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.

Submitted by flaneur on January 3, 2012

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.

Comments

sabot

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by sabot on August 24, 2013

Err... didn't the author take issue with this being added to the library in the past?

Black Badger

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on August 24, 2013

Yeah, I thought he threatened a lawsuit, in typical anarchist camaraderie and solidarity.

Steven.

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on August 24, 2013

Black Badger

Yeah, I thought he threatened a lawsuit, in typical anarchist camaraderie and solidarity.

no, this is completely untrue.

One of the authors did politely ask us to take it down initially, which we did, as they were trying to raise money for its translation. This translation is now underway as I understand it and the author has given us permission to put it back online, for which we are very grateful.

Pennoid

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on August 24, 2013

Does anyone know what the deal is with the sequel? Is it ever gonna be published?!

Red Marriott

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on August 25, 2013

There has been previous critical discussion of some of the book's historical failings and inaccuracies;
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/new-historical-syndicalist-book-03032009
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/books-italian-anarcho-syndicalism-05102010#comment-400771

Black Badger

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on August 25, 2013

I misremembered.

Redwinged Blackbird

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Redwinged Blackbird on August 27, 2013

The parts on Race and Gender are pretty dumb.

Red.Black.Writings

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red.Black.Writings on August 29, 2013

The BF stuff on these is mainly a description of historical anarchists and syndicalist positions e.g. of the Wobs: those are dumb, how? Curious.

boomerang

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by boomerang on December 18, 2014

I credit this book with making me a better anarchist. It was probably the first anarchist theory book I read just after I realized anarchism existed and embraced it as an alternative to my former (reluctant) semi-Leninism. It was an excellent education, and despite some disagreements, I think it's a good book to read whether or not you're new to anarchism.

fnbrilll

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fnbrilll on December 19, 2014

I woud like to like it more than I do. The authors ideological anti-marxism makes the history inaccurate. It needn't be pro-marxist just more accurate towards the marxism in syndicalism.

Pennoid

8 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on October 14, 2015

Turns out Michael Schmidt, one of the authors of this book is a White Nationalist, which is inimical to communism and anarchy, as Libcom would understand the terms, no?

Just in case anyone looking at this text is unaware....

Khawaga

8 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on October 14, 2015

Yeah, maybe this text should come with an introductory disclaimer...

Pennoid

8 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on October 14, 2015

Good thinking.

Red Marriott

8 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on October 14, 2015

I suppose the emerging Shmidt revelations may cast a different light on the book's ridiculous attempted inclusion of nationalists like James Connelly as anarchists (as well as the pro-bolshevik Bill Haywood and parliamentarist De Leon).

Black Badger

8 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on October 14, 2015

A disclaimer AND a trigger warning!

syndicalist

8 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on October 15, 2015

FWIW, I think the book should should remain in the library. Remember, there are two author's here, one who may have taken a righwing turn, the other has not. I mean, we have stuff in the library written by folks who have taken rightward positions (Kropotkin-the war, the FAIistas-government) and so forth.

Perhaps a straight forward and non-snarky Collective intro comment would be useful. But I'm not for censoring this book, all my political, historical identifiers and personal feelings aside.

rafi dawn

8 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rafi dawn on November 27, 2015

"My full, illustrated 51-page refutation of AK Press' defamation against me is now published online on my blog, Drinking With Ghosts, as "Michael Schmidt: An African Anarchist Biography".

Michael schmidt

http://drinkingwithghosts.blogspot.co.za/

Red.Black.Writings

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red.Black.Writings on December 1, 2015

I am hoping people will actually read the Schmidt reply. Its long but raises very serious questions about the Reid-Ross and Stephens articles. I think it also raises serious questions for all of us about a movement culture that leads so quickly to people jumping on the bandwagon of denouncement without having all the facts.

Khawaga

8 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on December 1, 2015

That internal memo is racist as it can be; that really says it all

syndicalist

7 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on December 29, 2016

resurrection?

William Everard

7 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on April 18, 2017

about the sequel being written by Schmidt alone, after his confession as a fascist:

https://libcom.org/forums/history/black-flame-vol-2-being-written-michael-schmidt-alone-11042017

William Everard

7 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on April 18, 2017

Red.Black.Writings

I am hoping people will actually read the Schmidt reply. Its long but raises very serious questions about the Reid-Ross and Stephens articles. I think it also raises serious questions for all of us about a movement culture that leads so quickly to people jumping on the bandwagon of denouncement without having all the facts.

Also, I'd like to make sure we note in this thread that the above comment was Lucien Van Der Walt in disguise. He later was doxxxed and then had a weak apology for lying to us all and hiding while commenting on his own work

akai

7 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 18, 2017

Yes, this needs to be noted. Also, l think it would be useful to compile all the Lucien sock-puppet comments in one place to lend clarity to what has been the history of the debate.

For what it's worth, l still think that few people have really touched on the real issue of this whole story, which is not how one guy goes bad, or lies to his comrades and the world, but how it is possible to smuggle in reactionary, right-wing, nationalist ideas into the movement. Black Flame needs to be analyzed in this respect, because there are many signs there that these ideas have infiltrated the thought of some anarchists, perhaps in forms which others apparently do not recognize.

