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Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism - Lucien Van Der Walt and Michael Schmidt

Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism - Lucien Van Der Walt and Michael Schmidt

NOTE: In 2015 it came to light that one of the authors of this work, Michael Schmidt, has advocated merging anarchist and white supremacist ideas both privately under his own name and publicly under pseudonyms. We are not aware of such themes in this work but readers should be advised.

Note that as discussed in the comments under this post, Michael Schmidt has recently been criticised for defending 'national anarchism' (which similar to 'national bolshevism' attempts to reconcile anarchism with racist and xenophobic politics in order to reconcile with working class fascists). libcom.org is absolutely opposed to 'national anarchism' or any attempt to defend it. This book does not discuss 'national anarchism' but as also noted in the comments, the sections on race and gender and the particular ways it treats (for example) Connolly positively and Marxists negatively should be read critically with this in mind.

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Lucien Van Der Walt and Michael Schmidt Black Flame vol 19.54 MB

Comments

S. Artesian
Jul 14 2017 14:29
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The point being, you have to actually know what you are talking about before declaiming on what's OK and what's not OK.

Yes. And yet here you have been simultaneously bollocking someone for not being well-read enough while demanding that libcom make it harder to become well read by taking down everything and anything with problematic aspects, rather than offering the extra knowledge needed to contextualise it. Do you not see the difficulties there?

No more or no less than those who demand Harman's book be taken down. That's one.

I'm not demanding Libcom take down "everything" and "anything" with problematic aspects. That's two.

I'm questioning the motivation for Libcom taking down Harman's book-- "he was a person of importance in the SWP," while the admins keep Schmidt's book in the archive.... with the explanation that despite this person's importance to fascist and racist projects, the book is a valuable contribution to...whatever, independent of the author's own use of the book as credentials to cover his attempts to advance such projects.

If this were simply an issue of "freedom of the press" or improving general or specific knowledge, and those were the admins guidelines, they wouldn't have taken down Harman's books; the admins would include works by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Castro, Mao, etc.etc.

I criticize Zug not because he isn't well read, but because he's "not interested," "not invested," "doesn't know" about any number of things and thinks that that lack of interest, investment, knowledge is in itself a qualification, is in fact his qualification to make a judgment about whether or not a particular author or book deserves archiving on this site, regardless of the reasons behind the objections to, or the motivations for removing, a particular book. Now that's just bollocks.

zugzwang
Jul 14 2017 19:20
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I criticize Zug not because he isn't well read, but because he's "not interested," "not invested," "doesn't know" about any number of things and thinks that that lack of interest, investment, knowledge is in itself a qualification, is in fact his qualification to make a judgment about whether or not a particular author or book deserves archiving on this site, regardless of the reasons behind the objections to, or the motivations for removing, a particular book. Now that's just bollocks.

I thought I already made myself clear in previous posts. I'm not campaigning for any books to be taken down; and this isn't, to my knowledge, "the people's Libcom"; it's the admins' Libcom and they'll do whatever they want. I've only spoken conditionally. Giving others the benefit of the doubt that these works are indeed controversial I think the disclaimers would be the right course of action (don't even have to read Black Flame because I know that the author is a suspected fascist -- as I said an updated disclaimer would be most appropriate in my opinion). There is nothing that warrants criticism of me when I say that works by Murray Rothbard don't belong here, or when I agree with Rob Ray that Leninist works don't belong here (though that more than Rothbard depends on what the work is).

S. Artesian
Jul 14 2017 20:41

The "content advisory" attached to the OP demonstrates the vacuousness of the use of content advisories.

You would never know that Schmidt adopted an entire new persona to pursue his fascist romance over how many? years? You would never know that he advocated something a bit more than "white supremacy; that he appeared as a militant supporter of terrorism against equality and emancipation; you would never know that when his secret life was discovered, he lied and smeared those who had exposed him; that others, so-called "anarchists" and "libertarians" defended him, excused him. despite the fact that they knew for years he was playing this role on fascist sites with other fascists.

I hereby request that the admins at Libcom remove the content advisories and the Schmidt posts, or allow me to close my account and remove myself from any association with these nazi-enabling cowards.

