AK Press allegations against Michael Schmidt

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Burgers
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Oct 20 2015 19:20

It appears chapter 4 is still being worked on https://instagram.com/p/9EhtKeRLII/

Flint
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Oct 20 2015 21:12
akai wrote:
About the class anarchist bashing, my opinion is that only anti-nationalist and anti-hierarchical class anarchism is worth a damn. Where criticism is unjustified, it is not a problem to counter any of these people's criticism. lt is only a problem if they have points. So l think that where class anarchist have taken problematic positions, we have to clearly disassociate ourselves and movements from them

For folks who don't frequent Libcom, the general criticism of Black Flame is that it tried to disassociate anti-nationalist/anti-hierarchical class anarchism from other kinds of "anarchism", particularly anti-organizational/individualist strains with its focus on anarcho-syndicalist mass movements an specific organizations propagating a class anarchist politics. I realize some folks don't feel it was sufficiently anti-nationalist (re: inclusion of Connolly, etc..) but the opinion of Rob Los Ricos in critiquing Black Flame for a lack of support for left nationalism is shared by others.

Particularly early on, this issue seemed like a Rorschach test where whatever problem someone had with Schmidt's known politics and/or Black Flame was used as an argument: "Ah ha! I knew that *ism was the path to fascism". Rob Los Ricos is just one of the more annoying examples.

syndicalist
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Oct 20 2015 21:55

I can't believe anyone is thinking that BF was anything more then what it is. An attempt to give a certain class struggle perspective, while also stretching the limits of who could be considered a syndicalist (Connolly, DeLeon, etc).

While I have significant disagreements with the book, there are some decent things in it as well. And while I thought the inclusion of very clearly marxist identified sorta-kinda-maybe syndicalists took away from the book, nowhere would I have thought it was walking people towards fascism. Hardly.

One can clearly argue whether the glee-full mention of the Spanish CGT at the end was smart. Or the concept of "anarchism and syndicalism (imply seperatae and distant ideas and tendencies)", rather then anarcho-syndicalism, but I think its, respectfully, a bit of a stretch to imply the soft road to facsim is paved in BF.

Mark.
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Oct 20 2015 23:35

An additional statement by Michael Schmidt which I don't think has been linked to here. It doesn't really address the claims directly, but for the sake of completeness: https://www.facebook.com/AKPress/posts/10154181264264186

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Oct 21 2015 02:04

Chapter four is up: https://medium.com/@rossstephens/about-schmidt-how-a-white-nationalist-s...

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Oct 21 2015 02:42

Still no evidence of him being an infiltrator...

ajjohnstone
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Oct 21 2015 02:43

I now have to withdraw my earlier doubts about ZACF in giving MS, so to speak, a get out of jail card, for i now read that they did indeed rightly begin an investigation into his behaviour and beliefs.

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He began to dial down his “KarelianBlue” Stormfront profile, likely as a result of the investigation into his activities by the ZACF.

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Oct 21 2015 02:47
Khawaga wrote:
Still no evidence of him being an infiltrator...

Yeah, so far only part 2 has seemed to carry any real weight as far as I can see. So unless they've got a Jinx situation up their sleeve, I don't think they've proved anything more than Schmidt's - to be fair, unquestionable at this point - racism.

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Oct 21 2015 02:49
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Comparing the regimes of the late Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro to the parafascist regime of Juan Peron, Schmidt’s article identifies as fascist “everything from the openly neo-fascist Golden Dawn in Greece, to Morales’s ethnic-capitalist ‘Evoism’ in Bolivia, to the ultra-conservative Tea Party faction within the Republicans in the United States, in sum, a counter-hegemonic movement that has distinct left and right wings, both of which draw their oxygen from populaces disillusioned with the exhausted politics-as-usual of the ballot box.” While this incredibly broad definition of fascism is both unfocused and demonstrably inaccurate (neither Mussolini’s Fascist Party nor Hitler’s Nazi Party had any compunction using the ballot box as part of a broader strategy, and any number of populist political forms can be presented as a counter-hegemonic, extra-parliamentary movements with left and right wings), it has a certain shotgun-blast appeal that presents all enemies as united through a common, easily identifiable grouping.