William Everard

7 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on April 18, 2017

akai

Yes, this needs to be noted. Also, l think it would be useful to compile all the Lucien sock-puppet comments in one place to lend clarity to what has been the history of the debate.

For what it's worth, l still think that few people have really touched on the real issue of this whole story, which is not how one guy goes bad, or lies to his comrades and the world, but how it is possible to smuggle in reactionary, right-wing, nationalist ideas into the movement. Black Flame needs to be analyzed in this respect, because there are many signs there that these ideas have infiltrated the thought of some anarchists, perhaps in forms which others apparently do not recognize.

see comments here re - Black Flame analysis --

https://libcom.org/forums/history/black-flame-vol-2-being-written-michael-schmidt-alone-11042017#comment-592633

it could be done online if people are willing; with or without author permission [though the latter could result in threats, legal or otherwise, which both authors are known for].

as far as the history of the debate, there is both a surface-level evidentiary discussion that needs to be done [timeline of posts online, screenshots, et cetera] but there is also a hidden story.. how and when people had certain info, what's still being hidden [esp in regard to anarkismo and ZACF], and why outsiders looking in at the shitshow had to dig deep to expose even more shit [and be attacked on and off line while doing so]

Many people will just never come forward, for good reason Im afraid

akai

7 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 18, 2017

l wouldn't worry about threats. lf there is a public record of the sock-puppet comments, l would just compile them. They are now, unfortunately, part of history.

William Everard

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 12, 2017

Can we have the Black Flame PDF kindly removed from the libcom library? There are enough copies floating around the web and it would make a statement that Libcom doesn't support the fascist author, or the antics of the co-author on Libcom forums.

Rob Ray

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on July 13, 2017

Why would it make a stronger statement than a note at the top explaining his background, that they don't support him and to read critically if at all (which other versions don't bother with)? It'll have warned far more casual searchers about his politics than otherwise, and it's not like they're paying him a retainer for it.

Sometimes I don't think people understand how the internet actually works.

William Everard

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 13, 2017

Rob Ray

Why would it make a stronger statement than a note at the top explaining his background, that they don't support him and to read critically if at all (which other versions don't bother with)? It'll have warned far more casual searchers about his politics than otherwise, and it's not like they're paying him a retainer for it.

Sometimes I don't think people understand how the internet actually works.

You got me pegged, I don't understand the Internet.

I would welcome such a statement but no one wants to take ownership of it and it may be much more controversial, never actually get done, and so on.

Also, since I don't understand the Internet, can you explain to me how many users are likely to use this thing called Google and just get a direct link to the PDF of the book? Help me out - am I Googling correctly?

https://encrypted.google.com/search?&q=black+flame+pdf
https://encrypted.google.com/search?&q=black+flame+filetype:pdf

Not even one page of that can be modified or added without the authors and publisher's permission, and that's a tangled web indeed.

People stumbling across this page looking for the book are unlikely to read anything else on this page and will just click the link, perhaps in less than 2-3 seconds. We're trained to do that by all the visual clutter in our browsers.

Spikymike

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on July 13, 2017

The note at the top could perhaps be titled as a 'WARNING' and highlighted in bold typeface but that is just a technicality - I'm not to keen on the more recent attempts to push the admins to remove texts and links to material because of subsequent criticisms of the authors that may not be apparent from the material posted.

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 13, 2017

Why that treatment rather than what was done with the Chris Harman book-- simply removing it because of the author's association with the SWP?

Joseph Kay

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 13, 2017

Fwiw we're discussing a policy on what we take down at the moment. Thus far we've dealt with it in an ad hoc way but we're trying to formalise it, as there's people like Schmidt or Harman, but also issues like platforming abusers which come up too.

Rob Ray

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on July 13, 2017

Why that treatment rather than what was done with the Chris Harman book-- simply removing it because of the author's association with the SWP?

For me that relates to subject matter — libcom's not a Leninist site, so no need to carry Leninist texts. That said, personally I'm actually fairly relaxed about putting stuff up which offers insights, again as long as shortcomings are prominently noted.

As for not publishing arseholes generally, I mean does everyone demand takedowns of all Kropotkin texts because he was a pro-war agitator in WW1? Bakunin because he was an anti-semite? Berkman because he was a cradle-snatching creepy old bastard? Goldman because she spent half her time slagging off the working classes as morons and published numerous eugenicist tracts through Mother Earth? If not, why not?

Are people working on the assumption that libcom taking these things down will make any difference to whether people can access them? Why is it a better thing to have people go elsewhere to read such pieces with no context or notes (or worse, active misinformation)?

I'm not arguing that any old shit should go up, but seems to me people often leap on the easy fix of a takedown, when actually that's a really shit approach which doesn't encourage critical understanding at all and tbh, sometimes seemingly edges into a sort of paternalistic approach of old political hands deciding what the easily-led public should be reading.

And I wonder, would Schmidt be more unhappy that the book he's trying to sell has been taken offline, or that the most prominent place people can find it has a damn great warning on the top saying "watch out, this guy's a white supremacist"?

