Stalinism and gay liberation

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Wed Nov 29 21:36:14 MST 2000

Mac wrote:

>With the exception of Cuba (in part, at any rate), the Marxist left needs
>to deal with
>this. "pro" existing socialists should not write it off as something just
>an "error",
>nor should "anti" existing socialists refer to it as an excess of Stalinism.

Well, it did have a great deal to do with Stalinism.

The Bolsheviks decriminalised homosexuality, as one of the earliest acts of
the Revolution, and the official Soviet position during Lenin's time was
that homosexuality was OK (ie not a mental sickness or bourgeois

The recriminalisation of homosexuality, like the restrictions on abortion
and divorce and the reintroduction of single-sex schooling, was part of
Theormidor (aka the Stalinist counter-revolution).  Trotsky noted, in
'Women and the Family', that Stalinism returned women to the status of
"pack animals".  As an essentially conservative society run by a despotic
elite, preserving and reinstitutionalising the nuclear family, and thus
suppressing anything outside of it, was logical.

The Stalinist CPs swallowed the line that homosexuality was a 'bourgeois
perversion' and peddled it in the West.  The more hidebound to Stalinism -
eg various ultra-Maoist groups in the 1970s - the more likely they were to
peddle the anti-gay view.

In New Zealand, the ultra-Stalin-Mao-Hoxhaist CPNZ was still arguing well
into the 1980s that homosexuals were sick and the party wouldn't allow gays
to join - or members to be gay .-)

Certain ultra-Trotskyist groups suffered the disease as well, probably the
Healyites being the outstanding example.  Although this was never to quite
the same degree as the CPs and the later Maoist groups.

In the USA, the SWP banned homosexuals from membership - this was done
*after* the emergence of the gay liberation movement.  A nice hello, how
are you, indeed to a new social movement!

>What needs
>to be addressed is *how* such divisions based on a non-class definition
>could be
>existent. The irony is that one of the greatest errors of socialist
>states, to my view,
>is declaring themselves "athiest" as opposed to secular ("militantly
>secular"?). This
>did not break down "moralistic" taboos on what people choose to do in private.

I'm not quite sure what it is you are saying here, although I agree that it
is probably a bit daft for a state to declare itself 'atheist' rather than

>It is to the great shame of the socialist movement that the bourgeoisie
>was forced out
>of their homophobia before the "actually existing socialists".

Well, I doubt that the bourgeoisie was ever 'homophobic' per se.  One of
the problems is that the word 'homophobic' is not useful.  Although it
might describe some extreme behavioural pattern of certain individuals, it
isn't really a political category.  The problem is the *oppression of
homosexuals*, ie the denial of equal rights.  People who are not
individually bothered by homosexual activity, indeed people who even engage
in it, can support the denial of equality, just as people who might not
like homosexuality can support gay sex being legal.

I would say that the 'smart money' in the bourgeoisie understand perfectly
well that *no form of sexual activity* is a challenge to capitalism.  In
fact, most forms of sexuality can be commodified and capital is more likely
to do this (eventually, and after some scraping with the conservative
backwoods, limited gene pool brigade).

Homosexuality has been relatively easily incorporated and commodified.  In
a country like New Zealand, the government actually spends part of its
tourism subsidy promoting gay tourism.  Gay relationships have been
included in new lelgislation covering de facto couples, and gay marriage is
only a matter of time.  National and Labour leaders describe 'the gay
community' as a wonderful part of NZ's 'cultural diversity' - 'cultural
diversity' being the ideology of our ruling class.  (An ideology helpfully
furnished by the liberal middle class and sections of the left, I might

In a farming district, the Wairarapa, the voters elected a Maori
transsexual (man to woman) ex-hooker/junkie to parliament last year.
Working class urban electorates elected two middle class gay MPs - one in
Christchurch Central (the poorest constituency in the country) and one in
Auckland (Waipereira).  All three of these MPs are Labour.

The Auckland Hero Parade is one of the biggest outdoor events in NZ and MPs
jostle for space on the VIP stand at it.  Major capitalist firms sponsor
floats.  I gather it is much the same with the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras.
Sydney now rivals San Francisco as the 'gay capital' of the world.  Even a
police unit marches in the Sydney parade.

Australian and NZ capital are quite sophisticated on these sorts of issues.
They know that *incorporation* is the best way of dealing with potential
opposition - thus the ideology of 'diversity'.

Everything is negotiable - apart from the wage-labour/capital relationship.

Philip Ferguson

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