Red is the first colour of the rainbow

Red is the first colour of the rainbow

official framework

The nature of the LGBTI (hereafter referred to as "queer") people and queer issues is a hot topic of our time, not only in the wider society, which has fell victim to the tug-of-war of the culture wars camps, but also in the socialist movement itself. Unfortunately, due to the increase in religious fundamentalism and stagnant living standards in our area for the past 30 years, conservative forces have sown hatred where class consciousness and opposition to the system of poverty, exploitation and imperialism in Slovakia should have grown after the 1990s. What is sadder perhaps is the defence of the people of "less traditional orientation" has been appropriated by liberals who distort and confuse the demands of queer working people. The task of this text is a new, anti-liberal, anti-conservative framing of the queer question, with the aim of proving that a heterosexual cisgender worker from KIA Motors has absolutely the same needs and demands as trans* persons from any corner of Slovakia.

As we aim to reach the widest possible audience, the language we use may not always be in line with best practice. Hopefully, it will be worth it and, thanks to this simplification, the text will find understanding even among people who have not dealt with this topic so far and will help them understand this issue.

Allow us to start with an excursion to the age of 4000 years BCE. Modern anthropology and archaeology constantly proves that by this time (plus or minus, depending on geography and other factors) people got used to being equal and societies were more or less egalitarian. What's more, hunters and warriors were not only men, and women were not the only ones who gathered fruit. And to make matters worse, heterosexuality was not the norm - the fact that people of the same sex were buried together is considered to be one of the proofs. Modern zoology agrees with anthropology and takes for granted the fact that non-heterosexual behaviour is generally and naturally widespread among perhaps all higher animals. If the animal kingdom is something from which human society arose, then we can say without pretensions that human society arose from the bisexual world of primates. But why limit yourself to the animal kingdom? If we look at any human society, be it Native American peoples, Indian or Arab societies or African cultures, we will find that before Christianization, colonization or later the introduction of Western capitalist conservatism in all these societies there existed both non-heterosexual persons and more than only two genera. Whether due to the weaker capitalist class nature of these societies, or the integration of queer people into the economic-power system, i.e. the emergence of different castes and statuses, queer people remained a solid and natural part of the global human community.

It was around the 4th millennium BCE that a turnaround occurred. Probably due to the predominant position of the activities performed by masculine persons, it was men who gained the upper hand in the competition for resources as those who would collect and guard the wealth. This reversal did not happen immediately and certainly not by nature. Something had to change. If human civilization lasts from 10-12th millennium BCE, so it took approximately 6 to 8 thousand years for people to live in relative gender equality. This change was the Agricultural Revolution, the concentration of dwellings and the subsequent necessity of usurping resources. This concentration of resources in the hands of a small group meant the division of society into those who own and those who work. In order for one clan, tribe, or tribal union to survive, not to be overtaken by a neighbouring rival, it must ensure the production of wealth, which requires the reproduction of the tribe. And so the nuclear family is established - the poor class ensures the creation of a new workforce, the wealthy class ensures that there will be someone to inherit the wealth and the power will thus remain in their hands.

But nature can't be suppressed. As such, the nuclear family does not mean that people have stopped non-heterosexual behaviour. Gender-nonconforming expressions (today's equivalent would be the label trans* or "non-binary") and non-heterosexual behaviour cannot be suppressed. But these manifestations disrupt the socio-economic relationship represented by the nuclear family - queer relationships do not necessarily arise with the aim of producing a new slave, servant, subject or worker. And that's the problem. Therefore, the less egalitarian a society is, the stronger the efforts of the ruling property class to restrict behaviour that disrupts the "production" of new subjects. There is a need to regulate culture. And these regulations took on monstrous proportions (especially in the Middle Ages, but in Western Europe even at the end of the 20th century). In Europe, non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming behaviour was punished by burning, torture, castration, etc. Persecution of queer people varied over time and region. The fact remains that intolerance towards queer people developed most intensively alongside European feudalism and later capitalism.

Who cares about 10 000 years of history or Western Europe, right? Here in Slovakia, we know that family is mother, father and children, and there are only men and women. But that's not quite right. Although there are few records about the life of ancient Slavs, there are records of non-heterosexual manifestations, even from the Russian lands in the 16th century. Gender non-conformity is a fixed part of Slavic folklore and who knows what our customs and society looked like before the forcible Christianization. As a result of local dukes' or tsars' efforts to gain recognition (and thus business opportunities and power) abroad, Slavic rulers began to adopt Western standards. And in the Middle Ages, those were very inhumane. Egalitarianism and social permissiveness have been exchanged in the struggle for resources for political influence. Thanks to the influence of German and Austrian rulers, culture and laws that severely punished human nature flowed into our territory. It was only after the establishment of socialism when homosexuality was decriminalized in Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, we have not experienced a similar legislative shift in the past 30 years.  

