AK Press allegations against Michael Schmidt

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Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Nov 2 2015 21:42

Just, FWIW, I don't think Mark is trying to justify the racism of MS or South African leftists/anarchists - he's just pointing out that what MS might be most guilty of is making explicit what's often left implicit.

I have no idea if that's true and it does seem to me like that there's an overtness in Schmidt's racism that moves beyond the internalized prejudices that all of us have to be on-guard against. But I also don't think we should read more into Mark's point that what's there.

Mark.
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Nov 2 2015 22:07

^This, more or less. I guess I'm also going off my own sense of what South Africa and South Africans are like. One problem with this is that my own experience comes from thirty years ago so I'm not really sure how good a guide it is to South Africa now.

Black Badger
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Nov 2 2015 22:52
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I guess I'm also going off my own sense of what South Africa and South Africans are like.

Should be amended to say "I'm also going off my own sense of what Apartheid South Africa and white South Africans are like." All of your apologetics for Schmidt's racism are predicated on the normatively of whiteness. FAIL.

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Nov 2 2015 22:56

I mean, he did say he was there 30 years ago - which would have been during apartheid. Normative? Maybe, but I don't think so. However, I don't think it'd be any better if he claimed he could speak for the experiences of black South Africans.

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Nov 2 2015 23:51

I think social egalitarianism is so intrinsically at the heart of class anarchist thought that I fail to see how you can remain a racist and be accepted as an anarchist. If you're a racist, you're not an anarchist.

S. Artesian
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Nov 3 2015 00:39

I don't understand how contextualizing something "explains" it. It's nothing but the old excuse for slaveholders: "slavery was acceptable at that time." It was if you were a slaveholder, that's for sure.

S. Artesian
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Nov 3 2015 00:43
Mark. wrote:
I'm assuming he set up the Stormfront stuff to do what he says - investigate and infiltrate the far right and national anarchists. It's possible to debate then on how much is there that reflects on his actual views and assumptions.

Bullshit. You know what "assume" does? It makes an a-s-s out of "u" and "me." In this case, only you.

Other SA leftists did not participate in Stormfront. To even contemplate that one can be a "leftist" without being anti-apartheidist, to even think that there is any radical opposition to SA capitalism that is not anti-racist at its origin, is delusional.

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Nov 3 2015 01:37
plasmatelly wrote:
I think social egalitarianism is so intrinsically at the heart of class anarchist thought that I fail to see how you can remain a racist and be accepted as an anarchist. If you're a racist, you're not an anarchist.

No one's arguing to accept him as an anarchist, though.

And, I'd say the same applies to patriarchy. I think anarchist men act in sexist ways all the time - I can look back at times in my life I have, often unintentionally, and I imagine you could, too - and I don't think that disqualified us from being anarchists.

None of this is, of course, to excuse Schmidt - who seems like an unrepentant racist douche bag - but I just feel like people are conflating a lot of arguments on this thread.

r-exist
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Nov 3 2015 02:55
Mark. wrote:
I'm assuming he set up the Stormfront stuff to do what he says - investigate and infiltrate the far right and national anarchists. It's possible to debate then on how much is there that reflects on his actual views and assumptions.

Mark.

Don't you think it takes a lot of lone rider romanticism to believe that one individual takes up white supremacists on his own by infiltrating their platforms, no one else knowing about it (he apologised to people close to him about keeping secrets on black battlefront and fb profiles, the stormfront stuff was apparently discovered years after he started his activity). Could you name a single reason why it would make any sense politically to do all he did completely on his own, with no one else involved? Can you name any possible harm his activity would have caused white supremacist groups over the last decade he has been involved in stromfront?

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Nov 3 2015 03:25

The thing is though I feel like this whole conversation reflects just how shittily AK's dealt with this thing. Schmidt obviously a fucking racist, yet we're all debating all sorts of tangental shit. They should have released the damn document and the info on the storefront profile and be done with it.

Instead, we're debating what it means to be an infiltrator, a fascist, and whether and at what point his politics took a turn. Assuming there's no evidence he did turn over info to the fash, none of this really seems that important.

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Nov 3 2015 07:48
Chilli Sauce wrote:
plasmatelly wrote:
I think social egalitarianism is so intrinsically at the heart of class anarchist thought that I fail to see how you can remain a racist and be accepted as an anarchist. If you're a racist, you're not an anarchist.

No one's arguing to accept him as an anarchist, though.

And, I'd say the same applies to patriarchy. I think anarchist men act in sexist ways all the time - I can look back at times in my life I have, often unintentionally, and I imagine you could, too - and I don't think that disqualified us from being anarchists.

