René Berthier's comments on Black Flame

Submitted by sherbu-kteer on May 31, 2019

Not sure if anyone else has been paying attention, but the French anarcho-syndicalist writer René Berthier has been posting on his website some very interesting and detailed comments on Black Flame:

http://monde-nouveau.net/spip.php?article676
http://monde-nouveau.net/spip.php?article692
http://monde-nouveau.net/spip.php?article693
http://monde-nouveau.net/spip.php?article741

Anyone have any thoughts on them? I find myself agreeing with his discussion on Kropotkin, but I think his dislike of Malatesta is maybe a bit too strong

Juan Conatz

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

TBH, I haven't thought of that book in a long time. I would think that it has mostly been discredited after it was revealed that one of the authors, Michael Schmidt, was a white nationalist. Additionally, the context in which people found this book useful, where different competing boundaries of anarchism were being contested and contrasted against each other on the Western Left, just doesn't seem to exist any more or be as relevant. Does anyone care anymore if people who call themselves egoists and read Zerzan consider themselves anarchists? Seems irrelevant in the face of a resurgence of a type of fascism and the re-ascendancy of social democratic movements.

Red Marriott

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The Black Flame authors were dishonest in their revisonist history;
https://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/new-historical-syndicalist-book-03032009
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/books-italian-anarcho-syndicalism-05102010#comment-400771
... and dishonest in their responses to revelations about Scmidt's nationalism;
https://libcom.org/forums/general/ak-press-says-michael-schmidt-fascist-25092015

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ironically, I was just re-reading the “militant minority” section recently.
Still a sad and messed up situ overall. Anyway, I think this has been discussed to death

radicalgraffiti

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

TBH, I haven't thought of that book in a long time. I would think that it has mostly been discredited after it was revealed that one of the authors, Michael Schmidt, was a white nationalist.

i actual saw someone recommending it a couple of months ago, they had accepted the idea that van de walt had written most of it and so it wasn't affected by the revelations about schmidt, and was generally a good history of anarchism

sherbu-kteer

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The thing about Berthier is that he writes a lot, in incredible detail, so even though his stuff is often framed as a response to a book or negative review or something, you get a lot of supplementary information. One time a Leninist professor wrote a hack review of his book on the First International. Berthier wrote 82 pages in response! [pdf] But there's so much info in there it's completely worth reading, and you'll be glad you did.

It's a similar deal with his comments on Black Flame. For instance, the 'digression on anarchism and syndicalism' is mainly a history of the genesis of French syndicalism. 'Anarchism and social change' contrasts the framework Schmidt and van der Walt used with that of Gaetano Manfredonia, a contemporary historian, presenting his ideas in English for the first time that I know of. The Kropotkin thing stands on its own as an analysis of Kropotkin's relationship with syndicalism.

As for the organisationalist/syndicalist vs. anti-organisationalist/insurrectionist/egoist/blah blah blah stuff, I agree with you Juan that this dispute seems a bit irrelevant now, but these egoist types are still around, giving us all a bad name, and Berthier's comments are mainly to do with syndicalism and platformism anyway, which is a separate discussion and although maybe just as marginal, its still important.

Also -- the social democrat stuff is not ascendant everywhere. In some places it seems to be totally running out of steam. Syriza's failures are well known and their vote is declining. Podemos is shrinking also. Where I am in Australia, I can't see any such ascendant social democracy on the horizon, considering that the Australian Labor Party is openly reorienting towards the centre/right again after some superficial flirting with the left.

And in cases where the social democrats are filling up most of the 'radical' space, eg Corbyn and Sanders, there's going to be immense disappointment from their supporters somewhere along the line when their messiahs inevitably either betray their supporters (like Tsipras did) or fail to achieve their goals (again, like Tsipras). These movements are going to fracture at some point and libertarians have a role to play by demonstrating the feasibility and positivity of libertarian socialism -- anarchism, communism, whatever -- in the face of what will likely be a very nihilistic political atmosphere. Getting ourselves in order is an essential part of this.

Agent of the I…

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

radicalgraffiti

i actual saw someone recommending it a couple of months ago, they had accepted the idea that van de walt had written most of it and so it wasn't affected by the revelations about schmidt, and was generally a good history of anarchism

It doesn't even seem plausible that Lucien van der Walt wrote most of Black Flame. Michael Schmidt was the sole author of Cartography of Revolutionary Anarchism. And he was/is writing the sequel to Black Flame, titled Global Fire, by himself. It seems as though he was the one most involved in this project.

What's interesting about this work is that they decided to divide it into themes (Black Flame) and history (Global Fire). Wouldn't it have been better if they combine the two and put out multiple volumes covering each "wave" in anarchist history - which is centrally important in their historicising of anarchism? I think a big flaw in Black Flame is that it seems the authors were very intent on sticking a single "definitive" position on every topic - which is pretty weird for a movement that spans the globe and 150 years.

It's kinda surprising that aside from the comments posted by Red Marriott, I haven't come across any negative reviews on the book. It's reception was unanimously favorable among class struggle oriented anarchists at the time of it's release.

MT

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Those René Berthier's texts are really interesting to read.
I wondered if he is a member of any group in France but the wiki is not really clear, or rather indicates that he was more of a union organizer in traditional unions that in anarchosyndicalist ones. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Berthier_(libertaire)
Not that it mattered much actually...

Red Marriott

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Agent

It's kinda surprising that aside from the comments posted by Red Marriott, I haven't come across any negative reviews on the book. It's reception was unanimously favorable among class struggle oriented anarchists at the time of it's release.

Those anarcho-syndicalists and platformists who felt most favoured and flattered by BF’s revisionism were its biggest defenders, willing and eager to turn a blind eye to its narrow idealised ‘history’ which privileged their political current at the expense of historical accuracy/truth. They also tended to be the ones least willing to accept the facts of MS’s white nationalism. (Btw, whatever happened to their ‘court of enquiry’ into the scandal?)

sherbu-kteer

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MT

Those René Berthier's texts are really interesting to read.
I wondered if he is a member of any group in France but the wiki is not really clear, or rather indicates that he was more of a union organizer in traditional unions that in anarchosyndicalist ones. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Berthier_(libertaire)
Not that it mattered much actually...

He's a member of the Fédération anarchiste but you're right in that he doesn't seem to have been part of any specifically anarchist or revolutionary union, just the typesetters section of the CGT.

