Review of Towards A Gay Communism By Mario Mieli, with an Introduction by Massimo Prearo and a forward by Tim Dean, translated by David Fernbach and Evan Calder Williams (Pluto Press, 2018)
Mario Mieli was an outspoken italian queer radical,who commanded much respect, infamy and notoriety in his country. He spoke and wrote with a sort of wit and tenor that only a few ‘queens’ (as he would put it) could master. And though he took his life at age 30, Towards A Gay Communism, published at age 24, is nothing short of a masterpiece of queer theory.
The book itself was written and published in an undeniably odd stage of the LGBT+ movement. The prose itself is characterised by a fiery defiance of a scientific status quo that demonised homosexuality and yet the work is also filled with the sort of unbridled optimism that would be quickly crushed under the weight of the AIDS/HIV epidemic and the heteroterrorism and neuroticism that followed. And although it may seem that such facts should outdate the book, they instead contribute to the undeniable timelessness of the work.
The text begins with Mieli’s understanding of human sexuality. In line with his communist convictions, it is an overtly liberatory one. He argues that all of us are transsexuals, ‘latent queens’. That is to say, a baby confronts the sexual domain, not with any specific proclivities, but as a source of pleasure. The gender of the sexual object is irrelevant. This is not another word for bisexuality, but rather an conception of sexuality in which cannot be understood by affirming the universality of genders that are historically and culturally variant, but by understanding that if humanity were free to make choices about their own sexual lives, transsexuality would be the result.
The consequences of such views are obvious. Mieli argues that gay liberation movements should not be only about the awarding of political rights to the queer community, or simply the asserting of the possibility of homosexuals to replace heterosexuals in the nuclear family, but rather about the disembelling of those institutions and structure that act in a way so to repress, or as Mieli puts it, ‘educastrate’ the populace, namely those of Capital. Such a critique of any movement in many ways reflects Marx’s “On the Jewish Question”, where Marx argues that true liberation extends over and above more gains in civil liberties. In that spirit Mieli writes towards the end, ‘better, instead of heteros and homosexual there will be human beings’.
Moving past the psychoanalysis and political arguments of Mieli, much is still left for the read. His writing turns to acerbic wit, commenting on the homoerotic latency in mens’ sports, the crushing guilt and jealously caused by society’s repression, and writes fiercly agaisnt the establishment ‘psychonazis’ and their bastardisation of Freud.
When we reflect on the many victories won by the queer community, it is the priviliged liberal who says ‘It seems the war is over’. And yet the realness of Mieli’s writings, the visceral idealism of the Gay Communism, screams to us queens that the oppressive residue of centuries of vicious torture and persecution haunts our culture and Capital. Our final victory will not be another corporate sponsorship during Pride Month, but Gay Communism.
The copy I reviewed can be purchased from Pluto Press, an independent radical book publisher, for £18.99 or £9.99 Ebook edition:
Or a free pdf, courtesy of Libcom.org: