Tuesday, February 19, 2013

C10.  The US gay-rights movement is a manifestation of far-left subversion, and its goal is to destroy America as we know it.

A. The Charge.  How far we have traveled from the wisdom of earlier days!  We all should honor the memory of a courageous speech by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin at a Lincoln's Birthday dinner of a Republican League in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950. In his remarks McCarthy accused the Truman Administration of harboring "loyalty and security risks" in government service. And the security risks, he later told Congressional investigators, were in no small part made up of "sex perverts." A subcommittee of the Senate was duly formed to investigate his charges, with all seven members of the subcommittee endorsing them, and calling for more stringent measures to ferret out homosexuals in government.

Of course some naysayers scoffed.  In fact, however, the modern gay rights movement was started by a group of card-carrying Communists in Los Angeles in the 1950s.  As such, it was a plot devised in Moscow with the intent of weakening America’s moral fabric.  Alas, even though the Soviet Union is no more, the scheme succeeded all too well.  In keeping with its far-left origins, the gay movement has remained antithetical to American values, seeking to forge a “new, progressive society,” one in which no decent citizen would want to live.

B. Historical Background.  The ideas of Marx and Engels emerged from the ferment of radical thought that bubbled forth in Restoration Europe, an era that began in 1815.  This ferment included positivist, empiricist, anarchist, socialist, and Christian-socialist strains.

Unlike the individualist utopian Charles Fourier, Marx and Engels showed little interest in sex and sexual orientation; indeed they were typical Victorians in this respect. There can be little doubt that, as far as they thought of the matter at all, Marx and Engels were personally homophobic, as shown by an acerbic 1869 exchange of letters on Jean-Baptiste von Schweitzer, a German socialist rival. Schweitzer had been arrested in a park on a morals charge and not only did Marx and Engels refuse to join a committee defending him, they resorted to the cheapest form of bathroom humor in their private comments about the affair. Similar lack of subtlety characterizes their views on the pioneering homophile theories of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, in which they confused uranism with pederasty and pederasty with pedication (anal intercourse).

The only important sexual passage, however, in the body of work published in the lifetimes of the two founders occurs in Engels' Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884): "Greek women found plenty of opportunity for deceiving their husbands. The men ... amused themselves with hetaerae, but this degradation of women was avenged on the men and degraded them till they fell into the abominable practice of pederasty {Knabenliebe) and degraded alike their gods and themselves with the myth of Ganymede." Engels' tracing of the problem to heterosexual infidelities is curious in view of his own record of amorous adventurism.

As in Freudian psychoanalysis, the very question of what is orthodox in Marxism has incited an enormous debate. Marx himself ejected Mikhail Bakunin and other anarchists, all of whom by doctrine tolerated homosexuality, from the First Interna­tional. Yet one is on firm ground in saying that Social Democracy (which also had non-Marxist roots) departed in two fundamental respects: it favored gradual reform instead of revolutionary upheaval; and held that attitudes could be changed before the economy was transformed - thus eroding the basic Marxist doctrine of the dependency of the cultural superstructure on the economic base.

In the 1890s, some Social Democrats like August Bebel and Eduard Bernstein in Germany sought to foster a more enlightened social attitude, advocating women's rights and the elimination of laws criminalizing homosexuals. Such efforts were largely conducted among intellectuals and bureaucrats who intuited that the masses were not yet prepared to discard inherited prejudices.

A few gay leftists have projected a rosy picture of homosexual life in Russia in the years after the 1917 revolution. Yet the abrogation of the tsarist law against sodomy was simply part of an overall rejection of the laws of the old regime and significantly, the Soviets never undertook any campaign to combat popular prejudice against homosexuality, as they did, for example, against the misogyny, Great Russian chauvinism, and anti-Semitism. Also, despite much searching, no unequivocal statement in support of homosexual rights has ever been unearthed from the prolific writings of Lenin or Trotsky, even though both had lived in Western Europe at the time of the early German homosexual rights movement. Under Lenin Russian homosexuals fared no better - if even as well - as they had done in the last decades of tsarist rule, when such brilliant figures as Tchaikovsky, Kuzmin, and Kluev came to the fore.

In the 1920s some German homosexual movement figures such as Magnus Hirschfeld and Richard Linsert (the latter a minor Communist Party functionary in Berlin) were favorably impressed by reports suggesting enlightened attitudes in the Soviet Union - about which they had no direct knowledge. They appear to have been the victims of an early disinformation campaign on the part of the Soviets.

Not everyone was taken in. Although André Gide proclaimed his sympathy for the Soviet Union in 1932, four years later after visiting the country he wrote openly of his disillusionment. Aware of anti-homosexual legislation passed in 1934, he attempted to bring up the matter with Stalin, without success. On publishing his defection from the "Popular Front" line, Gide was attacked by French and Czechoslovak party stalwarts (who had previously lauded him to the skies) as a "poor bugger" who had mixed up "revolution and pederasty."

As early as the 1920s leaders of Western Communist parties began to float the idea that the public discussion of homosexuality, and a seeming increase in homosexual activity, resulted from the decadence of capitalism in its death throes. Homosexuality was to disappear in the healthy new society of the future.

After the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Marxist proponents of the decadence theory added a new layer to these attacks in their myth of "fascist perversion," some purported affinity between homosexuality and Nazism. Leftist propaganda of this type may have played a part in Hitler's decision to liquidate his homosexual henchman Ernst Röhm, thereby distancing himself from the accusation.

In June 1934 the exiled Marxian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich opined: "The more clearly developed the natural heterosexual inclinations of the juvenile are, the more open he will be to revolutionary idea; the stronger the homosexual tendency within him... the more easily he will be drawn to the right." More generally, the heterosexualism that is so salient in the Marxist tradition may have been augmented by the perceived link between production and reproduction. Most Marxists are, of course, heterosexual and, in keeping with the tendency of true-believer groups to exalt all their shared traits, subject to unthinking bias.

The fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and Russia in 1989-91 made that political movement obsolete, except for fossils like Cuba and North Korea.  Following previous practice, the Communist parties that struggled to survive were generally unsympathetic to homosexual participation in their activities and indifferent to gay issues. In most western countries it has been Trotskyists, with their claustrophobic and faction-ridden experience of marginality, who have provided the few organizational havens open to gay people in the world Communist movement, such as it is nowadays.

Despite all this negativity, the contribution of Marxism to the movement for gay rights and to the interpretation of homosexual behavior itself merits separate consideration. When the second gay rights movement emerged in the form of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles in 1950, a number of its leaders, preeminently Henry Hay, had backgrounds in the Communist Party (CP) of the United States. Hay used the CP model for the cellular structure he designed for Mattachine. In an era in which homosexuality was illegal in every American state, the organizational structure of a political group that had, in many countries, been forced into clandestinity in order to survive seemed relevant. The American Communist Party had also been in the forefront of the early struggle against racial segregation, and this example also proved attractive: gay rights as a form of civil rights.

When the US civil rights movement entered its major phase in the 1960s, Marxist groups continued active but were less prominent. At this time, however, they made a significant contribution to the organizing of the protests against the Vietnam war, though this was also permeated by New Left, anarchist, and hippie elements. This amalgam made its effect felt on the new gay organizations that arose in the wake of the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 - especially the Gay Liberation Fronts of New York and other cities. At the same time Marxist influences had begun to permeate some sectors of renascent feminism; this channel contributed such organizational devices as consciousness raising and “political correctness.”

There were also important international effects.  Reflecting a number of events - such as the May 1968 insurrection in France, the anti-Vietnam War movement, unrest in the universities, and of course the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 - militant gay liberation organizations sprang up around the world. Many saw their roots as lying more in left radicalism than in the established homophile groups of the time, such as the British Gay Liberation Group (which took its name from its short-lived American counterpart), the British Left Gay Collective, the Italian Fuori!, the French FHAR, the German Rotzschwule, and the Dutch Red Faggots.  All these groups are now defunct.

A number of writers and leaders of this phase of the world gay-liberation movement came from a left-wing background, including David Fernbach (Britain), Daniel Guérin and Guy Hocquenghem (France), Mario Mieli (Italy), and Dennis Altman (Australia).  Some of these figures took their cue from Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization, a book that sought to combine the ideas of Karl Marx with those of Sigmund Freud.

The attitudes of some minor Marxist parties in the United States must be briefly noted.  The Revolutionary Communist Party’s policy that "struggle will be waged to eliminate [homosexuality] and reform homosexuals" wasn't abandoned until 2001. The RCP now supports gay liberation. Meanwhile, the more influential American Socialist Worker’s Party (SWP) released a memo stating that gay oppression had less "social weight" than black and women's struggles, forbidding members from being involved in gay political organizations. They maintained that too close an association with gay liberation would give the SWP an "exotic image" and alienate it from the masses.

As the GLBT movement began to gain ground, Socialist organizations' policies evolved, and some groups actively campaigned for gay rights whether opportunistically or out of conviction. Examples of this positive approach are the feminist Freedom Socialist Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the International Socialist Organization, and the Socialist Party USA.  The last group ranks the first American political party to select an openly gay man for president, nominating David McReynolds in 1980.

These groups remained tiny.  Even though McReynolds campaigned energetically for president, he only received 6,994 votes (0.01%) nationally in 1980.

By the late seventies the Marxist influence on the US gay liberation movement had peaked and was receding, a decline reflecting the perennial marginality of he revolutionary left in American political life.  The arcane, even scholastic tone that suffused the intellectual discussions did not help.

Moreover, the imposition of Soviet-style totalitarianism in Castro's Cuba, formerly the idol of gay radicals, dashed many hopes, and rival visions came forward: anarchist, libertarian, and communitarian.

By the early years of the twenty-first century, veterans of the gay left had come to feel increasingly marginalized.  The most important issue before the community was gay marriage - a mainstream, not a revolutionary issue.  This cause was widely decried in surviving gay-left circles as one of the chief culprits in the trend towards “assimilationism,” which they opposed. The ongoing commercialization of gay culture and everyday life also alienated the gay leftists, but they were powerless to oppose it.

C. Response.  As the above review has shown, the various Communist parties, the cutting edge of the revolutionary left, have not proven reliable supporters of the cause of gay rights.  It is true that Harry Hay and his colleagues, founders of Mattachine in 1950, were - most of them - Communists.  In previous years Hay had been particularly zealous in honoring his CP commitment.  Yet when his comrades learned of his initiative, Hay was forced to leave the Party.  In those days Communists were just as homophobic as most of the rest of American society.

The Mattachine Society abandoned any connection with the far left in 1953, three years after the founding of the group.  As it evolved, the GLBT movement has become more and more diverse.  Nonetheless, its center of gravity today lies in groups that are allied with the Democratic Party.  In affirming this connection, though, GLBT people are no different from African Americans.  There are, however, two gay groups allied with the Republican Party: the Log Cabin Club and GOProud.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.  Mario Mieli, Homosexuality and Liberation: Elements of a Gay Critique. David Fernbach, trans. London: Gay Men's Press, 1980; John D’Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983; Hubert Kennedy, Gert Hekma, Harry Oosterhuis, and James D. Steakley, eds., Gay Men and the Sexual History of the Political Left, New York: Harrington Park Press, 1995; Sherry Wolf, Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation, Chicago: Haymarket, 2009.


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