Not wanting to disrail here, and I'm certainly not defending any discriminatory behaviour or language, but my understanding of racism is not simple mindless discrimination. Racism is grouping people by characteristics, skin colour, etc. - stereotyping so as to impose a superiority to their inferiority. This isnt social egalitarianism. And people are repeatedly talking about SA anarchists as being racists on this thread. It's not just semantics - we give strength to the idea that someone can be both a racist and an anarchist by not challenging this enough. The very definition of anarchist becomes sullied. Describing yourself as an anarchist means the sum parts of your political and economic belief total that description - which includes the egalitarian belief that stripping away what capitalism has imposed on us, all people are equal on every level. The idea of a racist egalitarian would be an oxymoron - its should be no different for anarchists as they too are egalitarians.

Mark.
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Nov 3 2015 10:43
r-exist wrote:
Don't you think it takes a lot of lone rider romanticism to believe that one individual takes up white supremacists on his own by infiltrating their platforms, no one else knowing about it (he apologised to people close to him about keeping secrets on black battlefront and fb profiles, the stormfront stuff was apparently discovered years after he started his activity). Could you name a single reason why it would make any sense politically to do all he did completely on his own, with no one else involved? Can you name any possible harm his activity would have caused white supremacist groups over the last decade he has been involved in stromfront?

I think it may make more sense as an investigative journalist, which is what he does for a living, rather than politically. I can't really see any political achievement from it or damage done to the far right.

Jim
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Nov 3 2015 11:44
no1 wrote:
Because it really doesn't matter what makes a leading member of an anarchist group a racist, it's still a fundamental violation of our basic principles. There is no need to make it understandable. Or do you think it's fine for anarchists to be racist in racist societies? sexist in a sexist society? Those are precisely the things we want to get rid of.

Eh? Obviously racism is a fundamental violation of basic anarchist principles. There's no need to make that point. But what do you mean by there's no need to make it understandable? How are you going to stop anarchists from being racist in racist societies or sexist in sexist societies without understanding what's causing them to adopt oppressive attitudes?

no1 wrote:
I would also add that there is an enormous difference between people who have internalised racist ways of thinking from their environment and who haven't had an opportunity to confront them, and people who have consciously racist politics, fancying themselves as intellectual leaders.

Yeah, I agree, I just don't know which of those Schmidt is and I'm losing interest rapidly.

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Nov 3 2015 11:54

Maybe I'm misreading, but are people really arguing that if you're maintaining fake fascist social media profiles or accounts on websites that they should be declared or something? Or have someone to vouch that you're doing it for research/intelligence gathering/shit stirring?

S. Artesian
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Nov 3 2015 13:06
Fall Back wrote:
Maybe I'm misreading, but are people really arguing that if you're maintaining fake fascist social media profiles or accounts on websites that they should be declared or something? Or have someone to vouch that you're doing it for research/intelligence gathering/shit stirring?

Nope. The "fascist social media profiles or accounts on websites" weren't fake.

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Nov 3 2015 14:04
plasmatelly wrote:
Not wanting to disrail here, and I'm certainly not defending any discriminatory behaviour or language, but my understanding of racism is not simple mindless discrimination. Racism is grouping people by characteristics, skin colour, etc. - stereotyping so as to impose a superiority to their inferiority. This isnt social egalitarianism. And people are repeatedly talking about SA anarchists as being racists on this thread. It's not just semantics - we give strength to the idea that someone can be both a racist and an anarchist by not challenging this enough. The very definition of anarchist becomes sullied. Describing yourself as an anarchist means the sum parts of your political and economic belief total that description - which includes the egalitarian belief that stripping away what capitalism has imposed on us, all people are equal on every level. The idea of a racist egalitarian would be an oxymoron - its should be no different for anarchists as they too are egalitarians.

I'm with Jim here in losing interest, but I'm not totally sure who you're arguing against here, Plasma?

As best I can tell, Mark made a comment that Schmidt's explicit attitude may be the implicit attitude of a lot of self-described S.A. anarchists and leftists - which seems to me a fair enough point and in no way implies he's excusing Schmidt's behavior.

Yet, posters whom I like and respect are accusing him of pushing an apologist line. And, your post, I don't disagree with it (although I know people who would take a much stricter line on what defines racism, or at least racist behavior), I'm just not sure who it's aimed at. No one on this thread is defending Schmidt or suggesting his beliefs have anything to do with anarchism.

And I feel like that sort of thing has happened a lot on this thread - conflating all sorts of issues and making assumptions about what other posters are saying.