*Cough* Nationalism *cough*

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Oct 21 2015 03:04

Khawaga, at this point, I don't think they are using infiltrator in the strictest sense, i.e., that he was sent into the anarchist movement by a fascist organization. They seem to intend it as his participation in the anarchist movement having been his own personal initiative to win people or an organization to his own idiosyncratic Third Positionist politics - or, to use ARR and JS's phrase,

Quote:
Schmidt’s attempt to merge lone wolf white nationalism with a broadly accepted, leftist revolutionary position.

If you read the Daily Maverick article linked to and quoted in Chapter 4, it's pretty clear he was starting to place white nationalist sympathies into his journalistic work.

We'll see how they wrap this up, but this is rather convoluted as is - and horrifying. I mean, it was over for Schmidt in the anarchist movement when he confirmed he wrote the memo and defended its content.

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klas batalo
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Oct 21 2015 03:18
Pennoid wrote:
Quote:
Comparing the regimes of the late Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro to the parafascist regime of Juan Peron, Schmidt’s article identifies as fascist “everything from the openly neo-fascist Golden Dawn in Greece, to Morales’s ethnic-capitalist ‘Evoism’ in Bolivia, to the ultra-conservative Tea Party faction within the Republicans in the United States, in sum, a counter-hegemonic movement that has distinct left and right wings, both of which draw their oxygen from populaces disillusioned with the exhausted politics-as-usual of the ballot box.” While this incredibly broad definition of fascism is both unfocused and demonstrably inaccurate (neither Mussolini’s Fascist Party nor Hitler’s Nazi Party had any compunction using the ballot box as part of a broader strategy, and any number of populist political forms can be presented as a counter-hegemonic, extra-parliamentary movements with left and right wings), it has a certain shotgun-blast appeal that presents all enemies as united through a common, easily identifiable grouping.

*Cough* Nationalism *cough*

As mentioned earlier, the writers, and certainly people in their milieu (lots of liberal anarchists just adopt new left lite positions on shit) are definitely closer to left nationalism, and seeing that as an issue with BF et al's supposed eurocentric view.

---

In regards part 4. Unless there is something in part 5 from what I hear from some people who saw the drafts, I don't think there will be a last minute clincher that really has folks satisfied on the whole infiltrator thing. Like lumpen said its sorta the whole well see he's a really bad anarchist, and we can't prove for sure with hard cite-able meat space evidence, so WANNA BELIEVE.

Also thanks Shorty for bumping my post.

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Oct 21 2015 03:36
Operaista wrote:
Khawaga, at this point, I don't think they are using infiltrator in the strictest sense, i.e., that he was sent into the anarchist movement by a fascist organization. They seem to intend it as his participation in the anarchist movement having been his own personal initiative to win people or an organization to his own idiosyncratic Third Positionist politics - or, to use ARR and JS's phrase,

Yes, I get that... well sort of. But the problem is that when AK Press stated he was a fascist infiltrator, the idea you get (at least I did, and seems like I wasn't the only one) is that this was as you say "sent into the anarchist movement by a fascist organization". And as someone who hosted him in my city, he met quite a few comrades etc. I did start to wonder whether he did collect intel and thus if people should be worried. I agree that what the story has proved is that he is more of a lone wolf trying to win folks over to his brand of racism/national anarchism. But in the light of that, AK's original statement is even worse and even more irresponsible. They could have "just" said that he was a racist national anarchist.

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Oct 21 2015 04:03

Khawaga, that's the idea I got as well from AK's original statement, and so I'm with you on the worry of whether intel was collected and people had been put in danger. AK's statement was not well-thought out in phrasing or timing; it is distressing to me to see the attacks on AK though on their Facebook page, though.

