[Marxism] The US SWP and homosexuality

John Obrien causecollector at msn.com
Sun Apr 18 00:02:56 MDT 2004


Comrade Philip,

Thanks for your comments.  Most appreciative!

I would like to take the opportunity to mention that I have been collecting progressive cause items for almost 40 years in the hope to eventually open a progressive museum and education center.  I have over 100,000 items - around half are buttons and pins - which is what I originally started collecting as momentos of marches.

I have continued to expand the types of items I collect to just about every form now - including post cards, statues, pens, posters, clothing, toys and anything with a progressive message.

I do not have much from New Zealand - around 50 buttons. But I have been looking to get a couple of New Zealand buttons I really have wanted for some time.  One is the July 14th Vietnam button with a plane dropping bombs.  Another is a Gay button issued in Christ Church with that cities name on it.

I am willing to purchase or trade for progressive items.  I am also interested in any of the early IWW items issued in New Zealand around World War One.  If you come across items - like anti-Iraq War or anti-Bush issued in New Zealand - please keep me in mind. If you know of someone who does collect or would like to trade for items from other countries - feel free to give them my name and contact information.

If someone does send items - please do not send in regular envelopes since the post office stamp cancellation machines damage such items as buttons - or while in transit.  It needs a bubble pack or box to avoid such damage.

Can you recommend a good source of reference works on progressive groups in New Zealand history?

In solidarity,

John O'Brien
Society for Education & the Arts
P. O. Box 381040
Los Angeles, CA 90038
causecollector at msn.com
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Philip Ferguson 
  To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu 
  Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 10:14 PM
  Subject: [Marxism] The US SWP and homosexuality


  John,

  I doubt you would find anyone on this list who thinks that the US SWP's
  record on homosexuality and gay rights is anything to be proud of.

  The banning of homosexual members was indicative of how the US SWP was
  *not* a vanguard party, but over many years made a whole series of
  unwarranted concessions to backward social views and dressed them up as
  "security" issues or under some other equally dishonest heading.

  The backward consciousness of the central leadership from the 1950s
  onwards - like Fred Feldman, I had the impression that Cannon was less
  bigoted than those who came after him - was also transmitted to those
  groups it influenced.

  Here in New Zealand, the local organisation's leadership adopted
  positions on gay liberation which were taken in their entirety from the
  United States, but the tone here was somewhat different so they didn't
  tend to lose any gay members.  I had no idea that so many people left
  the US outfit in 1973, I always thought it was just a small handful of
  people like David T.

  In New Zealand, the 'new line' from the USA - the organisation here had
  recruited a layer of leaders of the gay liberation movement - was met
  with a bit of opposition.  I was a young teenager in the Christchurch
  branch and a majority of us in the Christchurch branch - all apparently
  heterosexual, although one subsequently turned out to be gay - actually
  opposed the new position adopted by the NZ leadership following New
  York.  We wrote an opposition document, which got the vote of over 60
  percent of the Christchurch membership.  

  Unfortunately, I was far too young - I was a school kid - to join up the
  dots and see, at that point in time, that there was something rather
  diseased about the US SWP leadership.  Those of us in the ranks simply
  were not educated with the political tools or confidence to think thinks
  through and join up the dots.  It was another ten years before I saw
  through the US SWP and got out of their faction in the FI and out of the
  FI altogether.

  One of the lessons I drew from this, and from watching people I know who
  haven't gotten out of crap organisations, is that it's never a good idea
  for anyone to go along with things they don't agree with or have
  substantial doubts about.  

  The people who have remained in those kinds of organisations have been
  largely destroyed as functioning human beings, never mind
  revolutionaries.  

  Loyalty to organisations *above* principles is never a good idea.  The
  only purpose of having an organisation is to fight for principled,
  revolutionary politics and if people are forced to go against their most
  basic principles in order to stay in an organisation, then they
  shouldn't be in it.  They should get out and get the hell away from it.

  A much more open and critical (including self-critical) political
  culture is needed on the far left.  

  As for the US SWP, well its leadership is as homophobic as ever I guess.
  In the early 1990s, they came out against a high school sex programme in
  New York because it included information which 'promoted' gay sex.
  Workers, they said, should promote the idea of 'responsibility' in
  sexual activity and not suggest people try different things as this sex
  education programme supposedly did.  (Of course, like most Victorians
  this 'leadership' don't really practise what they preach from what I
  have heard from observers.)

  However, as Fred F commented, the outfit has received its comeuppance
  from history.  It is irrelevant politically now as a group and the more
  influential and important left currents have much better positions on
  gay rights.

  Philip Ferguson



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