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 13, 2017

As for not publishing arseholes generally, I mean does everyone demand takedowns of all Kropotkin texts because he was a pro-war agitator in WW1? Bakunin because he was an anti-semite? Berkman because he was a cradle-snatching creepy old bastard? Goldman because she spent half her time slagging off the working classes as morons and published numerous eugenicist tracts through Mother Earth? If not, why not?

Why not? The demand for Harman to be taken down was based on his association with and his leadership role in the SWP during the time sexual abuse was going on. So yeah, why not take down Bakunin for not just being an anti-semite, but for promoting anti-semitism? Why not take down Kropotkin for being pro-inter imperialist war in the 20th century?

Rob Ray

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on July 13, 2017

Well based on that I suspect a very large chunk of the Libcom library will have to go — those were just off the top of my head. Also someone will need to go through the forums stripping out posts by dickheads. I look forward to the positive effect this mass information purge will have on future anarchist and working-class activity.

Which books am I allowed to recommend to people, in your view?

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 13, 2017

Rob Ray

Well based on that I suspect a very large chunk of the Libcom library will have to go — those were just off the top of my head. Also someone will need to go through the forums stripping out posts by dickheads. I look forward to the positive effect this mass information purge will have on future anarchist and working-class activity.

Which books am I allowed to recommend to people, in your view?

I'm just trying to figure out how Michael Schmidt's books, works by a fascist, race-war advocating white supremacist can be allowed to remain in the Libcom library, but the book by Chris Harman can trigger the demand for censorship based purely on his association with the SWP.

If anyone can explain that rationally, then swell; then we might be able to understand the rationale for keeping advocates of inter-imperialist war and anti-semitism in the pantheon.

That's one.

As for two, I'm not advocating anything regarding posts by dickheads. I'm questioning maintaining an archive of works by supposed libertarian communists that includes works by known fascists; works by non-communists; works by anti-semites; works by supporters of inter-imperialist wars.

If it's a matter of personal dislike-- as in "we like Michael Schmidt's anarchism, and think that outweighs his contribution as a racist; we don't like Chris Harman's Leninism and that outweighs his contribution as an anti-capitalist...." then just say that, and spare us the rest of the bullshit about what books I think are acceptable.

And three:

JK says Libcom is now trying to formalize its "policy." Amazing how no such need for formalization was required before removing Harman's book. Few posts of protest, and voila! the book disappears.

Now that's "libertarian communism" hard at work, isn't it?

Talk about dickheads.............

Rob Ray

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on July 13, 2017

Well I ain't an admin, or their keeper, so I can't help with stuff to do with their decision-making.

On the specifics of Schmidt though, one problem (as with say, striking Mother Earth from the record) is that some of his writing is on topics no-one else has written much about (or sometimes at all). Black Flame isn't Mein Kampf, it's a book about anarchists which, before the other stuff came out, was widely lauded (and critically read) by other anarchists. Clearly it had useful aspects. The references alone are a goldmine. Do we ignore all that and start over from scratch because it was Schmidt who found them? Or do we accept those writings are tainted by strong biases, criticially re-read it in the light of that, and grab the useful bits?

Personally, one of my formative books was a Kropotkin. His writing on a huge range of subjects is provocative and thoughtful, and still informs some of my politics. His views on inter-imperialist warfare do not, because I'm capable of making up my own damn mind on what's useful and what isn't. I tend, overall, to think that other people are capable of doing so as well, when presented with all the facts.

What I might have found dickish, back in the day, is someone grabbing the book out of my hand on the grounds I shouldn't be able to read the reactionary bits. I also might not have become an anarchist in the first place.

William Everard

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 13, 2017

I'm pretty sure I'm being called a dickhead by someone in this thread, so I'll try to keep my comments polite.

This is not like the other circumstances for three reasons (at least) not being addressed:

1. We all know that Black Flame is considered one of the most prominent, recently-published histories of the anarchist intellectual tradition. For better or worse, through platformist eyes, with notably clumsy or bad inclusions. Libcom admins and community were happy to be in the company of Lucien and Michael, have them be contributors, be interviewed, etc. even after a scuffle over publishing the full book as PDF here. But, that publishing became something of a badge of honor for Libcom, and made it the most accessible place to find the popular text. The reticence to remove Black Flame is coloured by these facts, which should not be glossed over like this is an obscure text, or a Kropotkin book in circulation for a century.

2. Schmidt's status as an anarchist is hinging largely on this book and he is still able to operate publicly as an anarchist, like Keith Preston but with more "street cred", in one of the most racially-divided countries on Earth, where he is still doing damage. Hosting BF is doing positive PR for him, and I'm not convinced a note about his white supremacy would be strong enough or powerful enough; not to mention the problems with this PDF being the top hit on Google without any need to read such a warning, tendency for people not to read intro text before clicking, direct linking, etc.

I for one don't think it's okay for him to be running combat/firearms trainings in SA for left-leaning orgs, preaching tolerance and racial unity at conferences, hamming it up backstage with black artists who don't know his background, and running international conferences for at-risk journalists (many of whom are people of colour). Without a concerted campaign to just bring the truth to light (something orgs like Anarkismo seem committed to keep buried/obscured), Schmidt would be even more prominent right now... there are plenty of people and orgs quite shocked and embarrassed to be associated with him, who only met him *after* Karelianblue-Strandwolf came to light. They only find out because some antifa reaches out directly, a sort of "Schmidt Watch".

