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Chris Brady cdbrady at attglobal.net
Mon Aug 19 10:18:33 MDT 2002


>From an unfinished biography of Leo Huberman, I send these notes that I
was building into a context of private openness to free love in the 
mid-century marxist milieu.  By “private openness” I mean that in those
times certain behaviours or relationships that were freely accepted in
certain socialist circles were also acknowledged to be outrageously
taboo and even criminal and publicly devastating in society at large.
Thus, as one now-deceased socialist of that period confided, “one had to
be discrete.”  Life-long bachelors who shared rooms and conveniences,
were trusted friends; unmarried women had female companions.

Leo and the Lesbians

Leo Huberman was good friends with Grace Hutchins.  Grace Hutchins and
Anna Rochester were life-long companions, and Communists. With Robert W.
Dunn they formed the Labor Research Association in the late 1920s, and
put out the annual Labor Fact Book.

>From an interview with Aleine Austin (Cohen):
 Leo’s great friend was Sybil May.  Sybil loved literature and was
widely read; that was how they were friends.  Sybil introduced Leo to
Martha’s Vineyard where he took a cottage next to Sybil’s house. Sybil
lived with Sarah Greenbaum (“Sary”) who had been to Vassar.  The two
households ate their meals together.  There was always lots of
laughter.  Their summer spot became known as “socialist hill.”


Matthiessen, the-marxist-man-lover

F.O. Matthiessen—
Marxist homosexual
Founding member of the Harvard University local of the Teachers Union
Chair of the Harry Bridges Defense Committee (Leo Huberman also a
member)
Progressive Party leader in 1948 Henry Wallace campaign (Sweezy and
Huberman, too)
Initial benefactor for Monthly Review
Harassed by Witch Hunt; suicide.

Daniel J. Boorstin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, former
Librarian of Congress, and best-selling author of such books as The
Discoverers and The Creators, paid the highest tribute to F.O.
Matthiessen:
     My first great life-shaping book experience came when I went off to
study at Harvard College in 1930. There I was introduced to a great book
by a great teacher—a powerful combination. The book was Edward Gibbon’s
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and the teacher was F.O.
Matthiessen.
---Daniel J. Boorstin, “I Cannot Live Without Books.” [a quote from
Thomas Jefferson] PARADE Magazine, (July 12, 1998), page 12.

Paul Sweezy met Matthiessen at Harvard and they became friends.  Some
thought they might have been more than friends, because “Paul was so
handsome” but close friends laughingly assured me that “he was a ladies’
man through and through”. Matthiessen was a great intellectual and so
is Sweezy.   Joseph Schumpeter sponsored Sweezy for a position in
Economics at Harvard but the department blackballed him for his marxist
analysis.

There’s more, but I didn't want to start a laundry list of gay marxists
I just wanted to underscore John’s remarks about being
a marxist and being a part of a specific revolutionary party, and being
a marxist and being a member of another organization for liberation.
People have a number of reasons for thinking that one organization might
be best at the time.  I think there is a tendency to generalize about
individuals in the movement because of their organizational
affiliations.  This is not always a very accurate depiction.  I found a
letter of congratulations in Huberman’s papers to Art Price in the early
1950s, for those who think that Leo was exclusively this or that
politicially.  Paul Sweezy told me that Leo was strictly dogmatic
about one thing: never vote for a capitalist party. "Leo was against
voting for capitalists.  He was against the Democrats and their 
lesser evil. He'd rather vote for the SWP than the Democrats."

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