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 No.3990[View All]

A historical survey of Marxism and queer life, from the young Soviet Union to Stalinist homophobia.

For decades, common sense dictated that Marxism focused solely on class antagonisms and ignored other forms of oppression, like the oppression of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people. Indeed, many of those claiming the mantle of Marxism, from those in the Stalinist tradition to the social democratic tradition — including even the present-day Democratic Socialists of America — downplayed the importance of special oppression and maintained an economistic strategy that benefited only the upper strata of the working class. But the reactionary positions of Stalinism and social democracy on sexual and gender oppression do not reflect the legacy of Marxism in the slightest, as a look into the history of the revolutionary workers movement shows. Rather, revolutionary socialism in Russia, with the October Revolution, led the way toward a radical change in the material and ideological foundations of LGBTQ+ discrimination. Reactionary deviations occurred when parties and organizations, despite their socialist self-image, abandoned the revolutionary horizon and tried to come to terms with the capitalist world. This historical insight can help us clarify what kind of politics we need for emancipation today with a new onslaught of attacks on the rights of queer people, particularly in the United States, the world’s most advanced capitalist “democracy.”

The Bolshevik Advance
In the second half of the 19th century, a gay scene formed in Russia’s two most important cities, Saint Petersburg and Moscow. It created places for socializing, such as bathhouses; linguistic codes (tetki, which roughly translates as “auntie,” a word that was applied to homosexual men, both by them and others); elements of a dress code; and, at least in private spaces, cross-dressing. As historian Dan Healey describes in his influential work on the history of homosexuality in revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union, Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia, it would be “heterosexist and nationalist chauvinism to claim that in tsarist Russia or in the USSR, this homosexual subculture was imported from abroad or created by Communist misrule.”1
At the same time, same-sex intercourse between men was illegal under the rules of the Orthodox Church. Until 1917, consensual “sodomy” was punishable by exile to Siberia. But the this threat was unevenly realized. The abolition of the czarist legal codes in 1917 meant the de facto decriminalization of homosexuality, and with the adoption of a new code in 1922, references to “sodomy” disappeared from the official legal texts of the young Soviet state. After revolutionary 18th-century France, the Soviet Union was thus one of the first states in the world to legalize homosexuality. In the Weimar Republic, meanwhile, the infamous paragraph 175 from the Kaiserreich, criminalizing homosexuality, remained in force before it was tightened under fascism and ultimately abolished in the Federal Republic only in 1994 — a lifetime after decriminalization in the Soviet Union.

Women who entered into romantic or sexual relationships with other women had less access to the public sphere in Russia and accordingly found it more difficult to form a cohesive community. Fewer sources exist on this issue, since same-sex intercourse between women was not punishable and therefore does not show up, for instance, in court records. Nevertheless, economically independent women in particular succeeded in forming networks and entering into relationships beyond the traditional heterosexual family. In the military climate of the Civil War years after the October Revolution, many women adopted a masculine style, which on the one hand signaled a loyalty to the Revolution and a willingness to defend it, but on the other hand could also be code for homosexual women to attract other women. The lines to transsexuality were blurry sometimes. In response to a survey on sexuality at Moscow’s Sverdlov University in 1923, one answer was “I want to be a man, I impatiently await scientific discoveries of castration and grafting of male organs (glands).”2 Such operations were indeed performed in the 1920s, even if their success was doubtful owing to still rudimentary methods. Even apart from medical interventions, many took advantage of the opportunity to change their gender identity. They had appropriate identification documents issued, adopted male variants of their old names, and changed their clothing and appearance. This was accompanied by lively scientific debates about the origin and nature of homosexuality and gender, which were widely considered to be closely related. Biologist Nikolai Konstantinovich Koltsov asserted, “Of course, there is no intermediate sex, but rather an infinite quantity of intermediate sexes.”3

Evgenii Fedorovich M. began to assume a male identity in 1915, when he was 17 years old. During the revolution he had his name changed in the official documents and began to work in the secret service. In 1922, with the new documents, Yevgeny married a woman who, in the sources, is named S. Even after the change of identity became known; a local court case in which the couple stood accused of a “crime against nature” failed, and the marriage persisted. The court ruled the union legal because it was mutually consensual — the gender identity of the spouses was irrelevant. The couple continued to live together as a family for several years with a child that S. gave birth to after an affair with a colleague.4 The revolutionary awakening and the rejection of traditional norms were not only represented by elite Bolsheviks but also allowed people like Yevgeny an unprecedented degree of self-determination.