Note: I want the privilege of closing my account myself, and for the reasons stated.

Mike Harman
Jul 16 2017 00:22
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Also, before the issue is dropped... shouldn't libcom pull Schmidt's other interviews etc. here and block his old accounts? Have to go and dig up the usernames, but they weren't clandestine.

If Libcom keeps the interviews, they need a very strong disclaimer that is impossible to ignore before reading the content... that may require contacting the submitter first I assume.

For what it's worth, we've gone through all the Schmidt content posted to the site that we could find, and I think we've unpublished everything at this point which was not co-written with Van Der Walt, and added a disclaimer to everything we could find too (including the actual PDF here, and a review of Black Flame that they didn't contribute to).

The situation at the moment is to keep Black Flame on this page, with the massive disclaimer. The disclaimer could be updated and/or linked to a good summary of the whole situation, except as far as I know no such good summary exists.

I'd personally very much like to ensure that our hosting this content doesn't allow Schmidt to rehabilitate himself in any way. However I also agree with Rob Ray's point that if we nuke his presence from the site, and he gets quietly rehabilitated elsewhere, then it may be more likely than less that he gets rehabilitated in general and this episode gets forgotten. The PDF is currently the second result on google for "Black Flame Anarchism", if it becomes a 404, it'll just drop out of the result altogether.

First result:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Flame:_The_Revolutionary_Class_Polit...(Counter-Power_vol._1)#The_authors - no mention of him being a racist.

The third result: no mention: http://www.revolutionbythebook.akpress.org/black-flame-the-revolutionary...—-book-excerpt/

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1368756.Black_Flame has a 1 star review near the top calling him a nazi, linking to the forum discussion here, but you have to scroll down to see that and it's a one liner with no details.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Flame-Revolutionary-Syndicalism-Counter-P... no reference in the top 2-3 reviews.

So of the first handful of results on google, our site is literally the only one that tells you the revelations about Schmidt, the others omit it entirely, or it's buried in a review somewhere.

William Everard
Jul 17 2017 03:35

Schmidt snuck this one by in Feb... was even shortly published on anarchistnews.org before being taken down. Absolutely bizarre piece, especially considering the source.

https://web.archive.org/web/20170717033058/https://drinkingwithghosts.bl...

Quote:
Occupiers of Nothing

I visited Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and was unimpressed, not only at the lack of any actual occupation of anything other than an already publicly-owned park, but at its murky populist politics of confused outrage aimed at the “1%” (as if significant class layers of the 99% remainder are not beneficiaries, if not enforcers, of one-percentile rule). I might want to make the point that the Western so-called Occupy movement, which is the exact opposite of the Arab Spring in that it *occupies nothing* except already-public spaces such as parks (there was no attempt to actually occupy capitalist offices on Wall Street) and which as a result *moves nothing*, takes as its myth their membership of the 99%, a pseudo-anarchist and pseudo-class position which firstly ignores the state & capitalist overseer role performed by the middle classes from which most of their membership is drawn, and then secondly individualises the problem of state and capital to a tiny 1% enclave of super-wealthy parasites: this is not a systemic class critique, but it is instead the exact same middle-class complaint against a narrow speculative sector of capitalism that was so widely voiced in Germany in the 1920s and which gave so much fuel to the Nazi fire.
Occupy, with its ineffectual, pale liberal imitations as in Johannesburg – so different from the powerful street displays in cities such as Barcelona, Tunis and Cairo – showed how quickly the chants against the 1%, could easily segue into chants against “Jewish monopoly capital,” and so one found “American” nativist neo-fascism comfortably gaining ground in the Wall Street crowds. Then late last year, the detritus of those confused crowds transmuted into an electorate that shocked the liberal oligarchs and consonant anarcho-pundits by backing Trump.
I used to quip that the distance between Stalinism and Thatcherism, as the vulture flies, was very short. But now I could equally say that the distance between “anarcho-populism” and triumphalist Trumpism is similarly brief. This is not to say that “American” self-described anarchists are Trump supporters, which would be nonsense; just that they are unaware that their own lack of a clearly – and definitively anarchist, not identity – politics makes them ideal points of entry for the populist ultra-right.

akai
Jul 17 2017 06:45

The disclaimer, in my opinion, is insufficient as a statement.