Battlescarred

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rene was in the Alliance Syndicaliste Revolutionnare et Anarcho-Syndicaliste (ASRAS)founded after May 68. After the dissolution of the ASRAS he joined the FA, along with other ASRAS militants in the mid 1980s. THere's several texts by him about the ASRAS on the internet

sherbu-kteer

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred do you happen to know of any texts on ASRAS in English? Most of what I can find is in French which I can't read very well

Battlescarred

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Nothing in English apart from the Putting The record Straight On Bakunin, which I translated back in the 1970s for LIbertarian Communist Review, theoretical magazine of the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists. When I lived in Paris in 1972 I attended meetings of the ASRAS.
You can always use google translate for the Frebnch texts, you know.

Battlescarred

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott

Agent

It's kinda surprising that aside from the comments posted by Red Marriott, I haven't come across any negative reviews on the book. It's reception was unanimously favorable among class struggle oriented anarchists at the time of it's release.

Those anarcho-syndicalists and platformists who felt most favoured and flattered by BF’s revisionism were its biggest defenders, willing and eager to turn a blind eye to its narrow idealised ‘history’ which privileged their political current at the expense of historical accuracy/truth. They also tended to be the ones least willing to accept the facts of MS’s white nationalism. (Btw, whatever happened to their ‘court of enquiry’ into the scandal?)

Tosh, I always thought it was spurious, and so did most class struggle anarchists I know

sherbu-kteer

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

Nothing in English apart from the Putting The record Straight On Bakunin, which I translated back in the 1970s for LIbertarian Communist Review, theoretical magazine of the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists. When I lived in Paris in 1972 I attended meetings of the ASRAS.
You can always use google translate for the Frebnch texts, you know.

Thank you, I will check that out. I do use Google translate but it can be a bit patchy so I try not to rely on it for the details of things in case I misinterpret something.

Anarcho

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Reading Berthier's comments on Kropotkin, I would say that he seems intent on mis-understanding (or misrepresentating) Kropotkin's ideas. Much of what he says is wrong -- Kropotkin, for example, repeatedly suggests that unions should be the means of organising production during and after a revolution. He raises this idea before the rise of syndicalism in the mid-1890s.

Indeed, as a good "Bakuninist," Kropotkin was arguing for anarchist participation in the workers movements since 1872 -- even in Russia, he argued that the populists should prioritise working with workers and peasants. Once in exile, he argued for this in France -- and pointed explicitly to the Spanish movement as the example to follow. This is in 1880 and 1881. The 1889 docker's strike say him return to this theme, given the example of the power of the labour movement is gave.

So, an example. Berthier states in relation to the 1905 Russian Revolution:

Nettlau's text does not suggest that Kropotkin adhered to the idea that trade unions were “embryo-cells” of the future society;

In fact, Kropotkin argued:

anarchists look to the workers’ unions as cells of the future social order and as a powerful means for the preparation of the social revolution, which is not confined to a change of political regime but also transforms the current forms of economic life, e.g. the distribution of the manufactured riches and their means of production. (Direct Struggle Against Capital, 467)

Also:

The social-democrats consider the workers’ unions as an aid in their political fight; the anarchists, on the other hand, consider them as natural organs for the direct struggle with capital and for the organisation of the future order—organs that are inherently necessary to achieve the workers’ own goals. (476)

This repeats comments made in, for example, 1892:

No one can underrate the importance of this labour movement for the coming revolution. It will be those agglomerations of wealth producers which will have to reorganise production on new social bases. They will have to organise the life of the nation and the use which it will make of the hitherto accumulated riches and means of production. They—the labourers, grouped together—not the politicians.(344)

Berthier seriously underestimates Kropotkin's writings on the labour movement and syndicalism, both in terms of articles for the libertarian press (French and British) but also in his more general introductions to anarchism. I include many of them, by no means all, in the section entitled "The Workers’ Movement and Class Struggle" in Direct Struggle Against Capital -- which comes to over 120 pages...

I would suggest that Berthier is somewhat negative towards Kropotkin (and Malatesta), a negativity which gets in the way of his objectivity (I mention this in my review of his otherwise excellent book Social Democracy and Anarchism in the International Workers’ Association 1864-1877). It is a shame, as this does harm important contributions.

I should note that my next "Precursors of Syndicalism" (the first on the International, the second on the "Chicago Idea") will be on Kropotkin (and perhaps Malatesta, although he may be the fourth installment). In this, Black Flame (for its flawds) is right and Berthier wrong

Anarcho

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Another couple of points. Berthier writes:

Jean Grave’s publication, Le Libertaire, gathered, at least until 1899, the anarchists who were vigorously hostile to trade unionism.

Except, Grave was involved with Les Temps nouveaux (as was Kropotkin) and not Le Libertaire, which was founded in 1896 by Faure and Michel. This is a serious error, as when he also writes:

When Kropotkin finally came to the conclusion that the terrorist attacks had beena dismal failure, he published in La Revolt (September-October 1890) a series of articles [...] Now, Kropotkin advocates joining the unions [...]

Except that Kropotkin had been writing articles on anarchist participation in unions ten years previously (for example, this two part article on "Workers' Organisation" from 1881), and before that. Caroline Cahm shows that Kropotkin raised "the spririt of revolt" as an alternative to "propaganda by the deed" in the early 1880s (see her excellent Kropotkin and the rise of revolutionary anarchism 1872-1886 -- pdf, a book Berthier seems unaware of).

Berthier also writes:

And old Guillaume wrote in the preface to the fourth volume of his International, documents et souvenirs: “And what is the General Confederation of Labour, if not the continuation of the International? »

I should stress that Kropotkin, likewise, wrote on many occassions on how syndicalism was the rebirth of the International -- and that the International was his ideal for the labour movement. The difference is what Kropotkin (like Bakunin) recognised the need for anarchists to organise as anarchists to influence the unions, for unions are not inevitably revolutionary (as most unions prove, surely?) as he put it:

My opinion is absolutely that which was expressed by Malatesta… The syndicate is absolutely necessary. It is the only form of worker’s association which allows the direct struggle against capital to be carried on without a plunge into parliamentarianism. But, evidently, it does not achieve this goal automatically, since in Germany, in France and in England, we have the example of syndicates linked to the parliamentary struggle, while in Germany the Catholic syndicates are very powerful, and so on. There is need of the other element which Malatesta speaks of and which Bakunin always professed. (Direct Struggle Against Capital, 41)

Berthier is right to note that some anarchists, including many French ones, did not support syndicalism. Kropotkin, however, was not one of them. Nor does it mean that revolutionary anarchists had not advocated syndicalism as a tactic from the start, within the First International -- a position Bakunin championed and which Kropotkin continued. In this, Black Flame was right even if wrong on other points (see my review).

