marxists & gay liberation
g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Fri Apr 19 01:37:58 MDT 1996
For some time I have been taunting the adherents of MLM thought about the
criminalisation of homosexuality in Russia in 1934. after what seemed a
tortured silence Adolfo Olaechea finally came out in support of Stalin's
actions. From memory, he wrote that the needs of the state at the time
justified stalin's actions and besides nowhere in the world was any country
aedvocating a different position.
silence has reigned supreme Since Olaechea's post.
Chris B., Charlotte, Gina, Jay, Luis Q., Luis Godena, Chatterjee, Cronin,
Matt D. have all said nothing. Do they support Olechea's position?
I would like in this post to point out briefly how much of a revision of
Marxism and the Marxist movement is implied by Olechea's position. Prior to
Stalin's actions in 1934 the Soviet Union was regarded as one of the most
liberal and progressive places on earth on the question of the politics of
sexuality. What is more the soviets did not simply tolerate gays they
*campaigned* internationally for their rights. As late as 1930 the great
Soviet Encyclopedia defended the ideas of the German gay activist Magnus
For Gay Marxist Russia from 1917 to 1934 represents the utopia of the
linkage of radical and personal politics. That is why its memory is precious
Interestingly here in Australia one of the leading gay activists, Adam
Carr, (an ex Maoist BTW) has denied the existence of a pro gay state in
Lenin's Russia. It is of course important to the adherents of Stalin to
play down the differences between Lenin's and Stalin's Russia. In this they
fall into the hands of anti-marxists but who cares?
Now the tolerant and progressive nature of the Soviet Union pre 1934 can
only be understood if we grasp that this merely reflected a long standing
unity between the socialist and progressive movements. Gays like Hershfeld
in Germany and Edward Carpenter in England saw no difference between the
movemnt for socialism and that for tolerance in the field of sexuality.
Much the same pertains for feminism by the way.
This linkage was broken by Stalin's actions and it has never been restored.
There was in the 70's various attempts to link Marxist groups with gay
rights. My sources on this have all disappeared with the years
unfortunately. Since the seventies, however, gays have turned not to
Marxists for ideas but to Michel Foucault.
I will be dealing with his ideas when we come to discuss queer theory but
for me Foucault is a very ambiguous figure when it comes to gay liberation.
However for all his weaknesses Foucault wouold never have perpretrated the
kind of gross crudity that Olaechea did when he argued that the state might
legitimately require the criminalisation and persecution of gay poeple.
I would like now to ask Olechea or one of his colleagues to explain to me
how could any state influenced by Marxism require such a thing? and while
they are at it could they explain to me how is it that in 1936 the same
state required the criminalisation of abortion? Moreover why is it that
Hitler's Reich in 1934 required the criminalisation of homosexualtiy as
I am insisting on these questions not simply for personal reasons. I refuse
to be put off by insulting questions about incest and paedophilia. What is
at stake is the status of marxism as a liberatory movemnt. And only in the
first world either. There are gay peasants too.
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