Anyway, I think I'll try and bow out at this point. Barring any new groundbreaking evidence, I think the keys points are pretty obvious and pretty widely agreed upon.

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Nov 3 2015 14:11
S. Artesian wrote:
Fall Back wrote:
Maybe I'm misreading, but are people really arguing that if you're maintaining fake fascist social media profiles or accounts on websites that they should be declared or something? Or have someone to vouch that you're doing it for research/intelligence gathering/shit stirring?

Nope. The "fascist social media profiles or accounts on websites" weren't fake.

Your assertion may be correct. Or it may not. But some evidence would be helpful. If some was provided in the JS/ARR texts then please indicate the relevant bits.

S. Artesian
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Nov 3 2015 17:29

My conclusion is based on the fact that MS admits he established these profiles; claiming it was investigative research as authorized, or communicated and approved by the editor of the paper that employed him and that individual claims he never authorized, or approved, or was even aware of any such "bearding."

radicalgraffiti
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Nov 3 2015 17:57

i found his explanation unbelievable as soon as he said he was found out because of some one recognising his picture, i don't see how making it easy for a bunch of nazis to recognise you helps with research.
the fact he lied about when he set it up and who he told didn't help either

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Nov 3 2015 17:58
ocelot wrote:
S. Artesian wrote:
Fall Back wrote:
Maybe I'm misreading, but are people really arguing that if you're maintaining fake fascist social media profiles or accounts on websites that they should be declared or something? Or have someone to vouch that you're doing it for research/intelligence gathering/shit stirring?

Nope. The "fascist social media profiles or accounts on websites" weren't fake.

Your assertion may be correct. Or it may not. But some evidence would be helpful. If some was provided in the JS/ARR texts then please indicate the relevant bits.

Yea, at this point even if you think he's a national anarchist or in the vicinity there of (and to be honest, at this point I'm minded to think he is), there's two likely explanations to the Stormfront accounts - either he set them up as part of investigating the far right from an anarchist perspective, and then drifted towards national anarchism (more likely than not due to reconciling pre-existing racism with anarcho politics) and at some point he started mouthing his actual views, or that he was a long term 20 year super spy inside anarchy fooling everyone for decades, while simultaneously showing a fairly poor command of security culture toward this end on Stormfront (photos etc).

Given the first requires comparatively few leaps on logic, and is all somewhat plausible (if not straight forward) whereas the second relies on a fairly astonishing series of events of a near unprecedented nature, Occam's Razor kind of suggests the former. Especially when the first requires a shitload more self reflection on our part as to how it could happen in terms of someone so high profile drifting so far from our politics than him being a super secret infiltrator, something I think we (and probably all political partisans tbf) can be reluctant to do.

S. Artesian
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Nov 3 2015 22:40
Fall Back wrote:
Yea, at this point even if you think he's a national anarchist or in the vicinity there of (and to be honest, at this point I'm minded to think he is), there's two likely explanations to the Stormfront accounts - either he set them up as part of investigating the far right from an anarchist perspective, and then drifted towards national anarchism (more likely than not due to reconciling pre-existing racism with anarcho politics) and at some point he started mouthing his actual views, or that he was a long term 20 year super spy inside anarchy fooling everyone for decades, while simultaneously showing a fairly poor command of security culture toward this end on Stormfront (photos etc).

Given the first requires comparatively few leaps on logic, and is all somewhat plausible (if not straight forward) whereas the second relies on a fairly astonishing series of events of a near unprecedented nature, Occam's Razor kind of suggests the former. Especially when the first requires a shitload more self reflection on our part as to how it could happen in terms of someone so high profile drifting so far from our politics than him being a super secret infiltrator, something I think we (and probably all political partisans tbf) can be reluctant to do.

Or it could just be that he was attracted to either one, or both, because it offered him a channel for his feelings of anger and desires for self-aggrandizement and Stormfront became the more attractive venue. What's so difficult, or unlikely, about that? Isn't history full of "socialists" of one sort, or of all sorts, including anarchists, flipping to fascism?

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Nov 4 2015 00:17
S. Artesian wrote:
Or it could just be that he was attracted to either one, or both, because it offered him a channel for his feelings of anger and desires for self-aggrandizement and Stormfront became the more attractive venue. What's so difficult, or unlikely, about that? Isn't history full of "socialists" of one sort, or of all sorts, including anarchists, flipping to fascism?

And if this is the case, then your assertion he hadn't set the accounts up as fake doesn't follow. This would be a case of him "going native", but that wouldn't mean the accounts weren't set up to do undercover work. I think it's perfectly consistent to believe that he's both become a national anarchist, and that he sets up his Stormfront account with anti-fascist or journalistic intentions.