Red Marriott

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

Tosh, I always thought it was spurious, and so did most class struggle anarchists I know

I wasn't agreeing with 'Agent...' that all anarchists worshipped BF but saying that it was the syndicalists & platformists who went overboard on it. You were one of the critics in the link I gave earlier; http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/books-italian-anarcho-syndicalism-05102010#comment-400771

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The MS matter aside. Absolutely there was a lot of revisionism and stretching. There was also some ok stuff as well.

robot

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

He's a member of the Fédération anarchiste but you're right in that he doesn't seem to have been part of any specifically anarchist or revolutionary union, just the typesetters section of the CGT.

The typesetters union within the CGT for long was a stronghold of revolutionary syndicalists and / or anarcho-syndicalists and Berthier was one of its best-known militants. There are a quite a number of French syndicalists (CSR, parts of AL) ) that are critical in respect to forming specific revolutionary syndicalist unions and advocate to turn the CGT back into a revolutionary syndicalist union again.

Juan Conatz

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

radicalgraffiti

i actual saw someone recommending it a couple of months ago, they had accepted the idea that van de walt had written most of it and so it wasn't affected by the revelations about schmidt, and was generally a good history of anarchism

That is incredibly bizarre to me. Particularly considering that anarchists and syndicalists have long avoided recommending or even speaking about Sorel, and his connection to fascism was more tenuous than the co-author of Black Flame. I can't imagine recommending Black Flame in 2019 is a very good idea. If someone had recommended a book co-written by a white nationalist to me when I was first getting into things it would have for sure repelled me from anarchism.

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Funny you mention Sorel. I recall some many years ago, I heard about Sorel. Picked up his book "Reflections on Violence" (or something like that). I didn't get his connections to libertarian syndicalism. Sometime thereafter I asked, Dolgoff, about Sorel. All I remember is something like "That piece of shit. Never an anarchosyndicalist. A real marxist son of a b__ch"..... Anyone who knew Sam can hear is gravely voice uttering these words. I also asked Paul Avrich who was a tad more different in his academic reply. Both left me with the impression that a whole lot of misinformation on Sorel and his ties to French (and global) revolutionary unionism was out there at the time (mid-1970s).

sherbu-kteer

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sorel's most syndicalist text is 'the Socialist Future of the Syndicates' which is not widely available in English, I have the pdf and will try to upload soon. But even that is pretty uninteresting from a syndicalist POV, it's clear he's just a Marxist intellectual (albeit a unique one) with an interest in unions.

jef costello

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

You can always use google translate for the Frebnch texts, you know.

Not if you want to properly understand them!

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

Sorel's most syndicalist text is 'the Socialist Future of the Syndicates' which is not widely available in English, I have the pdf and will try to upload soon. But even that is pretty uninteresting from a syndicalist POV, it's clear he's just a Marxist intellectual (albeit a unique one) with an interest in unions.

Link please

Battlescarred

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If you say so, prof.

sherbu-kteer

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

sherbu-kteer

Sorel's most syndicalist text is 'the Socialist Future of the Syndicates' which is not widely available in English, I have the pdf and will try to upload soon. But even that is pretty uninteresting from a syndicalist POV, it's clear he's just a Marxist intellectual (albeit a unique one) with an interest in unions.

Link please

Here you go

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

syndicalist

sherbu-kteer

Sorel's most syndicalist text is 'the Socialist Future of the Syndicates' which is not widely available in English, I have the pdf and will try to upload soon. But even that is pretty uninteresting from a syndicalist POV, it's clear he's just a Marxist intellectual (albeit a unique one) with an interest in unions.

Link please

Here you go

Thanks!

jef costello

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

If you say so, prof.

Are you seriously disagreeing? You can read French, at least, you must be able to see what a mess google translate makes, and the fact that it can produce reasonable work and then completely mess something up.

Anarcho

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

That is incredibly bizarre to me. Particularly considering that anarchists and syndicalists have long avoided recommending or even speaking about Sorel, and his connection to fascism was more tenuous than the co-author of Black Flame.

Trying to link anarcho-syndicalism to fascism has a long history amongst those seeking to discredit any form of class struggle anarchism. Bob Black, for example, did it a few years back. Based his case on an academic book which noted that the Italian syndicalists who became fascists considered themselves as Marxists -- as I mention here.

Juan Conatz

I can't imagine recommending Black Flame in 2019 is a very good idea. If someone had recommended a book co-written by a white nationalist to me when I was first getting into things it would have for sure repelled me from anarchism.

Oh come on. When Black Flame was published no one suspected that Michael Schmidt was a white nationalist. Moreover, there was nothing in the book itself which suggested he was -- which in part explains why it took many class struggle anarchists a long time to accept the evidence.

Sike

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Several years on and I still don't know what to make of Michael Schmidt, his motivations that is. His public persona was that of a sincere anarchist activist and an earnest researcher of anarchist theory and historiography, a public persona that he attempts to maintain to this day, and yet he was caught red-handed maintaining an online presence in support of white nationalism and posting some really vile racist bullshit on a major white nationalist web forum.

As for Black Flame. Well, I think that whatever one's opinion of the theoretical premise of Black Flame, or the validity of Schmidt's attempts at anarchist historiography in general, that the one conclusion that can't be escaped is that Schmidt's reputation has obviously been severely compromised by the revelation of his sympathies for white nationalism. And rigtly or wrongly, because it contains his authorship much the same can be said for Black Flame.

It's sad, and really a shame on so many levels, one of which is because Schmidt is one of the very few contemporary writers to theorize and write about anarchist approaches to armed defense in consideration of contemporary technological developments, and a look at a blog that he maintains shows that he continues to write about this. To what end? I'm not sure, because he certainly doesn't seem to have the ear of too many anarchists anymore, and it seems very likely that no one in the anarchist movement is ever going to trust him again, or buy his books, or suggest them for study?

Although I've only read the summaries of Berthier's critique of BF it is refreshing to see that his criticisms appear to be based upon the substance of BF's theoretical propositions rather than upon ad hominem arguments against one of it's co-authors.

Sike

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I guess that it would have been more accurate had I written in my comment above that very few anarchists are likely going to suggest books authored or co-authored by Schmidt for study rather than "no anarchists" are going to suggest them for study since Berthier's comments on BF demonstrate a continued willingness to study and engage BF, even if only by way of critique of it's theoretical conclusions.

Juan Conatz

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anarcho

Oh come on. When Black Flame was published no one suspected that Michael Schmidt was a white nationalist. Moreover, there was nothing in the book itself which suggested he was -- which in part explains why it took many class struggle anarchists a long time to accept the evidence.

