[Marxism] Re: John O'brien's comments ...

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Sun Apr 18 05:54:28 MDT 2004

In a message dated 4/18/2004 3:47:53 AM Central Standard Time, 
dwalters at marxists.org writes:

>The Memorandum actually justified work in the Gay...now called 'Rights' 
movement...since the 'liberation' part of the position was expunged...gay 
rights now seen as 'only' a struggle for "democratic rights", not 
which was seen at higher level of challenging capitalism (like Womens's 
Liberation and Black Liberation). Gay work, as such, actually increased 
1973 and 1978. But with the turn, the ugly adaptation of white-ethnic 
slowly but surely became in vogue again. Although I was straight, I remember 
1975-1976, I was part of a gay rights fraction of 60 people in the New York 


Although different from my history, this article was insightful because it 
gives the context and social forces at work as various political grouping adjust 
to real social questions. I remember the period 1973-1978, from my vantage 
point and the groups I was involved in and Gay Rights or Gay Liberation 
presented new political policy towards not just various groups but all of American 

During this period those of us in the Communist League merged with several 
collectives and formed the Communist Labor Party. At the founding Convention a 
"Gay Caucus" demanded that a distinct document on Gay Liberation be part of our 
party program. This caused turmoil in the Convention, when the caucus was 
voted down by the majority. Perhaps thirty people walked out of the convention 
and never returned to the group. I voted against the caucus for several reasons. 
I would vote the same way today if presented with this question as part of a 
party program. 

The reason is that our program was "victory to the workers in their current 
struggle." The comrades working in the medical field - hospital work/unions, 
wanted something distinct about this work in the program and were also voted 
down. Our approach to specificity had always been to form a Commission that 
outlines one attitude to the various sides of the social struggle and not have a 
program with a thousand demands. 

Earlier we had set up a Commission for an exhaustive study of the Indian 
Question, but the Indian Question as such was not part of the "party program" as 
such, which is "victory to the workers in their current struggle." 

There were certain reasons why I as an individual voted a "certain way," and 
why the group I was part of behaved a certain way. For instance, our politics 
draw a distinct between the Woman Question and say African American 
Liberation, and these two social questions are understood very different from Gay 
Rights. Our point of view has never been "one person" is more important that another 
person, but rather based on an assessment of real social forces. 

The last period in the social struggle of the African American people, 
emerged on the basis of changes in the material power of production or what was the 
mechanization of agriculture that altered the boundary of the social struggle. 
This transition in the class structure of American society - from a more than 
less petty bourgeois mass (sharecroppers and small farmers, agricultural 
workers) to proletarians, defined the boundary and character of the social 
struggle and the political grouping in society were compelled to change their 
leadership and strategy in this direction. 

In real life this meant a shift from the Slavic workers as the cutting edge 
of the industrial union movement to a new orientation based on that sector of 
the class in combat with the state. Yes, the ideological struggle breaks out as 
grouping attempt to find their bearing. Then the social movement seeks its 
own ideological rationale. Hence, slogans like "Black Power," which in Detroit 
very quickly became "Black Workers Power" because that was the section of the 
class in motion. This does not mean communist workers and Marxists have to 
support the various ideologies of "Blackism," as we fight to win the vanguard over 
to the cause of communism. 

It was based on the historic communist program written by Karl Marx and class 
analysis that we have never confused African American Liberation with Gay 
Liberation, two totally different frameworks and different class underpinning. 
>From this standpoint the Women Question is radically different from the question 
of African American Liberation although both intersect on the basis of class. 
Without question women and blacks in every possible connection and shape are 
the lowest paid sector of the working class. 

Even if we treat Gay people as a class - that is a group with characteristics 
distinguishing it from other groups, the issue of political rights cannot be 
confused with social forces thrown into motion on the basis of changes in the 
means of production. Gay Liberation is most certainly about political rights, 
not liberation from bourgeois property or imperial exploitation. By definition 
we fight for the expansion of political rights, which is the basic for 99.9% 
of us being in the social movement in the first place. 

Here is why many revolutionaries have never and will never endorse or espouse 
homosexual ideology. It is not a requirement to fight on the correct side of 
history. One does not have to endorse "Black ideology" or feminist ideology.  
The issue becomes somewhat complex because outside of male/female, who one has 
sex with is not a question of property relations. This is important for 
communists because our stated goal is the overthrow of all forms of property. Here, 
one does not have to profess Marxism to fight to overthrow all forms of 
property. Communism must become and be underrstood as a social movement generated 
on the basis of changes in the material power of production and not ideology. 

What is called bigotry, is in my estimate a question of political rights and 
not a demand to accept any particular body of ideology. 

How we have fought out various social questions in our history, makes more 
sense once events are placed in a context of the actual social forces at play 
and how we attempt to adjust to the interplay of various social forces. 

Melvin P. 

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