AK Press allegations against Michael Schmidt

1024 posts / 0 new
Last post
syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Oct 17 2015 16:19

First off Andrew I edited my comment indicating that I was in err on the Anarkismo statement
and it appears it bold letters. So, in essence my original statement was incorrect. And when I went back to look at the statement you are defending, I see there was no mention if ZACF putting out a statement.

I have consistently been on record in my various postings that ZACF should issue a statement on the seperation of one of it's founding members and the organization

Furthermore, I stand by what I wrote on Anarkismo and here and FB that all the info should be on the table. That said, it appears that a rightward shift may have occurred.

Do I think AK was right? I've said not from the start
Do I think there's more to an either yes or no position,
I do.

In the final analysis, foks are prolly gonna believe what they want
Or stretch stuff to defend their own ideological perspectives

Operaista's picture
Operaista
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Oct 17 2015 16:21

I think akai gave a really, really good explanation of why this not is not down to "mental illness". This:

Quote:
4. Movement highly based around dominant male personalities with no culture of dealing with anything. Criticism of concrete political points most often countered by mobbing.

is omnipresent in the US, across tendencies. I'd like to think MS wouldn't have gotten away for it for so long here in the US, but, a lot of dudes do get away with horrendous behavior of one sort or another for long periods of time. This has gotten me wanting to write in general about the adoption of hypermasculinity and gender dynamics in revolutionary organizations; I should start blogging again.

The idea of turning anarchists to national anarchism is perfectly logical entryism because Third Positionists see themselves as a red-brown synthesis. MS clearly has a hyper masculine revolutionary persona and a vastly inflated sense of self-importance, but that's a significant chunk of men in radical scenes. He kept up multiple fronts in the supposed amnesia period, and no one noted substantial shifts in his behavior.

I'm also very nervous of chalking up a white supremacist in our midst to psychiatric disabilities; no one is trying to absolve MS of responsibility, but it does seem to be a preemptive defense of everyone who let him get away with it for so long. It also gets in the way of protecting our organizations and movements from Third Positionist entryism, given that one of their main strategies is to turn anarchists to white nationalist positions. Acting like someone must have had two sets of behaviors or personalities to be able to successfully maintain a leadership position in an anarchist organization while being a white nationalist is going to blind us the next time someone tries this, and will help them succeed. Trying to play armchair psychiatrist (especially while forgetting a radical critique of psychiatry!) with MS is only going to put suspicion on people with psychiatric disabilities in radical movements.

As far as making statements: I agree that anyone trying to do their own investigation needs to have everything that is already available to start from, but, at this point in time, MS is not a member of any organization and hasn't been for years. Beyond no platforming, what step is any organization going to take against him?

The most serious questions are on van der Walt and any ZACF "old guard" still active - they all knew MS was a white supremacist and kept working with him; at best, a serious lapse in judgment. The internal discussion document was presented two years before Black Flame was published. He's admitted to writing it and defended its positions publicly.

As an aside, AK Press's FB page's postings of the report are drawing a bunch of national anarchists and suspicious defenders of MS out of the woodwork. Probably worth people keeping an eye on.

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Oct 17 2015 16:49
Quote:
Quote:
4. Movement highly based around dominant male personalities with no culture of dealing with anything. Criticism of concrete political points most often countered by mobbing.

is omnipresent in the US, across tendencies. I'd like to think MS wouldn't have gotten away for it for so long here in the US, but, a lot of dudes do get away with horrendous behavior of one sort or another for long periods of time. This has gotten me wanting to write in general about the adoption of hypermasculinity and gender dynamics in revolutionary organizations; I should start blogging again

Ajjohnstone, is this the dynamic you are trying to point to as an example of TofS? I'd agree. And I've also observed a lot of hypermasculinity in anarchist organizations to the point where even showing emotions were frowned upon (since that's something that gets in the way of the "cadre" doing their very important revolutionary work).

The Pigeon's picture
The Pigeon
Offline
Joined: 16-06-15
Oct 17 2015 23:28

So what are they going to do with all the copies of Black Flame?

ajjohnstone
Offline
Joined: 20-04-08
Oct 18 2015 00:50

Khawaga, i'm afraid i was not specifically accusing MS of exercising influence by gender roles. You are several steps in advance of me. I'm no way qualified other than make some simplistic observations and add some guess-work.

