Workers Hammer No. 190
Victorian values at Berlin "Socialism Days"
No sex, no fun, no Spartacists!
We print below a translation of a leaflet published by our comrades of the Spartakist-Jugend, Germany that was distributed at the Berlin "Socialism Days" of 25-27 March. This event was hosted by the Sozialistischen Alternative Voran (SAV), the sister group of Peter Taaffe's Socialist Party in Britain. The cowardly political exclusion of communists on the basis of our defence of consensual intergenerational sex exposes the kind of social backwardness that these "socialists" tail. Characterised by reformist politics and an orientation to the lowest common denominator of consciousness within the working class, the Taaffeite political tendency imbibes many of bourgeois society's chauvinist values. In the sphere of sexual relations this means accepting the capitalist state—that upholds the nuclear family and enforces sexual repression—as the authority on deciding when youth are ready to have sex, not the individuals themselves.
In this country the Taaffeites are very much at home with the "no sex please, we're British" culture. Whipped up by the Labour government's anti-"paedophile" witch hunt, reactionary vigilante mobs, infiltrated by the fascist BNP, rampaged through housing estates in 1998. The most recent example of this bigoted terror was the beating to death of Paul Cooper on 23 March, merely because his attackers suspected he was a paedophile.
The Socialist Party ignores the fact that the capitalist state makes no distinction between consensual intergenerational sex and rape when branding people as "paedophiles". It grotesquely endorsed the "paedophile register" of convicted "sex offenders"—and even suspected sex offenders—that was introduced by the Labour government in 1997. Reinforcing this support for capitalist persecution they bemoaned cutbacks in the repressive probation and prison services (Socialism Today, September 2000). As we pointed out in Workers Hammer no 186, Winter 2003-2004, the Labour government's pretence at "child protection" in justifying its draconian legislation is truly twisted coming from "a Labour government that has administered the murder of hundreds of thousands of children through its filthy imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Serbia. This is the same government that continues the oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland today under the facade of the peace deal, where fascistic loyalist thugs terrorise little Catholic school girls such as those of Holy Cross school. This is the government that in the name of the 'war on terror' steps up the persecution of immigrants, threatening to take away and incarcerate children if their parents do not agree to deportation."
But this does not worry the Socialist Party too much. They are notorious for their refusal to call for the immediate withdrawal of British imperialist troops from Northern Ireland, and in their present general election campaign say precious little in defence of immigrant and minority victims of the government's racist "war on terror". Their prostration before the chauvinist values of the British bourgeoisie is proof of their fundamental inability to challenge the rule of capital.
The SAV leaders don't want revolutionary politics at their "Socialism Days" this year. They don't want any "impure" thoughts to pollute the virgin minds of their membership. So the SAV's leader Sascha Stanicic wrote us the following e-mail on 23 March:
"As we've already told you, you will not have the possibility this year of setting up an information stand at the Socialism Days. Your position of relativising child abuse, which you defended last year at Socialism Days, led to great indignation among many participants. Many declared that they don't ever want to hear such positions again.
"For years we have tolerated your untruths and distortion of the SAV's positions, because we assumed that those who attend our meetings could come to their own conclusions. The fact that no one who came to Socialism Days has ever joined your group, confirms this assessment. However, with your behaviour at the women's political event at Socialism Days last year, you have crossed a line, which we cannot tolerate.
"We therefore inform you that you are excluded from the forum on the theme 'new sexism', and that you are not allowed to have an information stand or to sell newspapers at the event."
The self-appointed "morality police" of the left lays it down: "Who's Bad?" Those who don't conform to the narrow, prudish and social-democratic worldview of the SAV leaders get banned. No to this political censorship!
The SAV leadership is hell-bent on defending the family values of their members and sympathisers against us communists. We reported in our article (under the seductive title, "Why the rejection, SAV?") on the moralist "outrage" which greeted our comrade's intervention in the forum on "Globalisation & the new sexism" at last year's "Socialism Days" (Spartakist no 155, Summer 2004). She attacked the SAV's prudish moralism and counterposed our Marxist position of opposition to state intervention in consensual sexual and other personal relations. That includes so-called paedophiles who are victims of state persecution for having sex with minors on the basis of effective consent—meaning consensual sex as opposed to being forced to do something you don't want to do or don't understand. SAV cadre flipped out over this, and also over our defence of Michael Jackson—a black man being targeted yet again by the racist US courts! We wrote:
"While it is possible that Michael Jackson has been thoroughly asexual in his relationships with boys, as he steadfastly maintains, to us that is irrelevant. Jackson has been charged under part of the California penal code involving a 'lewd act upon a child'. It prohibits acts with the intention of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of the person or the child. The state clearly and willfully does not distinguish between coerced and consensual acts."