Now, this person is writing a *second volume* which was announced by the first volume and eagerly awaited for almost a decade (Global Fire/Wildfire/Counter-Power volume 2). It is planned to be a massive 1000 page tome, and excerpts are appearing on Schmidt's blog, explicitly "anarchist" and "definitive" etc. The Anarkismo "commission proposal" has some weasel words in it that hint at "rehabilitating" Schmidt, in some warped version of transformative justice, seemingly in an effort to legitimize this new sequel and rescue the first volume. Are we going to allow Schmidt to carry a banner for us? Or at least one that represents us to the wider world?

Removing Black Flame and all his interviews etc, with a clear post why it's happening (as other orgs have done) would at least make Libcom less of a patsy for Schmidt and, dare I use this pun, cease to become his platform. Interested parties can read such a statement by Libcom and look elsewhere, period... we're not stunting anyone's intellectual growth by refusing to promote a *living and black-flag-waving* fascist-racist.

3. Less important but still notable: Lucien van der Walt hid in these very Libcom forums as user RedBlackWritings, self-promoting the book and addressing critics. When Schmidt's white nationalism came to light for the public, Lucien started logging in again and defending Schmidt with some comments that should not be forgotten. He was only identified by the same "dickheads" the admins deride in posts above. FFS, this thread has two comments from RedBlackWritings on it. That has to be the violation of *some* kind of conduct but, even if forgivable and not enough to remove BF and the interviews etc., the context is important: Lucien pissed on an international community that was largely giving him the benefit-of-the-doubt, asking politely for him to give some sort of response (even if it weren't a detailed statement). But, hey, let's hop on Libcom and defend a fascist instead.

Can we at least address these points before descending into a philosophical discussion about which century-dead anarchist is okay to publish because of known transgressions?

Spikymike

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on July 13, 2017

Note to S.A. For the record I was in the end persuaded that the Harman book should stay together with the subsequent discussion criticising the author's links to the SWP and preferably with a note to that effect added. However I have always been critical of people posting books and other authors substantial articles without giving an explanation of the reasons for doing so and preferably a short critique of the content. That doesn't mean I expect the admins to spend time trawling through the whole library for corrections and removals.

William Everard

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 13, 2017

Rob Ray

What I might have found dickish, back in the day, is someone grabbing the book out of my hand on the grounds I shouldn't be able to read the reactionary bits. I also might not have become an anarchist in the first place.

No one is claiming this should be done, and equating this to pulling Black Flame off of Libcom in digital form is a false analogy, begging for a visceral response.

The book is all over the place on the web, in libraries, etc. and Libcom doesn't have to be its keeper.

Oh, and before I forget it, it's being distributed as part of the Libcom library *completely with no context* in bittorrent form. No "warning, be critical" intro text will be able to provide context there, unless the file is modified which, as I already noted, it can't for legal reasons.

Actually, I'm not sure permission from the authors is enough for Libcom to keep providing AK's typeset/graphical version, legally, after AK has pulled it, but that would be an issue for AK to press. There's an interesting hypothetical: if AK asked for it to be pulled and Lucien and Michael blessed a manuscript of the book to be hosted by Libcom rather than the AK version, should it be accepted? Because otherwise you'd be "ripping it from the hands of nascent anarchists"?

Remember, Keith Preston is still an "anarchist", "whether anyone likes it or not" in his words. He's quoted and linked to Schmidt both in his real persona and as Francoise.

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 13, 2017

I'm with comrade Everard on this-- don't hold it against him.

adri

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by adri on July 13, 2017

S. Artesian

If anyone can explain that rationally, then swell; then we might be able to understand the rationale for keeping advocates of inter-imperialist war and anti-semitism in the pantheon.

Kropotkin was hardly the only anarchist to support the first world war, though it did cause some divisions, and most anarchists were in favor of internationalism instead.

Kropotkin's espousal of the Allied cause won the approval of some of the most eminent anarchists in Europe; in 1917, Varlaam Cherkezov, Jean Grave, Charles Malato, Christian Cornelissen, James Guillaume, and ten others joined him in signing the "manifesto of the Sixteen," which set forth their "defensist" position.

It would make no sense to remove all works by Kropotkin or Bakunin on an anarchist site just because they might have made some controversial statements (which play no part in their larger political contributions or have anything to do with people citing them today). Meanwhile it makes perfect sense to remove Leninist works or to at least throw a disclaimer on those works when they are being hosted on an anarchist site.

Rob Ray

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on July 13, 2017

The reticence to remove Black Flame is coloured by these facts, which should not be glossed over like this is an obscure text, or a Kropotkin book in circulation for a century.

I'm not trying to gloss over anything (or personally insult you, btw, and again, I'm not an admin). In fact whether it's a "badge of honour" for libcom or not (I'd tend to think the opposite at this point, it's not like Schmidt's got cachet in the movement these days) is itself something of a red herring imv. As is talking about his new one, which isn't out, isn't on libcom and is unlikely to be put up here any time soon.

