A RADICAL HOLOCAUST
By David Horowitz
(The following essay is a chapter from David Horowitz’s book The Politics of Bad Faith)
Everyone who preached free love in the Sixties is responsible for AIDS....This idea that it was somehow an accident, a microbe that sort of fell from heaven -- absurd. We must face
what we did.
A specter is haunting America’s universities, the last refuge of the political left. It is the specter of “queer theory,” the latest of the radical identity politics that have replaced class struggle and the classic proletariat in the schema of Marxist revolution. Amidst the din and clatter of utopias crashing messily to earth, the true believers once again are burnishing the agendas of social revolution. In ivied trenches from Berkeley to Cambridge, lesbian and gay activists busily work to unveil the latest weapon in the intellectual armory of the tenured left. “Queer politics is no longer content to carve out a buffer zone for a minoritized and protected subculture,” an academic manifesto proclaims. Its goal is “to challenge the pervasive and often invisible heteronormativity of modern societies.” The same idea is explained in less obscure prose in the pages of the Village Voice: “It isn’t enough to become parallel to straights. We want to obliterate such dichotomies altogether.”
The “dichotomies” are already being obliterated in liberated zones of the popular culture. A San Francisco Chronicle reviewer describing Michael Jackson’s international video Black and White, which was seen by half a billion youngsters across the globe, waxes messianic: “The refrain in the Black and White video is ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.’ Most riveting is a computer-enhanced segment where a person changes ethnicity and sex in rapid succession....In a world threatened by racial tensions and overpopulation, the survival instinct could summon a new human, one who has no single race and who, by being...androgynous, is less subject to the procreative urge.” Commenting on this, novelist Saul Bellow observed “The idea is to clobber everything that used to be accepted as given, fixed, irremediable.” The task (in the words of the previously cited manifesto) is “to confront...modern culture with its worst nightmare, a queer planet.”
For these new radical theorists, the enemy is no longer a ruling class, a hegemonic race or even a dominant gender. Instead it is the sexual order of nature itself. Oppression lies in the very idea of the “normal,” the order that divides humanity into two sexes. Instead of a classless society as the redemptive future, queer theorists envisage a gender free world.
Queer revolution is thus the ultimate subversive project: It proclaims not only the death of Society’s God, but of Nature’s Law -- the very idea of a reality beyond human will. For these revolutionaries, not even biology grounds possibility or can limit human hope. Theirs is the consummate Nieztschean fantasy: a world in which humanity is God. On this brave new horizon, humanity will realize its potential as a self-creating species able to defy its own sexual gravity. The future will give birth to a new revolutionary people, no longer male and female, but queer. Queer is the Promethean category of the post-modernist left. The triumph of the revolutionary subject over history and nature. The proclamation of a brave new world.
* * *
The century behind us is littered with the corpses of millions who died on the cross of such new worlds. Before the Communist collapse, the quest for a “new man” and “new woman” consumed the lives of entire nations. But the effort to produce a super race created monstrosities instead, whose horror was all too predictable, indeed was predicted by contemporary critics of Lenin and Marx, who saw that the revolutionary ideal bore within itself the demons that would consume it.
Behind the revolutionary pursuit of an impossible ideal lurks a deep hatred for the human norm and an unquenchable desire for its annihilation. The inhumanity of the radical ambition was what made the Communist epoch so consummate in its evil. Self-hatred is the root of the communist ideal, a fact too easily ignored. The totalitarian state was not an aberration of the progressive spirit, but its consummation. Totalitarian terror is the necessary means for an agenda whose aim is to erase the human past and remake the human soul.
The radical project is a war against nature. This is why the socialist effort to reconstruct humanity achieved Orwellian results. The promise of freedom produced a terrorist state; the promise of wealth a minimalist existence. In the end, the Adams and Eves of the liberated future proved to be only grotesque masks of their ancestral selves, their all too human desires re-emerging the moment the socialist terror was removed.
