- Category: Communist Organization
- Created on Saturday, 02 June 2012 05:49
- Written by Bill Martin
"If you put yourself out there as an organization that holds that 'it is right to rebel against reactionaries,' and then you don’t rebel against a prevalent form of reaction or even do a responsible analysis of the culture in which anti-gay bigotry circulates, there ought to be a cost for that."
"Shouldn't there be room in our understanding of sexuality for not letting go of the question, 'Why can't the myriad forms of sexuality simply be a source of joy?' Yes, we go on from there to complicate things with questions of power and gender relations, etc., but why not allow ourselves the possibility (to say something slightly more complicated and less naive) that there is a 'different economy' possible and at work in sexuality that ought to be a beautiful thing and sometimes even is a beautiful thing."
"Neither a Bataillean, 'economy of the gift' (or hippie free love, etc.) nor a 'what business is it of yours?' view of sexuality takes us far enough, but consider that the RCP did have for a very long time as part of its program the idea that the 'new' state should exercise control over sexuality, or at least certain 'phenomena' within the larger field of sexuality."
"Critique of Boneheaded Reason is what I have devoted myself to for some years in working with Marxism, which isn't to say that I haven't been thoroughly boneheaded myself in various ways over the years...."
"Quite often I think of the character Fish...from the Ally McBeal show. He would say something offensive or abusive to someone, and then immediately say 'Bygones!'...Not to be utilitarian about this, but being sincerely sorry could have made a difference to how things went forward (instead of things with the RCP not going forward), rather than this ugly 'Bygones!' perspective."
"The RCP's history can be seen in some ways as repeatedly 'getting something going,' and then seemingly shattering it all on a whim. There was perhaps some element of "fuck 'em" in this – where "em" includes virtually everyone – sections of the people, other radicals and sections of their own organization..."
The following essay is an addition to Kasama’s Red Closet series -- excavating and summing up some awful anti-gay experiences within the previous communist movement..
Bill Martin is known for many things -- his philosophy and music of course, but also his courageous trip into fascist Peru, as part of an international emergency delegation, to publicly defend the life of captured Maoist leader Abimael Guzman.
Bill Martin also played a prominent role in the public communist engagements over questions of sexuality. He and Bob Avakian conducted in a extended political and philosophical dialogue -- which was then published as a book, Marxism and the Call of the Future: Conversations on Ethics, History, and Politics (2005).
The exchange over homosexuality in that "Conversations" book has remained Avakian's main personal statement on what has, arguably, been the single most damning controversy surrounding his organization, the Revolutionary Communist Party.
In Chapter 21 of that joint book, Avakian refuses to apologize for thirty-plus years of anti-gay policies by the RCP under his leadership. He argued that the exclusion and persecution of gay people was an error of theory and methodology – i.e. a case of incorrect ideas – and so the appropriate response is theoretical self-criticism, followed by a public presentation of new, corrected ideas. It is a response that avoids acknowledging the practices which those ideas justified or the harm done to actual people both inside and outside his organization. And it rejects any discussion of how much he or his organization were gripped by the society's default bigotry of homophobia.
Avakian argue that the reason it took decades to reverse this anti-gay policy was that the RCP leadership (meaning mainly himself) were preoccupied with other matters. It was an astonishing claim -- to have been too busy with more important matters (including at the height of the AIDS crisis) to see what was wrong with abusing and demonizing gay people.
Given this argument and history, it is valuable to now hear what Bill Martin has to say on this matter, and for him to join in Kasama's process of making a communist accounting.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Homosexuality, the previous communist movement and going forward
By Bill Martin
“The publication of these accounts was not some attack on the skeletal grouping that still uses the name Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) today. It was an attempt to understand our common history, to make self-criticism, to give some justice and love to those mistreated, and to make sure similar things do not happen again in the movement we must build now. It is not about that sad past, but about our coming future and about the danger of the well-meaning making terrible mistakes through arrogance and blindness.”
Mike Ely, November 2011, discussing the "Red Closet" series
“[A]s much satisfaction as it would give me personally to publicly call people out for the shit that they put me through, that's not what we do. We argue on line. We argue on actions. We argue on facts. Unlike the RCP, we aren't engaging in a personal attack on individual party members. (Even though I could easily argue that they waged a personal attack, no, more like a war on me and my sexuality).”
Libri Devrim, discussing an attack on Kasama by the RCP for supposedly "naming names" in the "Red Closet" series
The discussion of the RCP, USA's line on homosexuality and the experiences that people have had around this has been extraordinary -- inspiring, revelatory, difficult. Many of us have learned a good deal. I think, and certainly I have.