[Marxism] Homosexuality in the USSR, followed by a discussion of "safety nets" and primitive accumulation

dan 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 
be decriminalized.
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Union : it was only repealed in 1993, and many Russians would like to 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 
myself.

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 
need), etc.

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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