—"Stop Vendetta Against Michael Jackson!", Workers Vanguard no 818, 23 January 2004
The SAV disgustingly slanders this position as "defence of rapists" or, as Stanicic now puts it, "relativising child abuse". With this slander of Jackson, the SAV leadership embraces the racist, reactionary values of the neo-conservative fundamentalist Bush government, whose henchmen are witch-hunting Jackson!
Stanicic accuses us of spreading "untruths and distortions" to cover up the fact that the SAV is too cowardly to defend its own politics. Why else ban a group from selling its paper at their event? In fact, the SAV's "outrage" against and censorship of our revolutionary opposition to the bourgeois state's persecution of sexual minorities is further proof of what we always said: they are social democrats (with a little militant rhetoric occasionally). The SAV's frenzy is not just cynical demagogy. The whole affair reflects a deep-seated backwardness on questions of personal—particularly sexual—freedom. This backwardness has everything to do with anti-communist social democracy, which the SAV currently subordinates itself to in the form of the "electoral alternative" ASG [Arbeit & soziale Gerechtigkeit—Work and Social Justice]. For the bourgeoisie and their political police in the workers movement, the social democracy, it is of course of elementary importance that the workers (and the rest of the population) be regimented by hypocritical bourgeois morality—church, "ethics" courses in school, and family. The family—the central institution in class society for the oppression of women and children—serves to transmit this morality and regimentation to the next generation of workers. That is why every form of sex which questions the monogamous "norm"—homosexuality, paedophilia etc—is branded as "deviant" and "sinful".
And of course the highest principle of all social democrats is that the capitalist state, as protector of the "general welfare", plays the role of enforcing this hypocritical morality. The same state, guardian of private ownership of the means of production and the reactionary family, is the source of all the reactionary persecution of gays, lesbians and minorities in general. The ASG wants to support and build up this state, which means proving their ability to govern. That is the reason for their witch hunt against the SAV and other leftists who use socialist rhetoric. By using similar methods of censorship and exclusion against us, the SAV expresses its own narrow prudery, and supports the state and its reactionary interference in people's private lives. In this way, they present themselves as respectable to the ASG bureaucrats. Here is an organisation whose "Socialist Women's Programme" calls for trade union mobilisations against pornography! Pornography is not rape or violence against women, as the feminists and SAV preach. It is a private matter, exciting or interesting according to taste. The capitalist state criminalises it in order more strictly to regiment people's lives. The SAV programme for "trade union censorship" amounts to a social-democratic call to turn the workers organisations into auxiliaries for the state's moral code. Such an outlook is opposed to the most basic socialist (and humanist) strivings for a society where people can live in freedom.
The first step to such a society—workers revolution to expropriate the bourgeoisie—was made with the 1917 October Revolution. The new government of workers and soldiers soviets took a decidedly different view from the SAV:
"Soviet legislation bases itself on the following principle: it declares the absolute non-interference of the state and society into sexual matters so long as nobody is injured and no one's interests are encroached upon....Concerning homosexuality, sodomy, and various other forms of sexual gratification, which are set down in European legislation as offences against public morality—Soviet legislation treats these exactly the same as so-called 'natural' intercourse. All forms of sexual intercourse are private matters."
—The Sexual Revolution in Russia, Grigorii Batkis, director of the Moscow Institute of Social Hygiene , quoted in J Lauritsen and D Thorstad, The Early Homosexual Rights Movement 1864-1935 [emphasis in original]
The decisive factor was Lenin and Trotsky's Bolshevik Party, which guided the revolution to success—a party which declared irreconcilable war on all aspects of capitalist oppression and every expression of state violence and arbitrariness against persecuted minorities. With their censorship and reactionary support for anti-sex prudery, the SAV shows once again that they have nothing to do with the tradition of Lenin and Trotsky. We fight in this tradition, for the party of world socialist revolution to fully realise the hopes for human progress and freedom already awakened by the Russian Revolution. Government out of the bedroom! Down with anti-communist exclusion at "Socialism Days"! No to the "morality police" of the left!