Personal statement on the Michael Schmidt affair: Lucien van der Walt, 11 February 2016
Friday February 12, 2016 14:10 by Lucien van der Walt
Personal statement on the Michael Schmidt affair: Lucien van der Walt, 11 February 2016
Personal statement on the Michael Schmidt affair: Lucien van der Walt, 11 February 2016
Many people have asked me to comment on the Schmidt affair, and to those who wrote to me, I said I would comment after all the articles were out, and after all Michael Schmidt’s replies were out. Those following the affair will know it centres on the claim that Schmidt was, from at least 2002, some sort of racist right-winger or fascist working inside the anarchist movement – a charge Schmidt has denied.
Now that what looks to be the final instalment in the series of seven articles by Alexander Reid-Ross and Joshua Stephens has appeared (24 December 2015), and that it seems Schmidt is not issuing a third reply to them (he did two in 2015), I have tried to put pen to paper to comment.
And I have found it very difficult.
The reasons are quite simple. I have mixed feelings, I am unsure what to think. I want to reach a final position, and have tried to do my best to hear all sides of the story, not just those that fit what I initially thought. My views have shifted over time, they shift daily.
I have problems with the actions and arguments of Reid-Ross and Stephens, but I also have problems with the actions and arguments of Schmidt.
I find it difficult to reconcile the Michael Schmidt I saw, with the statements he has admitted to posting online under fake personas. These include comments on boards, as well as what appears to be a longer manifesto, called the “Strandwolf’s Creed.”
I find those online statements to be deeply abhorrent, shocking – no matter what reason is given to explain them, in their own right they are just awful. I completely distance myself from those statements. They embody racist and fascist positions that I find appalling, and that I have opposed consistently, for decades, to the best of my abilities – and let me stress here that, despite my ethnic background, I reject Afrikaner nationalism, in all its forms, as an essentially reactionary current. The “Strandwolf’s Creed,” posted under one of Schmidt’s online fake personas, had clearly racist and fascist content, I reject it entirely. I also believe some of the online posts by these personas were inflammatory and irresponsible, going beyond, in my view, the ethics of journalism and social research.
I also completely reject a document that Schmidt authored in his own capacity, and circulated in 2008 in the South African anarchist political group, Zabalaza/ ZACF, called “Politico-Cultural Dynamics …” I was not part of that organisation at the time. I was not party to the discussions in Zabalaza over it. When I checked later, Zabalaza’s records showed that the organisation rejected the text, and that Schmidt recanted its worst formulations as “bordering on racism,” in 2008. Many years later, when I was informed of this text for the first time, by someone else, I asked Schmidt about it: he stated that he wrote it when disillusioned and burned-out, and that he distanced himself from it. But no matter what his intentions and situation may have been when he wrote it, I think it’s an irredeemable and unacceptable text.
Schmidt’s core defense of the right-wing online statements and the “Creed” that he posted under false personas has been that the statements emphatically did not reflect his real views, but were as fake as the personas he created online. So he says that his online statements (through these personas) were certainly and definitely racist and fascist – but insists that they are inventions, used cynically as part of an undercover investigation into the radical white right, first as a journalist, and then for research towards a book called “Global Fire.” His real views, he insists, are those expressed in a long history of progressive and left-radical political work, and a social life, that locates him firmly in the camp of the country’s black working class.
Reid-Ross and Stephens argue, on the other hand, that Schmidt’s online statements through his various online right-wing personas are far too consistent with elements of his public persona and writings, and far too offensive, to be explained away as simply part of a research project. They also argue against the undercover-journalism defense on the grounds that he has, they insist, produced little in the way of research outputs as a result.
Versions of these claims and counter-claims have been in circulation for some time, at least back into 2011, in some circles. But never as detailed and extensive as now: it is only with Reid-Ross and Stephens’ articles, and the two Schmidt replies, that a fuller picture has started to emerge.
Where does the truth of the matter lie? Does it lie with one or other of the two main narratives that have been put forward? Does it fit uneasily with both?
Right now, I find it difficult to reach definite conclusions.
I was deeply disappointed to read, in Schmidt’s two replies to his accusers, his frank admission that he had not only concealed his claimed undercover journalism from Zabalaza and others for years – and it was even worse, to learn, from those replies, that he had continued to conceal the full scope of his online activities and personas even when he was confronted by Zabalaza and others, including me, from 2011.
