AK Press allegations against Michael Schmidt

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Oct 13 2015 17:58

Fucking christ. I don't think it's a conspiracy; I think it's a sense of guilt manifesting as doubt. The amount of vacillating here and among some anarchists is pretty despicable. Just because you gave BF a positive review doesn't make you an accidental racist, you can cut ties, it's no big deal.

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Oct 13 2015 18:04
Pennoid wrote:
Fucking christ. I don't think it's a conspiracy; I think it's a sense of guilt manifesting as doubt. The amount of vacillating here and among some anarchists is pretty despicable. Just because you gave BF a positive review doesn't make you an accidental racist, you can cut ties, it's no big deal.

Who are you even arguing with here? Saying AK have fucked up or doubting whether he's a fascist infiltrator isn't vacillating. It's attempting to get to the bottom of what's happened.

As far as I see here, no one has said anything that implies he isn't a white supremacist or that this isn't a problem.

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Oct 13 2015 18:19

Sorry, I was following it on FB a bit too and there was some shitty hair splitting and vacillating, even after this first "installment". As for on here it seems that Jim:

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I'm not even convinced Schmidt is a racist after reading that, sure he makes what appear to be some seriously dodgy comments but there's nothing there which 100% confirms he is a racist.

And pgh2a:

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Of course if we assume, for the sake of argument, that his comments are racist, that still doesn't mean he is a white supremacist. Of course it puts his "undercover work" in an arguably different light.

Are not quite convinced by his advocacy of a white vanguard..... would it help if I drew a tiny mustache on him?

Jim
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Oct 13 2015 19:14

When I say I'm not convinced I mean I'm not sure how the statements which are clearly racist fit in with Schmidt's wider outlook and political activity. This seems to be more a case of an active anti-racist and anarchist having some horrific racist politics than a racist infiltrating the anarchist movement to subtly advocate racist politics and cause a shift to the right. But then I don't know what else is going to be released, if it's just the 'research' then I don't know if I can accept this guy is an ideologically committed white nationalist which is what's being alleged. Maybe something more definitive will come out, I don't know.

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Oct 13 2015 19:34
Mr. Jolly wrote:
Flava O Flav wrote:
Mr. Jolly wrote:
Having just skimmed the document, how come noone said, 'hold on, what did you just say?'

How do we know they didn't? Well it seems like they didn't adopt it anyway.

So its a case of 'what goes on in The Cadre stays in The Cadre?'.

What? Where did insinuate that?

ajjohnstone
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Oct 13 2015 23:38

My message #222 relates to that

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One person at the meeting, who asked not to be named for this piece, recalled, “Michael asked about thoughts on the document. Everyone was awkwardly quiet and pretended they hadn’t read it.

Umm...what does this say about the group as a whole...that they refrained from any criticism of another comrade (even if the meeting was held in his home)...reminded me of what i read in the Tyranny of Structurelessness...members a political group reluctant to disagree with a "leader" figure. I'm used to comrades challenging every dot and comma.

seahorse
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Oct 14 2015 02:27

Well fuck. Just got the news. And it's worse than I thought because not only is Michael Schmidt advocating some racist bullshit, but Zabalaza didn't have the decency to kick him out for it or at least vigorously debate him on it.

Well at least I'm very glad to hear this:

ocelot wrote:

Just as an FYI for those that don't know, in the years since MS left ZACF (effectively in 2009) and LvdW dropped down to supporter status, the ZACF has changed in composition substantially such that today it is a majority black organisation, most of whom were not around at the time MS was in the process of leaving the organisation.

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Oct 14 2015 06:51

Seeks most likely that MS gradually adopted racist ideas and moved in a national liberation -> national anarchism direction. My guess would be that he isn't particularly committed to the currently existing far right - his ideal dream would be fostering a large split from platformism/syndicalism towards racial seperatist/nationalist attitudes.

akai
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Oct 14 2015 06:45

BTW, somewhere MS has apparently answered in predictable fashion:

Here we can read:

[So it took my former publishers in the US a whole 18 days to come up with a single 2008 internal discussion document in which I ask difficult – and no doubt politically incorrect – questions as to why the ZACF had failed to (at that stage; they have now) attract significant black membership, as their “proof” that for decades I’ve been an undercover white supremacist. I’d say I was devastated if I hadn’t regained my sense of humour about all this buffoonery.

In fact the document was given to them by those who started this whispering campaign against me, so they probably had it 18 days ago; why wait so long? Because they are clutching at straws!

http://antifascistnews.net/2015/10/14/as-expose-is-released-michael-schmidt-continues-to-deny/

Having a lot of experience with these kinds of people (nationalist, authoritarian vanguard white males), this is exactly the type of response l expected. lnstead of addressing the issue in any meaningful way, claiming that people who complained about it are fools. And of course the explanation that this was an attempt to ask difficult questions.

l don't know about all of you, but l have been in discussions about what happens in groups with women, about how foreigners, people of color, etc. feel and sometimes are not integrated. The last time was at the Balkan Anarchosyndicalist Conference. ln addition to this, l brought up how organizations can be based too much on intellectual activity or create an atmosphere where people from outside any established political milieu feel alienated. l would consider talks like that to be honest efforts to deal with problems we see and they are very, very different than Schmidt's disgusting vanguard shit.

Schmidt may even eventually argue that he was merely thinking that segregated groups would allow better cohesion or whatever bullshit he might come up with. l am gonna keeps tabs on who are so foolish to believe that stuff. l am especially curious about claims that other Platformist organizations were consulted on these issues. l know some of them he mentioned to have shady politics on national questions and am now wondering how shady they can really get in private conversations.

Yes, the good news is the vanguardist, racist douchebag and his cohort pulled away a bit and the organization could develop in probably a healthier direction.

Flint
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Oct 14 2015 06:58
akai wrote:
l am especially curious about claims that other Platformist organizations were consulted on these issues.

Just to nip this in the bud, I'd imagine the best candidate Schmidt might try to shop this around would be the U.S. with its recent history of segregation, how the left is often still racially divided including in the anarchist milieu (as well as in the IWW), a history of black nationalism in the left, ongoing racist police issues, a common language of English (since that is what Schmidt is writing in so no translation needed).

At the time, NEFAC was the largest platformist group in the U.S. and it was engaged in dialogues with other class struggle groups about some sort of regroupment. That was around the time of Northeastern Anarchist Issue #13, Spring 2008. This document was never presented to the membership. I never heard of it.

So maybe we could hold off on the whole "how many platformists know about this?" particularly when it is a vague assertion.

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l know some of them he mentioned to have shady politics on national questions and am now wondering how shady they can really get in private conversations.

If you are going to talk shit on an organization's politics... do it. State the organization and point to the politics. But probably just about any other time would be better to do it than during this serialized drama release of evidence.

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Oct 14 2015 07:22
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Having a lot of experience with these kinds of people (nationalist, authoritarian vanguard white males), this is exactly the type of response l expected. lnstead of addressing the issue in any meaningful way, claiming that people who complained about it are fools.

This is surely part of the whole giant fuck up AK (and AK made the initial allegation, backed up with their reputation, no amount have of weaselling will change that, they hold responsibility) made.

They've had over 2 weeks to produce the promised evidence they promised. All they've done is produce a document that shows he's a white supremacist, but NOT a fascist infiltrator as they claimed. So of course they've made it easy for him to throw shot at the whole thing, given they haven't even remotely proven what they claimed, or even really attempted it. They may well have demonstrated he's a shit, but this isn't the claim they made.

And let's not ignore the elephant in the room here - the article is ~awful~. Not just politically, but journalistically. The only thing that makes a case against him is his own document. The entire shitty article just weakens it. As time goes on, this is just getting worse, and sorry but just because it's looking pretty certain that Schmidt is a racist prick, doesn't make the irresponsible and potentially dangerous way AK have acted any better. If anything it makes it worse because 'vindication' will just firm up the idea that this was an ok way to act because it all came out right in the end.

akai
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Oct 14 2015 07:47

The reason l mentioned some Platformist groups is because MS wrote that ZACF was refounded as a "unitary organization" and in doing so lost its black members in Swaziland, making it a white "national" organization, and that this was done after considering advice from WSM, FdCA and OLC. So yes, l think it is rather legit to ask what kind of advice they gave.

