Queerness and Communism: Building a Genderless Society through Social Warfare with Normativity

The world I agitate for is a stateless, classless, genderless society. Only a social revolution can end the oppressive social forces of gender and sex. These forces, while much older than modern capitalism, have been intrinsically tied to capital and coerced into particular relations. The social relations of capital and hetero-normativity intersect in a way that is puts our bodies in a perpetual social war. The normative gender binary is a force which also, like capitalism, seeks to exist in totality.

Queerness as an anti-identity

Queer theory began as a radical alternative to the liberal movements of Gender Studies and Gay and Lesbian Studies. Much of the analysis is post-modern, but has it’s roots deep in modern social science. Queer Theorists like Judith Butler study the performance of gender, and several others have elaborated quite eloquently on the intersections of gender roles, expressions and identities (or lack there of). Some of these developments inevitably have caused head butting amongst Feminists.

Queerness can not be seen as a stable place to inhabit. It is a response to normativity, the social force which queers us. It is in that we find those who “identify” as a part of the LGBT community, and those who absolutely not. We find all the alphabet soup acronyms (QUILTBAG being the worst offender I’ve seen thus far) to have far to many inadequacies. We’re a anti-identity, unstable and full of loose ends.  I never asked to be a “Gay man”, society socialized me as such, in the process the same force queers me.

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In seeing the class dynamics of Queerness, how to we organize a mass that is a theoretical anti-identity, and unstable place to inhabit? We are already at war, between our bodies and society. This war is already not voluntary. We face societal violence with a character unlike any other struggle.

Much of the Post-Left Anarchist movement identifies with Queer theorist critique of identity. This gravitation, although I’m not identifying a correlation, occurs simultaneously with a general (from my experience) straight and cis domination of Anarcho-Syndicalist and Class War Anarchist movements. Beyond that, it seems much of modern Marxist thought depends on notions of “LGBT rights” and less on Queer Theory. I find this to be far too great of shortcoming for any revolutionary leftist ideology.

Queerness and Class

To be Queer is to have your mind and body born into conflict with capitalism. It comes with material and social conditions which leave us marginalized.

This is a different kind of social war we are talking about with the queer struggle. The forces of gender polices the bodies of queer people. With transperson life expectancy estimates ranging from 20’s-30’s, we must resolve that queerness is irreconcilably antagonistic with it’s “other”, the social force of cisnormativity and heteronormativity. Social conditions inflict us with higher rates of depression, substance abuse and other issues like HIV/AIDS plaguing our communities. All over the world, punishments for queerness range from ostracization and marginalization, to systematic death. We can deduct a social war has already begun.

Just as Marx said “The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property”, the theory of Radical Queers can be summed up in a single sentence as well: Abolition of the Normative. These struggles intersect, they also are capable of existing independently. They can also serve as replications of capitalism, in which queerness can serve capitalism and therefore counter-revolution. It is of worth to note the ways in which Queerness behaves like a class. It is important to note that some things do not. Trying to paint a shared experience of a queer identity is a boundary crossing into the normative.

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When the masses are provoked to attack capital, one can expect that our social war will be able to strategize and mobilize as well. While the nature of our queerness remains unstable, the relationship with our class struggle can only be symbiotic. After all, our enemies tied these struggles together. We cannot afford to devalue these intersections.

All too often our struggles are internalized, coerced into self-destruction, all too often our lives reflects a battle against shame. We find all the spectacles of assimilation do not heal the pain of growing up queer in the normative world. We often have a list of estrangements, trauma and a general socialization of isolation and otherness. We cannot wage this social war with assimilation. That kind of trade with the ruling class is not a solution.

Queerness versus Liberalism

The “LGBT Rights” movement is inherently assimilationist. They seek to soften the irreconcilable, our Queerness, by seeking union with the status quo. I never have consented to a seat at that table. They do this in a variety of ways. Homonormativity serves as a force to commodify what little identity we struggle to create. The totality of the forces siding with capitalism at the moment can be seen here. We are an anti-identity because our identities are in constant conflict with the ruling class.

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As Radical Queers, bucking this party line has its obvious conclusions. Should we support things like “Same-Sex Marriage”, which may improve the lives of many of us? Despite my past critiques of “marriage equality”, I don’t think it is really something to oppose in anything beyond theory. However, many of us do not cheer being assimilated into a feudal institution, a contract with the bourgeois state. It’s obvious that this victory has a ripple effect that only goes so far.

Our conflicts with liberalism bring us to another conclusion, one that’s an inherent distrust and skepticism to those organizing in representation of us. This can be seen as a dialectical conclusion between our distrust of those organizing the people in general, and having our identity being a state of constant warfare with normativity. Reminders of Lenin’s idea that classes fight with irreconcilable antagonism. This is true of Queerness and our war with the Normative.

The War of Queerness and it’s place in the building of Communism

Whether our social war takes the form of an insurrection or a class struggle is of little concern. Our attack should reflect our existence, our queerness, and all its instability, irreconcilability, and antagonisms. This war is permanent until the social order has been destroyed. Much like those of other struggles, we cannot pretend our ultimate victory will come with the end of Capital. The construction of our material conditions is not that simple, and the socialization of gender (the battleground for our war), will continue to reflect the status quo.

Our enemies call us dangerous. They say we attack the feudal family unit. They say we attack the sanctity of marriage. They say we are waging a social war. Not only do I think we should embrace that, we should develop strategically around that. Our existence might agitate the ruling class, but this is not enough. If we are fighting a social war, one we did not start, we need outlets and skills to defend ourselves. We need our own spaces and our own revolutionary strategy, but in a day where some of us are still struggling for pronouns, our biological justice, and our autonomy over our own bodies, we come out on the losing end here too, thus far.

The war we call for is not easy, and it is also not voluntary. The war itself is our queerness. Failure to act is our downfall, and trade with rich will avail nothing but allowing our communities to get run over. Our only defense is destroying that which queers us.

Can we develop Communism without the dismantling of gender? Can we afford an error like such? When forces of apartheid and dominion exist, can we possibly resist reversion into relations of capital? This is something for the modern world to discover, we cannot look to our past revolutionaries for the keys with which to wield our Queerness and build a genderless society.

Towards a Queer Communism!

5 thoughts on “Queerness and Communism: Building a Genderless Society through Social Warfare with Normativity

  1. This piece is really interesting and thought provoking. I am just seeing this blog and am looking forward to reading it in full. A couple of comments. You write,

    “Beyond that, it seems much of modern Marxist thought depends on notions of “LGBT rights” and less on Queer Theory.” I could see how a lot of people would draw that conclusion because many Marxists who heavily draw from Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Trotsky, or some variation of these orthodox traditions. But I would say that this is based on an incorrect, revisionist, authoritarian, and/or opportunistic reading of Marx. In fact, the Marxist method captured in his early writings, such as the 1884 Manuscripts, allows for an understanding of gender, race, sexuality, and work, that is liberatory, serves our enrichment as humans, and refuses to be boxed in and one-sided. For Marx, this unleashed, free, conscious self-activity (of everything from having sex to creating art to baking bread) is communism. This is consistent with what Leslie Feinberg argues in Transgender Liberation, or what Emi Koyama argues in The Transfeminist Manifesto. Queer theory is hugely important for understanding the transcendence and complete abolition of identities.

    But unfortunately, queer theory is also limited in that it cannot provide a method for overcoming real material contradictions and abolishing gender, and therefore freeing our self-activity, in practice. Most queer theorists argue for an intersectional analysis that includes all oppressions, or for people to simply will themselves from the gender binary. This is all well and good. But it won’t materially abolish gender. Marx does provide a method but without reading queer theory, race theory, gender theory, etc., we might not understand how taking control of the means of production at work relates to abolishing or transcending gender. So I’m agreeing with your emphasis on reading queer theory, and developing a specifically queer politics, but disagreeing because you seem to be arguing that we can somehow will ourselves away from heteropatriarchy or we can individually struggle against heteronormativity. What does this look like in practice? I would argue that the Marxist method has something to offer on this question.