What is not taken into account is the fact that for people who are not based in certain movements, but look for things from outside, it may seem that the items posted here are some sort of "recommended" reading connected to an ideology which people share. Of course it is not that way, having become sort of a class-struggle lndymedia where in fact there is a large pluralism and plenty of odd choices published without even any disclaimers. Authors like Ernst Junger and Michael Schmidt are in quite good company together.

The bigger problem however has been a lack of deeper analysis into the ideas of Schmidt, which have been simplified into calling him a fascist, racist whatever, The problem is that there are actually quite a lot of people like Schmidt, certainly in this region, but also growing nationalist anarchist trends in many other places. Some organizations have people like this who smuggle their ideas into anarchist and syndicalist milieus and people do not seem equipped to counter this because they rarely describe the ideas in depth. This means that also they miss these points and enable such people to continue. We all know that various anarchist sites have thus let content through which was problematic in nature. Furthermore, although some faults of Black Flame were picked up by readers of the forum here and elsewhere, in general, we cannot expect an average person just looking to learn about things to be equipped with the knowledge to read through BF critically. lt contains a lot of revisionism and some ideologically loaded assertations.

This is why l think telling people to "read critically" is insufficient.

Also, there is quite a bad problem of the upcoming book and the fact that many people do not want him to be a representative historian for the movement. One wonders what the Libcom people will do about that. Publish part 2 with a disclaimer?

Mike Harman
Jul 17 2017 11:30
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The disclaimer, in my opinion, is insufficient as a statement.

I agree with this, even though I added the most recent one. We're hoping to work on something a bit stronger this week hopefully. If someone has suggestions we'd also take them and/or incorporate ideas.

bootsy
Jul 17 2017 23:05

Can't be fucked reading all the comments but I think this should be pulled until there's a new version which seriously disentangles itself from that PoS Schmidt. I mean take his name off the damn thing at least! If that's not possible, which is probably the case, then fuck the book. Ideological differences are one thing but when a primary author is a admitted Nazi? That's about 5 steps too far down the rabbit hole for me...

AndrewF
Jul 18 2017 15:22

For what its worth he wasn't the primary author, from his confession to Institute for Anarchist Theory and History (IATH)
(commment at https://www.anarkismo.net/article/30115

"I stress again that Black Flame is primarily Lucien’s work and that he submitted the manuscript to AK Press in January 2006, before the onset of my PTSD in the wake of the Summer War in Lebanon in July 2006. So the good reputation of that work cannot be damaged in way by my later actions or omissions; more to the point, the text itself is unambiguously anarchist in its multiethnic approaches to race, colonialism and imperialism."

Red Marriott
Jul 18 2017 18:12
Schmidt wrote:
the good reputation of that work cannot be damaged in way by my later actions or omissions

But - given MS's other admitted lies - why should that be believed and not seen as just a way to try to salvage the remaining reputation of the book? Some of the book is anyway very poor historical distortion;
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/new-historical-syndicalist-book...
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/books-italian-anarcho-syndicali...

OliverTwister
Jul 18 2017 19:16

Where did this all shake out with Lucien van der Walt? I saw a link to a recent German interview with him.

bootsy
Jul 19 2017 02:48
AndrewF wrote:
For what its worth he wasn't the primary author, from his confession to Institute for Anarchist Theory and History (IATH)
(commment at https://www.anarkismo.net/article/30115

"I stress again that Black Flame is primarily Lucien’s work and that he submitted the manuscript to AK Press in January 2006, before the onset of my PTSD in the wake of the Summer War in Lebanon in July 2006. So the good reputation of that work cannot be damaged in way by my later actions or omissions; more to the point, the text itself is unambiguously anarchist in its multiethnic approaches to race, colonialism and imperialism."

... and you believe that half-arsed confession? As far as I'm concerned anything that comes out of his mouth is worse than useless. If that can be validated by anyone who doesn't have an interest in downplaying this mess, like Lucien or IATH or Anarkismo, then great. Until that happens this whole thing should be dumped.