MS does not anywhere mention NEFAC, so that organization is not relevant here.

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Oct 14 2015 08:35
akai wrote:
The reason l mentioned some Platformist groups is because MS wrote that ZACF was refounded as a "unitary organization" and in doing so lost its black members in Swaziland, making it a white "national" organization, and that this was done after considering advice from WSM, FdCA and OLC. So yes, l think it is rather legit to ask what kind of advice they gave.

It was only a matter of time before the platformist bating kicked in. While I can't shed any light on what discussion took place at the time as I only joined WSM in 2010 (have dropped to supporter status a few months ago so not a full member at the moment either), but racial segragation is not advice that WSM would have given. We've never, for example, advocated for seperate organisations of catholic and protestant in the north of Ireland.

In contrast, our position paper on the partition of Ireland states:

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However in opposing imperialism we see no form of nationalism as offering a definitive solution to either the working class in Ireland or the working class across the globe. In the final analysis nationalism argues for a common interest between workers and bosses of one 'nation' against the workers and bosses of another. As anarchists we stand for international working class solidarity against all bosses.

There is an example of the organisation virtually falling apart in the late 80's and paring back to a small cadre but the criticism leveled against those who split (and later joined the SWP) was their emphasis on ideological purity - something I would level at Schmidt and Black Flame.

Furthermore, when we had discussions on the composition of our own organisation, one outcome was this position paper, in which we wrote:

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Historically there has been a tension in the left (including much of our own previous work) between recognising what is outlined above and still strategically going on to see unity as being a question of identifying the main contradiction in society and lining up behind a single unifying identity, most often that of a white, male industrial worker. A ‘Unity is Strength’ approach has then all too often meant the silencing or minimising of voices that do not easily fit into this identity.

9. In contrast to this approach we argue that there is a need to give voice to all oppressions, even those that may not affect large groups rather than to silence such voices behind a single representative figure. We recognise that, depending on their life circumstances, people experience oppressions in different ways.

akai
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Oct 14 2015 10:28

Thanks for the comment. But still would be actually interested in what was said. I also could imagine MS spoke to only one person from those groups but used the name of the org. Those things happen

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Oct 14 2015 14:15

Surely we could fill another thread with over 200 posts detailing the problems of platformism.....

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Oct 14 2015 15:35

Any sign of part 2 yet? Due out today

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Oct 14 2015 15:40

They're North Americans so 'today' is up to 8 hours behind.

Burgers
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Oct 14 2015 17:15

Part 2 is out https://medium.com/@rossstephens/about-schmidt-how-a-white-nationalist-seduced-anarchists-around-the-world-chapter-2-1849e232b943

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Oct 14 2015 17:58

Significantly, part 2 includes a denial of Schmidt's cover story by his editor. Looks like he got caught in that lie.

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Oct 14 2015 18:18

Ross seems to have dropped most of the flowery language at least, which is something. And there's definitely worrying notes, though the word-by-word analysis of his posts on Stormfront left me a bit cold (the most plausible cover story is the one that requires the least tracking of what you've said - ie. base it on real stuff you can remember).

For my money the worst bits are Ross's note on the "Black Battlefront" national anarchist blog Scmidt set up:

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According to a web designer we talked to, Schmidt and a friend pitched him the idea for developing a similar white nationalist internet site as early as 2002

That pitches Schmidt's interest in national anarchism way earlier than any link to what he says was his investigative period.

The key lines from Schmidt's editor:

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When we tracked down Brendan Seery — the editor Schmidt claims authorized his journalistic foray into the depths of the white-nationalist internet — he seemed bewildered by Schmidt’s story. “Mike did work for us as a senior reporter and on a number of big stories,” he told us. “[A]nd because of his seniority and the way newspapers work, I would not have to give him permission at all to investigate. That would be something a good investigative journalist would do off his own bat.”

My style as an editor is that journalists should be as upfront as possible in order to get a story with subterfuge only as a last resort,” Seery told us. “If, however, you mean that we ordered or gave permission to him to pose as a right-winger, then I certainly don’t recall that.

And the photos of him wearing/tattooed with hard-right symbols which... I dunno man, how would people not notice that??