This is the problem where the primary accusations against MS are ideological - that he said he was one thing (an anarchist) but was really another (a national anarchist/Third Positionist). Which is why the situation of someone sent in by an existing fascist org to win over, split, or destroy an organization would be easier to determine. Here, we're left with a body of work split between multiple settings (an anarchist organization, journalism, white nationalist communications), and trying to figure out what is actual views most likely are, and then decide how much of a threat he is based on that judgment.

Flint
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Oct 21 2015 04:13
Alexander Reid Ross and Joshua Stephens wrote:
There is little room in this theory for feminism and “white skin privilege” analysis of “little-a anarchism.”

Feminism and white skin privilege analysis come from little-a anarchism! Learn something new every day, folks!

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Oct 21 2015 04:54

What I think they're getting at is Schmidt's tendency to call any variant of anarchism he doesn't like "little-a anarchism", thus he instantly discounts any anarchism that has incorporated an analysis of feminism or "white skin privilege", for reasons far more sinister than the usual vulgar economism. Definitely not the clearest point in the world, though.

I think it was back in Chapter 2 that they discussed Schmidt calling white skin privilege Maoism, which points to how poor a historian he is of radical movements.

Schmidt seems to have played off of/tied into a certain romanticism about a caricature of anarchism up to 1936 when there were real anarchists who organized working class workers who worked in factories and didn't worry themselves with feminism or white supremacy.

Flint
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Oct 21 2015 05:16

The "little-a anarchism" and "big-a anarchism" originated from an article from David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic. Graeber called his preferred anarchism of consensus decision-making, global summit protests, affinity groups, etc... as "small-a anarchism" and criticized NEFAC and other platformists as "big-A anarchists" as a pejorative. Even though we were involved in the same activity and even at times in the same affinity group with him!

Its a relatively obscure reference, but one that Joshua Stephens and Michael Schmidt would both probably know.,

David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic wrote:
At the moment, there's something of a rupture between generations of anarchism: between those whose political formation took place in the 60s and 70s -- and who often still have not shaken the sectarian habits of the last century -- or simply still operate in those terms, and younger activists much more informed, among other elements, by indigenous, feminist, ecological and cultural-critical ideas. The former organize mainly through highly visible Anarchist Federations like the IWA, NEFAC or IWW. The latter work most prominently in the networks of the global social movement, networks like Peoples Global Action, which unites anarchist collectives in Europe and elsewhere with groups ranging from Maori activists in New Zealand, fisherfolk in Indonesia, or the Canadian postal workers' union. (2) The latter -- what might be loosely referred to as the "small-a anarchists", are now by far the majority. But it is sometimes hard to tell, since so many of them do not trumpet their affinities very loudly. There are many, in fact, who take anarchist principles of anti-sectarianism and open-endedness so seriously that they refuse to refer to themselves as "anarchists" for that very reason.

Anarchism, Or The Revolutionary Movement Of The Twenty-First Century

Of course among the things ridiculous about his demographic analysis of IWA/NEFAC/IWW and the small-a anarchists was painting NEFAC and the IWW as a bunch of old beards. I think at the time this was written, the average age in NEFAC was 25 or so. Graeber was older than that. The Post-Leftist crowd ad AJODA (McQuinn, Black, Jarach) was considerably older and very sectarian.

"Big-A anarchism" is a pejorative used by self-identified "little-a anarchists".

Schmidt's politics appear such a mess in these articles I wouldn't be surprised if he used it as a positive description for syndicalism or formal organizations; but its origin is as a pejorative (though perhaps Graeber and Grubacic thought they were being descriptive).

One thing to note that since that piece by Graeber and Grubacic, they both joined the IWW and Grubacic also joined the former-IWA affiliate the WSA.

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Oct 21 2015 05:14
Graeber wrote:
the Canadian postal workers' union.

Funny, all the anarchists I've met from that union have all been so called big-A anarchists, but then again they were also feminists. So maybe the latter trumps the former. In any case, what a piss poor analysis by Graeber, and rather sectarian. Stones, glasshouses and all that.

