Communist Party USA: ‘An extraordinary Black History Month’

Posted at Reposted to IPR by Paulie.

African American History Month is celebrated every February. It is always an important time to not only look back at how a courageous people made great strides towards freedom but also think about how to advance that struggle to new heights.

The election of Barack Obama, our first African American president, marks this year’s celebration as a new milestone in the upward progress of a people long oppressed.

As in the fight against slavery and Jim Crow, this was a victory for all people, of all races and nationalities. It showed how the fight against racism in general and the fight for African American equality in particular can move democracy forward for all.

But as Obama has said, the election victory is not the change we seek but the opportunity to fight for real change. And that applies to the systemic inequities African Americans, Latinos and others face because of race. The change we seek is to end racist inequities whether in health, housing, education or jobs, and to guarantee peace and economic and social justice for all. As Tommy Dennis, a former business manager of this newspaper and autoworker from Detroit, used to say, “There isn’t anything Black people want that white people don’t need.”

The hard economic times call for bold government intervention to remake our cities and rural areas devastated by three decades of a right-wing racist, corporate offensive. They call for public ownership of banks to guarantee that they are run to benefit the public and to help cheated homeowners who are losing their homes or being evicted en masse.

This crisis must be met by government action on the scale of the New Deal and the Marshall Plan, with strong affirmative action provisions. For the 3 million to 4 million new jobs created if Obama’s recovery package passes, there need to be guarantees that the hardest-hit communities will benefit. In some African American and Latino communities jobless rates have been as high as 50 percent for years.

The nearly 2 million people who weathered the frigid temperatures to witness the inauguration of the first Black president on Jan. 20 showed that the mass movement for positive change continues.

Let this African American History Month help celebrate the accomplishments and advance the tremendous possibilities for change.

25 thoughts on “Communist Party USA: ‘An extraordinary Black History Month’

  1. Catholic Trotskyist

    Good for them for acknowledging the greatness of our Holy Revolutionary General Messenger Barack H. Obama. Ironic that this formerly stalinist party would be the communist faction that would most closely parallel the message of Catholic Trotskyism at this time. While the other socialist parties wine about gay marriage and attack Obama for not bringing out the revolution fast enough, the CPUSA has a good and realistic perspective.

  2. paulie cannoli Post author

    Gay marriage was never much of an issue in the former Soviet Union. :


    In 1933, Article 121 was added to the criminal code, for the entire Soviet Union, that expressly prohibited male homosexuality, with up to five years of hard labor in prison. The precise reason for the new law is still in some dispute.

    Some historians have suggested that Stalin’s enactment of the anti-gay law was, like his prohibition on abortion, was an attempt to increase the Russian birthrate and build a better relationship with the socially conservative Eastern Orthodox Church. Some historians have noted that it was during this time that Soviet propaganda, began to depict homosexuality as a sign of fascism, and that Article 121 may have a simple political tool to use against dissidents, irrespective of their true sexual orientation, and to solidify Russian opposition to Nazi Germany, who had broken its treaty with Russia [Karlinsky, Simon. P. 362].

    More recently, a third possible reason for the anti-gay law has emerged from declassified Soviet documents and transcripts. Beyond expressed fears of a vast “counterrevolutionary” or fascist homosexual conspiracy, there were several high profile, arrests of Russian men accused of being pederasts, and homosexuality had become more visible with the “limited capitalism” that Lenin legalized, but Stalin despised [10]

    . Whatever the precise reason, homosexuality remained a serious criminal offense until it was repealed in 1993 [8].

    The Soviet government itself said very little publicly about the change in the law, and few people seemed to be aware that it existed. In 1934, the British Communist Harry Whyte, wrote a long letter to Stalin condemning the law, and its prejudicial motivations. He laid out a Marxist position against the oppression of homosexuals, as a social minority, and compared homophobia to racism, xenophobia and sexism.

    While the letter was not formally replied to, Soviet cultural writer Maxim Gorky, authored an article, published in both Pravda and Izvestia titled “Proletarian Humanism”, that seemed to reject Whyte’s arguments point by point. He rejected the notion that homosexuals were a social minority, and argued that the Soviet Union needed to combat them in order to protect the youth and battle fascism [“Proletarian Humanism” May 23, 1934].

