Lenin on sexual "excess"
Louis R. Godena
godenas at mail.edgenet.net
Thu Apr 11 17:34:46 MDT 1996
"The revolution", Lenin said in 1920, "cannot tolerate orgiastic
conditions...Dissoluteness in sexual life is bourgeois, is a phenomenon of
decay. The proletariat...does not need intoxication as a narcotic or
stimlulus. Intoxication as little by sexual exaggeration as by
alcohol...[the proletariat] receives the strongest urge to fight from a
class situation...It needs clarity, clarity, and again
clarity...Self-control, self-discipline is not slavery, not even in [sexual
To Klara Zetkin
Lenin never specified what, exactly, he meant by "orgiastic conditions."
Promiscuity? Group sex? The pursuit of sexual trysts to the exclusion of
all else? The term "dissoluteness" suggests the latter condition.
Lenin, on the other hand, specifically denied the "biological necessity"
theory of sex advanced by some who thought that communist society would
usher in an era of sexual desires being gratified in ways "as simple and
unimportant as drinking a glass of water"; a theory which he deemed
"un-Marxist" and "even" "anti-social":
Of course, thirst must be satisfied. But would normal man in
normal conditions lie down in the gutter and drink out of a puddle?"
Sex, according to Lenin, contains a "social interest, which gives rise to a
duty towards the community."
It is this "duty towards the community" that most engages my attention. An
act is not rendered good or bad, moral or immoral, socially useful or
injurious, simply because it contains a genital dimension. The larger good
to the community--the struggle for the proletarian revolution and the
overthrow of capitalism, the class dimension--is what, to my mind, is
supreme. It is not the sexual act (presuming, of course, that it is
agreeable to the persons involved) that should concern us, regardless of the
sex or number of actors involved. It is the nature of the change being
sought and resisted.
Whatever advances the cause of communism is moral; whatever retards it is
We are told that nearly sixty per cent of homosexuals have engaged in group
sex, while the figure is only twelve per cent for heterosexuals. Does this
figure serve to exclude homosexuals from the ranks of revolutionaries--by
virtue of their partaking in "orgiastic conditions"--and, at the same time,
include the great body of heterosexuals? I do not see how this argument can
be made by Marxists-Leninists. As Lenin said, it is one's fulfillment of
one's "duty to the community" that is the key.
I bring all of this up to express my concern that some distortions from the
old "proletarian family" school--understandable and perhaps necessary in its
own era--have persisted into our own age and now survive as an anachronistic
relic among certain sects. It now serves largely as an ugly reminder to the
rest of us of the disagreeable consequences of hanging on to concepts long
after their time in history as passed.
It would be ironic if we communists stepped into the breach left by
bourgeois society to continue to visit abuse and vilification on groups
themselves victimized by bourgeois morality.
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