Bourgeois historical scholarship has occasionally claimed that the Bolsheviks did not intend to legalize homosexuality at all by abolishing the czarist legal codes. Simon Karlinsky, for example, claimed that the October Revolution reversed and negated the advances for gay rights achieved in the revolutions of 1905 and of February 1917, passing over the first decriminalization of “sodomy” as an aside.5 Healey, however, comes to the following, unequivocal conclusion based on the files of the Commissariat of Justice, which became accessible with the opening of the Soviet archives in 1991:

While these documents do not discuss the sodomy statute in detail, they do demonstrate a principled intent to decriminalize the act between consenting adults, expressed from the earliest efforts to write a socialist criminal code in 1918 to the eventual adoption of legislation in 1922.6
By decriminalizing male homosexuality, the Bolsheviks stood in the long tradition of the labor movement. In 1898, for example, the leader of the German Social Democrats, August Bebel, had been the first politician to call for homosexual emancipation in a parliament. Three years earlier, socialists had defended the famous writer Oscar Wilde when he was put on trial for his homosexuality. Eduard Bernstein sharply criticized the idea that homosexuality deviated from “nature,” proposing instead that it be understood as a deviation from “the firmly maintained fictional norm,” and holding that “there is no reasonable ground why a similar contract between man and man should be criminally punished.”7 Socialists were not the only ones to call for the legalization of homosexuality. After the October Revolution, however, they not only raised the demand but actually put it into practice.

The pamphlet “The Sexual Revolution in Russia,” written in 1923 by the head of the Moscow Institute of Social Hygiene, Dr. Grigorii Batkis, gives an impression of the official position of the Bolsheviks in the first years after the revolution. In it he writes,

[Soviet legislation] declares the absolute noninterference of the state and society into sexual matters, so long as nobody is injured, and no one’s interests are encroached upon. Concerning homosexuality, sodomy, and various other forms of sexual gratification, which are set down in European legislation as offenses against public morality — Soviet legislation treats these exactly the same as so-called “natural” intercourse. All forms of sexual intercourse are private matters.8
Of course, in the young Soviet Union, not all the prejudices were eliminated from one day to the next. They had become ingrained in decades and centuries of tsarist backwardness. Moreover, the legalization policy of the Bolsheviks did not extend to the entire area of the Soviet Union. The code of the Uzbek SSR, for example, which was established in 1926, still contained paragraphs against homosexuality. While in the European center of the country, homosexuality was understood as an innate characteristic of a minority; in the periphery it was conceived of as a widespread phenomenon arising from social conditions. Healey calls this a “contradiction between the Soviet Union’s declared sexual vanguardism and its policies in outlying regions.”9 Furthermore, during the 1920s, access to ballrooms and meeting halls in the urban centers dwindled more and more, which, according to a common interpretation, led to a retreat into the private sphere. This is contradicted, however, by the fact that homosexual men played important public roles in the young Soviet republic. Author Mikhail Kuzmin, who came from an aristocratic background and wrote the first coming-out novel affirming homosexuality, Wings, in 1906, sympathized with the revolution and served as chairman of the Petrograd Artists’ Association. Kuzmin was friends with the openly gay Georgy Chicherin, who served as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, a post that was roughly equal to a Soviet foreign minister, from 1918 to 1930.