    A few years later, 1936, Justice Commissar Nikolai Krylenko publicly stated that the anti-gay criminal law was correctly aimed at the decadent and effete old ruling classes, thus further linking homosexuality to a right-wing conspiracy, i.e. tsarist aristocracy and German fascists [11]


    [edit] 1950s – 1960s

    When Joseph Stalin came to power, homosexuality became a topic unfit for public depiction, defense or discussion. Homosexual or bisexual Russians who wanted a position within the Communist Party, were expected to marry a person of the opposite sex, regardless of their actual sexual orientation. A notable example was the Russian film director Sergei M. Eisenstein, who despite his homosexuality managed to survive by leading a double life, he had affairs with men while married to a woman, producing films that were politically pleasing to Stalin.

    After Stalin died in 1953, he was replaced by Khrushchev, who proceeded to liberalize the Stalin era laws regarding marriage, divorce, and abortion, but the anti-gay law remained. It is not entirely clear why Khrushchev kept the anti-gay law, while liberalizing the laws dealing with marriage and abortion. Some historians have suggested that the law may have been kept as a tool to discredit dissident, or even for blackmail.[citation needed] At least one example of the latter is well known. In 1955, William John Christopher Vassall was living in Russia while working for the Royal Air Force attended a party, set up by the KGB, where he was photographed engaging in homosexual behavior with other men. Upon being shown the photographs, the KGB proceeded to demand that he spy for them or face criminal charges under Soviet law.[citation needed]

    [edit] 1970s – Glasnost

    In the 1970s – 1980s censorship rules regarding homosexuality slowly began to change. Russian gay author Yevgency Kharitonov illegally circulated some gay fiction before he died of heart failure in 1981. Author Gennady Trifonov served four years of hard labor for circulating his gay poems and, upon his release, was allowed to write and publish only if he avoided depicting or making reference to homosexuality [9]. Vicktor Sosnora was allowed to write about witnessing an elderly gay actor being brutally murdered in a Leningrad bar in “The Flying Dutchman” (1979), but the book was published in Eastern Germany. Kozlovsky was permitted to include a brief interior monologue about homosexuality in “Moscow to the End of the Line” (1973). Perhaps the first public endorsement of gay rights since Stalin was a brief statement, critical of Article 121 and calling for its repeal, made in the “Textbook of Soviet Criminal Law” (1973) [10]. In 1984 a group of Russian gay men met and attempted to organize an official gay rights organization, only to be quickly shut down by the KGB. In the late Glasnost period, some public discussion was permitted about re-legalizing private, consensual adult homosexual relations. In 1989-1990 a Moscow gay rights organization lead by Yevgeniya Debryanskaya was permitted to exist, with Roman Kalinin given permission to publish a gay newspaper, “Tema”. [12]

  3. Pankel Fraudankel

    Was Frankel born a commie
    Or did you work at it your whole life?
    Either way it worked out fine
    ‘Cause you’re a commie tonight

    Yes you’re a C-O-M-M-I-E
    And don’tcha try to blame it on me
    You deserve all the credit
    You’re a commie tonight

    You were a commie yesterday
    You’re a commie tonight
    I’ve got a feeling
    You’ll be a commie the rest of your life

    I was talking to your mother
    Just the other night
    I told her I thought you were a commie
    She said “Yes, I think you’re right”

    And all your friends are commies
    ‘Cause you’ve known them your whole life
    And somebody told me
    That you killed your wife
    (and buried her in a shallow grave in Mexico)

    Were you born a commie
    Or did you work at it your whole life?
    Either way it worked out fine
    ‘Cause you’re a commie asshole tonight

  4. libertariangirl

    it says Stalin prohibited male homosexuality but makes no mention of female homosexuality. I guess that was still legal?

  5. Salvatore "Sally Bannanas" Bonnano

    Pankel Fraudankel,

    “That you killed your wife
    (and buried her in a shallow grave in Mexico)”

    Frankel had a wife? I thought he was a faggot.

    We’ve been keeping this prick under surveillance for a while, and we never seen him with any broads. He used to rent hookers, but we figured it was just for appearances or maybe to score dope.

    We never see his other petition butt buddy Andy Jacobs with any chicks either. But we did see Jacobs and Frankel rent motel rooms with one bed in them. Hmmmmmm.