As I said in my previous post, I don't find it hard to believe that he has slipped towards national anarchism (or something akin to it). If what we've had so far is everything that's going to come out, I'd probably for precautions sake err on the side of assuming it's probably the case. But that has very little to do with whether or not it's unbelievable that an anti-fascist would have fake personas on far right sites, or whether they should get it organisationally signed off when they do so, as multiple people on this thread seem to suggest.

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Nov 4 2015 12:12
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And if this is the case, then your assertion he hadn't set the accounts up as fake doesn't follow.

Your interpretation doesn't follow. Somebody somewhere might set up fake personas on far right websites. He is not that somebody and Stormfront isn't that somewhere. He said this was authorized by his employer. His employer says no such activity was ever authorized or even discussed.

r-exist
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Nov 4 2015 14:19
Fall Back wrote:
Maybe I'm misreading, but are people really arguing that if you're maintaining fake fascist social media profiles or accounts on websites that they should be declared or something? Or have someone to vouch that you're doing it for research/intelligence gathering/shit stirring?

That is too general/out of context. How to explain that ten years actively participating in stormfront, without any signs of this being related to any kind of activity of trying to work against this network, is seen by some as possible infiltration of the far right. Mark states he sees it possible only as jornalistic investigative method, where each one is up to her/his own conclusion. To me, I see nothing to convince me of that argument: why lie about/make up an alibi that is false (as far as evidences have been brought forward so far) to defend you participation in stormfront as journalistic activity.

Now to the broader context: Do you say, that great things can be done against the far right, if we proceed individually, without exchanging on our practices with NO ONE, without ever sharing the results and the outcomes of our "infiltration", without any kind of context apart from "me, on my own, against them fascists"?

And back to the narrow context: if there was such a context for Michael Schmidt, where other people would have been part of this supposed infiltration, may be - if it was infiltration - it would not have turned into plain and pro-active participation in stormfront, just helping to promote and circulate plain white supremacist racist views (without anyone contending, at least)?

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Nov 4 2015 17:19
S. Artesian wrote:
Your interpretation doesn't follow. Somebody somewhere might set up fake personas on far right websites. He is not that somebody and Stormfront isn't that somewhere. He said this was authorized by his employer. His employer says no such activity was ever authorized or even discussed.

I mean, maybe I just have different standards of belief than you. Personally, I don't find his former editor from several years ago - who don't appear particularly fond of MS from the article - saying he didn't authorise his fake accounts (something which a lot of people would consider fairly unethical gutter journalism) to particularly be a smoking gun. And I'd rather try learn lessons from how he degenerated towards the far-right (which seems the far more likely case based on the evidence produced so far) than take the easy answer that he was a fascist infiltrator the whole time.

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Nov 4 2015 17:24

r-exist, I'll reply to your post later, not ignoring it!

Mark.
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Nov 4 2015 18:04

Here's the back cover write-up for MS's next book:

http://drinkingwithghosts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/a-taste-of-bitter-almon...

It's supposed to be out in November so presumably he's going to have a PR problem with running a book launch and responding to ARR/JS at more or less the same time. As yet I haven't seen any SA journalists picking up on the story but I think it's bound to happen.

S. Artesian
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Nov 4 2015 20:40
Fall Back wrote:

I mean, maybe I just have different standards of belief than you. Personally, I don't find his former editor from several years ago - who don't appear particularly fond of MS from the article - saying he didn't authorise his fake accounts (something which a lot of people would consider fairly unethical gutter journalism) to particularly be a smoking gun. And I'd rather try learn lessons from how he degenerated towards the far-right (which seems the far more likely case based on the evidence produced so far) than take the easy answer that he was a fascist infiltrator the whole time.

Whatever. Far too much time spent on this as it is. I'm out.

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Nov 4 2015 20:55

The first statement from the editor was more arse-covering iirc. Along the lines of 'we never tell people to do stuff but if they do it and then bring us a story...'
The second was a bit different.
Running accounts, even long term is hardly unusual, some of the posts mentioned seem a bit weird as has been said by people who've read them, they resmble disaffected leftist rather than fascist cover.
Fall back's explanation is very plausible, I'd be described if Schmidt considers himself a racist, he might be arguing that based on experience separation is necesary blah blah blah (and as fb said this is normally just re-emergence of existing beliefs)
To be honest I don't see the point of Mark's posts. Pointing out that these beliefs are not surprising or unusual in the context can seem like apologism as otherwise there's no real reason to keep saying it.

syndicalist
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Nov 4 2015 22:04

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