Why should anyone have expected anything different? What else could have resulted from so calculated a rupture with the human past? What positive outcome could be achieved by so radical a rejection of tradition and law, by the wholesale destruction of tested institutions and the overthrow of existing states? What could an experiment like this produce other than a social Frankenstein?
And yet, now that the monster is finally dead, the very premises of its birth are being resurrected on American campuses as the intellectual project of the tenured left. It is the totalitarian past that “radical feminism,” “post-modernism,” -- and “queer theory” intend to resurrect in the name of a progressive future.
* * *
The paradox of good intentions and bad consequences is as old as the Left itself. It springs from the Rousseauian fantasy that social institutions are the root of all evil. This is the idea that human reality is “socially constructed” and thus the ills that flesh is heir to can be cured by social engineering, by re-fashioning their social context. This is the idea that underpins both the Leninist project and the perverse doctrines of today’s academic radicals, providing the intellectual paradigm of their latest incarnation as the “post-modern” left.
It is this paradigm that constructs the utopian vision and also leads inexorably to its totalitarian conclusion. For, if human nature is socially created, it can be self-consciously molded to virtuous ends by a political vanguard. Although the “post-modern” left affects an intellectual superiority to its Communist forbears, it seeks an identical result: the transformation of humanity by political means. “Sensitivity training” and other forms of political correction are the dilute instruments currently available to them, but more grandiose ambitions are already transparent in their radical passion.
For Marxists, the key to revolutionary power was the proletariat, a majority class. Oppressed by its lack of property, its liberation could be accomplished only by the abolition of property. The revolutionary act would re-constitute proletarians as a liberated class, but also all social classes, since they would now be freed from the chains that property had forged.
No one believes any longer in the proletarian myth, but Marx’s discredited paradigm has been resurrected by his epigones in the American academy. The fulcrum of this revival has been the development of post-Marxist theories that substitute other “oppressed” groups -- blacks, women and homosexuals -- for the missing revolutionary term. This pattern effectively reprises events at the beginning of the century, after a similar failure of Marxist socialism -- at that time to explain the nationalism of the socialist parties’ response to the First World War. Disciples of Lenin, like Mussolini, “solved” the problem by creating the national socialist movement, replacing the proletariat with the nation in the revolutionary equation and eventually creating the fascist state.
Behind each of the new “identity politics” lies a version of the constructivist idea, which itself creates the premise that the revolutionary group is socially “oppressed.” Thus women have been historically excluded from certain roles not as a result of biological realities -- for example, the hazards of childbirth before the development of modern medical techniques -- but because “patriarchal society” has defined their roles in order that men can dominate them. Radical theory is, in fact, a radical depreciation of the humanity and dignity of ordinary people. Only the successful can be historical subjects; the rest are mere objects of others’ “oppression.” In the radical view, society reflects neither nature nor history and individual human beings have no complicity in their historical fates. They are only social creations.
The same constructivist fallacy imputes revolutionary potential to all those categories valorized as “oppressed” by radical theory, and simultaneously depreciated -- stripped of their free will and reduced to the status of historical objects. In all radical theory, it is the destiny of the oppressed to be reshaped and redefined by the radical vanguard. Because they were mere objects in the historical past, however, they will also be objects in the radical future, their transformation a project of the socialist state. Here, in capsule, is the totalitarian paradigm, the ineluctable motif of radical history.