On addressing points, I don't think just saying you're "not convinced" really deals with mine.

- How would the absence of Black Flame on libcom "send a strong message" when by its very nature removal would simply mean searchers don't see libcom's view on the matter any more?
- Why is it a better thing to have people go elsewhere to read it with no context or notes (or worse, active misinformation)?
- Why would Schmidt be more unhappy that a book he's trying to sell has been taken offline, as opposed to that the most prominent place people can find it has a damn great warning on the top saying "watch out, this guy's a white supremacist"?

One thing which I think is fair that you've noted is that the direct link to the PDF has no similar note — that could stand to be fixed. Otherwise, I don't see the advantage in removing it, just seems like a rhetorical gesture no-one will give much of a shit about outside of libcom's own regulars (who mostly already know about and find Schmidt's vies on race abhorrent), but which will potentially have a downside in driving people to find it in other less critical places.

Khawaga

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on July 13, 2017

I say leave it up and the admins ask William Everard to write a disclaimer.

William Everard

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 13, 2017

Khawaga

I say leave it up and the admins ask William Everard to write a disclaimer.

+1 but not gonna happen. I don't think a statement will ever happen; agreement is a rare thing in these forums and even minor points are distorted and dissected until they're meaningless.

William Everard

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 13, 2017

Here's what I said, in context.

re: "badge of honor" -

But, that publishing became something of a badge of honor for Libcom, and made it the most accessible place to find the popular text. The reticence to remove Black Flame is coloured by these facts, which should not be glossed over like this is an obscure text, or a Kropotkin book in circulation for a century.

*became* a badge of honor. There is friction here about removing it because hosting Black Flame was a big deal (I bet it shows in the web stats for example). Beyond that, many people view "the discrediting of Black Flame" as a tragedy for anarchists, and others still have rose-coloured glasses on.

re: "not convinced" -

Hosting BF is doing positive PR for him, and I'm not convinced a note about his white supremacy would be strong enough or powerful enough; not to mention the problems with this PDF being the top hit on Google without any need to read such a warning, tendency for people not to read intro text before clicking, direct linking, etc.

Right, it's not strong enough or powerful enough to add a couple paragraphs of "disclaimer", for the reasons stated above. You disagree... my experiences with this whole affair in the past couple years doesn't lead me to believe a disclaimer will work when there is so much cognitive dissonance in our "community" as well as active campaigning by Anarkismo et al to help Schmidt (check out the massive censorship on Anarkismo.net in the past few days in regard to "the commission", which I talk about in the "Anarkismo Down" thread here https://libcom.org/forums/news/anarkismo-down-13072017 ).

Rob Ray

- How would the absence of Black Flame on libcom "send a strong message" when by its very nature removal would simply mean searchers don't see libcom's view on the matter any more?

I suggested a clear, concise, strong statement that would replace this book. It could have the same URL, the same keywords, but different content and no PDF (archive this page of course and refer to it in the statement, but again no PDF). That would cover the people who actually will sit and read such a statement, which is not a huge number, if my experience means anything.

Is it the duty of Libcom to offer a caveat *along with the book* for some reason? And then there are still the articles/interviews up here.

Rob Ray

- Why is it a better thing to have people go elsewhere to read it with no context or notes (or worse, active misinformation)?

Again, is it the duty of Libcom to offer a caveat along with the book for some reason? That's a very slippery slope.

Rob Ray

- Why would Schmidt be more unhappy that a book he's trying to sell has been taken offline, as opposed to that the most prominent place people can find it has a damn great warning on the top saying "watch out, this guy's a white supremacist"?

People clearly aren't reading such caveats all over the web when doing business with him, and I'd argue presence of the book on Libcom at all might give him enough cred in a search engine summary. But the most important point here, which you also agree on, is that people grab the PDF via direct linking and bittorrent etc. As I said earlier, I don't think many will read a disclaimer even if they get to such a page; they'll scroll down and click on the PDF link, then move on. It's what we as web users are trained to do, and what pages like this one are designed to do (because we almost always aren't worried about such "author disclaimers").

The PDF itself can't be modified, legally, with any introductory additions even. I would wager that it's currently being hosted without AK Press's consent, but I don't know the dealings... I bet they'd ask for it down now if asked.

I don't really like the idea of Schmidt being able to point people to a URL on libcom and do hand-waving, saying "oh that's just a faceless campaign to call me fascist because I went undercover", either. So far, it's been very successful as a strategy (even getting him 4-out-of-5-star reviews for another book in SA's most-read newspaper, *after* the reviewer was contacted about Strandwolf).

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 13, 2017

zug--

Kropotkin isn't the main issue here, and we can argue about that later, but.....

1. this is not an anarchist site; the "learn more" field says this an libertarian-communist site, and regards anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism as influences, as it does Marxism.

2. Lenin's not the man issue here, either, although Libcom cites approvingly the influence of CLR James, an avowed Leninist, on its collective view of class struggle. I have a different problem with CLR James, namely that he, for a short time, was a member of a bourgeois nationalist government; that he advocated Pan-Africanism as a way forward for revolutionary struggle.