I do think that there are important elements of the claims by Reid-Ross and Stephens that have not been clearly addressed by Schmidt’s replies. These are some examples. One is the claim Schmidt has a runic tattoo on one arm, of a symbol associated with the white radical right, and that he got this to signify a radical right position. Another is the allegation that he voted for the Afrikaner nationalist Freedom Front Plus in South Africa’s 2009 general elections. A third is the argument that some of his journalistic articles in the mainstream press show sympathies with the white radical right.
On the other hand, there are important elements of Schmidt’s replies that have not been adequately addressed by Reid-Ross and Stephens, in their responses. These are some examples. One is the claim Reid-Ross and Stephens skip over Schmidt’s tattoos that are clearly anarchist, like an Anarchist Black Cross tattoo, ignoring evidence that does not neatly fit. Another is the allegation that at least one of the major statements they attribute to Schmidt does not actually appear in the text they cite. A third is the argument that, even now, they have not engaged with the bulk of what Schmidt has written, skipping three of five books, various anarchist pamphlets, and most of the many hundreds of articles he’s written, anarchist as well as journalistic. A fourth claim is that they have acted at odds with journalistic ethics, interviewing with Schmidt under false pretenses, not giving him a right-of-reply before publication, displaying overt personal hostility, and making dubious claims to, for instance, treat the fact Schmidt had a black wife and friends as irrelevant, even damning.
Now, let me be clear. I hope that there are simple explanations, from both sides, for all these concerns. I really hope so. I’d like to see all these issues addressed, by both sides. I am not taking sides, because I am not sure what to think.
Well, that’s where I am today, unsure, with reservations about both Schmidt and Reid-Ross and Stephens, in turmoil, not sure how to proceed and hoping for the issues to be resolved.
I have tried to think through the issues, vacillated, changed my mind. Sometimes I have acted emotionally and foolishly – for which I apologize sincerely and unreservedly.
In early December 2015, for example, I posted a several times online, under a once-well-known name I used to use, Red.Black.Writings. I had resolved not to post or debate online at all, but I got emotional. This was soon after Schmidt posted his second reply. In these posts I argued that Schmidt’s reply was pretty strong, and that his critics were missing some of its key claims, being a bit selective when using evidence (for example, skipping over Schmidt’s anarchist tattoos, highlighting instead a runic tattoo), not always considering other explanations, and so on.
I apologise sincerely and unreservedly for engaging the issues under the Red.Black.Writings identity without clearly identifying it as mine. I should have done so, from the start. I am sorry if it was misleading. I acted emotionally, and without care. I am truly sorry. I didn’t create the Red.Black.Writings identity to engage on the Schmidt issue (it has been around for years, and is fairly well-known as mine), and I was posting on a board where pretty much no-one uses their real names. But that does not excuse me.
There was one positive outcome of this unhappy experience: I found some of the replies to my points difficult to answer. I left the board because I needed to think these through. I haven’t posted there since. The fact is that I was forced to do some serious reflection by the exchanges. I was forced to recognise more problems in Schmidt’s arguments. While I continue to have reservations about the Reid-Ross and Stephens arguments, I have, let me state it again, reservations about Schmidt’s arguments.
I don’t particularly like the way many online debates about the Schmidt affair have been conducted, but that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize important points when they are made.
To understand the emotional side of the issues, and my conflicted views, let me say something on a personal level: I have known Michael Schmidt for a long time, since the mid-1990s; I was in radical groups with Schmidt from 1995 until about ten years ago, 2007; and I was in contact with him when he got divorced in 2007, and burned-out, ill and depressed from 2008.
Also around ten years ago, my main written collaboration with Schmidt took place. This was, of course, the book “Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism.” Although “Black Flame” appeared in print in 2009, it was largely written in 2005-2006, the proofs for correction arriving late 2007. I was the primary author.
It was an effort at a global, non-Eurocentric account of mainstream anarchist and syndicalist history and theory – one with flaws, certainly, but one with many strengths too. The book went for peer-review, at my insistence, and no reviewer then, or critic later, made any allusion to right-wing themes in the book. Those who criticized the book tended to take issue with its stress on class-struggle, or its definition of anarchism.