In the recent development of radical theory, this radical constructivism has been accompanied by a relativist epistemology. Relativism appears at first to be a departure from Marxism, but ends up being no great departure at all. For all theoretical relativisms, beginning with Nietzsche and culminating in the deconstructive pose of Derrida and his disciples, have this absolute in common: there exists no objective value, no natural standard, no insurmountable obstacle to human desire. This is the core of its revolutionary content, the intellectual ground of leftism which -- to paraphrase Lenin -- is in some profound sense an infantile disorder. “In this age of deconstruction,” as one queer writer recently summarized, “the notion that sexual identities are ‘essential’ -- that is, constituted by nature -- is under attack. Identity -- in terms of race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality -- is no longer seen as stable or even coherent; but as variable, provisional, and most of all constructed.” Explains David Halperin, a leading queer theorist, in describing the contribution of the father of structuralism (the dominant sociological influence on the academic left): “Foucault did for ‘sexuality’ what feminist critics had done for ‘gender.’...He divorced ‘sexuality’ from ‘nature’ and interpreted it, instead, as a cultural production.”
If sexuality is a “cultural production” and can be shaped to fit a conscious design, what area of human endeavor or desire cannot? Like their progressive predecessors, the Doctor Frankensteins of the newest left are intoxicated with the prospect of a divine power. Their ambition is to make this racist-, sexist-, homophobic-humanity into a liberated creature in their own image. This is the secular idolatry of the radical heresy, the displaced messianism of the Left that has so blighted the human prospect in our time.
* * *
For a century and a half after the French Revolution, America had remained relatively immune to the destructive passions of this salvationist Left. The offshoots of continental socialism that were planted on American shores, were an immigrant phenomenon, generally isolated from the cultural mainstream. This parochialism began to dissolve, however, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when a second generation entered adulthood. It was further eroded during the Popular Front, when American Marxists expanded their influence and became part of a national political coalition. After 1941, when the Soviet Union joined the Allied Powers, American radicals finally joined the American mainstream, but in the cold war that followed, their allegiance to the Soviet Union consigned them to a political ghetto. Marginalized by its Soviet commitments and disloyal agendas, American radicalism after World War II became again a parochial current, self-limiting and circumscribed.
By the mid-Fifties, the revolutionary left was a dead letter in American culture, although progressives refused to acknowledge the corpse. The conditions of its death were general and irreversible: The proletariat had failed to act as a revolutionary vanguard; Marx’s analyses had not predicted the directions of modern industrial states and the utopias Marxists had created were without exception grotesque caricatures of the redemptive futures their prophets had promised. Ironically, it was the death of Stalin that gave radicalism new life, by giving new life to radicals’ self-delusion. Leftists could now free themselves from the taint of their achievements. Stalinism was dead; long live socialism.
In the 1960s, radical born-agains were readily received into the American mainstream. The battle cry of their New Left -- you can’t trust anyone over 30 -- appeared to Americans as a claim to innocence. In practice it proved to be little more than the arrogant Rousseauian’s contempt for experience.
The most important experience from which the New Left refused to learn, of course, was its own. New Left activists brazenly answered the questions the epic crimes of socialism had posed by refusing to confront them. The same refusal preserved the radical paradigm that was responsible for the catastrophe. Categories encumbered by the past, like “capitalism,” were discarded. The “System” -- a vague but untainted term -- became the New Left’s code for that demonized complex of institutions and traditions that had made America one of the most decent and envied societies on the face of the earth. The new radical agenda, however, was the same as the old -- to first destroy and bury this society, and then to create a utopia in its ruins.
When it first appeared on the political horizon, the point of entry for the revived radical impulse was, ironically, a traditionalist movement for social reform. The civil rights movement under the leadership of Martin Luther King was guided by a conservative agenda. Its goal was to include black Americans in the existing social contract, especially in the segregated South, where the constitutional covenant had been restricted to whites. King’s dream was the American dream, inclusion and opportunity for all: E pluribus unum.
King’s victories were achieved under the banner of “integration” into the very system that radicals despised. It was the worst nightmare of the rejuvenated Left. As soon as the civil rights movement achieved its goal of ending legal discrimination, the radicals acted to push King aside. Led by racist demagogues like Stokely Carmichael, the New Left rejected King’s leadership (deriding him as “Uncle Martin” and “Martin Luther Coon”) and embraced the violent racism of Malcolm X. The banner of integration was replaced by the call for separatism and “black power.” The new political goal -- “black liberation” -- was defined as liberation from the American dream.
