Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Much has been written about how many intellectuals in the 1930s became committed Communists, and how difficult it was to escape the toils of this allegiance.  The escape process was chronicled in the 1949 book The God That Failed by Arthur Koestler, André Gide, Ignazio Silone and three others.
 I have personal knowledge because my parents were Communists. Another was Harry Hay, the founder of the modern gay movement, whose centennial is being marked this year. Hay found his Communist Party experience useful as a repertoire of organizing devices. Yet when the Party learned that he was creating a society of perverts, they forced him to quit. 
Stalinism was extremely homophobic. Yet Harry remained in some sense loyal, making a pilgrimage as late as 1981 to the Soviet Union, when its fate was already sealed. 
As with many such people, Hay's acquaintance with Marxist theory was thin. He never quite understood the point of "religion is the opiate of the people," and launched the faerie spirituality movement. 
Contradictions abound in all of us, to be sure, and one shouldn't mock. Yet one shouldn't be swept away by what one writer called the "romance of Communism," but examine such errors and follies with total frankness.


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