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klas batalo
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Oct 21 2015 05:17
Operaista wrote:
I think it was back in Chapter 2 that they discussed Schmidt calling white skin privilege Maoism, which points to how poor a historian he is of radical movements.

This is probably tangential like many things on this thread, but I don't think it is that far off if you have a look at Ignatiev's politics, and others at the time that they were coming out of the New Left and New Communist Movement milieus. Maoism as a quick label doesn't surprise me. Certainly a lot of these types of analyses eventually became popular in watered down ways by most of the liberal / radical left in North America?

r-exist
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Oct 21 2015 05:35

I'd say by this time it is already possible to get a better picture of the bigger context.

AK Press definitely should have waited for all of the material to be ready, for it to come out at once with the report on them cutting relations with him (which should have been the focus on their note: we cut relations with one of our authors because of ...). As they said in the beginning: they had heard rumours more than six months before, and Schmidt has been into this stuff for a full decade - so what would be two possible arguments for them to rush and try and make it even more dramatic than it seems to be (infiltration!): 1) they made a fucking bi mistake and should admit to it at some point 2) getting the full picture of a story like this, they might ask themselves why the fuck they had not noticed anything on the long road of being his editors... they might be worried of being dragged into this...

No matter how: it seems that they are the one's that publicly claimed Schmidt is a fascist infiltrator, so they will have to make a statement if they still stand to their accusation at some point.

The authors would definitely have done a lot better, if they had found a collective form of turning this stuff public, I don't see any point why it was necessary to publish these texts as "journalists"/"story writers" with their names under and all over it. This seems more critical as right away AK Press stated that what would be the evidence that "one of their authors" was a "fascist infiltrator" would be presented by another "of our authors". Surprisingly or coincidentally one that has a book coming up to be published with AK on the same "hot" topic (which is way too important to be treated like a "hot" topic). Also I don't see how serious stuff like this should be used to self-promote as some kind of scene-saviour from the evil. Sorry, but the first declaration ARR put out after AK Press went public with their accusations was just deeply pathetic:

Quote:
If you were one of those that he has fooled along the way, take comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone. If you are one of those who have caught a whiff of a suspicious odor from him, I would ask that we take a moment to be humble, and recognize that Schmidt does not speak for or represent the tendency of Platformism, and that fascists in our midst have been outed as Egoists/Individualists, Nihilists, and Green Anarchists as well. We have the chance to use this as an opportunity to gain momentum as a movement and rededicate ourselves to beating the fascists. Let's take that chance, a risk perhaps, rather than breaking solidarity and/or descending into sectarian feuds that will open the floodgates for increased entryism into the communities that we love.

The delay in publicizing the texts allowed the authors to relate to MS's defense, it would have been better not to do that, this being a point easily giving arguments to the hopefully less and less MS's supporters ("they put him on the wall, to see if he admits or sth. of the kind")

All this critique is not supposed to make forget that these guys put quite some effort into researching and point out to a quite complex relation of participation in the anarchist movement, personal career (MS as a writer and journalist, I suggest he was not only into entryism, he wanted to maintain his status as a popstar-writer on anarchism, one reason he would not be more publically clear on his racist/nationalist opinions) and really fucked up opinions that seem to hide behind ever more "theoretically complex" constructions. I thought it worrying that there were quite e few commentators arguing that Schmidt was just asking and discussing some difficult questions in his position paper, while it is just a fucking racist adaptation of some elements put together from platformism (inner circle only white that are other than black mentally and physically capable, relating to a completely freakingly wrong interpretation of the white working class in Brasil, that according to MS in that paper in the past had been worse off than Brazilian's blacks-wtf?) and leninist vanguardism and use them to help defend a clearly and purely racist position.