Underpinning the new vision was a bastard version of the old paradigm, as the discredited Marxist categories were re-cast in racial terms. Class war was replaced by race war and the liberators were no longer proletarians but a “third world” of non-white races, which raised a particularist rather than a universal claim. The Vietnam War provided a model for completing the conceptual framework. Radicals defined blacks as an internal colony in imperial America, the vanguard of third world peoples whom white Americans had conquered. A “war of national liberation” -- waged at home and abroad -- was necessary to set them free, but more plausibly -- since the universal standard had been replaced with a partisan cause -- to revenge them on their white-skinned oppressors.
The new paradigm lacked the basic coherence of its Marxist predecessor and, except as a rationale for destructive agendas, made little political sense. The international proletariat of the Marxist vision had been composed of all nationalities and races. The idea that it might represent the liberation of all humanity made a kind of sense. But the revolutionary force of the new paradigm was a minority within its own society. How could the triumph of its interest lead to the liberation of all?
Radical theorists attempted to overcome this problem by positing a revolutionary “coalition” and a hierarchy of liberators in which the “most oppressed” functioned as the political vanguard. Blacks were the first to assume this privileged position in the revolutionary ranks. At the tactical level, there was a parallel hierarchy with the most violent invariably being accorded pride of place. After his death, Malcolm X became the radicals’ patron saint and “by any means necessary” its political slogan. A criminal street gang, the Black Panthers, was anointed as its political vanguard. The moderate politics of Martin Luther King -- integration, compromise, and non-violence -- were rejected in favor of racial confrontation and revolutionary conflict. This strategy was a dead-end vision, blocking those who followed its path from taking advantage of the opportunities of America’s open system, while inciting racial grievance and resentments, with destructive consequences into the next generation. Its apotheosis occurred in 1995, in the third and largest “March on Washington,” when a million “African-American” men assembled under the leadership of America’s most prominent black “separatist” and most virulent black racist, Louis Farrakhan, in a grotesque parody of the civil rights struggles of the past.
When the idea of a universal class was discarded, there was no logical cutoff for new pretenders to the revolutionary throne. Women, “Latinos,” homosexuals, and Native Americans vied for possession of the victim’s mantle. No reflex of embarrassment seemed to restrain them as they rushed forward to compare their own discomforts with the historic sufferings of American blacks. Even college students -- among the most privileged of America’s social ranks -- experienced no difficulty in nursing their grievances into a revolutionary apotheosis, captured in the title of a Sixties tract called Student As Nigger. Among these groups the most successful claimants were women. Led by activists whose outlook had been shaped in Marxist polemics, radical feminists quickly appropriated the moral aura of the civil rights’ epic. Developing what came to be called a politics of identity (in contrast to the old politics of class), the feminists turned to the Marxist patriarchs as an intellectual source. From the poisoned well of the Communist past, they drew not only the specific terms but the general forms of their social analyses, creating a parodistic version of the bankrupt creed.
In a typical “contribution” to the new feminist theory, law professor Catherine MacKinnon crudely substituted sexual categories for Marx’s economic terms, while simply ignoring the absurdities that this intellectual sleight-of-hand inevitably produced. “As work is to Marxism, sexuality [is] to feminism,” she wrote in her pretentious and preposterous opus, which she called Towards A Feminist Theory of the State. To provide a theoretical underpinning, she simply abandoned the dialectic of history that had provided Marxism with a complex if erroneous view of human activity, favoring a vulgar Lamarckism in which environment not only determined but actually created gender: “The molding, direction, and expression of sexuality organizes society into two sexes: women and men.” Absurd though it may be, this thesis is now the prevailing “explanation” of sexual identity in elite universities across the United States.