A few isolated statements by Lenin are often used to argue that the Bolsheviks allegedly took a prudish position on questions of sexuality. In correspondence with the French socialist Inessa Armand in 1915, he defended himself against the demand for a “freedom of love.”10 In a few lines, he argued that freedom from material calculations, religious prejudices, or “from the fetters of the law, the courts and the police” would be poorly expressed by this phrase and could also be understood to mean freedom “from the serious element in love” or “from childbirth,” which he described as a bourgeois demand. Healey, too, infers from these lines (and from similar statements attributed to Lenin after his death by Clara Zetkin11) that Lenin may well have meant to say that those suffering from a “personal abnormality” in their sexual lives should do so in private while devoting themselves to the revolution.12 Sherry Wolf strongly rejects this “rather stilted reading of Lenin’s thoughts” in Sexuality and Socialism, arguing that it conforms to the Cold War caricature of Lenin as a teetotaling ascetic.13 In fact, Lenin’s letters to Armand were not published until 1939 under Stalin to signal, as Healey himself writes in a footnote, that the “changes to family policy in the 1930s had Leninist origins.”14
The Stalinist Rollback
Contrary to the hopes of the Bolsheviks, by 1923, no further socialist states had emerged from the European revolutionary upsurge after World War I. In capitalist encirclement, material deprivation after years of first world and then civil war, and the resulting massive attenuation of the Soviet industrial proletariat, an extensive bureaucracy had taken hold in all areas of administration, attempting to elevate the country’s isolation to the status of theory with “socialism in one country.”

The bureaucracy’s interest in self-preservation, coexisting with the capitalist West, was matched by an increased demand for labor, which led to a policy of increasing the birth rate. Efforts to abolish the family, whose tasks for social reproduction were to be made superfluous through the establishment of public child care, laundry shop, or state canteens, were replaced by the consolidation of traditional family and gender norms. In a trade union newspaper, Aron Solz, who had held leading posts in the Soviet judiciary before being ousted in 1938, wrote: “A Soviet woman has equal rights with a man, but she is not relieved of the great and honorable natural duty: she’s a mother, she gives life.”15

The ideological justification for the renewed criminalization of homosexuality was provided in 1934 by Stalin’s mouthpiece on cultural issues, the author Maxim Gorky. He attributed to homosexuality a corrupting influence on youth and contrasted the myth of Russian “purity” with the decay of the “overcivilized” West, which, supposedly, along with homosexuality, also gave rise to fascism. His utterance culminates in the infamous statement: “Destroy the homosexuals — Fascism will disappear.”16
Just as the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1922 had been part of a broader effort to overcome any form of oppression based on gender or sexuality, the counterreforms of the 1930s were also not limited to reintroducing the persecution of homosexuality. Prostitution was also recriminalized, abortions banned, and the women’s section of the party’s Central Committee dissolved. Leon Trotsky described this policy of prohibitions as “the philosophy of a priest endowed also with the powers of a gendarme.”17 This turn toward a cult of motherhood was accompanied by the cruel persecution of any real or imagined political opposition. In her book Bread and Roses, Andrea D’Atri describes, in relation to women’s politics, the discontinuity between the first decrees of the nascent workers’ state and the outrageous later provisions of the bureaucracy. For the bureaucracy, it was clear: “The revolution needed to be opposed with a counterrevolution.”18 This rupture was enforced with the deportation, imprisonment, torture, and murder of countless people.
88 posts and 8 image replies omitted. Click reply to view.

 No.4079

>>1109047
>>4070
Reminder that the US government deliberately suppressed info or deliberately spread misinfo aboit AIDS until all the radicals died and then suddenly embraced Pride wholeheartedly in the depths of protests to the Great Recession. And now it's completely inseparable.