Schmidt is the issue here-- a man advocating white nationalism and racial superiority and "sympathy" for the Boer, and advocating the three both explicitly as a fascist, and implicitly as a radical anarchist.

If that's considered a legitimate influence on this site, then I would suggest the admins make it possible for participants on the site to close their accounts; and rather than put a disclaimer up about the book, we could explain why we are "resigning" from Libcom.

Believe me, if the admins would make such a feature available, and keep Schmidt's material, and that of his defenders, I'd be gone in less than 2 heartbeats.

jef costello

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jef costello on July 13, 2017

William Everard

Khawaga

I say leave it up and the admins ask William Everard to write a disclaimer.

+1 but not gonna happen. I don't think a statement will ever happen; agreement is a rare thing in these forums and even minor points are distorted and dissected until they're meaningless.

There already is a disclaimer, so a new improved one would probably be accepted. Post it in the thread and it will get read by admin in the end.

Also keeping the page but removing the PDF defeats the purpose as the pdf is what brings the links in.

adri

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by adri on July 13, 2017

S. Artesian

zug--

Kropotkin isn't the main issue here, and we can argue about that later, but.....

1. this is not an anarchist site; the "learn more" field says this an libertarian-communist site, and regards anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism as influences, as it does Marxism.

Yes I know this is not technically an anarchist site (as I've stated before). But as you know the anarchists were first to adopt the "libertarian" label politically, which is seen by many as just another way of saying anarchist (North America is a different story where the word has been taken over by "free-market" Right-wingers). It's basically an anarchist site, especially if we're not being pedantic with words and allow the use of both terms to those in the Marxist tradition.

I don't know who C.L.R James is but as long as his works don't explicitly advocate the tactics of Lenin and the Bolsheviks then I don't see what the problem is (I'm still waiting to be refuted in the other thread by the way); it depends on what those works are. Others have already pointed out that the Harman book was bad in every respect, whereas this book has merit content-wise but a controversial and possibly fascist author instead. I think the disclaimer should suffice.

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 13, 2017

don't know who C.L.R James is but as long as his works don't explicitly advocate the tactics of Lenin and the Bolsheviks then I don't see what the problem is (I'm still waiting to be refuted in the other thread by the way); it depends on what those works are. Others have already pointed out that the Harman book was bad in every respect, whereas this book has merit content-wise but a controversial and possibly fascist author instead. I think the disclaimer should suffice.

Priceless. No further comment necessary.

adri

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by adri on July 14, 2017

S. Artesian

don't know who C.L.R James is but as long as his works don't explicitly advocate the tactics of Lenin and the Bolsheviks then I don't see what the problem is (I'm still waiting to be refuted in the other thread by the way); it depends on what those works are. Others have already pointed out that the Harman book was bad in every respect, whereas this book has merit content-wise but a controversial and possibly fascist author instead. I think the disclaimer should suffice.

Priceless. No further comment necessary.

Which part exactly? Regarding Lenin and the Bolsheviks, I just wanted to know how you respond to anarchists/historians like Berkman and Avrich. You can direct your condescension to Rob Ray who just said this:

Black Flame isn't Mein Kampf, it's a book about anarchists which, before the other stuff came out, was widely lauded (and critically read) by other anarchists. Clearly it had useful aspects. The references alone are a goldmine. Do we ignore all that and start over from scratch because it was Schmidt who found them? Or do we accept those writings are tainted by strong biases, criticially re-read it in the light of that, and grab the useful bits?

if you think this is just a poorly researched, badly written book.

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 14, 2017

Condescension? You admit to not knowing who CLR James is. Or knowing what the content of his works are-- but it's ok as long his works don't explicitly advocate the tactics of Lenin. You'll have to read his works-- which I greatly encourage you to do; and read them critically-- because James claims he's a Leninist, but was willing to become an official in Eric E. Williams Popular Nationalist govt. in Trinidad-Tobago; which didn't stop Williams from jailing him when James advocated a little too much Leninism.

The point being, you have to actually know what you are talking about before declaiming on what's OK and what's not OK.

The objection to Harman's book was made solely on Harman's relation to the SWP. Others chimed in later about the book not being very good; the book being too Leninist etc. etc. Now the admins may claim they took it down because of the book's "poor research" or "bad politics" but that's just bullshit. It was taken down because of the objection that its presence was unconscionable given the author's connection to the "rape culture" tolerated in the SWP. There wasn't a shred of evidence offered that Harman participated, covered-up, acted one way or the other regarding that culture. Somebody said that he "heard" that Harman was known to come on to women.

Now Schmidt is an outright fascist, white nationalist, who when initially exposed, denied it, lied, and sought support and testaments from his co-author and comrades among anarchists and anarchists organizations. I think that some of those organizations are still trying to protect him-- see Everard's posts on the anarkismo site.

That's not a horrible enough "association" to warrant removal of a book that has been used to burnish this person's reputation?

I think maintaining the presence of the book amounts to protecting Schmidt from the complete shunning, isolation, and opposition that is required under such circumstances.

