Johann Baptist von Schweitzer:
The Queer Marx Loved to Hate
San Francisco State University
Despite his conviction on a morals charge involving a boy, the early German Social Democrat Johann Baptist von Schweitzer went on to have a successful political career.
His life furnishes the context to present remarks by his political opponents Marx and Engels, which reveal their deep-seated homophobia.
It is pointed out that this has been glossed over by the translations of the recently
published Marx/Engels Collected Works.
Some remarks on boy-loveand anarchism are appended.
In an attempt to analyze homosexuality from the viewpoint of
dialectical or historical materialism, an effort would of course be
made to learn the opinions of Marx and Engels.
But the classics ofMarxism are remarkably silent on the subject. Marx appears to
assert the naturalness of heterosexuality in his statement, ‘‘The
relation of man to woman is the most natural relation of human
being to human being,’’1 while Engels twice condemns pederasty in
the ancients: ‘‘In the course of their migrations the Germans had
morally much deteriorated, particularly during their southeasterly
Correspondence may be addressed: 3475 16th St., Apt. 12, San Francisco, CA
[Haworth co-indexing entry note]: ‘‘Johann Baptist von Schweitzer: The Queer Marx Loved to Hate.’’
Kennedy, Hubert. Co-published simultaneously in Journal of Homosexuality (The Haworth Press, Inc.)
Vol. 29, No. 2/3, 1995, pp. 69-96; and: Gay Men and the Sexual History of the Political Left (ed: Gert
Hekma, Harry Oosterhuis, and James Steakley) The Haworth Press, Inc., 1995, pp. 69-96; and GayMen
and the Sexual History of the Political Left (ed: Gert Hekma, Harry Oosterhuis, and James Steakley)
Harrington Park Press, an imprint of The Haworth Press, Inc., 1995, pp. 69-96. Multiple copies of this
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E 1995 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 69
GAY MEN AND THE SEXUAL HISTORY OF THE POLITICAL LEFT
wanderings among the nomads of the Black Sea steppes, from
whom they acquired not only equestrian skill but also gross, unnatural
vices [arge widernatürliche Laster], as Ammianus expressly
states of the Taifali and Procopius of the Heruli,’’2 and with regard
to the Greeks, ‘‘The men, who would have been ashamed to show
any love for their wives, amused themselves by all sorts of love
affairs with hetaerai; but this degradation of the women was
avenged on the men and degraded them also till they fell into the
abominable practice of boy-love [Widerwärtigkeit der Knabenliebe]
and degraded alike their gods and themselves with the myth
It is perhaps this near silence that has encouraged gayMarxists to
believe that an analysis sympathetic to homosexuality can be made
on the basis of Marxist principles.4 This may indeed be possible,
but it will have to be done without the personal opinions of Marx
Not that their opinions cannot be known; they were
expressed to one another in their correspondence, and they were
This will be illustrated here by comments
found in a search for references to Johann Baptist von Schweitzer
(1833-75), whom they regarded as a boy-lover.5
Schweitzer was an important figure in the workers’ movement in
Germany during most of the 1860s. His political career began in
1859, but was interrupted briefly in 1862 by his conviction on a
With the help of Ferdinand Lassalle and his own
very real abilities, Schweitzer was able to make a political comeback
and went on to become in 1867, as a deputy to the North
German Reichstag, the first outspoken Social Democrat to be
elected to any European parliament.
1898, began in 1896 as an anarchist journal in the direction of the philosopher of egoism Max Stirner, whose meaning of the word ‘‘eigen’’ is in the journal’s title.
For a full explanation of my translation of the journal’s title as ‘‘The Self-Owner,’’
see my note no. 10 in Homosexuality and Male Bonding in Pre-Nazi Germany:
The Youth Movement, the Gay Movement, and Male Bonding Before Hitler’s Rise:
Original Transcripts from Der Eigene, the First Gay Journal in the World, ed.
Harry Oosterhuis, trans. Hubert Kennedy (New York: Harrington Park Press,
1991) (published simultaneously as Journal of Homosexuality 22.1-2), pp. 22-23.
76. ‘‘So long as this society assigns women a second-class status, so long as
children are held hostage as the ‘possession’ of nuclear-family tyrants, no one is
free.’’ Jochen Knoblauch, ‘‘Warum ich Anarchist bin--Gedanken nachhängend,’’
in ‘‘Anarchie ist Gesetz und Freiheit ohne Gewalt’’: Uwe Timm zum 60. Geburtstag
(Berlin: OPPO-Verlag, 1993), p. 25. See also the special issues ‘‘Children’s
Sexuality’’ and ‘‘Children & Anarchy’’ of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed
(Columbia, MO), no. 26 (Fall 1990) and no. 27 (Winter 1990-91), respectively.