Schmidt’s lengthy (second) reply to Reid-Ross and Stephens reminded me of his track record as an activist-writer, and reflected the person I saw. I saw a long history of non-racial action, and dedication to a black working class-based anarchism, which I find difficult just to forget. The Schmidt I saw dedicated a great part of his life to anarchism and syndicalism, in his writings, militancy and daily life. This is the Schmidt that many people, in South Africa and worldwide saw, not just me, a man involved in unions, protests, agitation, and radical publishing.
And in this long period, Michael Schmidt never expressed to me the sorts of views that Reid-Ross and Stephens insist he has held since at least 2002. I never saw him politically active in ways that suggested a radical right-wing agenda. I never saw, in any draft of what became “Black Flame,” or in the drafts that I saw of its successor “Global Fire” (which have been written by Schmidt), the sorts of views critics claim Schmidt has long held. Even when he was grappling, from 2007, with personal demons, job issues, divorce, and general disappointment, he did not express such views to me.
I also never saw the sort of manipulative, duplicitous and aggressive personality described by the Reid-Ross and Stephens’ articles, or some of the anonymous sources they cited. And again, I am not alone in this.
In the long period I have known Schmidt, we have had many disagreements on many issues, including political ones, but the side of himself he showed to me was always that of a pretty standard class-struggle anarchist.
But I say “showed to me,” very deliberately, because I knew his writing and research and militancy basically through his public anarchist and anarchist-related writings and activities in the 1990s and 2000s.
Our interaction was around left-radical projects. Sometimes I worked with him as a co-author. Sometimes he asked for feedback on drafts, on the understanding that he bore final responsibility for their content. I can’t say I followed his newspaper pieces articles very closely. And of course, he was his own man, and he did not run everything by me, as if I was his editor or commissar. Many of his articles I only saw after they were published – I can recall some I hotly rejected, including one on the late, unlamented Eugene Terre’blanche.
And I say “showed to me,” deliberately, because obviously a person can have different sides, not all visible. While I can say the Schmidt I saw seemed the genuine article, I can’t claim I saw every part of Schmidt, I can’t claim that I saw everything he said or did. But if he had another political persona, it was not shown to me.
And I say “showed to me,” deliberately, because the Reid-Ross and Stephens articles have drawn to my attention to a body of materials of which I was not previously aware, and made some criticisms about Schmidt’s explanation for his online fake personas that do need to be addressed – as I have indicated earlier.
And I also say “showed to me,” deliberately, because Schmidt did not inform me he was creating fake online personas, never shared with me the texts he posted through such personas, nor did he state to me and others in the 2000s that he was undertaking a claimed undercover-journalism / research on the radical white right. It’s not just that I did not see all of Schmidt: this activity, at least, was specifically kept under wraps by Schmidt.
It was in early 2011 that Zabalaza was informed, by other sources, that Schmidt was operating false personas on radical white right sites and showing affinities to the radical right. Schmidt had left Zabalaza a year before. I was not in Zabalaza, so I do not know all the details or the exact dates of this informing. I was soon approached by a member of Zabalaza about the matter, and I replied that Zabalaza needed to deal with the issue firmly, and confront Schmidt.
Zabalaza did confront Schmidt in 2011 – as did I, in my own capacity – and he was confronted about these issues several times subsequently. His reply was always roughly the same as that he still maintains, that the fake personas were for undercover research purposes, and emphatically did not represent his real views. Remember also that he had rejected “Politico-Cultural Dynamics …” in 2008, so this matter was not brought into the discussion.
For my part, I took Schmidt’s explanation at face value, based on the Schmidt I knew, and the record of action, that I saw. And based, I must admit, on the fact I respected, trusted and liked him.
Maybe I am naïve, but I have been guided by a belief in human decency, and a trust in people, based on what I have experienced directly. When I express reservations about the case against Schmidt, it does not come from a stubborn effort to see only one side of the story, or to defend anything and everything that Schmidt may have ever done. It does not come from an effort to cover up. It certainly does not come from any sympathy for noxious views or from any hidden agenda.