The question is not whether queer people exist. Trans people exist, non-heterosexual people exist. This is the natural state of things, "medical" or other "therapies" are demonstrably ineffective and especially inhumane. The question is what is the nature of "non-traditional" identities - are queer people an enemy or an ally in the fight for a dignified life? That's the question and that's what the masses ask themselves. Let's first look at what we have in common as people. Tendencies towards non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming behaviour exist throughout society. This means that queer people are not just the big city financially secure liberals, but also people working in the countryside. What's more - there are more queer people of labour than queer capitalists (quite logically, since there are more people of labour than rich people and those of the ruling class). So queer people are mostly part of the masses. What are their interests? How do they behave in society? Do they act in the interests of the people? For the sake of analysis, let's ignore the fact that most heterosexual cisgender people do not act in their own interests and support right-wing forces that rob them, weaken their bargaining positions, worsen their living standards and workplace protections.

Queer people, thanks to millennia of persecution, have to face a culture that ridicules them, pushes them to the margins of society, or even leads to their murders and suicides. This ostracization causes many to either hide or to cut ties with their socially conservative environment. This retreat to Internet communities or to the anonymity of big cities leads to the cultivation of individualism and the strengthening of a false, elitist consciousness. This chain of unfortunate events is concluded by the fact that these people see the only support in the right-wing parties, to whom the left gave the topic of solidarity with minorities on a silver platter, with the justification that these are not the bread-and-butter topics on which the left stands. Since the queer left does not offer queer people a comprehensible alternative, their identification with liberal parties and their opposition to the masses is intensified. This is not always the case, but this is how Slovak society created the image of queer people. In theory, it is enough to open your arms with an open mind and accept queer people where they belong - among the working class.

We already know how private property and class society, contrary to human nature and traditions, caused the dominance of heterosexuality and the dominance of two gender stereotypes. However, it is necessary to specify what the oppression of queer people in our society really is. Queer workers are not economically oppressed differently to the rest of the working masses, but they are oppressed more intensely. Similar to the case of Roma or women, queer people are pushed out of "normal" society and to its margins, which leads to their precarisation. In layman terms: people don't like "weirdos" and they are thus forced to work in riskier areas. This, for example, pushes queer people into prostitution. Or outside the sphere of labour, forced homelessness occurs because parents throw their own children out of their homes the moment the law allows it. Furthermore, as already mentioned, queer people face open aggression, or the daily social psychological pressure. This double oppression can only be solved by eliminating the economic system that allows homelessness, poverty, or precarious working conditions at all.

All working people experience economic oppression. We live thanks to work, thanks to salary. Against our interest is the capital itself, which grows when our wages and working conditions deteriorate, and without which the current economic system collapses. Therefore, only the transition from capitalism to socialism can permanently and comprehensively improve our living conditions. But this is not the solution that right-wing parties want to sell us. No. Instead of anti-capitalism, they offer charity for families, and instead of fighting capitalists, they sow hatred between the working class in order to avoid our wrath. Not conservative defence of the traditional family, but establishing economic well-being for all, both families and queer people, will enable a dignified life for all. Only by ensuring decent work, shortening working hours, social programs, free, modern and accessible healthcare and housing for all can we effectively support both "traditional" families, as well as queer people and other disadvantaged communities. But this solution is not viable for the elites, for whom it would mean a loss of power. Solidarity is our weapon and capitalism is our enemy.

Finally, a message for "socially conservative leftists". It should be obvious by now that trans*, non-heterosexual and otherwise queer people are not denying nature. But there is no need to resort to the postmodern denial of the material origin of gender identities. No, men and women exist - they are the crystallized social form of certain biological traits. But since biology is much more complex than many think, beyond these two crystallized identities there are manifestations that cannot be classified as clearly. And that is fine and in accordance with nature, biology and the human nature. Nothing is static, neither biology nor human society. Therefore, the required or possible roles within our society change and with them new identities arise. This dialectical process is unstoppable, but above all it does not pose a threat to society or the interests of workers. On the contrary, this process, this diversity points to the shortcomings and limits of private property, capitalism, and proves that the time has come to end capitalism.

Queer people and other working people must stand together under the banner of one demand: the establishment of socialism. Queer people will not attain this demand with liberals who offer increased corporate profits and class hatred. This demand will not be attained by the working masses with conservatives attacking false enemies. As the British miners and queer people in 1984, we can push for socialism together, each for slightly different reasons, but all with a shared vision of a better world.

We have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a world to win!

Based on this framework we have already offered solutions, which would help both the queer people as well as the whole of society, and which would push Slovakia closer to socialism.