No sooner had radical feminists grasped the revolutionary laurel, however, than the new hierarchy of the oppressed asserted itself within the revolutionary ranks. Bisexual activists claimed a more revolutionary status than comrades who were straight; homosexuals rebelled. “Heterosexual sex,” complained a lesbian professor (and former Trotskyite activist) “is a site for male dominance that Marx ignored.” To establish their primacy in the revolutionary pecking order, radicals came up with a catchy slogan: Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice. Professor MacKinnon turned this into predictably ludicrous academese: “If feminism is the epistemology...lesbianism is the ontology.”
These collisions of feminist factions were replicated throughout the radical ranks. In the “sexual orientation” movement, bi-sexuals clashed with homosexuals, lesbians with gays. To provide an exit from the impasse of this political fragmentation, the idea of “queer” was proposed as a unifying concept. “Queer” posited a universal sex to replace the absent universal class. “Queer Studies” became an new academic discipline, and queer theory a new conceptual discourse.
* * *
To the queer constructivist, all identities, gay and straight, are the product of a socially imposed ideal -- heteronormativity -- which also structures the system of oppression. This is the gender-patriarchy system through which heterosexual males oppress women and gays. In MacKinnon’s formulation: “Women and men are divided by gender, made into the sexes as we know them, by the social requirements of its dominant form, heterosexuality, which institutionalizes male sexual dominance and female sexual submission.” It is the task of the sexual revolutionary to overthrow the norm which structures this oppression.
In its queer formulation, the radical project has reached its outer limit, realizing what the young Marx might have called its species essence. For the concept of queer is really the modern revolutionary idea distilled into crystalline form. It is the cry of the Unhappy Consciousness: That which is normal oppresses me.
To the rest of humanity, the institutional forms of capitalist democracies appear as liberating structures in whose environment individuals can achieve, breathe free, and realize their desires, without falling into anarchy and chaos. It is the Hobbesian dilemma resolved: Liberty ordered by the rule of law, and market constraints. To the alienated radical, however, democracy is a diabolical form of social oppression because of the freedoms it permits; because (in their perspective) it appears to be free, while failing to live up to radical expectations. Liberal capitalism, in the words of a radical theorist, is a system of “repressive tolerance.”
To the post-modern left, the institutional forms of capitalist democracies are not at all triumphs of an evolutionary process, nor do they mirror the reality of who we are. To radicals, democratic government is not “a reflection on human nature” (as the authors of the Federalist maintained), but an instrument of class/gender/race oppression that social liberators like themselves are obliged to destroy.
But in this malevolent confrontation with democratic societies, radicals are confronted with a serious dilemma. Because democracies are founded in conservative views of human nature, they embrace their opponents. Democratic societies institutionalize change and accommodate the unexpected. The reform of institutions is written into law as a necessary part of the democratic process, just as tolerance for difference is its central value. Not only do democracies not suppress their opposition, but they provide a haven even for those who hate the System. The democratic founders were conservatives who understood the inevitability of second thoughts.
It is this very principle of tolerance that queer revolutionaries and radicals most reject, and it is this rejection that defines them as radicals. For them, tolerance itself is repressive because it denies their most cherished illusion -- that they are the authentic voice of humanity, and theirs the universal political solution.
Radicals, in short, do not want integration into a democratic system or equal status in a democratic state. Nothing could be more self-defeating than to be counted one among many. For radicals, accepting the idea of a democratic norm is merely to collude in one’s own oppression, to embrace a “false consciousness” in place of a revolutionary vision. “Formally, the state is male, in that objectivity is its norm,” explains the author of “Fear of A Queer Planet.” In this radical conception of human freedom, the revolutionary goal is a queer state where norms no longer exist. At the recent 10th anniversary conference of the National Council for Research on Women, its feminist president cited the term “unwed mother” as an example of “androcentric” bias because “it presupposes that the norm is to be a wed mother.” Hetero-normative, androcentric, Euro-centric: For the radical, the very idea of the normal community -- the non-queer -- is a mark of oppression.