I sincerely hope that if the admins keep that work available on this site, they provide an opt-out feature, allowing participants to close their accounts and remove themselves for Libcom. In the immortals words of Hudson in Aliens: "How do I get out of this chicken-shit outfit?"

adri

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by adri on July 14, 2017

S. Artesian

Condescension? You admit to not knowing who CLR James is. Or knowing what the content of his works are-- but it's ok as long his works don't explicitly advocate the tactics of Lenin. You'll have to read his works-- which I greatly encourage you to do; and read them critically-- because James claims he's a Leninist, but was willing to become an official in Eric E. Williams Popular Nationalist govt. in Trinidad-Tobago; which didn't stop Williams from jailing him when James advocated a little too much Leninism.

Then say that than the condescending "priceless." Is there something wrong with that condition? This is not a website for Leninists as others have again pointed out. I said it depends on what that work is -- never said any action should be taken against C.R.L James (and I'm sure the admins are plenty annoyed already with people going around wanting works removed; just waiting for someone to ask for Conquest of Bread to be removed which will be the climax of all this).

The point being, you have to actually know what you are talking about before declaiming on what's OK and what's not OK.

True, but I'm not invested in this work or the so-called "People's History of the World" (is that in honor of Howard Zinn or something? edit -- oh, Zinn actually praised the book); I'm just giving others the benefit of the doubt and stating that if so and so is the case then these responses would seem reasonable. If the contents of those works don't fall in line with Libcom's aims, then removal or disclaimers seem reasonable. I could pose that back to you and ask whether you've read either of these works.

Now Schmidt is an outright fascist, white nationalist, who when initially exposed, denied it, lied, and sought support and testaments from his co-author and comrades among anarchists and anarchists organizations. I think that some of those organizations are still trying to protect him-- see Everard's posts on the anarkismo site.

That's not a horrible enough "association" to warrant removal of a book that has been used to burnish this person's reputation?

I think maintaining the presence of the book amounts to protecting Schmidt from the complete shunning, isolation, and opposition that is required under such circumstances.

I think there's something to what others have been saying about putting a disclaimer on instead of removing anything (which maybe could have been done with the Harman book as well), which this already has but might need to be updated. That way people know why a work is controversial and won't be deceived in any way or ask if they can upload it to the site, and as stated before others don't seem to think this is a completely rubbish book.

Fleur

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on July 14, 2017

*fwiw, I'm not willing to get drawn into a protracted argument about this*

I'm assuming that when people upload books to the library they have already read the book and therefore know it's contents and anything which may be problematic about it and can write a short, accompanying paragraph to go with it and anything they were not aware of can be edited in later. I appreciate that this is already standard practice but perhaps this could be made more explicit in the posting guidelines, something along the lines of a content note.

I am also assuming that we are all adults, or near as damn it, and are capable of drawing our own conclusions from what we are reading. I doubt if there are many libcom users who do not read books and articles written from different political perspectives, especially given that would mean only a small pool of material to draw from. I'm currently reading a history of Appalachian coal mining and it's perspective is annoying the crap out of me but it's still a worthwhile read because I am capable of drawing my own conclusions from it. I think we are capable of taking what is good and disregarding what is bad.

This site has a vast collection of material and it's probably a little unreasonable to expect a small group of people to be fully aware of the contents of everything. IMO, it's up to the users of this site to manage it's contents and anything here should be up for discussion.

As for Schmidt, I would rather that people were talking about him, letting people know about his white suprematism, then trying to expunge him from the internet, which is impossible anyway. He's still out there, people he comes into contact with should be aware of this, rather than trying to disappear him.

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 14, 2017

Zug, it's hare not to be condescending when you (repeatedly) write things like:

True, but I'm not invested in this work or the so-called "People's History of the World" (is that in honor of Howard Zinn or something? edit -- oh, Zinn actually praised the book);

The things you are not "invested in" "interested in" or know about would fill volumes. And you claim that as qualification for giving opinions on what should be on the site and what shouldn't be.

Fleur

I am also assuming that we are all adults, or near as damn it, and are capable of drawing our own conclusions from what we are reading. I doubt if there are many libcom users who do not read books and articles written from different political perspectives, especially given that would mean only a small pool of material to draw from. I'm currently reading a history of Appalachian coal mining and it's perspective is annoying the crap out of me but it's still a worthwhile read because I am capable of drawing my own conclusions from it. I think we are capable of taking what is good and disregarding what is bad.

OK that's fine.

But what was it that compelled the admins to take down Harman's book?

And if Harman's presence was intolerable, why would the admins tolerate Schmidt's book?

Serge Forward

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on July 14, 2017

Couple of questions from someone who hasn't read this to those who have...

Is this a fascist, white supremacist, racist or nationalist book? If yes, then such shite should immediately get binned off. If no, then leave it up with a heavy disclaimer and, of course, all the above comments.

Does it contain ideas, research, anything of value that is not covered in other writings? If yes, keep it with a disclaimer. If no, shred it.

adri

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by adri on July 14, 2017

S. Artesian

Zug, it's hare not to be condescending when you (repeatedly) write things like
...
The things you are not "invested in" "interested in" or know about would fill volumes. And you claim that as qualification for giving opinions on what should be on the site and what shouldn't be.

"Things like this" It's actually very easy, you're doing it again by the way, putting condescension in place of substance. Yes, my condition that if a work is a straight up Leninist work it should not belong on the site is something I stand by. I don't see what your point is.

