Lavender and Red Union, a self-proclaimed “communist” gay liberation group that originated in Los Angeles, has recently embarked upon a cautious ideological turn toward Trotskyism.
The publication of an article entitled “Permanent Revolution” on the front page of its newspaper, Come Out Fighting, signaled, according to L&RU, “a clear break with the Stalinist/Maoist/New Left milieu from which we emerged.”
In the three years of its existence, the L&RU has struggled to develop a doctrine capable of linking gay liberation with socialism. Starting from an essentially Maoist approach that excluded only the usual Maoist rhapsodizing over the “revolutionary nuclear family,” they gradually came to define themselves as “anti-Stalinist,” but not Trotskyist. Now, however, after a process of intensive internal discussion and debate, they have accepted one of the fundamental precepts of Trotskyist ideology — the theory of Permanent Revolution.
L&RU now flatly rejects the boasts of the Chinese and Soviet bureaucracies that socialism exists in those countries, and recognizes that the Stalinist notion of “socialism in one country” has been used as an excuse for betraying generations of revolts and revolutions around the world.
L&RU explains further that: “Full rights for gay people is as impossible under the top-down rule of a Stalinist bureaucracy as it is under the modern bourgeois states. Our integration into a free society where sexuality is scientifically understood and politically unfettered is possible only in the context of a world-wide, unceasing, socialist transformation. That is the permanent revolution, and on it the future of gay people depends.”
However, L&RU has been unable to date to apply the theory of Permanent Revolution to U.S. society. Isolated from mass work and from the radical movement, the’ organization falls unwittingly into the very same traps from which they have struggled to escape. They still echo the Maoist line that class oppression is the “primary” social contradiction while women’s oppression (and, inferentially, gay oppression) are “secondary” contradictions. Socialist feminism, which elevates the woman question to equal and interlocking status with the class question, is therefore deemed by L&RU to be a denial of Marxism.
This position, coming from gay Marxists, is particularly suicidal because it apes the rigid and mechanical reasoning that serves as a rationale for the reactionary sexist outlook and practices of Stalinists and Maoists, who discriminate callously against both women and gays.
L&RU does not call itself a party, but it sees the necessity for an American revolutionary party and is investigating all the groupings on the left with an eye toward fusion with an existing party or combining with other formations to build one.
L&RU now joins thousands of other radical independents searching for direction. And that quest must encompass sharp debate on the theory, program, strategy and tactics for the American revolution.
L&RU can clear its own path to theoretical consistency when it comes to grips with its residual sexism and umbilical ties to the morass of Maoism.