Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Los Angeles Research Group

Toward A Scientific Analysis of the Gay Question

II. Is Gayness a Response to Decaying Imperialism?

The basic premise of the RU’s position on gay people is stated in their unsupported assertion that “homosexuality in the US today is an individual response to the intensification of the contradictions brought about by decaying imperialism: in particular, it is a response to the contradiction between men and women which is rooted in male supremacist institutions and male chauvinist ideology.”

The fact is that homosexuality has existed in all historical periods, it has been socially accepted and even encouraged in societies prior to capitalism (for example, in primitive communist societies such as the Iriquois and Mojaves). If, as Marxist-Leninists, we know that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, then homosexuality in pre-capitalist societies clearly was not a response to decaying imperialism, which had not yet historically occurred.

The unsupported statement that “homosexuality is a response – consciously or not – to a male supremacist society” has no basis in historical fact. (The October League has similarly asserted that homosexuality arises in periods of societal decay and in times of extraordinarily severe oppression of women.) The truth is that homosexuality existed in matriarchal societies in which male supremacy was not dominant (such as the Philippines before the Spanish invasions of the 16th century). Thus gayness existed in periods of female dominance or periods in which women were highly respected, and not just in times of heavy oppression of women. Looking to U.S. history, the pre-Civil War period in the south was«a period of great oppression of women, but there is not recorded a corresponding rise in gayness.

The RU seems to base all gay relationships on a response to male supremacy and chauvinism, and the increased alienation under decaying capitalism. Although it is true that capitalism intensifies alienation in all members of society, particularly the working class and petty bourgeoisie, it does not follow simply that alienation is the source of sexual relations, be they heterosexual or homosexual.

What scientific and historical evidence is presented to support the contention that gayness is an individual response to the contradictions of decaying imperialism? Absolutely none. Or, are we to believe that the RU feels such a statement is just “naturally” true and needs no backing? As communists and gays, we disagree. We are aware of the many “natural” ideas that the bourgeoisie tries to pass off as true. The RU recognizes this when they correctly state in their Draft Programme that

the ideas and outlook of the capitalists, and other exploiting classes which have ruled society for thousands of years, have become deeply entrenched in society, and have largely acquired the “force of habit”. The bourgeoisie takes advantage of this to promote the so-called “theory of human nature”, which says that people are basically selfish and will never change, so socialism is bound to fail and communism is a hopeless Utopia.

This bourgeois “theory” is age-old garbage. There is no such thing as “human nature” in the abstract, divorced from classes.

In the slave system, it was considered “natural” for one group of people, the slave-owners, to own other people, the slaves. In capitalist society, this idea is regarded as criminal and absurd, because the bourgeoisie has no need for slaves as private property (at least not in its own country). But it has every need for wage-slaves, proletarians. So it presents as “natural” the kind of society where a small group, the capitalists, own the means of production and on that basis force the great majority of society to work to enrich them.[1]

First, as we have shown, the RU and others offer no evidence that gayness is a “response” either to decaying imperialism or male supremacy and chauvinism. Further, to label something merely as a “response” suggests a linear analysis of history rather than a dialectical approach.

Second, it is a mistake to focus on response and label it negative. Take for instance, the historical phenomena of capitalism and imperialism. Class struggle and wars of national liberation are “responses” we support and participate in. Class collaboration is also a “response”; it is a response to be isolated and defeated. Thus it is insufficient to dismiss a phenomenon as a “response” and as such label it negative. What is key is the form it takes, whose class interests it advances. Class collaboration is an incorrect ’response’ to bourgeois rule because it perpetuates the bourgeoisie at the expense of the working class. Class struggle and wars of national liberation support the interests of the international proletariat.

We assume the RU labels gayness not only a ’response’ but an incorrect one. However, no real evidence is presented as to how or why gayness retards class struggle. Heterosexuality, in and of itself, is neither progressive nor reactionary. Homosexuality, in and of itself, is neither progressive nor reactionary. It is not sexuality which determines class stands, it is the world outlook people bring to their relationships and work.

Our limited study and experience leads us to believe the question of why people are gay is much too complex to be dealt with in such a facile and subjective way as “it’s a response”. With a methodological approach as unscientific and un-Marxist as the above, we will never develop the correct lines necessary to build a revolutionary working class movement, nor a party which represents the organized advanced detachment of the working class to lead the socialist revolution in this country.


[1] Revolutionary Union, Draft Programme, pp. 12-13.