You could well be very correct. My ignorance of ZACF doesn't help. While there has been reference to the ethnic make-up of the group, no mention of its gender component. MS macho-ism may well reflect others macho behaviour in the group and so went relatively unnoticed. (That photo of him and who i presume to be his wife certainly is depicting a very sexualised couple and i think perhaps not in the good way.)

I just returning to the question...as others do...how could certain traits and political expressions did not raise concerns within ZACF when he was a member and active. If the infiltration of alien ideas to anarchism such as national anarchism is being seen as a threat, perhaps we should ask, (and again it has been raised, i mentioned trotskyism's 'uneven development' in MS document and another mentioned the link to Lenin in it) has platformism already been infiltrated to its detriment...i'm not talking about organisational structure, we all need that...but something more fundamental...an acceptance of the leader and the led roles...a cadreism that goes beyond education or mentorism.

But as been said, that should be a new thread where i would learn more than i could ever teach.

I simply mention things that seem very related to a deeper malaise and wonder how deep they are (or were) within ZACF as a structured, ironically, and not unstructured organisation. Some may wonder why i am involved in this thread being an SPGBer, but i have 3 reasons, one that we were infiltrated by frauds on two occasions, but also as a non-leader organisation the potential problems of such in regards the way informal leadership rise should always be watched. (on that question, the SPGB has been quite successful but it doesn't mean we should ever let our guard down) The last reason is easy...i'm from Edinburgh, i was a regular visiting customer of AK there and an IWW comrade of Mike of Edinburgh AK ...i care about the future of AK and this has all the possibilities of ending AK. AK is part of the socialist/anarchist movement and such a loss will be seriously lamented.

Strandwolf, Steppenwolf, and now lone wolf (by implication operaista's depiction of MS present status)...maybe it is not a psychiatrist we should call in but a vet)

akai
Offline
Joined: 29-09-06
Oct 18 2015 06:09

l'd add a comment, but hope not to get off-topic.

Some people commented on '"macho" and "hypermasculine" traits. l suppose that on some level, this has a lot to do with things. Currently, l can feel different trends around movements that deal with class-based anarchism. One trend is rather based on being inclusive, on trying to be open to people. This trend does not like to put people in hierarchical pidgeonholes based on issues like who has the most theory or which organization is the biggest, Organizations such as these try to create a culture where one of the expressed goals is horizontality and egalitarianism.

A different trend also exists. This trend focus on POWER. You often hear words like counterPOWER used. These groups focus on thoughts about mass revolution, mass being the key word. (l am not implying by any means that all proponents of mass revolution fall into this category.) The dynamics of the organizations tend to focus on theoretic posturing or other types of posturing. Other anarchist interests which pertain more to the egalitarian nature of anarchism, like feminism, would tend to be discouraged and seen as less important or non-important.

l think there is a problem with the second trend and this is a much harder issue because you'll find a lot with vanguard attitudes there. ln these sorts of environments, the macho, vanguardist person will be enabled and may actually be able to smuggle across lots of weird ideas without being challenged.

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Oct 18 2015 15:27
Akai wrote:
I think there is a problem with the second trend and this is a much harder issue because you'll find a lot with vanguard attitudes there. ln these sorts of environments, the macho, vanguardist person will be enabled and may actually be able to smuggle across lots of weird ideas without being challenged.

Yes, this did happen with my ex-group (Common Cause). The Toronto branch was pretty much all theory, lots of fantasies about mass revolution etc, very masculine outlook. One dude managed, in a meeting, to argue that women should not be the only ones to decide whether to have an abortion or not because that would be individualistic. Rather it should be up to the community! The only person challenging him? A non-member (room mate of a member) whose apartment the meeting was held.

Flava O Flav's picture
Flava O Flav
Offline
Joined: 10-04-13
Oct 18 2015 16:50
Khawaga wrote:
Akai wrote:
I think there is a problem with the second trend and this is a much harder issue because you'll find a lot with vanguard attitudes there. ln these sorts of environments, the macho, vanguardist person will be enabled and may actually be able to smuggle across lots of weird ideas without being challenged.

Yes, this did happen with my ex-group (Common Cause). The Toronto branch was pretty much all theory, lots of fantasies about mass revolution etc, very masculine outlook. One dude managed, in a meeting, to argue that women should not be the only ones to decide whether to have an abortion or not because that would be individualistic. Rather it should be up to the community! The only person challenging him? A non-member (room mate of a member) whose apartment the meeting was held.

