marxism and queer

Ken Howard kenhow at werple.mira.net.au
Thu Apr 25 09:45:02 MDT 1996


At last Gary you havre thrown a hat into the ring and hopefully it is going
to provoke a response that moves it out into the realm of marxist
discussion.

I think that queer has a lot to do with marxism. It confounds and confuses
the Adolphos but that is of no account as quite clearly they have no
interest in developing marxism as method beyond the endless repetition of
cliches. They have shown in practise that they have nothing to add to
marxism.

And no you are not the only gay person on the list. If the statistics are
correct, that is the 1 in 10 stuff then there are at least 39 or so of us.

And probably, like me, most people are totally alienated by the capture of
the discussion of gay liberation and the sanitising that has gone on. So it
is most welcome to start a real discussion that reflects a real movement
that exists. But let me state my position clearly from the start. I am not
convinced that queer theory adds anything to either an understanding of
oppression nor any weapons to fight against it. My starting point is that
it is comfortable to retreat and to actually avoid political confrontation
over questions of sexuality. Like it is easy to retreat to non hetrosexual
defined sexualities as a way of avoiding the real life oppression(
including on this list ) of the legitimacy of being defined and self
defining as a gay or lesbian person.

I do not consider that queer theory adds anything to an understanding of
lesbian and gay oppression under capitalism and the connection of that
oppression to the judeo christian adoration of the family. That is that the
family occupys a particular place in the reproduction of labour power and
enforced heterosexuality is crucial to the reproduction of labour. So where
does homosexuality fit into this schema. The fact is that it doesn't. If
Kinsey was correct, and there has been nothing to discredit their figures
then there are 5point 4 million lesbians ang gay people in the world today
( i.e 10% of the population).Leaving aside the neandothals who screech that
sexuality has nothing to do with class struggle ( and again figures defeat
them because as has been asserted the working class make up over 1 billion
of the worlds population and again on Kinseys figures that means that over
1 million " workers " are lesbian or gay) then the place of oppression of
lesbian and gay sexuality starts to take on some meaning. I.E it is
functional to capitalism in that it interupts the process of the
reproduction of labour power and hence the cycyle of exploitation.

Unlike most of the pseudo discussion that has occured on this issue on this
list the question of sexual oppression is neither one of the right to fuck
whom one wants nor a matter of personal choice. At base it is a poliutical
question, not only about oppression, and one is reminded of the basic tenet
of marxism and leninism that it is a method of fighting oppression wherever
it rears its head, but rather it is about what is in the class interests in
overthrowing class society and creating the conditions of the working class
acting for and by itself.

So what has this to do with queer theory. ON the one hand I think it is a-
class, i.e. it takes definitions of oppression to be on self defining
terms, as a matter of personal perception. On the other hand  it dismisses
gay and lesbian oppression under capitalism as equal to the oppression
faced by all who " don't fit the stereotype" It is my view that this tends
then to trivialise gay and lesbian oppression as lifestylism and detracts
>from understanding the real class oppression and functional oppression
required by capitalism.

I think that there is much to be explored in the relations between queer
theory and capitalist oppression. I have more to add but will leave it at
that for the moment.

Ken Howard




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