Yet I warned Schmidt, on these occasions, that if there was substance to the claims that he had was affiliated to the radical white right he would face ostracism and lose friends, that people who did not like him would also actively try to ruin him.
And if now, after all, there is indeed substance to the claims, I and many other will feel deeply betrayed by him, and how he turned his back on his anarchist writings and militancy.
Where to now?
I understand that there is a non-partisan anarchist and syndicalist commission being called to look into the Schmidt affair.
Maybe that can lead to some resolution. Maybe the commission can help anarchism and syndicalism globally think through how to deal with matters like the Schmidt affair in a more constructive, comradely and movement-building manner.
And maybe, in the process, people can consider just what they want to achieve in affairs like this.
There will probably never be a consensus on this case, and people will need to decide how they deal with difference here, and how to move beyond what has become a very vitriolic debate, including insults, smears, and even hate-mail.
For me, for now, my feelings are mixed, my mind not made up, my emotions in turmoil, and my path unclear. I know some people want me to make a clearer statement, but this is where I am right now. Unsure.
So, for now, I wait. I wait for the commission, I discuss with comrades, colleagues and friends.
And I will take a final position after the commission.
Lucien van der Walt, Makana, South Africa, 11 February 2016
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Comments (11 of 11)Jump To Comment: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Thank you for your honest and heartfelt response, this has not been an easy time and unfortunately all the mudslinging has hit a lot of good people and good organisations in the cross fire. I only hope that, with the commission, comes not only a clearer picture of the whole issue but also some serious guidelines around the way real comrades engage each other when faced with a challenge like this. We have challenges enough from the outside without tearing the movement apart from within. Aluta Continua!
thanks Lucien, my work is done here, so I won't be posting any longer. I know it is difficult to eat crow after those older posts, and the humble response is appreciated. I apologize sincerely for the vitriol and will now spread this response of yours far and wide.
In regard to your analysis so far, I don't think the "my emotions are still blinding me so I wait for the commission decision" response is good enough -- surely an academic of your caliber can dig through all the material? it's really not as complex as you make it sound.
That, and I'm sure you have evidence of your own which would shed some light on the situation... Schmidt's trangressions into "national anarchism" and racist/Boer nationalist outbursts must have creeped into correspondence and other writings -- likely episodes you've seen in person as well. Releasing the rejected Anarkismo articles ("Menace in Europe", "Neither Fish nor Fowl", etc.) as well as any incriminating ZACF memos etc., would not only help make the discussion more open and rational, it would further distance you from a man who has already damaged your career significantly. Even if you think Schmidt is a "sometimes racist", there's no excuse for it, and the fallout has been substantial. You would also do well to distance your colleagues and comrades from him and be proactive about letting them know your position in regard to this; there are still books and articles of Michael's being promoted in SA that contain a more 'politically correct' version of his nationalism/racism.
If your opinion truly does change daily, I hope that you will take the time to look closely at the comments here and what else is out there, and engage thoughtfully with the people here and elsewhere online, before waiting for some drawn-out commission (which is waste of everyone's time and energy). The facts are rather plain when you're at a personal distance from the man himself, even if difficult to fathom. Conclusions from you will likely carry more weight than the response of an entire commission.
I know you've seen most of it, but I'll post again. This is *almost* everything, besides a handful of Stormfront posts that don't add much relevance (though I will make sure they get published in a legible form). I'll leave out Michael's responses, which are obviously linked in the ARR and JS pieces and I'm sure you're quite familiar with.
Primary sources --
How the story broke --
The story --
1. strong apology for the RBW pseudonym posts he was called out on
2. context for his actions and emotional turmoil
3. denouncement of scmidt strongly for the 'Creed' circulated widely, the ZACF memo, SF posts (and other activity of Michael?)
4. criticism of ARR and JS approach
5. criticism of Michaels responses as unconvincing but points to his anarchist writings as counterpoint
6. statement that lucien is still unsure, waiting on commission.
All everyone wanted was such a response and here it is. although I will say, Lucien still has a monolithic view of neo-nazis, cryptofascists, et al - just about the only thing clear from stormfront is that a loose idea of white supremacy binds them together. Even on that point, there is discussion about which whites are 'better' and what races are 'honorary whites' [maybe not all asians but just japanese, etc]. Michaels huge body of anarchist work is not hard to rectify with fascist ideology when you actually get rid of a preconceived, monolithic view of the awful ideas - there is diversity of thought even in the absolute gutter and vomit of the human mind.