The question that the authors seem to write on in the last bit of this polit-soap is a question that they will not be able to answer on their own I guess. So, I would rather not expect more great revelations, rather than their interpretation of why Schmidt has been able to promote white nationalism/racism while still being seen and treated as a respectable reference by quite a few for the history on anarchism/interpretation of the anarchist movement? How the fuck can things like these happen, that for such a long time and even MS's former organisation investigating on it never led to some kind of public statement on MS's ideas and writing? How could the Boer article be published on anarkismo.net? Who cross-checked, proof-read it? How can MS in the article on Ramnath's books proudly present himself as a founder of ZACF without also stating that he has not been a member of that group anymore for three years at that point of time. Why have those individuals that have come up now and reaffirmed these accusations not been able to do anything in that sense? Why would they need some writers from another part of the world to do so?

Well, the questions are a lot more... and not to forget, there might still be the statement of defence by MS and also hopefully explanations by people like vdW or the ITHA-IATH, who he is part of (apparently at this moment the only direct link he has to any anarchist group - a research group on anarchist history).

Are these precipitated conclusions? Is anyone expecting that views and opinions on these questions might still see some unexpected turn around with answers of MS and who else will answer, if?

I stop here.

Black Badger
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Oct 21 2015 05:44

Off topic, sorry, but I can't let this slide:

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The Post-Leftist crowd ad AJODA (McQuinn, Black, Jarach) was considerably older and very sectarian.

Non sequitur much? Aside from that, what's your definition of "sectarian"? Someone who doesn't like your ideas and/or someone whose ideas you don't like?

Flint
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Oct 21 2015 11:24
Black Badger wrote:
Off topic, sorry, but I can't let this slide:

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The Post-Leftist crowd ad AJODA (McQuinn, Black, Jarach) was considerably older and very sectarian.

Non sequitur much? Aside from that, what's your definition of "sectarian"? Someone who doesn't like your ideas and/or someone whose ideas you don't like?

The old/young division was Graeber/Grubacic. not mine: "between those whose political formation took place in the 60s and 70s -- and who often still have not shaken the sectarian habits of the last century -- or simply still operate in those terms, and younger activists "

As to "sectarian", Graeber/Grubacic applied "sectarian" to IWW/NEFAC/IWA with a broad brush.

AJODA was very sectarian and anti-NEFAC, from the get go. NEFAC largely didn't engage post-leftism or AJODA but instead tended to publish articles about our activity and experiences. If you don't agree with my opinion about that, then I guess we just disagree and I'm happy to leave it at that.

Burgers
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Oct 21 2015 08:49

A couple of things to think about in chapter 4

Quote:
He began to dial down his “KarelianBlue” Stormfront profile, likely as a result of the investigation into his activities by the ZACF.

Quote:
Although Black Battlefront and KarelianBlue had fallen off by 2012

I do find this a little hard to believe based on the fact that there seems to be no outcome on the part of ZACF and also the fact they have loads of his articles on there website including "Death and the Mielieboer" still. http://zabalaza.net/?s=Schmidt

also

Quote:
In an unpublished article presented to us by Schmidt over the course of our interview, titled “Neither Fish nor Fowl: Populism, Red Overalls and Black Shirts,”

Based on the fact that the interview with MS was done over email throughout the month of August you would think they would share with us this article, rather than we have to take there word for it as fact?

akai
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Oct 21 2015 09:51

So, it seems "sectarianism" means being critical by that definition.

Yes, G&G used this word very broadly, then joined the people they criticized. Maybe infiltration is much more common than we think. smile

But seriously, back to the Schmidt case, l don't know if any of you have been trying to find out how NA's have been reacting to this all. So far l haven't found them angrily discussing their infiltration. On the contrary, it only seems that they have been active on the internet defending Schmidt's positions.
This would suggest that most NA types do not seem threatened by his supposed infiltration.

l could contrast this to reactions of such people to my criticisms of them, which often included threats of violence, extreme trolling, disinformation campaigns etc. l would assume that if any of them really believed Schmidt was an anarchist which was against them and spying, there would have already been some reaction.