    • “Beyond that, it seems much of modern Marxist thought depends on notions of “LGBT rights” and less on Queer Theory.” I could see how a lot of people would draw that conclusion because many Marxists who heavily draw from Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Trotsky, or some variation of these orthodox traditions. But I would say that this is based on an incorrect, revisionist, authoritarian, and/or opportunistic reading of Marx. In fact, the Marxist method captured in his early writings, such as the 1884 Manuscripts, allows for an understanding of gender, race, sexuality, and work, that is liberatory, serves our enrichment as humans, and refuses to be boxed in and one-sided. For Marx, this unleashed, free, conscious self-activity (of everything from having sex to creating art to baking bread) is communism. This is consistent with what Leslie Feinberg argues in Transgender Liberation, or what Emi Koyama argues in The Transfeminist Manifesto. Queer theory is hugely important for understanding the transcendence and complete abolition of identities”

      It’s not based on Marx at all, it’s based on my experience with Marxists. I’m talking about 150ish years of bastardization later.

      Thinking that this was simply anarchonistic but well intended solidarity, upon further investigation I’ve come to see a trend. Marxists (particularly various strains of Leninism) often are biological essentialists and who are stuck in the 1970’s in regards to Feminism. They are more likely than Anarchists to reject Queer Theory and the Third Wave of Feminism entirely. It’s not a huge trend, but they are likely to condone blantant transphobia via gender essentialism and what they’re trying to call “trans-criticism”.

      This is not a problem with Marxism directly, but as a movement it’s mainstream is largely ambivalent to this issue. I’ve never heard about a “big C” Communist Party of any current ever take a stance against radical feminist trans-criticism.

      I theorize that Queer theory has gained support amongst Anarchists much more quickly because Anarchists are more likely to accept something post-modern. Marxists (even with their entirely too self conscious but highly entertaining post-modernists) haven’t really taken a stand on this gender debate. Most uphold the most “dialectically sound” formulas, which is biological essentialism

      So I’m not talking about anything transfeminist, or anything that depends on third wave analysis, I’m talking about the tendencies within “big C” Communists to depend on the second wave.

      “But unfortunately, queer theory is also limited in that it cannot provide a method for overcoming real material contradictions and abolishing gender, and therefore freeing our self-activity, in practice. Most queer theorists argue for an intersectional analysis that includes all oppressions, or for people to simply will themselves from the gender binary. This is all well and good. But it won’t materially abolish gender.”

      You use the term “contradictions” which is a good word. Contradictions are philosophical, and I think it is more philosophical, and less material, but above all a contradiction is a social condition. That’s why I speak of a protracted social warfare with normativity.

      I have spoken before my sympathy with some of the work and analysis given by both Lenin and Mao, often in this regard. Lenin developed his theories that in social class binaries, we come across his theory of “irreconcilably antagonistic classes”. Mao’s construction of the “antagonistic contradictions” is also useful here. I think the war against gender/sex normativity has a certain amount of independence from Capitalism, just like most other struggles, we will not resolve these struggles simply by abolishing capitalism.

      Well, the idea is that the revolution itself will be intersectional, so the abolition of gender is meant to come with that. I think part of the issue with this post has been that people are confused by what I mean by this abolition. I mean the dismantling and de-institutionalization of gender. Queer theory largely argues that there is no “material gender”. Gender is a social condition, much like patriarchy (and influenced by it) people of all identities (or lack thereof) have a stake in abolishing it.

      “Marx does provide a method but without reading queer theory, race theory, gender theory, etc., we might not understand how taking control of the means of production at work relates to abolishing or transcending gender. So I’m agreeing with your emphasis on reading queer theory, and developing a specifically queer politics, but disagreeing because you seem to be arguing that we can somehow will ourselves away from heteropatriarchy or we can individually struggle against heteronormativity. What does this look like in practice? I would argue that the Marxist method has something to offer on this question.”

      Oh no, I’m not thinking this is at all a matter of “willing” ourselves away from our struggle. That would be some post-Leftist and First Worldist and very privileged notion, which I actually see a lot.

      The Marxist philosophical methodology falls short because, even in all it’s ideological currents, it was meant to deal with rigid identities. Queerness is not a stable identity, it’s an anti-identity. It’s a social condition inflicted upon us, we’re queer because we’re queered.

      Do I think that Marx has nothing to offer Queer Theory? That would be silly, of course I do. We’ve both pointing out the ways it can. I’m not seeing it happening though, and I think we’re probably not going to see a well-developed Queer Marxism anytime soon near the capacity of Queer Anarchism.

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