It is in this sense that the idea of the queer or -- what is the same thing -- the de-construction of the normal can be seen as the core inspiration for all those experiments that produced this century’s political nightmares. To those revolutionaries -- all that existed deserved to perish.
Mercifully, the empires of the Communist future are no more. In their last refuge on American campuses, the academic Lenins appear pathetic in their inability to establish a base outside Women’s Studies programs and Departments of English Literature, or to muster instruments of repression more intimidating than speech codes and sensitivity seminars.
Yet the ideas of the left extend far beyond campus limits, with far-ranging ramifications for the culture at large. In the last decade, the de-construction of the normal has proceeded so rapidly in the mainstream of American life that even the nature of the family has been put into question. What is a family? A mother, father and child? An adult of either sex and a child? Two adults of the same sex and no child? Are there consequences for not knowing or caring about the answers to such questions? For not having a sense of what is normal?
Normality can be either descriptive or prescriptive, or both. A “normal procedure” in medicine or in public health is a procedure that is usually prescribed. It is usually prescribed because it has been previously tried and proven successful. It is by trial that we arrive at methods, procedures, institutions, laws, that bring our efforts into conformity or coherence with the orders of our nature.
When homosexuals object to the term “abnormal,” they are objecting to its prescriptive use -- for example in the claim that homosexuality is unnatural or immoral or should be illegal. As a matter of description, homosexuality appears to be both a fact of nature and abnormal. According to the best statistics available, between two and five percent of a population will be homosexual in any given society, whether that society is tolerant or intolerant of homosexual behavior. Studies of identical twins indicate that upbringing has little bearing on homosexual development. The conservative conclusion will be that homosexuality is normal in that it is rooted in nature, but that socially it is abnormal in that the vast majority of people are not and will never be homosexually inclined.
But description in this sense does not necessarily lead to prescriptive conclusions. The claim that homosexuality is socially abnormal does not lead to any conclusion as to whether it is immoral or not. Such conclusions must be a matter of individual principles and communal preferences. Many communities and religions do view homosexuality as immoral. These attitudes may be “oppressive” to homosexuals, but no more so than are some gentile attitudes towards Jews as souls condemned to eternal damnation. Jews can live with this attitude in a society that protects their rights as citizens and invokes tolerance of difference as its central virtue: e pluribus unum.
The demand that homosexuality should be made illegal, on the other hand, is not a matter of mere communal prejudice or individual preference. It is a demand that violates the social contract and its pluralist imperative, and runs counter to the very idea of America’s unity as a nation. The ideal of American pluralism --- the political norm that governs the behavior of its citizen democrats --- is the necessary embrace of diverse communities, even communities in fundamental conflict. The pluralistic norm of American democracy requires that the deviant community and the abnormal citizen (black, homosexual, immigrant, Jew) be equal before the law and enjoy the same inalienable rights as everyone else. To violate this norm, to break the law of America’s social contract, is to invite terrible consequences, as the bloodiest and most shameful pages of America’s history attest.
But it is the normal “civil rights” solution to the problem of minority status -- integration into America’s civic community -- that homosexual radicals, following the lead of all radicals who are at war with America and its social contract, reject. In rejecting America’s normative institutions, while radically inventing the social future, however, they invite just those retributions that have historically attended the systematic violation of natural order. In so doing, they have created their own social Frankenstein, even without achieving state power, in the contemporary epidemic of AIDS.
* * *
Who would not have known in 1969, the year of “Gay Liberation,” for example, that promiscuous anal sex was unsanitary for individuals and a potential danger to public health? Yet, gay liberation was defined by its theorists as just that: promiscuous anal sex, a challenge to the repressive “sex-negative” culture of what queer theorists now call “heteronormativity,” i.e., the heterosexual and monogamous norm. In the radical view, existing sexual norms reflected nothing about humanity’s biological experience, but were merely a social construction to preserve the privileges of a dominant group.