For someone who can scan ancient and boring walls of text for any possible negative mention of Proudhoun, your reading comprehension of my post is poor. I said "in 2019". I understand why people were excited about Black Flame when it came out. But if you're giving that book as an intro to interested people, in 2019, when we already know the co-author is a fascist, you're a fucking moron.

The open question on Black Flame is how much of Michael Schmidt's secret white separatist views and priorities become intertwined into the research and outlook of the book. This might not even be possible to know or may not be possible unless one undertakes a project similar to BF.

Red Marriott

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anarcho

Oh come on. When Black Flame was published no one suspected that Michael Schmidt was a white nationalist. Moreover, there was nothing in the book itself which suggested he was -- which in part explains why it took many class struggle anarchists a long time to accept the evidence.

But there was plenty of evidence in BF of a very un-anarchist attitude to nationalism, trying to claim Connelly for anarchism etc. Which the book’s fans & reviewers were eager to gloss over or excuse – or, for those whose softness on national liberation it mirrored, to even defend it. They were happy to ignore its historical distortions too. And as I said earlier, it’s strongest defenders were generally from the currents most flattered by BF’s revisionism; which almost tried to make all of anarchism syndicalist and all syndicalism anarchist.

The dishonest & slanderous attempts to accommodate nationalists into anarchist tradition turned out to be, not a minor fault of the book’s position, but the thin end of the wedge that led somewhere far worse.
Juan

The open question on Black Flame is how much of Michael Schmidt's secret white separatist views and priorities become intertwined into the research and outlook of the book. This might not even be possible to know or may not be possible unless one undertakes a project similar to BF.

It may be impossible to know the exact measurement, but it's not hard to see some link between his nationalist inclinations. BF should have been roundly condemned from the start for its nationalism and narrow revisionism, rather than have it excused or glossed over as a minor error by fans & reviewers. Instead, its fans were equally late to criticise and believe MS’s worse errors as that would mean admitting the weakness of their earlier uncritical adoration.

Mike Harman

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For pre-Black Flame, pre-revelations dodgy writing by Schmidt, see his introduction to Stephen Halbrook's article on the Mau Mau uprising (which is itself bad).

Schmidt repeats several times the claim that Jomo Kenyatta was a Mau Mau leader, which has been debunked by countless accounts of the uprising from various perspectives. The colonial government thought he was one of the leaders when they arrested them, and soon realised they were mistaken. Once he was in prison his popularity was boosted - people thought that the conservative, anti-class struggle figure they'd dismissed as an opportunist must have been secretly doing something better if the British had thrown him into jail, but they were also mistaken and this was only after his arrest.

So it is an historical woeful introduction to a similarly historically woeful pamphlet.

https://zabalazabooks.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/anarchism_and_revolution_in_black_africa_by_sph.pdf

Anarcho

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott

But there was plenty of evidence in BF of a very un-anarchist attitude to nationalism, trying to claim Connelly for anarchism etc. Which the book’s fans & reviewers were eager to gloss over or excuse – or, for those whose softness on national liberation it mirrored, to even defend it.

Yes, I wonder why they included that well known Marxist-syndicalist in their book... Not that the claims that Connelly or de Leon were anarchists remotely convincing, as I and others noted at the time. As for "nationalism," plenty of anarchists supported national liberation struggles. So both these claims are weak.

Red Marriott

They were happy to ignore its historical distortions too. And as I said earlier, it’s strongest defenders were generally from the currents most flattered by BF’s revisionism; which almost tried to make all of anarchism syndicalist and all syndicalism anarchist.

Given that anarchists have supported "syndicalist" strategies since the late 1860s, I'm not sure what is meant here. Given that Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Goldman, etc. all advocated syndicalist tactics, BF was hardly "revisionist."

Red Marriott

The dishonest & slanderous attempts to accommodate nationalists into anarchist tradition turned out to be, not a minor fault of the book’s position, but the thin end of the wedge that led somewhere far worse.

Rather than the more obvious attempt to squeeze all syndicalists into the "wider anarchist tradition"? As noted, this is weak.

Anarcho

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

For someone who can scan ancient and boring walls of text for any possible negative mention of Proudhoun, your reading comprehension of my post is poor.

Yawn. But I can agree that Marx's The Poverty of Philosophy is both ancient and boring... Still, I find it somewhat depressing that some anarchists are not interested in their history and seeking to better understand it, and to know when people are talking nonsense about it.

Juan Conatz

I said "in 2019". I understand why people were excited about Black Flame when it came out. But if you're giving that book as an intro to interested people, in 2019, when we already know the co-author is a fascist, you're a fucking moron.

Which, of course, explains why BF quickly stopped being referenced.

Juan Conatz

The open question on Black Flame is how much of Michael Schmidt's secret white separatist views and priorities become intertwined into the research and outlook of the book. This might not even be possible to know or may not be possible unless one undertakes a project similar to BF.

Reading the book indicates some of this, as there is nothing there which would suggest it did (hence its welcome back in the day). Attempts by some to say their inclusion of Connelly showed "nationalist" tendencies is so weak as to be a joke, given he was obviously included because he was an advocate of syndicalism -- and so part of BF's frankly silly attempts to incorporate Marxists into the "wider" anarchist tradition.

Red Marriott

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anarcho

RedM

But there was plenty of evidence in BF of a very un-anarchist attitude to nationalism, trying to claim Connelly for anarchism etc. Which the book’s fans & reviewers were eager to gloss over or excuse – or, for those whose softness on national liberation it mirrored, to even defend it.

Yes, I wonder why they included that well known Marxist-syndicalist in their book... Not that the claims that Connelly or de Leon were anarchists remotely convincing, as I and others noted at the time. As for "nationalism," plenty of anarchists supported national liberation struggles. So both these claims are weak.

My two “claims” that;
1. Connelly (& De Leon etc) weren’t anarchists (eg Connelly was nationalist & statist).
2. support for national liberation is contradictory to anarchism.
.. are “weak”, according to the self-appointed guardian of anarchist history? Really? You agree that Connelly & De Leon weren’t anarchists so how is it “weak” to say so?
National liberation advocating state-seizure/building contradicts the most basic anti-statism of anarchism by doing so. But not, apparently, according to BF (or Anarcho?). It's not "weak" to point out these blatant contradictions just because other 'anarchists' have also contradicted their anti-statism. Marxists and statists aren't anarchists, whether they're syndicalists or not. What's left of anarchism when you take away its core anti-statism? A very “weak” distortion of history.
You and other fans of BF don’t want to admit that there could be any possible link between BF’s accommodation of nationalists into anarchism and MS’s later white nationalist crap – as that leaves you with egg on your face for your earlier glowing reviews. But such a link or trajectory is not unlikely at all.

A further point is that there’s an obvious difference between including in anarchist history self-identified anarchists who contradicted their anarchism and including those – like Connelly, De Leon - who never identified as anarchists and explicitly denied they were.

Given that Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Goldman, etc. all advocated syndicalist tactics

Deliberately or not, you’re trying to play the same tricks with anarchist history as BF/MS. Malatesta's position on syndicalism is more complex than you pretend - he made a clear distinction between anarchist and non-anarchist syndicalism;

If it is a question of what one wants from the future, if, that is, by syndicalism is meant the form of social organisation that should replace capitalism and state organisation, then either it is the same thing as anarchy and is therefore a word that serves only to confuse or it is something different from anarchy and cannot therefore be accepted by anarchists. In fact, among the ideas and the proposals on the future which some syndicalists have put forward, there are some that are genuinely anarchist. But there are others which, under other names and other forms, reproduce the authoritarian structure which underlies the cause of the ills about which we are now protesting, and which, therefore, have nothing to do with anarchy...
Syndicalism (by which I mean the practical variety and not the theoretical sort, which everyone tailors to their own shape) is by nature reformist. All that can be expected of it is that the reforms it fights for and achieves are of a kind and obtained in such a way that they serve revolutionary education and propaganda and leave the way open for the making of ever greater demands. Any fusion or confusion between the anarchist and revolutionary movement and the syndicalist movement ends either by rendering the union helpless as regards its specific aims or with toning down, falsifying and extinguishing the anarchist spirit. A union can spring up with a socialist, revolutionary or anarchist programme and it is, indeed, with programmes of this sort that the various workers’ programmes originate. But it is while they are weak and impotent that they are faithful to the programme – while, that is, they remain propaganda groups set up and run by a few zealous and committed men, rather than organisations ready for effective action. Later, as they manage to attract the masses and acquire the strength to claim and impose improvements, the original programme becomes an empty formula, to which no-one pays any more attention. Tactics adapt to the needs of the moment and the enthusiasts of the early days either themselves adapt or cede their place to ‘practical’ men concerned with today, and with no thought for tomorrow.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/malatesta/1925/04/syndic1.htm

That took one minute’s googling to find; yet the self-appointed guardians and ‘historians’ of anarchism ignore such evidence in their distorted revisionism; Malatesta argues explicitly against the BF approach of amalgamating anarchism & syndicalism. While he wasn't against anarchists having some participation in unions he didn't advocate syndicalist tactics, wasn't a syndicalist, had an explicit critique of syndicalism. But you'd never guess that from either BF or Anarcho's claims.

As for Bakunin; he was pre- what we now know as syndicalism, he advocated general workers' collective organisation that anarcho-communists would have near as much agreement with. No one (except a self–interested revisionist) can be sure he wouldn't have had some differences with particularities of later syndicalism, perhaps along similar lines to Malatesta’s. But then that’s revisionism – projecting your preferred interpretations onto things regardless of real historical complexities.

Attempts by some to say their inclusion of Connelly showed "nationalist" tendencies is so weak as to be a joke, given he was obviously included because he was an advocate of syndicalism -- and so part of BF's frankly silly attempts to incorporate Marxists into the "wider" anarchist tradition.

That is your preferred interpretation, nothing more, to try to avoid any responsibility for being originally so soft on the book’s errors & distortions in your praise of it. That’s what others who try to salvage some value for the book also do. But, as a nationalist-inclined syndicalist, Connelly would seem an ideal model for MS, given what we now know. On how Connelly’s nationalism was embedded in and integral to his socialism; http://libcom.org/forums/history/james-connolly-nationalism-socialism-syndicalism-19102015

No surprise that the present-day anarchists - platformists etc - who mirror most closely bureaucratic Leninist practice should be most invested in such revisionism to supposedly purify their ancestral bloodline (mirroring also the left-communists’ obsession with their ideological bloodlines). And yet, even though he has to acknowledge their historical categories are daft and Anarcho’s great hero Proudhon is explicitly excluded by BF's categories from the anarchist bloodline, he still wants to tail-end their revisionism.

Black Badger

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

just need to point out that the damning internal ZACF document that was the basis for the wholly justified condemnation of Schmidt as a piece of shit was written in 2008, a year prior to the publication of BF. Schmidt had to have been entertaining highly questionable (for an alleged anarchist) positions on race, culture, and nationalism for a while prior to the dating of the internal document, which had to have included at least part of the time he was researching the material and reaching the conclusions that eventually made it into BF. those who continue to insist that BF was not at least partially influenced by its co-author's slide into Boer nationalism are living in an ideological echo chamber.

radicalgraffiti

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

radicalgraffiti

i actual saw someone recommending it a couple of months ago, they had accepted the idea that van de walt had written most of it and so it wasn't affected by the revelations about schmidt, and was generally a good history of anarchism

That is incredibly bizarre to me. Particularly considering that anarchists and syndicalists have long avoided recommending or even speaking about Sorel, and his connection to fascism was more tenuous than the co-author of Black Flame. I can't imagine recommending Black Flame in 2019 is a very good idea. If someone had recommended a book co-written by a white nationalist to me when I was first getting into things it would have for sure repelled me from anarchism.

i was surprised too, i think there are a lot of anarchists who are not very aware of discussions about things like this, at least on the internet

for example ive twice have to warn people about anarchy.no within the last few months

sherbu-kteer

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What's anarchy.no?

radicalgraffiti

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

What's anarchy.no?

a website run by some guy in norway that claims to be the official websites of ifa, iww, ati etc
they post weird stuff, like claiming norway is 56% anarchist and other nonsense

Red Marriott

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

BB

just need to point out that the damning internal ZACF document that was the basis for the wholly justified condemnation of Schmidt as a piece of shit was written in 2008, a year prior to the publication of BF. Schmidt had to have been entertaining highly questionable (for an alleged anarchist) positions on race, culture, and nationalism for a while prior to the dating of the internal document, which had to have included at least part of the time he was researching the material and reaching the conclusions that eventually made it into BF. those who continue to insist that BF was not at least partially influenced by its co-author's slide into Boer nationalism are living in an ideological echo chamber.

Exactly, well put.

sherbu-kteer

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

radicalgraffiti

sherbu-kteer

What's anarchy.no?

a website run by some guy in norway that claims to be the official websites of ifa, iww, ati etc
they post weird stuff, like claiming norway is 56% anarchist and other nonsense

Holy moly, just opened it up and found this:

http://www.anarchy.no/a_e_p_m.html

Gives off a very 'timecube' vibe.

Anarcho

3 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott

My two “claims” that;
1. Connelly (& De Leon etc) weren’t anarchists (eg Connelly was nationalist & statist).
2. support for national liberation is contradictory to anarchism.
.. are “weak”, according to the self-appointed guardian of anarchist history? Really? You agree that Connelly & De Leon weren’t anarchists so how is it “weak” to say so?

You misunderstand what I meant. I suggested that claiming that as Black Flame included Connelly as "within the board anarchist tradition" showed its nationalist (or fascist) tendencies was weak. I think it is obvious that they included Connelly not because of his nationalism but because he was and is a well-known advocate of industrial unionism.

As I noted, suggesting he was an anarchist or part of a "board anarchist tradition" was clearly wrong -- not all syndicalists were/are anarchists, so that was a clear flaw in the book.

Red Marriott

National liberation advocating state-seizure/building contradicts the most basic anti-statism of anarchism by doing so. But not, apparently, according to BF (or Anarcho?). It's not "weak" to point out these blatant contradictions just because other 'anarchists' have also contradicted their anti-statism.

Oh, right, so supporting imperialist occupation is consistent with "the most basic anti-statism of anarchism"?

As noted, opposing foreign domination and imperialism has been part of the politics of many anarchists -- that BF took an anti-imperialist position is not, then, an example of showing nationalist (or fascist) tendencies.

That was why I used the word weak.

Red Marriott

Marxists and statists aren't anarchists, whether they're syndicalists or not. What's left of anarchism when you take away its core anti-statism? A very “weak” distortion of history.

I think you will discover that I criticised Black Flame for claiming Marxists were anarchists when the book came out. I find it "weak" to use the book's (wrong) perspective on Connelly was some kind of evidence of nationalist (or fascist) tendencies. They also suggest de Leon could be considered as a libertarian, so showing its Connelly's syndicalism that is relevant and not his nationalism (or anti-imperialism).

Connelly You and other fans of BF don’t want to admit that there could be any possible link between BF’s accommodation of nationalists into anarchism and MS’s later white nationalist crap – as that leaves you with egg on your face for your earlier glowing reviews. But such a link or trajectory is not unlikely at all.[/quote]

As noted, such a claim is weak -- "accomodation of nationalists" seems to rest of Connelly, who was clearly included for his syndicalism. As for "earlier glowing reviews," well I noted its flaws at the time. In terms of what latter came out in terms of MS, many people -- including myself -- found it hard to believe at first because there was nothing in BF to suggest it.

And pointing to support for national liberation struggles and the inclusion of Connelly is weak in the extreme in terms of evidence that BF somehow expresses a white nationalist perspective.

Red Marriott

A further point is that there’s an obvious difference between including in anarchist history self-identified anarchists who contradicted their anarchism and including those – like Connelly, De Leon - who never identified as anarchists and explicitly denied they were.

So anarchists how support imperialist occupations because "anti-statism" excludes support of movements aiming to end it? Personally, I think anarchists should be seeking to influence any popular movement, including national liberation ones in order to turn them into human liberation struggles -- so seeking to make them go beyond changing local masters for foreign masters.

Red Marriott

Given that Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Goldman, etc. all advocated syndicalist tactics

Deliberately or not, you’re trying to play the same tricks with anarchist history as BF/MS. Malatesta's position on syndicalism is more complex than you pretend - he made a clear distinction between anarchist and non-anarchist syndicalism

As i said, Malatesta advocated syndicalist tactics -- I never said he was a syndicalist. As for "pretending" on Malatesta, I've quoted Malatesta extensively in An Anarchist FAQ on why many anarchists are not syndicalists. Indeed, I agree with Malatesta on this. To quote one article:

As far as critiques of syndicalism go, sad to say those seeking a real one are best served by reading Malatesta’s speech at the 1907 International Anarchist Congress than Darlington’s book.[90] Indeed, in almost every valid aspect of the Leninist critique of syndicalism Darlington defends was first formulated far better by Malatesta – whether on the reformist pressures on trade unions,[91] union bureaucracy, the need to turn the general strike into an insurrection and for political organisations to work within unions to introduce and maintain a revolutionary spirit.[92] Yet this short but powerful critique of syndicalism is summed up as “Malatesta challenged [the syndicalists] for not being sufficiently ‘revolutionary.’” (73)

This did not stop him advocating anarchist involvement in the labour movement and syndicalist tactics. In this, his position was the same as Kropotkin, Bakunin, Goldman, etc. In this Black Flame is right, for it stressed that communist-anarchism had long advocated anarchist activity in unions -- they rejected the idea that syndicalism was sufficient of itself.

Red Marriott

That took one minute’s googling to find; yet the self-appointed guardians and ‘historians’ of anarchism ignore such evidence in their distorted revisionism; Malatesta argues explicitly against the BF approach of amalgamating anarchism & syndicalism. While he wasn't against anarchists having some participation in unions he didn't advocate syndicalist tactics, wasn't a syndicalist, had an explicit critique of syndicalism. But you'd never guess that from either BF or Anarcho's claims.

So Malatesta did not advocate "syndicalist tactics"? So he was against direct action, solidarity, strikes, the general strike? That is news to me -- perhaps you could google that? And, yes, he opposed syndicalism replacing anarchism (and he was right, as I discuss here) but he was hardly opposed to anarchist involvement in the labour movement to encourage direct action, self-management, etc.

So much for claims of "self-appointed guardians and ‘historians’ of anarchism ignore such evidence in their distorted revisionism"!

Red Marriott

As for Bakunin; he was pre- what we now know as syndicalism, he advocated general workers' collective organisation that anarcho-communists would have near as much agreement with. No one (except a self–interested revisionist) can be sure he wouldn't have had some differences with particularities of later syndicalism, perhaps along similar lines to Malatesta’s. But then that’s revisionism – projecting your preferred interpretations onto things regardless of real historical complexities.

Sorry, but have you actually read any Bakunin? I would suggest The Policy of the International as a good starting place. And given that Malatesta argued as Bakunin did on the need for an anarchist grouping to work within the labour movement, we surely know his position on what would later be called revolutionary syndicalism...

And James Guillaume saw the links of syndicalism with the federalist-wing of the IWMA, as did Kropotkin... perhaps they projected their preferred interpretations onto things regardless of real historical complexities?

Red Marriott

That is your preferred interpretation, nothing more, to try to avoid any responsibility for being originally so soft on the book’s errors & distortions in your praise of it.

So soft? Hmmh, not in my case -- I noted its flaws (not least its flawed inclusion of Marxists into a broad-anarchist tradition). However, over all, the errors were few -- as for distortions, well, you would know about that.