Commission is not necessary in my opinion and others; just release the articles/evidence thats not yet out there and let others decide [menace in europe and neither fish-nor-fowl articles etc], denounce the racism and fascism and the obvious things [ as lucien did, even the tatoo etc], come up with a broad conclusion that [should be] uncontroversial for anarchists of all stripes,, and translate and circulate it as a draft for eventual publication [with a time window for comments]. I will quote this comment by Dannny on libcom here which explains what such a broad uncontroversial conclusion could be:
"Thanks for these comments, Lucien. I appreciate this must have been a shitty time for you.
On this point:
If Schmidt is a fascist then it seems to me that the anarchist activity, tattoos and writings can be explained by two possible factors: 1) he meant them sincerely at the time but changed his position. 2) the 'national anarchism' he advocates is an attempt to make racism and various other tenets of fascism compatible with anarchism, in which case knowledge of and credibility within anarchism are a plus for him, even if to achieve this he has to behave in contradictory ways and write things contrary to what he believes.
For someone who knows him, those explanations might not convince, but that's how it looks from the outside. And from here it looks like Schmidt is a fascist because what kind of undercover anti-fascist activity could feasibly, in a million years, involve advocating a 'black battlefront' that expicitly attempts to wed 'anarchism' to violent racism? So one of those above explanations must broadly suffice, regardless of the content of that activity and those texts. In that sense, the weaknesses of the investigation seem largely irrelevant at this point.
In any case, I hope that all those who were close to Schmidt get through this experience as best they can, without making any concessions to or excuses for racism and nationalism, and I'm glad and gratified to see that approach in your comments."
Hello Lucien, this is a good first step and would have been nice months ago but here we are. A few things to say on this:
a) Your logic is still a bit backwards in regard to ARR/JS. You may be correct that there are inadequacies in the investigation but as others point out, that is irrelevant at this point unless you just want to correspond with them over it. I don't like some of the way the story came out and was written either. But they should be lauded along with all the others working hard to bring Schmidt's abhorrent views to light including the aggressive posters here and libcom (some with original evidence that might never have gotten out otherwise). ARR/JS don't have the burden of proof on them and shouldn't have to read every iota of Schmidt's writing; as is they've gone through ~100 pieces and talked about whatever they thought was relevant. That's good enough, far more than necessary - Schmidt needs to answer for the shit writings, not have the good writings placed on the opposite end of a hypothetical scale, to see if he is "truly fascist'.
b) I assume you find it hard to applaud AK Press for what they did, but you can see how funding a fascist through book sales is a problem for them. Maybe edit and rerelease Black Flame for free again, with a foreword about this affair? I assume Global Fire will never see the light of day since Schmidt did most of the work; good luck keeping him from riding your coattails. Send letters to his current publisher HSRC BestRed and get them to stop publishing his garbage; he's got other books coming up which will likely be worse, has a fixation with Isandlwana on Stormfront.org and 'Creed' that seems to be carrying into his new writing. Also, let PEN SA know what's up so they don't run his articles promoting book sales.
c) There truly is, as posters above and in the past have pointed out, no need for a commission. It will likely descend into Monty Python-esque parody of platformism and take far too much time and energy.
I would do that but also add that the Anarchist Affinity statement is a good starting point:
d) You better work hard to keep Schmidt a mile away from everything you do, or the currently building wave of movements in your country will not be sympathetic to you.
e) One good way to do that is releasing document and information you have, which everyone knows you have (eg Anarkismo articles). Take time, ask for permission from other editors, or whatever. If there's no courage to publish maybe release on your own. This info needs to be in front of the not-yet-formed commission anyway. Do NOT make the same mistake ARR/JS did and not do a data dump along with their first articles.......that set things back substantially and drew out this affair needlessly.
Lucien's half-apology includes apologies for racism and critical omissions. Based on his response, we should wonder about Lucien as well.
- Lucien ignores that Schmidt's explanation of his racist 2008 memo is also racist, and revisionist, the document itself consistent with Schmidt's covert anarcho-fascism. Schmidt's 2015 response is a racist revisionist cover-up. We'll be happy to discuss this Lucien if you doubt it.