 No.4080

>>1109012
there is no source for any of these quotes

 No.4081

File: 1659847641398.jpg (394.97 KB, 1200x1600, afghan-bus-shelter-ad.jpg)

>>1109027
omg America says womens rights in imperialist propaganda I guess women are cringe now

 No.4082

>>4079
>And now it's completely inseparable.
holy cope

 No.4083

>>4078
Putting bits of a virus inside you and It's a new experimental vaccine ick that simple

Conservative here we're talking of a temperament or more specifically a tendency towards a strong disgust response as in gagging or throwing up that tends to line up with certain views on the culture wars

If you wanted to be cute you could classify sea anenomies or sea sponges as more or less conservative by the criteria although obviously these don't fight culture wars as far as we know

 No.4084

>>4081
Yes, bourgeois feminists are extremely cringe. They don't actually advance women's interests, they advance their own careers and bourgeois bullshit, all of it in order to prevent workers from gaining rights

 No.4085

>>4062
USSR quite easily brought into being equal rights for women. East Germany had full on employment for women, while West Germany even today lags behind on equality. Bourgeois "emancipation" just doesn't work, they create some movies and police thoughts, but they don't actually solve economic issues which produce this inequality to begin with

 No.4086

>>4041
>highest autism score homophobe
I know you mean that ironically but I accept your compliment anyway. Good day.

 No.4087

>>4081
Yeah this kind of thing unironically leads to Al Qaeda ideology or some other kind of fundamentalist reaction while the paradox is that Al Qaeda was receiving weapons from the U.S. government to the fight the Syrian war. Or like the Azov Battalion receiving weapons. And I wonder whether the two things are related, like the U.S. government SAYS it supports LGBT people and so forth, but what it really wants to do is stoke and encourage far-right groups that are useful in its various proxy wars.

 No.4088

>>4040
Reactionary and pseudoscientific drivel. Read a book, retard.

 No.4089

>>4088
Ok retard

 No.4090

>>4040
>In the meantime could comrades keep it on the down low
Nah

 No.4091

Like why the hell should we? Heterosexual people aren't being criticized by "communists" for not keeping their relationships on the down low. If this is "communism" then I don't want anything to do with it. Fortunately the communist party I belong to doesn't believe in such backward thinking.

 No.4092

>>4040
this is literally just opportunism. We have fucking principles! Yes, if this scares away conservatives, fine. No one is saying to bring up gay people when you're unionizing (unless u work with gay people), but as communists yes we absolutely must not cater to conservatives. There is no point in debasing ourselves, and showing everyone a complete lack of backbone, to bend over backwards to appease the most backwards and reactionary elements. It destroys exactly what we have to offer, which is clarity of purpose and a wide embrace of the working class. If we try to be so open as to split with certain groups we would otherwise also embrace in order to embrace conservatives, we're directly putting them in charge of the communist movement. That's ridiculous. The right needs to be combated, and so does the center. It's impossible to find reconciliation when the demand is for us to abandon our principles and for intolerance at those who otherwise are allies.

 No.4093

>>4092
>Yes, if this scares away conservatives, fine.
Great except we're talking at least 20 percent of the population

Communists should probably avoid waving gommie shit at pride marches unless communism matters more to them than queer issues since communism has stigma also

 No.4094

>>4093
I mean I personally love the idea of an enourmous portrait of Stalin on a float at pride with dancing gimps but I'm sure you can agree it is not appropriate

 No.4095

>>4092
>>4093
Communism has never been appealing to consrvatives. Go out and do praxis. You're literally inventing shit because you have no clue about anything outside twitch streamers and twitter schizos.

 No.4096

>>4095
I have workmates some of who are conservative get a job kid

 No.4097

>>4094
>>4093
Quite the contrary, idiot. Stop pandering to reactionaries. Bringing socialism back into the LGBT struggle means returning to its original form, before the ruling class recuperated it. Yes, a giant float with the face of stalin would in fact be great.

 No.4098

>>4097
Returning [the] lgbt I think you meant

Yeah ok fair point

 No.4099

I'm really not going around waving a Pride flag around or talking about it very often but the "keep it on the down low" is going to get a hostile reaction from most lgbt people. They don't want to live in fear of other people. You will get a Fuck You and that'll be the end of the conversation

 No.4100

>>4096
Your coworkers (assuming they are homophobes) have been unironically brainwashed to hate gays. Their obstacle to favor communism isn't that socialism is LGBT friendly or whatever, their obstacle is brainwashing. No amount of pandering to them or watering down socialism to fit reactionary's sensibilities will do anything.

