Friday, January 29, 2010

An excerpt from Carl Wittman's "Refugees From Amerika: A Gay Manifesto" Dec. 22, 1970

1. Mimicry of straight society: We are children of straight society. We still think straight: that is part of our oppression. One of the worst of straight concepts is inequality. Straight (also white, English, male, capitalist) thinking views things in terms of order and comparison. A is before B, B is after A; one is below two is below three; there is no room for equality. This idea gets extended to male/female, on top/on bottom, spouse/not spouse, heterosexual/homosexual, boss/worker, white/black and rich/poor. Our social institutions cause and reflect this verbal hierarchy. This is Amerika.

We’ve lived in these institutions all our lives. Naturally we mimic the roles. For too long we mimicked these roles to protect ourselves - a survival mechanism. Now we are becoming free enough to shed the roles which we’ve picked up from the institutions which have imprisoned us.

“Stop mimicking straights, stop censoring ourselves.”

2. Marriage: Marriage is a prime example of a straight institution fraught with role playing. Traditional marriage is a rotten, oppressive institution. Those of us who have been in heterosexual marriages too often have blamed our gayness on the breakup of the marriage. No. They broke up because marriage is a contract which smothers both people, denies needs, and places impossible demands on both people. And we had the strength, again, to refuse to capitulate to the roles which were demanded of us.

Gay people must stop gauging their self-respect by how well they mimic straight marriages. Gay marriages will have the same problems as straight ones except in burlesque. For the usual legitimacy and pressures which keep straight marriages together are absent, e.g., kids, what parents think, what neighbors say.

To accept that happiness comes through finding a groovy spouse and settling down, showing the world that “we’re just the same as you” is avoiding the real issues, and is an expression of self-hatred.

3. Alternatives to Marriage: People want to get married for lots of good reasons, although marriage won’t often meet those needs or desires. We’re all looking for security, a flow of love, and a feeling of belonging and being needed.

These needs can be met through a number of social relationships and living situations. Things we want to get away from are: 1. exclusiveness, propertied attitudes toward each other, a mutual pact against the rest of the world; 2. promises about the future, which we have no right to make and which prevent us from , or make us feel guilty about, growing; 3. inflexible roles, roles which do not reflect us at the moment but are inherited through mimicry and inability to define equalitarian relationships.

We have to define for ourselves a new pluralistic, rolefree social structure for ourselves. It must contain both the freedom and physical space for people to live alone, live together for a while, live together for a long time, either as couples or in larger numbers; and the ability to flow easily from one of these states to another as our needs change.

Liberation for gay people is defining for ourselves how and with whom we live, instead of measuring our relationship in comparison to straight ones, with straight values.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A lesson from history for the death of our democracy.

t is ironic that the foundations of the American Revolution were a resistance against the enforcement of corporate hegemony in the form of the Tea Act which sought to insure the British East India Company's monopoly over the colonies. The revolution was not fought initially by the colonial populace at large, but rather by the merchant class who were upset with British enforced corporate monopoly being forced on them. They in turn roused the 'rabble' to revolt.

The first large, privately owned corporation to arise post-revolution was the Second Bank of the United States, and by 1830 was sponsoring its directors and agents as candidates for political office. In President Andrew Jackson's annual message to Congress on December, 3, 1833 he said, "In this point of the case the question is distinctly presented whether the people of the United States are to govern through representatives chosen by their unbiased suffrages or whether the money and power of a great corporation are to be secretly exerted to influence their judgment and control their decisions."

Forty years earlier Thomas Jefferson, when advocating for a Bill of Rights to be attached to the new Constitution, was warning that the people needed to be secure in their "freedom in religion, freedom of the press, freedom from monopolies, freedom from unlawful imprisonment, freedom from a permanent military, and a trial by jury, in all cases determinable by the laws of the land."

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court forever altered the outcome of U. S. elections by ruling that corporations, those very entities the founding merchant fathers enticed us to revolt against, had the same freedom of speech protections as individual humans and therefore were not restricted in how much they could contribute to election campaigns.

This ruling has the potential to forever change our democracy, silencing the voice of the people in favor of the voice of corporate America who will now be able to use their financial muscle to not only influence elections but threaten elected officials to do their bidding to an extent which will largely go unnoticed by the general public. It is especially disturbing when one considers the military-industrial-complex and the boost it received under Bush Cheney and the continuing 'war on terror.' When corporate profits are guided by the production of war profits, then war will be inevitable. When corporate profits decide elections then corporations will rule our country. We must resist now.