    Oh yeah, Frankel also is known to frequent XXX movie theaters. For anyone who doesn’t know, that’s where homos go to jerk each other off and fuck. We only know about that because we own a bunch of those places.

    Oh and Paulie boy, you know that $80,000 you borrowed in 1989? 30% compound interest a week for 20 years.

    Do the math, fanook, and start making payments again, or you’ll be the one getting buried in a shallow grave in Mexico, with your knees capped, your hands cut off, a pool cue up your ass, and your dick and balls stuffed in your mouth.


    “Sure, for lots of Russian girl on girl action, check out Stalinistas dot com.”

    Are those real girls, or is that Frankel with his tits shaved and his prick tucked back, and Jacobs in drag?

  6. Andy

    “Salvatore ‘Sally Bannanas’ Bonnano”

    Who’s the chickenshit hiding behind the fake name? I’m thinking that it is either Eric Dondero or Sean Haugh, maybe Roger Pope.

  7. paulie cannoli Post author

    “Salvatore ‘Sally Bannanas’ Bonnano”

    Who’s the chickenshit hiding behind the fake name?

    Dunno. He/she is posting from an IP anonymizer and is using what is sure to be a fake email address (

    I don’t think it really deserves a response, but what the hell:

    As far as I know my ex-wife is still alive. I haven’t seen or heard from her since 1987.

    I’m not gay. Not that I consider it an insult or anything – I fully support LGBT rights, and think that guys who “accuse” other guys of secretly being gay are saying more about themselves than they are saying about the guys they are accusing.

    When I travel with other petitioners, I usually get either my own bed or my own room, but sometimes I sleep on a blanket or air mattress on the floor.

    Yes, I watch porn. Since I don’t have a laptop on the road, and since I don’t have a DVD player with me, and since video stores don’t like to rent to out of staters (and additionally, since I often don’t have privacy in my motel room), I do often opt for in-store viewing. Yes, there are some gay guys who “cruise” those places. So what?

    Yes, I have not had much in the way of women lately. I had a lot when I was younger. Maybe I will again, maybe not.

    No, I did not borrow $80k from the mob in 1989. But one year later, I did “lose” 80k in a crooked poker game, promised to pay, didn’t have the money, and skipped town. Those guys were neighborhood goombahs, not mobsters, and I’m not worried about them almost 20 years later.

    I am a libertarian, not a socialist or communist. I post news from different alternative parties at IPR from all sorts of different viewpoints.

    Anyone else have any brilliant questions or accusations?

  8. paulie cannoli Post author


    Except they were Jamaican, not Russian. And it was in the Bahamas, not Africa. And it was in 1988, not 1993. Also, it was the Revolutionary Randian Rastafarian April 1st Movement, not the PSP.

    But other than that, that’s exactly what happened.

  9. paulie cannoli Post author

    it says Stalin prohibited male homosexuality but makes no mention of female homosexuality. I guess that was still legal?

    Lesbian relationships were in no case included in any penal code, and relations between women were less visible and less subject to attacks. Public opinion towards lesbians was as inflexible as towards gay men. Lesbians were ridiculed, incriminated, dismissed, expelled from the universities and threatened with being deprived of the custody of their children. The punitive Soviet psychiatry was one of the main weapons of both legal and illegal repression. Psychiatrists who knew nothing of sexuality were always ready to find grounds that allowed them to subject the lives of people thus stigmatised to medical and police observation, or to close them in psychiatric hospitals in conditions often much worse than prison.

    Even after the emergence of a more tolerant and better informed “sexual pathology” (the Russian term to define clinical sexology, which suggested that all sexual terms were pathological), at the end of the 1970s, medicine offered very little help. In all Soviet books on “sexual pathology”, homosexuality was described as a pernicious “sexual perversion”, an illness to be treated. (Vasilchenko, 1977, 1983). At the beginning of the 1980s, a campaign against homosexuality was launched. In the first manual, at the time the first in the whole nation, for teachers on sexual education (of which one million copies were printed and immediately sold out), homosexuality was defined as a dangerous pathology and “a violation of the normal principles of sexual relations… Homosexuality defied both normal heterosexual relationships and the moral and cultural fulfilment of society. It therefore deserved to be condemned as a social phenomenon, as specific personal behaviour, and as a moral attitude” (Khripkova & Kolesov, 1982, pp. 96-100). Thus, teachers, like the police and doctors, were put on guard against homosexuality. Still today, with rare exceptions, the psychiatrists and sexologists of Russian clinics, even those who have supported the decriminalisation of homosexuality, consider it an illness and reproduce in their writings the many absurdities and stereotypes prevalent in public opinion.