Wow. That is mind boggling (the abortion position). I think there is a real danger that groups whose theoretical output is mainly based on study rather than engagement in struggle will come up with bizarre positions based on abstract ideas - that doesn't need to be the case for platformist/especifista organisations. WSM for example based itself on work within community campaigns and the unions, while applying the principle of collective responsibility and theoretical and tactical unity.

Point three in WSM's 8 points of unity is important in this respect:

Quote:
We identify ourselves as anarchists and with the "platformist", anarchist-communist or especifista tradition of anarchism. We broadly identify with the theoretical base of this tradition and the organisational practice it argues for, but not necessarily everything else it has done or said, so it is a starting point for our politics and not an end point.

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Oct 18 2015 17:26
Quote:
Wow. That is mind boggling (the abortion position)

Yes it is. And that's just the tip of the ice-berg of a lot of fucking crap like that from the branch, and part of the reason why our branch decided to leave the organization in the end (after trying, but failing to combat such crap for about half year). Even when we told this to the other branches they just didn't seem to care (sadly because there are a lot of great people in those other branches).

What's even worse is that the organization has put out articles about how they account for their actions and all that shit. But they still actively defended their crap against us, and treated a rape survivor like dirt. They don't even realize how fucked up they are.

But I'll end the derail now.

akai
Offline
Joined: 29-09-06
Oct 18 2015 17:30

When l used to be in the Anarchist Federation we couldn't pass any position on abortion because of positions like that and men claiming their rights as fathers. That's for another thread tho.

xx
Offline
Joined: 26-06-15
Oct 18 2015 20:26

I'm sure AK Distribution in the UK used to distribute Feral House publications so I'm not sure why they would have a problem if any of this stuff about Schmidt is true.

AES's picture
AES
Offline
Joined: 15-02-04
Oct 18 2015 21:22

Maybe you can tell us -
why Feral House publications are a problem? (i don't know their stuff)
why they "used to" be distributed AK Distribution and
why that ended?
and the connection, if any, with Schmidt?

plasmatelly's picture
plasmatelly
Offline
Joined: 16-05-11
Oct 18 2015 21:27

There's been a bit too much AK Press bashing on here tbh.

r-exist
Offline
Joined: 15-10-15
Oct 18 2015 22:43

Flav o Flav.

That's interesting. I read the sentence in point 3 of the WSF's eight points of unity and thought I had read that somewhere else before and found it in the anarkismo.net principles.

The exact same phrase of the WSM is cited as anarkismo.net's editorial statement:

http://anarkismo.net/about_us

dave negation
Offline
Joined: 14-05-07
Oct 18 2015 23:37

AK having some past distribution relationship with Feral House does seem like a bit of a tangent. Perhaps there should be another thread about this?

That stated, I suspect the issue is that Feral House constantly works with Holocaust-deniers.

For example, take a look at this vile post on the Feral House Facebook page, from Holocaust-denier and Feral House author David Cole:
https://www.facebook.com/FeralHouse/posts/10152294188032572

More about Cole:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/03/david-stein-cole-holocaust-...

Feral House head Adam Parfrey also used to employ Keith Stimely, a former editor for the journal of Holocaust-denial outfit The Institute for Historical Review (IHR):
https://archive.org/stream/HitListVol.1No.1/hit_list_v01n01_part1_djvu.t... (search for "Stimely" to find the relevant passage.)

The Feral House-published, Parfrey-edited "Apocalypse Culture" volumes also contain work by Michael A. Hoffman II, who served as the Assistant Director for the IHR. (The first Apocalypse Culture volume includes a selection of quotes compiled by Hoffman, the second volume includes an article by Hoffman.)

Interested parties may also want to look into the history and associations of Feral House author Michael Jenkins Moynihan. The upcoming Feral House volume on "The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement" may also be fairly uncritical, given co-author Eddie Stampton's long history with the UK extreme-Right.

dave negation
Offline
Joined: 14-05-07
Oct 19 2015 02:14

double post, sorry.

The Hoffman contributions to the Apocalypse Culture books were not themselves about the Holocaust, by the way.

Cole's book published by Feral House does appear to largely be about his views on the Holocaust. Of course, Cole prefers to call himself a "revisionist" not a denier, as is usually the case with such creeps.

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Oct 19 2015 01:55

I was pretty critical of the way AK Press went public with this in the beginning without evidence being provided, but at this point, this isn't really relevant. Constantly going on about this downplays the issues at hand now. Same with worries about people using this situation to try and discredit platformist or class struggle groups. I think that is a selfish concern, and also don't think worrying about what other strands of anarchism have to say is worth anyone's time. It's not 2002.

