[Marxism] Homosexuality in the USSR, followed by a discussion of "safety nets" and primitive accumulation
d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr
Thu Aug 23 11:42:56 MDT 2012
In the 1920s, the Soviet Union was the first nation to legalize same-sex
sexual relations. All Czarist laws and its subsequent criminal code
were abolished in 1920, and it was explicitely recommended that
non-commercial same-sex sexuality between consenting adults in private
Another major achievment was the legalization of abortion and the notion
of "no-fault divorce" (see the experimental film "Man with a Camera"
and its happy, smiling divorcees).
All this changed in the 1930s with Stalin. In 1933, Joseph Stalin added
Article 121 to the Soviet Union criminal code, which made male
homosexuality a crime punishable by up to five years in prison with hard
labor. The law remained intact until after the dissolution of the Soviet
Union : it was only repealed in 1993, and many Russians would like to
see it reinstated today.
According to 2012 opinion polls 65% of French preople, 63% of British
people and 54% of Americans are in favour of legalizing gay marriage
(Gallup poll). According to "DA Russophile" only 14% of Russians support
Gay MArriage, but I would like to see the opinion poll statistics for
Putin is Soviet authoritarianism without the socialist safety net which
meant that Russians did not need to worry about unemployment. No wonder
24% of Russians think they were "far better under Brezhnev" and an
additional 29% "marginally better under Brezhnev".
But then again, weren't French, British and American people "better off
in the 1960s and 1970s" ? The 1975-2005 period will remain as one of
"primitive Capitalist accumulation"(as Marx put it), or accumulation
through wide-spread dispossession. Public services in Western Countries
were privatized, the entire economy of former Socialist Countries was
privatized, the "Iron Rice Bowl" was smashed in China, real income of
Indian farmers fell by 25% as a result of "free and unfettered opening
to foreign markets", in Latin America basic utilities were privatized.
In fact, the 1975-2005 period (30 years) was one of massive removal of
"traditional" (or rather a reversal of the previous 50s-70s epoch of
social progressivism) safety nets for the working class, resulting in
temporary "super-profits" (Chinese manufacture, access to the Indian
Market, end of the Soviet Union). All this is similar to what happened
during the first industrial revolution of 1750-1850 (English and
Scottish enclosures + control over cotton + steam power) and then the
second Industrial Revolution (railways + telegraph + imperialism +
massive Western investments in underdevelopped countries = massive
disspossession of small farmers all over the globe).
The problem for Capitalism is that, as in the 1840s, 1870s, 1930s, 1970s
and now 2010s, the "primitive accumulation of Capital"/accumulation
through dispossession of "traditional safety nets" is now a spent force.
Once the goal has been achieved of bringing a far greater proportion of
the inhabitants of the earth into C-M-C' exploitative relations, the
accumulation process suddenly finds itself in trouble. And the next
revolution in the production process (nanotechnology and biotechnology)
is already unleashing productive forces with which the current means of
production cannot easily cope : radical extension in life expectancy
(population living much longer), Artificial Intelligence set to surpass
that of humans in 2060, nano-robots set to radically change our
perception of matter before 2100 (intelligent automatic reconfiguration
of the molecular structure of objects to exactly conform to a specified
Can Capitalism creatively destroy the amount of Capital needed while
technology runs off into an exponential increase in the sheer power of
human harnessing of nature ?
As in all periods of Capitalism, we are in a state of transition between
one set of productive and social relations and another, which is after
all the necessary condition for Capitalist Accumulation to proceed. Will
the immediate future usher in a "progressive period" in which the
working-class will become more conscious of its strength and more
confident in its ability to oppose Capitalists and self-manage its
destiny ?Or will technology be used to concentrate Capitalist domination
over all aspects of life, leading to increasing contradictions
(overproduction say some, tendency for the rate of profit to fall
because of a change in the organic composition of Capital say others)
and hardships to get the working class to sacrifice an ever greater
proportion of their standard of living in order to help Capitalism
remain profitable ?
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