Like black radicals before them, gay activists rejected the idea of integration into a normally functioning civil order. Gay liberation was identified with a sexual agenda that did not seek civic tolerance, respect, and integration into the public order of bourgeois life. It was defined instead as a defiant promiscuity, the overthrow of bourgeois morals and sexual restraints -- and, consequently, of bourgeois standards of public hygiene. No natural or moral barriers were recognized to the realization of the radical project.
The Gay Liberation Front issued a manifesto in 1970 which proclaimed: “We are a revolutionary homosexual group of men and women formed with the realization that complete liberation of all people cannot come about unless existing social institutions are abolished. We reject society’s attempt to impose sexual roles and definitions of our nature.”
The effect of this radical self-conception and agenda was immediate and unmistakable. In the years three years previous --- the flowering of the sexual revolution --- the incidence of amoebiasis, a parasitic sexually transmitted disease increased fifty times in San Francisco because of promiscuous oral-anal sex among gays. Despite the consequences, a Toronto leftist paper defended the practice in an article titled “Rimming As A Revolutionary Act.” During the next decade, the tolerant American civil order made room for the sexual revolutionaries. Public officials licensed sexual gymnasiums called “bathhouses” and turned a blind eye towards homosexual activity in bookstore backrooms, bars and “glory hole” establishments, until a $100 million public sex industry flourished by decade’s end, as what activists described as a homosexual “liberated zone.” At the same time, natural forces asserted themselves with ever more devastating results.
As opportunistic but still treatable infections flourished in the petri dish of the liberated culture, gay radicals increased their defiance. Overloaded VD clinics became trysting places in the liberated culture. In his authoritative history of the AIDS epidemic, author Randy Shilts describes the atmosphere on the eve of its outbreak: “Gay men were being washed by tide after tide of increasingly serious infections. First it was syphilis and gonorrhea. Gay men made up about 80% of the 70,000 annual patient visits to [San Francisco’s] VD clinics. Easy treatment had imbued them with such a cavalier attitude toward venereal diseases that many gay men saved their waiting-line numbers, like little tokens of desirability, and the clinic was considered an easy place to pick up both a shot and a date.”
Far from causing radical activists to re-think their agenda, the burgeoning epidemics prompted them to escalate their assault. When Dr. Dan William, a gay specialist warned of the danger of continued promiscuity, he was publicly denounced as a “monogamist” in the gay press. When playwright Larry Kramer issued a similar warning, he was accused in the New York Native of “gay homophobia and anti-eroticism.” At a public meeting in the year preceding the first AIDS cases, Edmund White, co-author of The Joy of Gay Sex proposed that “gay men should wear their sexually transmitted diseases like red badges of courage in a war against a sex-negative society.” Michael Callen, a gay youth present at the meeting, had already had 3,000 sexual partners and was shortly to come down with AIDS. When he heard White’s triumphant defiance of nature’s law, he remembers thinking: “Every time I get the clap I’m striking a blow for the sexual revolution.”
Callen’s attitude was emblematic. The first clusters of AIDS victims were formed not by monogamous civil reformers who had come out of the closet to demand tolerance and respect, but by sexual revolutionaries who pushed their bodies’ immune envelopes to advance the new order. Callen, who later founded People With AIDS, reflected on this revolutionary path: “Unfortunately, as a function of a microbiological...certainty, this level of sexual activity resulted in concurrent epidemics of syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, amoebiasis, venereal warts and, we discovered too late, other pathogens. Unwittingly, and with the best of revolutionary intentions, a small subset of gay men managed to create disease settings equivalent to those of poor third-world nations in one of the richest nations on earth.”
The diseases were being transformed as well. As Shilts explains, the enteric diseases --- amoebiasis, Gay Bowel Syndrome, giardiasis and shigellosis ---were followed by an epidemic of hepatitis B “a disease that had transformed itself, via the popularity of anal intercourse, from a blood-borne scourge into a venereal disease.”