  10. paulie cannoli Post author

    Does the reason for this ill-treatment lie in the huge and portentous Soviet inheritance that continues to dominate the Russian mind, or is it a legacy of the still powerful Eastern Orthodox Church?

    First The Church

    Before the Soviet Union, Russia was relatively tolerant of homosexuals compared to most European countries. According to author, Ivan Kon, while Britain, Germany, Holland and Spain prosecuted gays in government courts, torturing, castrating, or killing the guilty, in Russia male homosexual relations from the 11th through the 17th centuries fell under the jurisdiction of the church, the most powerful institution in pre-Soviet society. Offenders were punished, not by torture or death, but by ecclesiastical penance ranging from one to seven years.

    The age of the offender, the frequency of his violation of “church standards,” and his matrimonial status were all taken into consideration when deciding which penalty to impose. These include, in ascending order: prayers, kneeling and prostration, fasts, a ban on communion, and finally anathema (excommunication which condemns the offender to hell). If there was no anal penetration, homosexuals received lighter punishments.

    The church also penalized lesbianism, which was believed to be connected with pagan rites. Though regarded as a minor offense, it rated the same punishments as male homosexuality, with the exception of anathema. That remained a male privilege for those who dared shave off their beards (and therefore looked “female”). Lesbians who performed the “male” role while having sex were usually beaten.

    Enter the State

    Despite Peter the Great’s short-lived Army Regulations of 1716, which punished sodomy by hanging or exile, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the state began to regulate homosexuality. In an 1845 law, sex between consenting adult males was punished by the seizure of property, exile to Siberia for four to five years, and sometimes hard labor. If there was violence towards a minor or anal intercourse, the sentence of hard labor could be quadrupled.

    In Siberia, that most severe region of the Russian Empire, homosexuals sentenced to hard labor were “treated” by doctors eager to cure their “unnatural” habits, and often raped by local authorities.

    The Criminal Code of 1903 mitigated these penalties. Consensual sex between adults was punished with a mere three months of imprisonment. If violence or minors were involved, the sentence could be increased to up to eight years. The new law triggered a flood of protests. Critics charged that by implying that homosexual relations were consensual, it made it impossible to prove in court any particular act. The law was further undermined by a general lack of enthusiasm to enforce it, especially among the upper social classes where homosexuality was generally tolerated.

    Queers and Class Warfare

    After the October Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks first came to power, a great many laws were abolished altogether, including those that criminalized homosexuality. Neither the Criminal Code of 1922 nor that of 1926 contained any articles concerning homosexuals. The framers obviously thought that homosexuality was a class-related phenomenon, and that it would disappear with the former regime.

    When homosexuality failed to disappear, a 1934 government resolution recriminalized it, stipulating five to eight years of imprisonment whether the acts were forced or voluntary. The very existence of homosexuals was prohibited by law. They were characterized as rotten, filthy scum unfit to live in the Soviet Union, and were legally deprived of all civil rights. In all quarters, homosexual individuals were told they were desperately sick and needed to be cured.

    The infamous anti-gay article 121.1 of the 1960 Soviet Criminal Code was used to discredit, blackmail and silence intellectuals and other prominent people, as well as homosexuals. And if you were both, so much the better. Among the thousands of men sent to prison in the 1980’s were archeologist Lev Klein, singer Vadim Kozin, film director Sergei Paradzhanov, writer Gennady Trifonov and a host of other Russian artists and intellectuals.

    Those “pidori” [fags] who had the good fortune to avoid prison joined lesbians in mental institutions where electroshock and other degrading rehabilitation methods were standard practice. Lesbians were always on a fast-track to mental hospitals, instead of prisons.

    According to data from the Russian Ministry of Justice, as late as 1989, a total of 538 men were convicted of homosexuality. In 1990, there were 497; in 1991, the figure was 462. In the first half of 1992, as many 227 men were sentenced to imprisonment.

    It was only in 1993 that article 121.1 was revoked. That action was widely seen as a public demonstration of democracy, and of the government’s desire to be admitted to the European Union. Homosexuality was only officially deleted from the Medical Register of Mental Diseases in 1999.

    Democracy For Queers, Kind Of

    The 1996 Criminal Code in effect today neither singles out homosexuals, nor uses offensive terminology towards them. It establishes the minimum age of consent as 14, the same for both heterosexuals and homosexuals.

    Nevertheless, lesbians and gay men are still vulnerable in Russia.

    In 2002, several failed attempts were made in the national legislature to recriminalize homosexuality. On April 22, 2002, four deputies introduced an amendment to the Criminal Code that punished male sodomy with one to five years in jail. The deputies alleged that the law would end everything from AIDS to prostitution and pornography, and contribute to the health of children.

    A similar bill was introduced on May 14, 2002 by members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR). In a perversion of equality, it was aimed this time at lesbians. The LDPR leader, Oleg Mitrofanov, maintained that his party’s legislative initiative was even more important than the proposed male sodomy amendment, because “it is women who are the most important participants in Russia’s population growth from the state’s viewpoint, so a tight hand must be kept on them.” He added, “We are against abortions and prostitution, and in favor of prosecuting lesbians.”

    Denounced by the political mainstream, including Russia’s human rights ombudsman, Oleg Mironov, neither bill passed. In fact, they were widely regarded as little more than an election year anti-gay publicity stunt. But their very introduction signals a lack of social and cultural change that leaves lgbt people in Russia vulnerable to legal reverses and widespread abuses.

    Canary in the Coal Mines

    Between 1997 and 1999, the Eastern Orthodox Church was rocked by gay-related “scandals.” As church authorities excommunicated a bishop on grounds of homosexuality, many priests anonymously revealed that they were gay. Nevertheless, the Church continues to define lesbians and gay men as depraved sinners who should not be allowed to teach at schools or hold positions of authority in the army or in the penal system.

    That doctrine, combined with the Soviet legacy of legal and medical abuse, shapes Russia’s “new” homophobia in which the state, the medical profession, and the church actively collaborate with families to persecute lesbians and gay men.

    The extreme case of Alla Pitcherskaia was documented by Amnesty International. As a lesbian activist, she was repeatedly charged with hooliganism, and held by the police. While in detention, she was beaten and threatened with incarceration in a mental hospital if she didn’t quit her job in a local lesbian organization. She finally fled Russia in 1992.

    According to the U.S. gay civil rights group, Lambda Legal, which is helping her pursue asylum in the United States, Pitcherskaia decided to leave permanently after her mother informed her that the Russian Mafia had destroyed the business that she had begun with gay co-workers, had killed one of them, and was looking for her.

    A 2001 Amnesty Report, “Crimes of hate, conspiracy of silence: Torture and ill-treatment based on sexual identity,” describes the case of another Russian lesbian, identified only as Irina, who is also seeking asylum in the United States. She was reportedly tortured and subjected to inhumane treatment, not only by the police, but by her relatives as well. In 1995, her sisters demanded that she relinquish rights to her child and enter a mental institution.

    Her parents hired private detectives to videotape Irina and her girlfriend having sex. When they used it to blackmail them, the two girls went to a police station to report it, and were sexually assaulted. On another occasion, the detectives on the case raped Irina to “teach her a lesson … and convert her to normal heterosexuality.” Irina dropped the charges and kept her mouth shut rather than continue to face the police.

    Waiting for Change

    The Eastern Orthodox tradition will always be allied with those elements of the state determined to impose a comprehensive social plan on Russia, which includes wiping out “social deviance,” like homosexuality, abortion, divorce and broken families.

  11. libertariangirl

    you got kidnapped by Rastafarians? holy shit , im sorry but that sounds fucking hysterical . please done be offended im laughing at your terrible memories.
    Jah Rastafari Aye

  12. paulie cannoli Post author

    Actually, it was totally hysterical. The Randian Rastafarians live by the maxim that “Acid is Acid,” and I got totally spaced out and stoned, and I think I got Patty Hearst syndrome, and then ended up napping like a kid, but I can’t rightly remember. All I know for sure is that it ended up being an April Fools Day thing.

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