I encourage you to do praxis, but in its abscense, I suggest you ask comrades who do praxis in conservative states. You'd be surprised at their experience. Eddie Smith has videos where he talks precisely about this failed watering down cop-out in the context of the midwest, pointing out how it's unnecessary and actively harmful.

 No.4101

>The pamphlet “The Sexual Revolution in Russia,” written in 1923 by the head of the Moscow Institute of Social Hygiene, Dr. Grigorii Batkis, gives an impression of the official position of the Bolsheviks in the first years after the revolution. In it he writes,
>[Soviet legislation] declares the absolute noninterference of the state and society into sexual matters, so long as nobody is injured, and no one’s interests are encroached upon.
Very interesting.

 No.4102

Also there's this weird attitude among some people here that lgbt are like all communists or something. They're not. They have different views. Some are right-wing conservatives. Drop this sense of ownership over them where you can command them what to do for the revolution because you like Joseph Stalin. Start appealing to and organizing people based on their interests.

 No.4103

The covert bourgeoisie within the dictatorship of the proletariat; the bureaucracy, needs to be overcome, at all costs, to safeguard the revolutionary gains by the proletariat in its movement towards communism.

 No.4104

>>4100
Which ones depends on their temperament and intelligence not in the crude qualitative tism score sense but more as a quality

Unless you want to go full Pravda Which for the record I entirely support you doing but am probably in a minority on the issue the association between men who have sex with men with disease will continue being reinforced under capitalism due to capitalism inability to tackle matters of health

Issues aren't disconnected from the world even to go full Pravda which is to say truth would require socialism

Humanitarian efforts can be made but the primary contradiction causing the issue remains capital

 No.4105

>>4104
>the association between men who have sex with men with disease will continue being reinforced under capitalism due to capitalism inability to tackle matters of health
Homophobia doesn't come from the idea that gay men have disease. And in fact, homophobia is what led to uncontrolled HIV spread.

 No.4106

>>4105
That's the same for all health issues
I'm not joking
Compare the burger vs Chinese response to Covid
Your particular issues are not disconnected from other proles issues is what I'm getting at these issues can be approached and contextualized to relate them to others issues in a way that makes them their own

What I'm trying to get at is that your issues also matter to them they just don't know it yet

 No.4107

>>4106
Skipped a step in my response the homophobia horrifically was only a small component of the shambolic response

Most of the shambolic response was innate to a for profit health industry and a for profit entertainment industry etc etc

 No.4108

First off, I ain't reading all that
>>4010
Weakness of the mind. I think they are rationally pursuing irrational ends cause ceding a point can you ingratiate yourself to someone, this seems correct in theory, tho I don't know much about the topic of being a faggot debatelord.
>>3998
Has anyone considered this angle? Like not to compare myself to Stalin but I ignore things that are too stupid.
"this is the most retarded shit I ever archived"
"ah, but you did archive it"
-Gay Jack Sparrow

 No.4109

>>4105
>homophobia is what led to uncontrolled HIV spread.
Good point, ideological obscurantism led this disease to become pandemic. The USSR really fucked it up going trough denial, and China called it the "loving capitalism disease", doing fuck all because homosexuality only exists in capitalist countries since it's a bourgeois deviance right?

 No.4110

keep your American bs in America.
Homosexuals can be comrades although they tend to live more hedonistic lifestyles.
Queer is a word that doesnt exist in my language, neither is gender. And Ill keep it that way.

 No.4111

>>4110
Schwuchtel!