The 2nd and 3rd part pretty conclusively prove that MS had drifted into Third Positionist politics. That is the main issue now. I guess my next worry is if people are in danger based on any information MS may have passed on to fascist elements. I think there's probably lessons to learn here on how this was handled in South Africa. Mainly, that seemingly many people knew about this stuff, but said nothing. Was this just because some of this stuff was borderline and no one person or persons had the full picture? Was this because he was an influential, relatively high-profile professional, and people didn't know how to deal with a person like this?

akai is correct that some anarchists tolerating, moving towards or working with fascists and the far right is not necessarily new or unique. In the English-speaking world it is relatively rare, though. Hopefully, one of the things that comes out of this, is that people in the English-speaking world pay more attention to the stuff that sometimes happens in places like Poland and realize they are not immune to this either.

anarchoanarchist's picture
anarchoanarchist
Offline
Joined: 19-10-15
Oct 19 2015 03:23
Quote:
Calling Connolly a nationalist is simplistic, but he definitely wasn't an anarchist, that was one of the things I found hard to swallow about Black Flame. Connolly was a socialist, a syndicalist and his 'nationalism' was firmly within the realms of taking your starting position from somewhere the people around you understand.

You're shitting me, right? Connolly wasn't a nationalist? How do you explain his support for reactionary "racial" preservation societies?

"These agencies, whether Irish Language movements, Literary Societies or Commemoration Committees, are undoubtedly doing a work of lasting benefit to this country in helping to save from extinction the precious racial and national history, language and characteristics of our people."
taken from https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1897/01/socnat.htm

Connolly was not only not an anarchist, he was hardly a leftist. The fact Schmidt the shit tried to appropriate the legacy of that racist marxist for anarchist history is just further proof Schmidt has had fascist inclinations for a long time.

redmarbury's picture
redmarbury
Offline
Joined: 18-10-15
Oct 19 2015 04:47

I know US antifa has sat on information on people so not to encourage turncoats to go full on and give out home addresses etc. It's a very delicate, difficult thing to decide, and keeping extremely close eyes on who they associate with is always kept in mind. Maybe its not a call that should be made by groups, but the world is pretty complicated and we're talking about real consequences.

Edit for addition.
The difference being that the turncoat is typically smashed and made sure they stay out of any type of activist scenes, and noncompliance means public outing. Though, I doubt people kept scmidt stuff to themselves for similar reasons. Shitty politics and "devils advocate" dicks pop up in libcom and anarchist orgs all the time, people don't give a second thought.

no1
Offline
Joined: 3-12-07
Oct 19 2015 08:15
Juan Conatz wrote:
I was pretty critical of the way AK Press went public with this in the beginning without evidence being provided, but at this point, this isn't really relevant. Constantly going on about this downplays the issues at hand now.

I sympathise with what you're saying but I don't think the way this story has been revealed is now irrelevant. The original accusation from AK is that MS is a fascist infiltrator. But the first three parts by Reid Ross and Stephens don't actually seem to describe an infiltrator, and instead describe a process that happened over a long time, was gradual and only partially secret. I think this puts some of the responsibility on those who worked closely with MS without raising alarm (Zabalaza, Lucien van der Walt, and of course AK) and there is a lot of pressure for them to react.
I mean, that internal Zabalaza document precedes Black Flame! Also, a Zabalaza member "disciplined" for wanting to join a feminist reading group while one of their leading lights is known to have voted for a fascist party -- wtf?? If true, these are pretty strong indictments of those around MS, and we really need to hear their response before passing judgement.
However it's impossible for them to react while some of the material continues to be unpublished. In fact, I find it pretty objectionable that Reid Ross and Stephens apparently did not put all their stuff to those who worked with MS as part of their investigation.

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Oct 19 2015 09:21
no1 wrote:
Also, a Zabalaza member "disciplined" for wanting to join a feminist reading group while one of their leading lights is known to have voted for a fascist party -- wtf??

Here's the quote about voting for FF+

Quote:
More shocking still, if only for Schmidt’s own openness about it with sources who spoke to us, was that while self-identifying as a “fascist skinhead,” he publicly supported the Freedom Front Plus Party (Vryheidsfront Plus, FF+), voting for them in the 2009 elections. The party is a political splinter group from the white nationalist paramilitary group Afrikaner Volksfront led by former army commander Constand Viljoen. As a right-wing coalition of groups, the Volksfront included the Boerestaat Party, and other ultranationalist white separatists. The FF+ currently proposes a Volkstaat in western South Africa that would provide land reform to shelter whites from Affirmative Action and the “black majority.” Since Africans did not occupy much of South Africa when the Dutch settlers came, FF+ members claim, a considerable amount of land is authentically Boer territory.

