[Marxism] Jim Craven comments on gays and Cuba

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 26 14:04:20 MDT 2005

(Jim Craven asked me to forward this to the lists he has posted to in the 
past. Gary is Gary McLennan. For background on the discussion about Cuba 
and gays, go to: 
http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2005w43/thread.htm and look 
for the thread on "Gay Discussion on Marxmail.)

Gary writes:

But what ever the case we should all remember that our core
business is the emancipation of each and all. So we should
resist the temptation to impatience with those who somehow or
other do not agree with us where the *real* struggle is.

To put this in simple and partisan terms, you straights
cannot condemn gay activists for not taking up the wider
struggle if you are not with us in our struggles.



I have only the highest respect for Gary M. and for his keen intellect and 
often sage advice. On this one, I must respectfully disagree. First of all, 
narrow identity politics (whether it is Native, LGBT, Feminism etc) is not 
only reductionistic, petit-bourgeois and narcissistic, but it plays right 
into the hands of the ruling class. Marxists are bound to support the 
struggles of oppressed of/from capitalism and other systems of tyrrany for 
no reason other than they are oppressed; it matters nothing if there is no 
"reciprocity" from nominal activists or representatives of various 
oppressed groups. For example, among Native groups, we have had virtually 
no open support--or hidden--from any LGBT, Feminist, African-American or 
Labor groups (we have had from isolated individuals) even while they called 
for support from us. This changes nothing for us: oppression is oppression 
whether in the form of homophobia, sexism, racism, ageism, discrimination 
against the "disabled" or any other form of oppression.

Further, not all of what passses for "liberation" is or does exactly that. 
Some of what passes for LGBT, Feminism, Native activism or whatever 
activism is nothing more than attempting to rank-order victimhood, 
narcissistic identity politics and special pleading--sort of like feminists 
defining "women's liberation" as having an equal opportunity to become an 
oppressor like a general in the military; a lot of the LGBT stuff is along 
the same lines--having an equal opportunity to become "mainstreamed" as if 
any kind of real liberation or elimination of prejudice could be achieved 
through such. Some of what passes for LGBT activism is not about asking for 
solidarity against prejudice and discrimination but rather asking the 
"straights" to sign on to reckless, self-indulgent, libertine and 
petiti-bourgeois lifestyles that often feed into reinforcing homophobia and 
giving aid-and-comfort to the homophobes (please spare me the shit about 
"blaming the victims"). the same can be said about Native activists who 
wind up promoting ersatz "Indianness" that reinforces the worst stereotypes 
about Indians and narrow petiti-bourgeois feminism that reinforces some 
ugly sterotypes about women...

But the bottom line is that if any of us refuses to support the just 
struggles of those oppressed groups with which we do not "identify" as the 
groups to which we personally belong, because of narrow identity politics 
or even resentment from lack of support from those groups for "our" groups, 
then this tit-for-tat can only aid-and-abet oppression and work in the 
interests of those who seek to and profit from divide-and-rule. My 
experience with the LGBT activists out here for example is that most are 
into "their" identity politics and little else and when we try to link up, 
we wind up not more a footnote or afterthought  than a partner in struggle 
against common enemies and parallel forms of oppression; the same can be 
said about identity-politics-based feminism, labor activism, immigrant 
activism etc--it is really only THEIR thing that really counts. This is 
also, in my opinion, why the nominal "left" in the U.S. is so thoroughly 
bankrupt and irrelevant and even doing the work of the "Man" with their 
narrow, self-absorbed and self-selected "identity politics" and 
petiti-bourgois niches in and through which they engage in narrow "struggle".

Just some thoughts to provoke thought.

Jim C.



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