 No.4112

>>4110
>wort existiert nicht,d.H Konzept existiert auch nicht

stupid cunt, read origin of the family; everything Engels does there in outlining a not at all natural, but societally determined basis for the family structure and gender roles within it can easily be applied to gender itself. In fact, it MUST be applied to gender itself; if we agree with Engles when he writes that male usurpation of societal dominance from women was perhaps the first class conflict in history, then it only logically follows that a strict delineation between the categories of "man" and "woman" would also result from that same conflict (can't achieve dominance over an ill defined social group, can't maintain dominance of an ill defined social group).

therefore we have no reason to privilege these categories, borne of male domination of women as outlined in origins of the family, as "natural," or "morally correct," etc


fucking "conservative Marxists" haven't even read our own books

 No.4113

File: 1659865873714.jpg (82.33 KB, 672x474, what did I expect.jpg)

>>4112
>fucking "conservative Marxists" haven't even read our own books

 No.4114

>>3998

you dont weaken class solidarity by permitting homosexuality - you weaken it by prohibiting homosexuality. Permitting homosexuality means that the category of class supercedes matters of sexual orientation; banning it implies that even gay proletariat are somehow inherently different, have a different set of interests, than the straight proletariat.

 No.4115

>>4112 here again

ALSO, if Engels was willing to analyze family itself, monogamy itself, as societally defined constructs, flying in the face of orthodox beliefs of his (and still, honestly, our) time, we can, and ought, to apply his same methodology to other social issues - gender and sexuality being prime targets.

 No.4116

>>3998
But he didn't expell the guy and he archived the manuscript with the note so he obviously thought the guys argument on the homosexuals as a nation of its own was worth something even if he disagreed

 No.4117

>>4116
It very well could be that the guy was an idiot and that Stalin was homophobic. You can't expect people to be perfect beacons of Truth. I'm gay and I had to unlearn homophobia, then I had to unlearn liberal conceptions of sexuality, and I'm still discovering more and more. And I've only given it so much thought because I'm gay. Straight people, and especially "cis hetero white" etc, basically normative people, aren't really aware of the ways oppression plays out, which many times can be extremely subtle.

 No.4118

>>4117
Yeah but I can have a laff about Comrade Stalin archiving the manuscript with
>Stupid faggot
I realised that and was just waiting for an excuse to use the joke

Plz can I have laff?
Tankyoo

 No.4119

>>4118
>Plz can I have laff?
no, fuck you
I made the same point and you ignored it.

 No.4120

>>3998
>Doesn't understand what idpol means
>Thinks Stalin committing an idpol is a good thing because it's Stalin doing it.
>Uncritically accepts the assertion that gays 'weaken and promote division beyond class' simply because Stalin said it.
3 strikes, bait beyond reasonable doubt.

 No.4121

>>4011
That’s not exactly “ceding” to reactionary elements bruh, that’s just having reactionary beliefs
Face it, he hated gay people, he was a man from the first half of the 20th Century, it is what it is
Kill your gods

 No.4122

>>4092
> We have fucking principles!
Lmao wrong board to be saying this

 No.4123

>>4114
good post. reactionaries won't respond or acknowledge.

 No.4124

This is an idpol bait thread and should have been taken down.

 No.4125

>>4093
>Great except we're talking at least 20 percent of the population

Yeah and people who accept gay rights are more of the population, you can't please everyone

 No.4126

>>4124
Most responses are well grounded anti-idpol. It is important to teach our fellow comrades proper anti-idpol, and stamp out reactionary "anti"-idpol which is also idpol.

 No.4127

I'm going to weigh in on this as le closeted trans woman (potential AGP, not sure)
Basically, I want to see a world where nobody gives half a flying fuck if I'm trans besides maybe other trans people. It's the most basic response that you can give, sure, but it's one that's the most well-applying for me. I don't want there to be any stigma or preconceived idea of me for being trans. It already pains me enough that I'm not cis and have to deal with dysphoria, so I'd rather not have being outed also find its way on the list of things I need to worry about.

 No.4128

>>4126

This anti-anti-idpol is just lefty idpol all over again.

LGBT+ ideology whether for or against is just market segmentation of various consumer lifestyles. Culture war resultant is just emergent phenomenon of competing brands combined to media profiting off the attention grabbing that conflict generates.

>>4127
BASED & DONTCAREATALLPILLED


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