FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gay Marriage: a Contrarian’s View

by NORMAN POLLACK

Radicalism comes in many varieties.  A certain orthodoxy, however, breeds intolerance when one appears to stray beyond approved boundaries, or, when one, as in introducing my St. Bernard puppy to a Marxist study group in Cambridge years ago as “Karl Marx,” to be greeted by sullenness and hostility, appears to crash against ideological iconicity.  I’m sure CP readers and contributors will find my views on gay marriage objectionable, if not traitorous.  Good.  A little shaking-up of the Temple never hurt anyone.

I claim to speak as a radical, by persuasion and experience, as, of course, is anyone’s privilege, there being no board of certification to pass on credentials.  First then, gay marriage is obviously a progression toward greater societal democratization, and intrinsically is meritorious both for individuals at interest and society as a whole.  Whether it satisfies the Constitution’s equal-protection clause or others, is not my concern (given the way the Constitution historically has been the plaything for legitimating things alike fair and foul).  Let’s say, it stands on solid juridical ground and, without objection on my part, is ruled applicable in all 50 states.  But, that does not alter my fundamental belief: the issue deserves less attention than that affecting the wrongful conduct of USG in both domestic and foreign policy.

Unless and until the American people resist and defy the degradation of human beings where it really hurts, in the heart, in the mind, the stomach, the spirit, through the mixture of militaristic striving for hegemonic global influence and power, the destructive hatred of social-welfare-oriented domestic public policy and government, the capitulation to wealth and the arrogance of power, further abuses and treacheries as long as my arm, why should one take seriously this demand, as though the issue could be surgically removed from the broad configuration of fascistic beliefs, programs, the conduct of government itself which must be opposed?

March for gay marriage?  Sure, when the enormity of evil is appreciated and opposed, but, for me, not before, because in the present world it is a luxury, hardly to be equated with the daily privations of the underclass of slum dwellers spread broadcast, much of it, from Gaza to Latin America, through our doing, and to the silent masses even civil unions and the transmission of property (WHAT property?) is beyond their reach.  You get the point.  Succinctly, class trumps sexual politics; class trumps gender identity.  Why?  Because without the democratization of the social order, personal happiness will prove one way or another exploitative, in the realm of marriage itself and structured through all social relations and institutional arangements.  Gay marriage in the 50 states, ongoing interventions and assassinations—no thanks; let’s get our heads screwed on right (or rather, Left).

My New York Times Comment (Mar. 26), on the editorial calling for a Supreme Court decision which sanctions gay marriage in all 50 states, follows:

In theory I agree with The Times editorial: equality is a Constitutional desideratum when- and wherever it can be applied. But let’s put the issue of gay marriage into context, i.e., prioritizing national goals. At this time, the issue is a diversion and trivialization, in the face of large-scale poverty, the vast gulf in wealth-and-power differentials, militarism run amuck, the nation in steep decline with respect to its social safety net, etc. Frankly, compared with the civil rights struggle, which NYT raises as analogous, and in which in the 1950s-60s I was active, I find proponents and affected parties of gay marriage self-indulgent and flaunting their preferences as though that form of discrimination raises to the plane of deprivation experienced by others in America’s long history of oppression and repression.

Before this fight (if it be that), let’s see collective opinion and action against POVERTY, WAR, drone-created assassination, intervention, regressive taxation, pollution, inadequate health care, the bipartisan servicing of major wealth, etc. Only then would I have respect for gay-marriage decisions and advocates. Otherwise, sexual identity per se, as an issue, seems, in light of gut-wrenching suffering throughout the world, less important than addressing systemic brutalization of the human being. I obviously speak as a radical, and expect concurrence from no one.

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.

 

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 29, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
No Laughing Matter: The Manchester Bomber is the Spawn of Hillary and Barack’s Excellent Libyan Adventure
Vijay Prashad
The Afghan Toll
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post’s Renewed Attack on Whistlblowers
Robert Fisk
We Must Look to the Past, Not ISIS, for the True Nature of Islam
Dean Baker
A Tax on Wall Street Trading is the Best Solution to Income Inequality
Lawrence Davidson
Reality and Its Enemies
Harry Hobbs
Australia’s Time to Recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Sovereignty
Ray McGovern
Will Europe Finally Rethink NATO’s Costs?
Cesar Chelala
Poetry to the Rescue of America’s Soul
Andrew Stewart
Xi, Trump and Geopolitics
Binoy Kampmark
The Merry Life of Dragnet Surveillance
Stephen Martin
The Silent Apartheid: Militarizing Architecture & Infrastructure
Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail