minions— lawyers, accountants and other experts, such is the complexity of its financial structure and so extensive are its ramifications.

Some of his minions were involved in a "who controls what” dispute which broke out (or, at least became publicly known) early in December over his Las Vegas gambling operations. Hughes, the only one who could settle the dispute, was reported to have gone to the Bahamas. He is said to have disappeared mysteriously on a previous occasion at a time of crisis in his business empire. At one stage the governor of Nevada intervened and personally contacted Hughes. No doubt the break up of Hughes’ gambling and other interests in the state could have had serious repercussions, there, since Hughes is the owner of numerous gambling houses, the state’s largest landowner and one of the largest employers (Times 7 December 1970) as well as having other property interests there.

Howard Hughes’ fortune, like the entire wealth of the rest of the American capitalist class, and elsewhere for that matter, is solely deprived from the exploitation and dispossession of the vast majority of the people by whose labour wealth in all its forms is produced.

The extremes of luxurious living and destitution can nowhere be more clearly seen than in America. Howard Hughes is just one of many Americans possessed of immense wealth, perhaps it can all best be summed up in these words "One man’s wealth is many men’s poverty”.
Spectator