It does seem he's seriously flirted with national anarchism for a long time from this anyway.

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Oct 14 2015 18:18

Edit: cross-posted with Rob Ray.

Was just about to post the exact same thing JK. Here's the quote including the reply from MS's editor:

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When we tracked down Brian Seery — the editor Schmidt claims authorized his journalistic foray into the depths of the white-nationalist internet — he seemed bewildered by Schmidt’s story. “Mike did work for us as a senior reporter and on a number of big stories,” he told us. “[A]nd because of his seniority and the way newspapers work, I would not have to give him permission at all to investigate. That would be something a good investigative journalist would do off his own bat.”

Also, it makes me really uncomfortable knowing that he was into all this shit when he went on a speaking tour for Black Flame. We hosted two lectures with him in my city. While the contents of the talk wasn't racist or anything like that, what concerns me is that the dude has gone on a massive speaking tour and have met so many anarchists. I do live in a very right-wing city where Blood and Honour has tried to start up several times. Did he note down people's names? What about addresses? Not that I think I am in any danger (and he didn't stay with me here), but this is something that bothers me a lot. What if he did collect "intel"? Who did he pass it on to? While the case for him being a fascist infiltrator is so far not solid (it's more like he's just a fucking scumbag racist, nationalist)... I dunno. Should people be worried?

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Oct 14 2015 18:36

: Didn't see Rob and others' posts :

seahorse
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Oct 14 2015 19:05

Part 2 is sickening. His racism runs so much deeper and more extreme than I would have guessed based on Part 1 alone.

And I'm really pissed off he is using Nestor Makhno as some sort of nationalist-anarchist hero. Yeah right! Makhno executed anti-Semites and would have kicked Michael Schmidt's ass for the shit he advocates.

Edit:
Also, wasn't Ukraine ethnically diverse, and the anarchist movement there reflected that diversity? Sure they were all white, but whiteness being a social construct anyways, and in 1918 that social construct had not made its way to Ukraine. They did not see themselves as a "white race", and their ethnic and cultural differences were deep. The anarchist movement in Ukraine sought unity among the various ethnic groups, did it not?

I'm pretty ignorant about Ukraine demographics (now or in 1918) so maybe I'm overestimating the ethnic diversity there. Does anyone know more about this? But I know at least that Makhno sought unity among Jews and non-Jews, which was a pretty big divide in those times.

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Oct 14 2015 19:04

Yes, after reading Part 2, l really question what MS was doing with this blog and profile on Stormfront. ln any case, he went beyond what would be reasonable in an investigation and actually generated new fascist junk on the internet - which would suggest trying to establish a network more than gather information.

And yeah, l would have been a bit suspicious of those tats.

Looking bad.

Burgers
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Oct 14 2015 19:28

Just to say there are three more instalments to come so Ross says on his Facebook page.

kurekmurek
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Oct 14 2015 20:03

First post

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Admin: thread name changed as it's over two weeks with no substantiation yet.

Well you can turn it back to original now grin

Burgers
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Oct 14 2015 20:10

Editor = his boss, bosses never tell lies, cover shit up, always tell the gods honest truth. Anyone remember the phone hacking, News of the World? and a billion other events.

His boss said so, so must be true?

I'm just saying.

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Oct 14 2015 20:13

It isn't about white supremacy it's about ethics in anarchist journalism.

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Oct 14 2015 20:20

Part 2 definitely moves towards actually making a case (and is much better written and generally more convincing). I think part 1 left him with no case to answer (in terms of being a fascist), that is no longer the case. It's a shame this sort of thing wasn't out much earlier, if only so people potentially vulnerable could take precautions.

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Oct 14 2015 20:28
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Editor = his boss, bosses never tell lies, cover shit up, always tell the gods honest truth. Anyone remember the phone hacking, News of the World? and a billion other events.

His boss said so, so must be true?

I'm just saying.

I get what you're saying, but what's the motive of his editor lying about this? And in the context of the rest of A.R-R's analysis, it appears to be true to me. Remember that this is to refute that MS had talked with his editor about his "infiltration" of fasc movements as part of writing a story and that's why he had so many accounts on various sites etc.