Monday, 22 August 2016

The RCP's Current Solution to the Gay Question

I first started writing about the American Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and its really toxic attitude to homosexuals three years ago. I meant to submit this final bit on the current RCP shortly after the last one (I guess we know why that free lancing gig didn’t work out for me hey?). I’ve been busy with many other things but the sad truth is I have actual tried to complete this piece half a dozen times only to scrap it all half way through.

The current official attitude of the RCP to homosexuals is detailed in the grandly titled “On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme” or DP for short. This position paper was finished in 2001 and hasn’t been updated in the fifteen years since first publication. The document is very long 34 A4 pages, but what does it actually say, well at the very end it says that homosexuals can now become members of the party. And I mean at the end it only comes up in the second to last section of the paper.
Quote:
Can homosexuals be progressive revolutionary allies and even revolutionary communists and members of the revolutionary vanguard party? The answer on both counts is yes.
So end of the story? Well if you’re an RCP member looking to defend its reputation yes it is, but the DP shows a few severe problems with this attempt to show that the party has really changed. And I’m going to briefly go over them.

The main issue is that the DP is dishonest. It doesn’t apologise for the really nasty stuff the party did to its own members before this change. Indeed it doesn’t acknowledge it even happened. The only mea culpa here is for the 1988 line on homosexuality. This is important because the 1988 line was considered a compromise line implying that its at least a little better than the previous positions. So all the DP is doing is making excuses for having a party position that in their words wasn’t correct. I eventually found copies of all the RCP positions on homosexuality (there were quite a few) thanks to a blogpost by a former RCP member who had drafted a few of them in his past. Its worth reading his account as it goes into detail about the attitude of the party leadership (AKA Bob Avakian). I’ve added the lines as an appendix at the bottom of the page.

The party’s position on the gay question and why it is imperative to solve it has gone through many permutations. In the seventies homosexuality was on the level of prostitution and drug addiction, and a bourgeois plot to enslave the masses. By 1988 the gays were supporting women’s oppression somehow. In 2001? Well according to every other section of the DP the Gays are still colluding in women’s oppression but now it’s not true of all of them. There are some gays and Bi’s who want to end all oppression and one way to tell the difference is whether or not they want to join the RCP.
Quote:
“The Party must constantly bring forward into its ranks those who dedicate themselves to the cause of the international proletarian revolution, who seriously take up the weapon of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism [MLM] and carry out the Party's line and tasks among the masses. The members the Party must attract are those whose dedication is not to narrow and personal interests, but to the historic mission of communism.”
The second to last section opens up membership of the party to homosexuals, the last section is an attempt to bury criticism of the party’s history with the LGBTQ crowd, most of the other sections though are written to try and make it look like the RCP was kinda right about the negative relationship between homosexuality and women oppression. I’m only going to quote just one example here, but I’m not kidding when I say the majority of the paragraphs in this 34 page document are like this.
Quote:
“Historically, lesbian relationships and networks have encouraged and provided support for some women to exist and function outside of traditional roles or as a safe haven from male/women relationships that have been physically or emotionally abusive. But while this may be an individual improvement for some women, it is also true that, as we pointed out in our 1988 article, the larger relations in society still get reflected in lesbian relations to one degree and in one way or another. And more fundamentally, the practice of lesbianism does not solve the overarching problem of the oppression of women as a whole, in U.S. society and throughout the world.”
This particular passage in a vacuum may seem a fairly blunt rebuttal to what’s called identity politics but the majority of the section and the rest of the DP is dedicated to reiterations on these two themes. Same sex couples are just as susceptible to societies ideology (though why this means they seem to exclusively be an obstacle to women’s liberation, rather aiding in all the other oppressions and exploitations of bourgeois society is not explained or even addressed) and that same sex couples don’t on their own represent a rejection of class based society. The last part is true, but that’s true many other things like heterosexual relationships that the RCP either has no problem with (there is no position on heterosexuality in the party’s history) or actively champions.

The repetition of this argument and the layout of the document is designed so that anyone wishing to know about the RCP’s policy on gay members has to read through its self-justification before it gets to the answer. This paper isn’t a product of self-criticism, it’s a compromise and attempt to save face. Any homosexual who attempts to join the party must do so having swallowed the party’s bizarre line that by existing as a homosexual they are probably participating in the oppression of women, and must prove themselves by forgiving the party for writing a bad article in the eighties that it still largely stands by and in general a strict adherence to party doctrines.

So in conclusion, the RCP is still homophobic, (incidentally the only time the word homophobia appears is in the title of a book cited in the footnotes) and unapologetic for its worst behaviour on this issue. It’s moved a little, but there’s merely because of the sustained opposition its received over the decades.



Appendix


From Programme And Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA (1975)
Socialist society will wipe out the decadence of capitalism in all spheres. Prostitution, drug addiction, homosexuality and other practices which bourgeois society breeds and the bourgeoisie promotes to degrade and enslave the masses of people, will be abolished. The prostitutes, drug addicts and others who are caught in these things will be re-educated to become productive members of society, with working class consciousness. The shame connected with these practices will be taken from the shoulders of these victims and the guilt will be placed where it belongs—on the bourgeoisie.
(page 43)

From New Programme And New Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (Draft for Discussion) (1980)
The twisted outgrowths of this society, such as pornography and prostitution, will be forcibly abolished right off the bat and their re-emergence will not be tolerated. As for the prostitutes and others victimized by this capitalist degeneracy, they will be given productive work, politically educated and freed from the immediate source of their oppression, while education will also be carried out broadly in society to expose capitalism as the source of this degradation and to remove the tendency to blame or look down on the victims.

As for homosexuality, this too, is a product of the decay of capitalism, especially of the increased ripping apart of the family, which is inevitably taking place under capitalist conditions, especially as it sinks into deeper crisis. In particular it stems from the distorted, oppressive man-woman relations capitalism produces. Once the proletariat is in power, no one will be discriminated against in jobs, housing and the like merely on the basis of being a homosexual. But at the same time education will be conducted throughout society on the ideology behind homosexuality and its material roots in capitalist society, and struggle will be waged to eliminate it and reform homosexuals.
(page 67)

From New Programme And New Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (1981)

The twisted outgrowths of this society, such as pornography and prostitution, will be forcibly abolished right off the bat and their re-emergence not tolerated. As for the prostitutes and others victimized by this capitalist degeneracy, they will be given productive work, politically educated and freed from the immediate source of their oppression, while education will also be carried out broadly in society to expose capitalism as the source of this degradation and to remove the tendency to blame or look down on the victims.
As for homosexuality, this too, is perpetuated and fostered by the decay of capitalism, especially as it sinks into deeper crisis. This is particularly the case because of the distorted, oppressive man-woman relations capitalism promotes. Once the proletariat is in power, no one will be discriminated against in jobs, housing and the like merely on the basis of being a homosexual. But at the same time education will be conducted throughout society on the ideology behind homosexuality and its material roots in exploiting society, and struggle will be waged to eliminate it and reform homosexuals.
(page 77)

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