Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gay Marriage: a Contrarian’s View

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.

 

More articles by:

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.

October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail