[Marxism] Q - and request an apology!

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net
Fri Nov 24 02:42:56 MST 2006


Suresh <borhyaenid at yahoo.com> wrote:

> 
> 
> On the other hand, it does appear that Marx was homophobic,

But as Louis noted, there are no homophobic remarks in any of Marx's works intended for publication.

> he
> seemed to be personally opposed to the gay rights movement in Germany:

To illustrate this (wrong) assertions, you quote a private letter. But not from Marx, but written by Engels and addressed to Marx. We can only guess that on homosexuality the views of the two friends did not differ much.

I will comment on this letter in context. But before this one remark. In 1869 when the letter was written there was no gay rights movement in Germany at all. Just curageous individuals like Karl Heinrich Ulrichs who demanded a decriminalization of homosexuality. More in the context of the Engels letter.
 
> “The Urning you sent me is a very curious thing.

This refers to a book by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. Leslie Feinberg writes about him:

"1860 (...) a Prussian proposal for a harsh penal code made male homosexuality an even more serious crime.
In 1864, a gay man in Germany began writing courageously and prolifically against this law and in defense of homosexuality. Karl Ulrichs was a civil servant in the small city-state of Hanover. He knew that Prussia would soon absorb the city, extending anti-gay legislation throughout Germany.
As early as 1862 he had coined the word "Urning" to describe a male sexually attracted to other males, which he believed derived from a kind of intersexuality in some brains. (...)
Despite being confronted with shock and outrage, Ulrichs carried out a 30-year public campaign, mainly literary, warning of the dangers of the repressive Prussian law and insisting on justice for "Urnings." "
http://www.workers.org/ww/2004/pride20610.php
More about Ulrichs in Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Heinrich_Ulrichs

> These are extremely unnatural revelations. The paederasts [homosexual
> paedophiles]

Dont know who made this explanation (MIA or its source). But it is simply misleading. In present day German a "Päderast" is a homosexual paedophile, but in 19th century usage it just meant a male homosexual. 

> are beginning to count themselves, and discover that they
> are a power in the state. Only organisation was lacking, but according to
> this
> source it apparently already exists in secret.

This creates the impression that there was anything like a gay rights movement at that time in Germany. But there was not. It is all Engels` complete fantasy. Kind of conspiracy theory.

What can be seen as the first step of a gay rights movement in Germany was the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee, WhK, (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee) founded in 1897. Leslie Feinberg writes:

"The first gay liberation organization was born in Germany two years later, in 1897. It was called the Scientific Humanitarian Committee.
(...)
The Scientific Humanitarian Committee published a yearbook that reported on movement activities. It also documented literary, cross-cultural, cross-historical and scientific studies on same-sex love and transgender.
The committee aimed to abolish Paragraph 175, raise social consciousness and encourage sexually oppressed people to fight for their rights. To achieve its goals, the committee held regular public forums, organized speaking tours nationally and internationally, and sent literature to other governments about the need to decriminalize same-sex love.
The committee's main focus was a petition campaign, launched in 1897, to collect signatures of prominent people demanding the repeal of Paragraph 175."
http://www.workers.org/ww/2004/pride20610.php
Paragraph 175 was the paragraph in the crimianl code that outlawed homosexuality. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paragraph_175

> But just
> wait until the new North German Penal Code recognises the droits du cul
> [rights of the arse-hole] then he will operate quite
> differently. Then things will go badly enough for poor frontside people
> like
> us, with our childish penchant for females. 

Without any doubt not the most intelligent statement by Engels. At best he shows indifference towards the reactionary Prussian attempts to revert the decriminalisation of homosexuality the Code Napelonique had brought to parts of Germany. It can even be seen as supporting Prussian reaction.

But whatever Engels personal opinion was, the German workers' movement was in the forefront of the struggle against anti-gay legislation. Leslie Feinberg:

"From its earliest days, the committee [ie.Scientific Humanitarian Committee JS] won support from revolutionaries, who were at that time called Social Democrats. In 1898, the committee took to parliament the signatures of 900 doctors, lawyers, educators and scientists calling for the repeal of Paragraph 175. It was rebuffed.
However, the socialist minority in the German parliament did support the demand. (...) August Bebel took the floor, becoming the first major supporter to battle for the petition.
Bebel (...) signed the petition, took copies to parliament and urged others to add their names.
He argued that homosexuality was so widespread among all economic classes in society that "if the police dutifully did what they were supposed to, the Prussian state would immediately be obliged to build two new penitentiaries just to handle the number of violations against Paragraph 175 committed within the confines of Berlin alone."
When Bebel made this speech, and subsequent ones, on the parliament floor, the right-wing politicians booed. But socialists greeted his defense of same-sex love with supporting shouts of "Hear, hear!"
(...)
More than 6,000 prominent people, half of them doctors, signed the petition. Others included Albert Einstein, Leo Tolstoy, Emile Zola, Kathe Kollwitz, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Well-known socialists of that period, including Bebel, Karl Kautsky, Rudolf Hilferding, Gerhardt Hauptman and Eduard Bernstein, also signed.
In 1905, during another debate on Paragraph 175, the committee went back to parliament with more than 5,000 signatures. The Center Party, a right-wing group with strong support from the Catholic Church, led opposition to reform.
Again it was a socialist--Adolph Thiele-- who argued on behalf of gay rights. But the move for reform was again defeated."
http://www.workers.org/ww/2004/pride20610.php
  
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