Jim
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Oct 21 2015 10:43
akai wrote:
So far l haven't found them angrily discussing their infiltration.

You're not friends with Troy Southgate on Facebook then.

Mark.
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Oct 21 2015 11:11

Here's the Daily Maverick article quoted in this: http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-09-22-the-two-faces-of-globa...

It doesn't look especially controversial to me. I'd hazard a guess that the unpublished article they mention wouldn't sound that controversial either if read as a whole rather than selectively mined to support their argument.

Quote:
Schmidt ends the article with an insistence that “EFF is playing with fire, because while it is totally correct in challenging oligarchy, monopoly and the continued dominance of the white elite of some 320,000 people (plus about 1,500 people of color), it’s [sic] ethnicisation of the country’s troubles promises to sow dragon’s teeth in our red soil.” It is difficult to parse through the mixed metaphors in this sentence. First, “our red soil” evokes the mixture of the blood of the Boer and the “blood and soil” nationalism of Schmidt’s Afrikaner identity, which he sees as “inextricably intertwined with Africans. The fire seems to represent “the continuing dominance of the white elite,” while the “dragon’s teeth” seems to represent prospective forces of white genocide. The only apparent reading of this is that Schmidt is claiming that the EFF would ignite a kind of race war, in which the “fire” of the white elite would fall on the side of the Afrikaners, ultimately destroying the EFF and its followers.

I don't actually see anything problematic in Schmidt's conclusion there, as opposed to the interpretation of it by Reid Ross and Stephens.

Jim
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Oct 21 2015 11:45

There's an article by Schmidt talking about 'genocide' which you can read online:

http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-star-early-edition/20150422/...

Interestingly, as well as revealing Schmidt is a landlord it contains an anecdote which looks fairly similar to one which Schmidt's Stormfront account mentioned. One key difference though.

Quote:
The first is an old hand-made dagger that I keep for safety’s sake in the door of my car.
“What is this?” Jesse asks. “It’s a knife.” “What is it for?” “It’s for the skebengas” – for in truth, I had drawn it once against a criminal: arriving home one night, I’d intervened after a man with a knife stabbed a woman in the thigh in my street and ran off with her purse. Armed with my dagger, I gave chase but lost him in a notorious local shebeen. I cleaned the woman’s wound and took her to hospital. The fact that she turned out to be a neighbour, black and a South African were irrelevant as I was moved by pure instinct to protect this unknown woman.

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Oct 21 2015 13:30

Yeah I'm getting very weary of ARR/JS's style, I'm only half way through the latest instalment and going on reactions here there doesn't seem to be much else going on in part four.

One thing I found kind of sinister on the part of the authors is that they say "and those who openly insist that N-A is not fascist are more often than not national-anarchists, themselves."

Is this a preemptive broadside at their critics who might say they've convinced us that it's probable that MS has veered to NA but not that he's a fascist? Oh well then you must be a NA too. Get your self censorship hat on.

Right or wrong, I don't see what the difficulty is in being able to say National Anarchism is a heinous racist ideology and should be smashed, but we don't think it's the same thing as fascism.

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Oct 21 2015 13:37
Jim wrote:
akai wrote:
So far l haven't found them angrily discussing their infiltration.

You're not friends with Troy Southgate on Facebook then.

So it seems like some folks have followed how the far-right/NAs/fash are responding to this?

Anyone sum up the response for me?

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Oct 21 2015 13:43

Oh, just on what AK meant by "fascist" "infiltrator". They're editors and journalists - it's their job to be fucking pedantic. There's no excuse about broadly using these terms, especially such emotive and historically-loaded ones as these.

It's not like if they'd said "We have evidence that Schmidt is a racist who associates with the far-right and so-called 'national anarchists' therefore we're breaking ties with him.", people wouldn't have stood up and taken notice.

akai
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Oct 21 2015 14:34

No, l try to keep people like Troy Southgate off my Facebook, among others. lf l am wrong about that, then thanks for the info.