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

Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
W. T. Whitney
The Fate of Prisoner Simón Trinidad, as Seen by His U. S. Lawyer
Brian Platt
Don’t Just Oppose ICE Raids, Tear Down the Whole Racist Immigration Enforcement Regime
Paul Cantor
Refugee: the Compassionate Mind of Egon Schwartz
Norman Richmond
The Black Radical Tradition in Canada
Barton Kunstler
Rallying Against the Totalitarian Specter
Judith Deutsch
Militarism:  Revolutionary Mothering and Rosie the Riveter
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir Evoked a Lot More International Attention in the 1950s Than It Does Now
Adam Phillips
There Isn’t Any There There
Louis Proyect
Steinbeck’s Red Devils
Randy Shields
Left Coast Date: the Dating Site for the ORWACA Tribe
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bill Hayes’ “Insomniac City”
David Yearsley
White Supremacy and Music Theory
February 16, 2017
Peter Gaffney
The Rage of Caliban: Identity Politics, the Travel Ban, and the Shifting Ideological Framework of the Resistance
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Doublespeak: Israel’s Terrifying Vision for the Future
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail