Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Los Angeles Research Group

Toward A Scientific Analysis of the Gay Question

Introduction to the Second Printing

The response to this paper has been much greater than we had anticipated, so we are reprinting it again to meet the demand. We have learned much since the paper was first put out, both from feedback on the paper, and from our own development as communists. So we are using this introduction to clarify certain points in the paper, and to correct errors which still appear in the text.

We said in the paper that the process in which we arrive at incorrect ideas does not just stay confined to one area, but spills over into other areas. This is because incorrect ideas or conclusions are usually a reflection of an incorrect approach to a question. Marxist-Leninists are scientists. They use the Marxist line of cognition and method of analysis to approach all questions. Marxist-Leninists start from a through and concrete investigation of concrete conditions, and, moving from perceptions and observations to rational conclusions drawn from numerous perceptions, try to discover and interpret the laws of relations within and between phenomena – to see how things work and how they can be affected. They then test out their conclusions in social practice.

Take the example of Marxist-Leninists who are faced with the problem of crossing a river. First they investigate. They measure the current, width, depth of the river. Then they weigh this against the materials at hand, the strength of forces or extent of resources available to the task and the speed in which they need to get to the other side. They know from summed up past practice (theory) that this is important to do, that these factors influence which of the historically tested methods of crossing (building bridges, a raft or boat, swimming, etc.) to apply to the task. Then they test out the method they have selected. If it doesn’t work, the next time they’ll know that as well, and that information will be added to the knowledge they bring to the situation at hand.

Marxist-Leninists strive to apply the science of dialectical and historical materialism (ideology) to every question, to every problem. We say that political line is a reflection of ideological line, since particular solutions to particular questions (political line) are derived from the way these questions are looked at, analyzed, interpreted, and acted on. So, for example, if a group comes to a position on the gay question based on feelings, or suppositions, or moralisms, instead of by doing a concrete investigation of the question, then that group’s position cannot be correct – unless if by luck. And if that group sees nothing wrong with their approach to this one question and does hot apply the fundamental laws of Marxism-Leninism to it, then they are certain to repeat the same mistakes in other questions. Why would a group intentionally approach one question differently from all other questions? (If they did, and if they did so intentionally, then this is a clear ideological deviation to make an exception of the gay question.)

We think that within the Marxist-Leninist movement as it currently exists, there are differences in the extent to which different organizations practice Marxism-Leninism. It is a young movement which makes mistakes because of incorrect approaches to political questions, approaches which are sometimes not materialist, not dialectical and not historical. Certainly this is true of these organizations’ approaches to the gay question. If these organizations were to be judged solely on their approaches to and conclusions on the gay question, we would say that they do not practice Marxism-Leninism at all. However, it is important to note that they do not approach all questions as they do the gay question. And that is why we think it is important to struggle with them over their approach to this question.

This central ideological problem not only applies to young Marxist-Leninist organizations. Others, such as NAM, who conclude as we do that gays should not be excluded from communist organizations, also suffer from the same ideological weakness. Their opposite conclusion comes from the same lack of investigation, the same lack of application of scientific principles and laws. So, even though we agree with their conclusion on this particular issue, we do not think that their approach is correct. We have seen the effects of this incorrect and unscientific approach on their stands on other questions. They have failed to apply the universal laws of Marxism-Leninism to other issues (like party-building), and so their conclusions have been incorrect. As we said, lack of investigation in one area usually corresponds to a similar lack in other areas. We cannot and do not assume general unity with them based only on conclusionary unity on a particular question. This would indeed be false unity.

The second point we need to clarify is our view of where we as Marxist-Leninists should focus our organizing. Historical materialism teaches us that the only consistently revolutionary class is the working class; and that without the leadership of a proletarian party with a correct line, the working class cannot succeed in its revolutionary aim. Because of this, we see building that party and working among the proletariat, organizing workers, to be our primary task. And the primary place for doing that organizing is in the workplace where the contradiction between the worker and the capitalist is the clearest. It is as workers that we have the power to lead and make a successful socialist revolution. It is as workers that we can learn and prove how socialized production creates the unity of the multi-national working class and the solidarity of all workers, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual. Thus we think that the correct way to organize gays is primarily as workers, and not as part of a separate gay community. Gays should be organized in the same ways and into the same organizations as all other workers – at the workplace.

It is also in the workplace that Marxist-Leninists can best undergo the process of developing proletarian ideology and proletarian class stand which will enable us to sharply struggle against the dominant strains of bourgeois ideology and where we can best test and develop our political line. We have seen historically, in the CPUSA, the errors of the CP not consolidating organizationally in the working class, of the CP not rooted in the proletariat. Both their ideology and their political line suffered from it. Unless a communist party is integrated into the working class and unless it is guided by a correct ideological and political line developed from the perspective of the working class, there can be no successful revolution, since it is the working class that is the motive force in history.

Based on these reasons, we seriously disagree with organizations who base their political work solely in a particular community or who work solely around a particular issue. Gay liberation organizations and mass organizations of gays are important, but are not the place where gay communists should place their primary efforts and resources. This is because we do not yet have in this country a communist party which is capable of leading, coordinating and giving direction to struggles in the mass movement – be it the womens’ movement, the gay rights movement, or the national minorities’ movement. We do not have an anti-revisionist communist party which is rooted in the working class, which has sufficiently transformed its world outlook to that of the proletariat, and which has developed political line to fit the conditions of the US. Until we have such a party, and until such a party is consolidated, our task must be to build it, and to build it primarily at the workplace, by developing strong communist leadership at the workplace and building strong ties with advanced workers at the workplace so that we can have a genuine communist party of the working class. In other words, until a party is formed and until advanced workers have been consolidated around the leadership of the party and its correct line, our task is to win the advanced workers to communism and the party. It is only after this has been done that communists, under the direction of the party, should put their primary energies into developing and working within the mass movement, including the movement for democratic rights for gays.

There are three specific points we want to clarify in response to criticism we received of the paper.

1. The weakest areas of our paper were those in which we attempted to put forward affirmative analyses instead of refuting incorrect ones. Specifically, our section on Material Oppression of gays is the weakest part of the paper, although we recognize that this is the most crucial element in a scientific understanding of the question.

We have not sufficiently developed the relationship between the gay question and the woman question. Although it seems that historically gay oppression is tied in time and place to the development of private property, the division of labor and resulting inequality between men and women, and the development of sex roles, further investigation needs to be done to prove that historical relationship and the conclusions which flow from it.

Similarly, our analysis of the role of the bourgeois nuclear family is weak. We see that there are both negative and positive aspects of the family, but we do not say which is dominant and at which historical periods. This again reflects our limitations and is a weakness in the paper. Another major weakness is that we do not provide a definition of “gayness”. We do not suggest whether and to what extent gayness is a biological trait that people are born with, or an acquired, societal trait.

We see these three major theoretical weaknesses not only as our own, but as reflective of major historical theoretical weaknesses in the communist movement of which we are a part. However, the hard work of researching and investigating these questions has begun. People are beginning to find data on these subjects from pre-historic times to the present, focusing on the extent to which gayness existed, was allowed to exist, or encouraged, and on the nature and extent of oppression of gays at different historical periods. Research is being done on the role of biology and of society in the definition of “gayness”. It is this historical and scientific lack of information that makes our paper incomplete – and that also makes the anti-gay analysis incorrect from a strictly scientific standpoint. The struggle for a complete, correct line on the gay question will be protracted and will not be resolved overnight with scanty, perceptual and superficial information. We are glad that there are now communists who are taking the task seriously.

2. In our discussion on page 19 of the Soviet Union’s dramatic reversal in the 1930’s (the passing of laws and policy which outlawed abortion and homosexuality and which provided material incentives and support for the increased production of children), we did not mean to imply that this was a correct tact for the party to have taken. Rather, we see these acts as mechanical approaches to complex and serious problems. We think that those acts instituted by the party at that time sold short the role of the masses, in that they opted for rigid laws and material, economic incentives instead of mass education and persuasion. They did not bring the theory behind the problems to the people, but laid down the “solutions” to the problems. They used capitalist means of meeting the real needs of reproducing the working class, rather than developing socialist methods of resolving the contradiction. We see this approach as incorrect. We used the example, however, to show that communists must solve problems based on the analysis of concrete historical conditions. To equate the conditions of the USSR in the 1930’s with those of the US in the 1970’s is incorrect. We think that this is what some of the new communist groups have done with respect to the gay question.

3. Finally, we stress again the main point of this paper we believe that one’s class stand and world outlook determines whether one is truly a proletarian revolutionary. Neither heterosexuality nor homosexuality is a substitute for or a test of one’s class stand. This paper shows why.