Where were public health officials, as these epidemics took their toll? Why didn’t they intervene, sound the alarm, close the bathhouses, undertake vigorous education campaigns among gays to warn potential victims of the danger in their path? The reason was the revolution itself. So successful was the campaign of the radical activists that it made traditional public health practices politically impossible, even when officials attempted to close the sexual bathhouses which were the epidemic’s breeding grounds but which were defended by gay political leaders as “symbols of gay liberation.” As Don Francis, the Center for Disease Control official in charge of fighting the hepatitis B epidemic told an interviewer: “We didn’t intervene because we felt that it would be interfering with an alternative lifestyle.”
In the early Eighties, the AIDS epidemic was still confined to three cities with large homosexual communities. Aggressive public health methods might have prevented the epidemic’s outward spread. But every effort to take normal precautionary measures was thwarted in turn by the political juggernaut the gay liberation movement had managed to create. Under intense pressure from gay activists, for example, the director of public health of the City of San Francisco refused to close bathhouses, maintaining that they were valuable centers of “education” about AIDS, even though their only purpose was to facilitate anonymous, promiscuous sex.
Not only were measures to prevent the geographical spread of AIDS thwarted by radical politics, but measures to prevent its spread into other communities were obstructed as well. Thus when officials tried to institute screening procedures for the nation’s blood banks and asked the gay community not to make donations while the epidemic persisted, gay political leaders opposed the procedures as infringing the “right” of homosexuals to give blood. The San Francisco Coordinating Committee of Gay and Lesbian Services, chaired by Pat Norman, a city official, issued a policy paper asserting that donor screening was “reminiscent of miscegenation blood laws that divided black blood from white” and “similar in concept to the World War II rounding up of Japanese-Americans in the western half of the country to minimize the possibility of espionage.”
The result of these revolutionary attitudes was to spread AIDS among hemophiliacs and drug-using heterosexuals. Similar campaigns against testing and contact tracing -- standard procedures in campaigns against other sexually transmitted diseases -- insured the metasticism of AIDS, specifically into the black and Hispanic communities, came to account for more than 50% of the known cases.
* * *
The war against civilization and nature, which is at the heart of the radical enterprise, inevitably produces monsters like AIDS. The epidemic has now taken a toll of 300,000 Americans with a million more infected. The implementation of real public health methods is nowhere in sight. Thus, even as the ashes of the Communist empire grow cold, the lessons of the disaster have not been learned. The nihilism that rejects nature and the idea of the normal, as it sets out to create a radical new world, is as blindly destructive as are its consequences predictable. Once in power -- as the entire history of our bloody century attests -- the radical impulse embraces radical evil in the never-ending attempt to enforce its rule and realize its impossible ideal.
 One Hundred Years of Homosexuality
 An earlier version of this chapter is anthologized in an academic text called The Material Queer, A LesBiGay Cultural Studies Reader, edited by Donald Morton, professor of English at Syracuse University. The volume is part of the series “Queer Critique,” edited by Minnesota professor Gary Thomas and published by Westview Press, 1996. The contribution by this author is described (or rather misdescribed) by the volume’s editor in the following instructive fashion: “The discourses of the Right on homosexuality are represented here in the text by David Horowitz, whose criticism aims basically at containing and policing, if not erasing altogether, ‘other’ sexualities.” In other words, to disagree with the prevailing academic Left is indistinguishable from advocating genocide. This not an intellectual error of perception. It is a political determination that any critic of the leftist perspective is morally and intellectually unfit as a human being, and thus excluded from the discourse. In the very next sentences of this introduction, the text editor acknowledges that his purpose is to develop a “historical materialist” understanding. Historical materialism, appropriately, is the theory of Communism as invented by Marx and codified by Stalin.
 Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On
 Michael Callen, Surviving Aids
 Randy Shilts, Op. cit.
 Author’s interview.