Red Marriott

That’s what others who try to salvage some value for the book also do. But, as a nationalist-inclined syndicalist, Connelly would seem an ideal model for MS, given what we now know. On how Connelly’s nationalism was embedded in and integral to his socialism

Again, Connelly was included along with the likes of de Leon for their syndicalism...

Red Marriott

No surprise that the present-day anarchists - platformists etc - who mirror most closely bureaucratic Leninist practice should be most invested in such revisionism to supposedly purify their ancestral bloodline (mirroring also the left-communists’ obsession with their ideological bloodlines). And yet, even though he has to acknowledge their historical categories are daft and Anarcho’s great hero Proudhon is explicitly excluded by BF's categories from the anarchist bloodline, he still wants to tail-end their revisionism.

What a load of utter nonsense...

Still, I should note I'm not a platformist (I agree with Malatesta's position -- you can google that too, if you like). And, yes, I criticised their exclusion of Proudhon as being wrong -- however, the book showing that Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Goldman, etc. all advocated anarchist involvement in the labour movement, syndicalist tactics, etc., was all correct. I was nice to see the class struggle nature of anarchist recognised and celebrated -- particularly when so many (usually Marxists, although some anarchists too) sought to deny it.

Anarcho

3 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Black Badger

just need to point out that the damning internal ZACF document that was the basis for the wholly justified condemnation of Schmidt as a piece of shit was written in 2008, a year prior to the publication of BF. Schmidt had to have been entertaining highly questionable (for an alleged anarchist) positions on race, culture, and nationalism for a while prior to the dating of the internal document, which had to have included at least part of the time he was researching the material and reaching the conclusions that eventually made it into BF. those who continue to insist that BF was not at least partially influenced by its co-author's slide into Boer nationalism are living in an ideological echo chamber.

Do you have any idea how long it can take a book to be published after it has been submitted?

Even assuming Schmidt had always been a white-nationalist, he seems to have hidden it well -- which makes sense, if he were indeed infiltrating the movement. And it is not reflected in the book. Did anyone note white-nationalist elements in it before he was exposed?

Afterwards, it seems to come down to including Connelly as part of a "broad anarchist tradition" (along with de Leon and Pannekoek, amongst others) and taking an anti-imperialist position. As I said, this is weak in terms of suggesting the book expresses fascist ideas.

Anarcho

3 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Further to René Berthier's comments, in terms of Kropotkin and syndicalism this article (in the latest ASR) may be of interest -- it is the third in my series on Precursors of Syndicalism and discusses communist-anarchism (using Kropotkin as an exemplar).

The first is on the federalist-wing of the IWMA (including a full translation of an article by Eugene Varlin) and the second on the Chicago IWPA (including an article by Albert Parsons).

I think the third article (already planned and partly written before I read Berthier's comments, I should note) shows pretty well that communist-anarchists were advocating many of the tactics later called "syndicalism" (as had been Bakunin in the IWMA and the IWPA). The next installment will include the communist-anarchist critique of syndicalism, based on Malatesta's and Kropotkin's comments (which I don't need to google, being well aware of them and having used them in other works).

I may do a fifth on Bakunin, we will see, but I covered this in the introduction to Direct Struggle Against Capital but I do think the first installment is a bit short...

Black Badger

3 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As I said, this is weak in terms of suggesting the book expresses fascist ideas.

I have made no such claim for the simple reason that I don't believe that Black Flame expresses fascist ideas. Ridiculous, unsubstantiated, internally incoherent, deliberately skewed, and historically untenable for sure. But fascist? No. The only claims I have made about Black Flame is that it is overflowing with revisionist nonsense and that the backpedaling of van der Walt regarding how much Schmidt actually contributed is unconvincing.

Red Marriott

3 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have never claimed (nor, iirc, anyone else here) that BF showed evidence of white nationalism or fascism so Anarcho can drop using that red herring. But BF was happy to accommodate nationalists into anarchism. Yet you claim that there is no possible connection or trajectory between seeing nationalists as compatible with anarchism and Schmidt’s nationalist views. Even though, as Black Badger pointed out earlier (#39), he was already writing dodgy nationalist texts long before BF was published. That denial doesn’t seem rational to me but it’s what you want/need to believe in defence of the book’s wider revisionism.

For a ‘historian’ it’s ironic that you insist on only taking account of the official written evidence and not the wider context and related circumstances. You can claim to know for certain what MS’s motives were; but the fact is he was writing nationalist texts a long time before BF was published and while it was being researched/prepared for publication.

Yet, in earlier defences of BF, after repeatedly insisting that nationalists like Connelly were only included as anarchists in BF due to their syndicalism, you completely contradicted yourself when dealing with why fascist syndicalists were, rightly, excluded from BF;
Anarcho

And note that BF discusses the Italian Marxist-syndicalists who turned to nationalism in WWI and who later became fascists -- and rightly argued that they were not anarchists or syndicalists when they embraced nationalism.

To which I replied;
RM

Right. And that's why the Black Flame revisionist bullshit of including nationalists like Connolly within anarchism is so contradictory – and made even more damaging to any credibility when 'anarchists' try to excuse/gloss over it and absolutely deny any possibility that it could have any connection to later developments in this sorry tale. And yet Anarcho in earlier posts calls BF "an obviously anarchist book ... a good introduction to anarchism" – a book that embraces a nationalist like Connolly as an anarchist. No contradiction to see there at all folks... Unlike some others I've noted from the beginning that people "were not anarchists or syndicalists when they embraced nationalism". https://libcom.org/forums/general/ak-press-says-michael-schmidt-fascist-25092015?page=33#comment-573968

You may not be a platformist but certainly seem to be a fellow traveller of some of their pro-statist/nationalist views. If you can’t see any difference between support for statist national liberation struggles, being anti-imperialist or an anarchist critique of all forms of state and class domination, whether local or imperial or whether state or state-in-waiting, that’s an unfortunate limitation of your interpretation of anarchism. But such a critique is a part of the anarchist history you claim to be a master of. Worse, you defend nat-lib statism even as you pretend to be a guardian of ‘true anarchism’. You apparently equate criticising nat-lib struggles with being pro-imperialist; a typically crude reductive leninist position. Go preach that, eg, to the Cuban anarchists repressed & murdered under ‘anti-imperialist’ Castro; http://blackrosefed.org/cuba-demonization-of-anarchists/ (ironically, that article cites your FAQ).