Rob Ray

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on July 14, 2017

check out the massive censorship on Anarkismo.net in the past few days

But again, if Anarkismo are campaigning for him surely the best way to counter any efforts to revitalise his reputation is to control the most popular pages linked to his work and make sure they explain about his background, rather than end up buried on page 10 of a Google search with some strong "libcom statement" that no-one will care about beyond the first week or so while Anarkismo holds the key pages?

People clearly aren't reading such caveats all over the web when doing business with him

And they certainly won't be if their go-to places to find out about him are run by his supporters (NB// I say "if" because from experience, what things look like from outside a process can be very different to what's going on inside it).

Again, is it the duty of Libcom to offer a caveat along with the book for some reason?

You're missing where I'm coming from here. I think Schmidt has no place in the movement, but Black Flame has some useful aspects for anarchists. My suggested technique for making sure that the useful information isn't lost while also making sure Schmidt's background is very clear is to host the book with prominent disclaimer. It's not about duty, it's about strategy and making the best of a bad job.

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?

Is this a fascist, white supremacist, racist or nationalist book?

No, with caveats - it has national liberationist leanings which were highlighted early as odd for an anarchist-communist book and which with hindsight could well have been informed by Schmidt's "other" life. And as a specific example it has some excellent pointers on the spread of syndicalism across black communities in South Africa but also only really names white organisers.

Does it contain ideas, research, anything of value that is not covered in other writings?

On balance, yes. Syndicalist writing tends to focus on Europe and the US, but they do make an effort to cast the net wider. Much of it involves pulling together disparate strands of research into one narrative, which makes it a useful one-stop shop for early researching.

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 14, 2017

Serge Forward

Couple of questions from someone who hasn't read this to those who have...

Is this a fascist, white supremacist, racist or nationalist book? If yes, then such shite should immediately get binned off. If no, then leave it up with a heavy disclaimer and, of course, all the above comments.

Does it contain ideas, research, anything of value that is not covered in other writings? If yes, keep it with a disclaimer. If no, shred it.

Serge,

As straightforward as your questions are, I think they miss several key points, if not the key point. Namely that Schmidt's connection with Black Flame was used to protect him, shield him, defend him from his exposure as a fascist.

And.... the book is still being used for that purpose; as "evidence" that there must be some validity of Schmidt's "mental breakdown" defense.

The book's "unique" content is irrelevant to its use as a political tool, an ideological weapon, in the attempts to "recuperate" Schmidt, retrieve his credibility, and allow him to continue his practice of his own particular pathology within the libertarian anarcho-communist milieu.

Now I don't think that it serves Libcom and its participants to be party to that; to that "weaponization" of anarchist credentials as a cover for fascist action. I sure know I don't want to be associated with any platform that engages in that.... so maybe it's a win-win. Libcom can keep Schmidt and get rid of me at the same time.

William Everard

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 14, 2017

S. Artesian

As straightforward as your questions are, I think they miss several key points, if not the key point. Namely that Schmidt's connection with Black Flame was used to protect him, shield him, defend him from his exposure as a fascist.

And.... the book is still being used for that purpose; as "evidence" that there must be some validity of Schmidt's "mental breakdown" defense.

The book's "unique" content is irrelevant to its use as a political tool, an ideological weapon, in the attempts to "recuperate" Schmidt, retrieve his credibility, and allow him to continue his practice of his own particular pathology within the libertarian anarcho-communist milieu.

Now I don't this that it serves Libcom and its participants to be party to that; to that "weaponization" of anarchist credentials as a cover for fascist action. I sure know I don't want to be associated with any platform that engages in that.... so maybe it's a win-win. Libcom can keep Schmidt and get rid of me at the same time.

THIS. +1

Though, the June 22 announcement etc. is pulled from Anarkismo.net and the commission may have been called off. Anyone know if that is actually the case?

William Everard

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 14, 2017

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.

S. Artesian

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 14, 2017

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.

adri

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by adri on July 14, 2017

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

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 14, 2017

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

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 16, 2017

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_Politics_of_Anarchism_and_Syndicalism_(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-class-politics-of-anarchism-and-syndicalism-—-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-Power/dp/190485916X 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

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by William Everard on July 17, 2017

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.blogspot.co.za/2017/02/what-rough-beast-its-hour-come-round-at.html

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

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on July 17, 2017

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

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 17, 2017

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

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bootsy on July 17, 2017

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

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by AndrewF on July 18, 2017

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

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on July 18, 2017

Schmidt

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-03032009
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/books-italian-anarcho-syndicalism-05102010#comment-400771

OliverTwister

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by OliverTwister on July 18, 2017

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

bootsy

7 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bootsy on July 19, 2017

AndrewF

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.

westartfromhere

4 months 3 weeks ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on March 2, 2024

Just skimmed through this thread and saw a few mentions of C. L. R. James. His work on the revolution in, and counter-revolution of, Haiti is great and easy to read. He is a straight up Leninist/authoritarian Communist, however, and this fact sullies the book. As a black antedote to James, Anarchy in the Haitian Revolution, serves well.