In a post from this time period (pictured above), dated April 23, 2009, KarelianBlue laments the high number of voters he saw at the ballot box in 2009, and claims he voted for “the only white rights party available.”
....

What I get from this is that is that Schmidt's stomfront alter ego says he voted for FF+. Is anyone apart from Reid Ross and Stephens saying he actually did vote for them?

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
Oct 19 2015 09:46
akai wrote:
When l used to be in the Anarchist Federation we couldn't pass any position on abortion because of positions like that and men claiming their rights as fathers. That's for another thread tho.

You mean the Anarchist Federation of Poland perhaps?. Certainly not a situation pertaining in the Anarchist Federation (UK)

Flava O Flav's picture
Flava O Flav
Offline
Joined: 10-04-13
Oct 19 2015 09:59
r-exist wrote:
Flav o Flav.

That's interesting. I read the sentence in point 3 of the WSF's eight points of unity and thought I had read that somewhere else before and found it in the anarkismo.net principles.

The exact same phrase of the WSM is cited as anarkismo.net's editorial statement:

http://anarkismo.net/about_us

Unsurprising given that WSM was a founder member of the network.

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Oct 19 2015 10:00

the stuff that "not a women individually (petty-bourgeois) but the people" should decide if/how to get a baby was a quite common position among Maoists during the 70ies

Jim
Offline
Joined: 30-04-06
Oct 19 2015 10:35
Juan Conatz wrote:
The 2nd and 3rd part pretty conclusively prove that MS had drifted into Third Positionist politics. That is the main issue now.

They don't conclusively prove that, they suggest that may have happened but it's not clear and Schmidt is still denying it's the case. If the articles had been done to a better standard that would have been clearer.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Oct 19 2015 10:36
Mark. wrote:
What I get from this is that is that Schmidt's stomfront alter ego says he voted for FF+. Is anyone apart from Reid Ross and Stephens saying he actually did vote for them?

yeah, that wasn't clear to me either. Anyone know more about this?

no1
Offline
Joined: 3-12-07
Oct 19 2015 11:12
Mark. wrote:
What I get from this is that is that Schmidt's stomfront alter ego says he voted for FF+. Is anyone apart from Reid Ross and Stephens saying he actually did vote for them?

you're right, it's a bit unclear what their actual claims are - here's an early paragraph from part 3:

Quote:
After the publication of Black Flame, Michael Schmidt began distancing himself from and finally left the ZACF. According to one source within the group, they’d done their “best to recruit new people, including a ‘colored’ member who joined in 2010… Michael [Schmidt] left at around the same time because he had ‘ideological differences.’ That was shortly after he voted for Freedom Front Plus in the national election.” Speaking to the double standards of the organizational culture Schmidt had helped create at the ZACF, a source told us that Schmidt received no official criticism about voting for the FF+, but a female member of the ZACF was disciplined around the same time for wanting to join a feminist reading group.

By putting this source inside ZACF they make it sound like the group knew at the time, though it may very well be something the source only learnt recently. Not sure if that's what their source meant, or if this is bad writing or being deliberately misleading.
(edited for clarity/typo)

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Oct 19 2015 11:45

Comment deleted as I misread the quote above.

Burgers
Offline
Joined: 20-08-14
Oct 19 2015 11:51
Mark. wrote:

What I get from this is that is that Schmidt's stomfront alter ego says he voted for FF+. Is anyone apart from Reid Ross and Stephens saying he actually did vote for them?

Someone claiming they where told by Schmidt if you check all the replies.
https://www.facebook.com/AKPress/posts/10156227769355249

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Oct 19 2015 12:06
Jim wrote:
Juan Conatz wrote:
The 2nd and 3rd part pretty conclusively prove that MS had drifted into Third Positionist politics. That is the main issue now.

They don't conclusively prove that, they suggest that may have happened but it's not clear and Schmidt is still denying it's the case. If the articles had been done to a better standard that would have been clearer.

Yeah some people are gonna still expect something that would irrefutably stand through a jury libel case or want MS to "confess" otherwise they aren't convinced. I imagine this attitude is the sort of thing that kept people quiet about him for years.