It is an obvious massive over-simplification to reduce Malatesta’s highly critical position on syndicalism to saying he ‘advocated syndicalist tactics’ – as is including him in your series on ‘precursors of syndicalism’; http://www.anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/precursors-syndicalism Accepting the possibility of participating in unions is not equivalent to ‘advocating syndicalist tactics’. You seem determined to pursue a similar revisionist path to BF, which I guess is the motivation for your long-winded arguments here. For all your regular denunciations of Marxist distortions of anarchism you engage in much the same untrustworthy myth-making for your own ideological sectarian goals.
Malatesta

Any fusion or confusion between the anarchist and revolutionary movement and the syndicalist movement ends either by rendering the union helpless as regards its specific aims or with toning down, falsifying and extinguishing the anarchist spirit. A union can spring up with a socialist, revolutionary or anarchist programme and it is, indeed, with programmes of this sort that the various workers’ programmes originate. But it is while they are weak and impotent that they are faithful to the programme – while, that is, they remain propaganda groups set up and run by a few zealous and committed men, rather than organisations ready for effective action. Later, as they manage to attract the masses and acquire the strength to claim and impose improvements, the original programme becomes an empty formula, to which no-one pays any more attention. Tactics adapt to the needs of the moment and the enthusiasts of the early days either themselves adapt or cede their place to ‘practical’ men concerned with today, and with no thought for tomorrow.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/malatesta/1925/04/syndic1.htm

You baldly claim that those are the words of ‘an advocate of syndicalist tactics’ and a ’precursor of syndicalism’, so distorting history for your own revisionist ideological agenda – therefore as untrustworthy as those you criticise. Much like the distortions of your beloved BF.

Method of Freedom

2 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Berthier has written responses to this thread on monde nouveu

http://monde-nouveau.net/IMG/pdf/concerning_black_flame_libcom---.pdf

Red Marriott

2 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Berthier's response echoes and fleshes out some of my earlier comments about Anarcho's historical distortions. But his reply to me at the end seems to assume I was defending Malatesta's views; but I was neither defending nor attacking them, only pointing out their distorted misuse by Anarcho & co.

sherbu-kteer

2 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

He has another article up, this time part one of a response to BF's treatment of Proudhon:

http://monde-nouveau.net/IMG/pdf/concerning_black_flame-proudhon_-_part_1.pdf

Includes some bits about Marxism and Stirner.

On page 25 of Black Flame. Schmidt and van der Walt write: “Classical Marxism from the beginning was a form of political socialism, but it is crucial to note that there were also libertarian Marxists. These included the Council communists Herman Gorter, Anton Pannekoek, and Otto Ruhle, who held views close to syndicalism and were openly hostile to Bolshevism.” Schmidt and van der Walt simply forget to say that they were “openly hostile” to anarchism as well. All these Council communists were ferociously hostile to anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism.

The problem is that “libertarian Marxism” is a recent concept unknown from Marx's time (he would have been horrified by it), and it is abusive to say that the Council communist’s views were close to revolutionary syndicalism. Adding the theorists of Council communism to the long eclectic list of “classical Marxists” that Schmidt and van der Walt proposes only reinforces the approximative nature of their approach. I had always thought that “Libertarian Marxism” was a concept invented by Daniel Guérin.

Herman Gorter, Anton Pannekoek, Otto Ruhle but also Helmut Wagner, whom Schmidt and van der Walt don't mention, made a remarkable critical analysis of Bolshevism, which the Russian anarcho-syndicalists had done for the most part ten years before them, but outside the very short periods during which workers councils actually existed (a few months) — periods that provided the argument for the development of a “councilist” doctrine — the categorical opposition of this current to both parliamentarism and trade unionism, as well as its opposition to the creation of permanent bodies of struggle, deprived it of any possibility of action and existence outside the revolutionary periods.

sherbu-kteer

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A follow up from the previous post: Proudhon and law

http://monde-nouveau.net/IMG/pdf/anarchism_is_rarely_perceived.pdf

alb

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Read through this thread because you mentioned Berthier on another one and am curious who exactly you were referring to in post #6 when you wrote:

these egoist types are still around, giving us all a bad name,

Incidentally, odd that nobody corrected Connelly to Connolly.

sherbu-kteer

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Nobody in particular, but some people who hang around anarchist scenes. The contemporary "insurrectionist" scene is very into Stirner, if you can say they're into any intellectual figures at all.

Elysard

2 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[quote=Juan Conatz]Anarcho

The open question on Black Flame is how much of Michael Schmidt's secret white separatist views and priorities become intertwined into the research and outlook of the book. This might not even be possible to know or may not be possible unless one undertakes a project similar to BF.

As far as I know, Schmidt barely intervened in Black Flame. But my information is indirect, and I wouldn't bet my paycheck on it. In any case, I haven't seen anything in the book that remotely resembles an extreme right-wing point of view.

I can imagine how embarrassed van der Walt must have been when the case was made public, but still, I have a hard time swallowing the idea that he wasn't aware of his co-author's ideas.
I think we have to move on and not make a big deal out of it: the book contains ideas that need to be analysed and even criticised, which I do, but it has to remain a political debate, avoiding ad hominem attacks.

Elysard

2 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[quote=Juan Conatz]Anarcho

The open question on Black Flame is how much of Michael Schmidt's secret white separatist views and priorities become intertwined into the research and outlook of the book. This might not even be possible to know or may not be possible unless one undertakes a project similar to BF.

As far as I know, Schmidt barely intervened in Black Flame. But my information is indirect, and I wouldn't bet my paycheck on it. In any case, I haven't seen anything in the book that remotely resembles an extreme right-wing point of view.

I can imagine how embarrassed van der Walt must have been when the case was made public, but still, I have a hard time swallowing the idea that he wasn't aware of his co-author's ideas.
I think we have to move on and not make a big deal out of it: the book contains ideas that need to be analysed and even criticised, which I do, but it has to remain a political debate, avoiding ad hominem attacks.

Elysard

2 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was late in reading the comments on Libcom concerning my texts about Black Flame.
Moreover I tried several times to register on the site, which stubbornly refused my application. Of course, my inexperience is the cause of these repeated failures, but I finally succeeded last night!
Since I couldn't log in on Libcom, I wrote a global answer to the
comments on my comments, see

http://monde-nouveau.net/spip.php?article762

I thought this might be of interest to the participants in this debate.

I apologize for this confusion

Red Marriott

2 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi Elysard; your article was linked to last year - see above, post #50. As I replied then, post #51;

Berthier's response echoes and fleshes out some of my earlier comments about Anarcho's historical distortions. But his reply to me at the end seems to assume I was defending Malatesta's views; but I was neither defending nor attacking them, only pointing out their distorted misuse by Anarcho & co.