- Lucien only fell silent after his last post on Dec 13, when somebody outed him by name in Libcom and he realized his manipulative charade was over. He began defending Schmidt the day after Schmidt posted his 40,000 word biographical defense, starting Nov 27 on anarchistnews.org (see post "I could go on" in https://anarchistnews.org/content/michael-schmidt-afric...raphy).
- Schmidt provided 3 replies plus a threat to AK in 2015, not 2 as Lucien says. The first was on social media, where he called his 7-page racist ZACF memo "asking difficult questions" that are "politically incorrect" and called AK Press allegations "buffoonery" (http://antifascistnews.net/2015/10/14/as-expose-is-rele...deny/). It appears this was then taken down by Schmidt. The second was his "Two Swallows Don't Make A Summer", then his autobiographical defense. Finally, he made a violent threat to AK Press, telling them "a whipping awaits" alongside a picture of him with a table full of guns and grenades (https://medium.com/@areidross/michael-schmidt-and-the-fascist-creep-75256cca1f2).
- Lucien omits that Schmidt lied about the Lebensrune tattoo in his defense. (See Lucien's initial rationalizations on Libcom at https://libcom.org/forums/general/ak-press-says-michael...69657) Schmidt only mentioned his tattoos once, in a single paragraph in his 2008 response. Schmidt says he has "NO racist tattoos". He lists them but leaves out the Lebensrune and even worse, says the "printer's mark" tattoo on his left shoulder "is not a runic tattoo". This is like saying "my Mickey Mouse tattoo is not a swastika" when there's a swastika right next to it. This is not enough to convince Lucien, however.
- Lucien backed Schmidt in alleging that his Scythian chieftain tattoos cannot be construed as racist. On Libcom, Lucien asked a forum member to "provide a single bit of evidence showing that "Scythian chieftain tattoos" (no, not vague online references to "Scythians" generally) are symbols of white pride in fascist circles." Evidence was then posted, including the exact same Scythian chieftain tattoos on Stormfront in 2006 (great response to Lucien at https://libcom.org/forums/general/ak-press-says-michael...69702).
We know Scythian tattoos are not necessarily linked to racism the way a Lebensrune is, but we also know Schmidt got them while on Stormfront because his arms are pictured without them in a photo Schmidt dates (in his defense) to 2008. We know that Schmidt calls the Scythian and Lebensrune tattoos "white pride" symbols on Stormfront (https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t1045520-3).
- Lucien ignores that Ross-Stephens characterize Schmidt a "national anarchist" that wants an anarchist government and economic system but in a white-dominated Boerstaate. This explains the anarchist and fascist tattoos. It also shifts the blame of explanation off Schmidt, when he lied and denied.
- Lucien's version of white supremacy is a caricatured, monolithic straw man of a community has diversity of opinion within its racist parameters. A browse around Stormfront illustrates that its members disagree on things from anarchism (https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t371876-3/) to American History X (Schmidt agrees with others that American History X is good for white supremacists to peddle their ideas, see https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t229019-63/).
- Lucien lacks basic understanding of racism. For example, having a few black friends or sexual partners does not preclude racism. This runs through the history of white supremacy. People of color understand this. Lucien clearly does not.
- Lucien points out "problems" on both sides, indicting both Ross-Stephens AND Schmidt, as if there's some sort of parity of wrong-doing or need to call out Ross-Stephens. As others have pointed out, Lucien should be thanking Ross-Stephens for their courageous work.
There is nothing to wonder about for a final assessment on Schmidt.
Schmidt created a Zuma thread, "Vote for Zuma! / Stem vir Zuma!", on Stormfront during the 2009 election. This is what he had to say with his white supremacist buddies (https://www.stormfront.org/forum/f113-40):
Necklacing? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necklacing) Starving 10 million blacks is "tempting"? This had over 1,000 views in a forum full of extremists with members many times convicted of murder and hate crimes (https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2014/04/17/splc-rep...users).
Couple this with his incitement to "flood" the World Cup with white supremacists and symbols (post #5 above). This had over 16,00 views. Because, you know, whites are entitled to incite hatred and violence against people of color to an audience full of racist extremists with documented murderers (https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2014/04/17/splc-rep...users), where black bodies might actually be victim or killed. All to "keep his finger on the pulse" (schmidt's explanation).
Couple Schmidt's racist incitement to hatred and violence to violent racists with his Strandwolf's Creed, timed just after he left ZACF, rejected for his white-dominated anarchism proposal,
AND his Lebensrune tattoo (which he lied about),
AND his Scythian chieftain tattoos,
AND his editor's denial,
AND his giant knife showcased in his Facebook profile pic, he says used to protect his white neighbors on Stormfront
AND his violent threat to AK Press,
AND his attempt to get "national anarchism" in an anarchism documentary,
AND his attempted recruitment of whites on Facebook and Stormfront to his white supremacist anarcho-fascist cause,
AND his view that whites form a "rearguard" to direct and fund blacks as "front-line action groups" (ie, whites fund blacks to fight the black state: https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t502133-23/), echoed in his 2008 ZACF memo,
AND his Stormfront posts about Muslims, completely unnecessary
AND his use of the term "black racism" in his public writings (David Duke uses it in a thread Schmidt posted in: https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t703110/ and deleted https://web.archive.org/web/20100724091430/http://www.s...0-17/),
AND his two 2015 articles penned in his name, rejected by Anarkismo for concerns of racism, including an anti-Muslim one
AND Lucien still can't get it. Lucien, the white Afrikaner, critic of "white privilege". Can't see what's wrong here.
Let us repeat: this is a giant fuck you to black people, Muslims, all people of color, and everyone with a brain.
From being a serious concern, Blacklivesmatters (seemingly a friend of Reid-Ross and Stephens) is turning the whole Schmidt affair into a past time for the idle. Lucien's response is well thought out, reflective and stays away from the toxic environment fostered by internet trolls like Blacklivesmatters. Lucien revealed his monicker, it would be interesting to see who is behind this monicker as well.
It is understandable that someone who worked with Schmidt for many years and who saw other aspects of him will have mixed feelings and will find difficult to come out to a definite conclusion. Instead of learning as a movement, Blacklivesmatter is only concerned with character assassination. Schmidt, to be sure, is no innocent victim of a Machiavellian plot, but the petty nature of some of this commentator, and their obssessive trolling reveals an agenda which is not been talked about.
First I'd like to thank you for writing a post that serves as a perfect example of the bullshit that those defending Schmidt have peddled. It could not be a better summary of the way Schmidt's defenders have argued, although most of those defenders have now retreated into the "yeah the racism is bad but..." category (a de facto defense of Schmidt rather than an outright one). That includes RedBlackWritings, who had a full three weeks of strongly-worded defenses of Schmidt under that pseudonym, and now is a puppy with his tail between his legs, "unsure" and waiting for the decision of a commission before deciding on plain facts.
Have you actually approached any of the points Blacklivesmatter makes above? No, of course not. Instead --
* The principle of having an internet handle is attacked, by a poster going by "J". This is a distraction tactic that surfaced a soon as RedBlackWritings was called out by a new user on Libcom. This isn't a debate about internet identity and usernames in general. It's about Schmidt's coauthor, given the benefit of the doubt in this affair, deciding to debate critics of Schmidt anonymously rather than answer them (some longtime comrades) under his real name. When he was outed, he fell silent, because he had been caught writing defenses of Schmidt as RBW. Two months went by before this statement as Lucien.
That got people enraged, and Lucien has now now apologized profusely for the RBW conduct (although he does gloss over some of the details and distort the timeline, but that's not worth getting into here).
* You assume everyone is a friend of ARR/JS, and that must be the reason they're interested in this. You concoct a "trolling" campaign that, though not "Machiavellian", is obsessive. If people are obsessed with this story, it's because the defenders of Schmidt in September are still defenders of Schmidt in February, though the facts are out in the open for all to see, and could not be more clear. Rather than reach simple conclusions, Schmidt's defenders are again trying to make the issue complex... all the while, glossing over their own role of protecting him, or at least protecting the information about his fascist activities (which to me is the same thing), since 2011. Finding out a fascist has been harbored by anarchist groups for 5-6 years may make those on the outside of this affair "obsessed", especially when he is still being defended. Especially when anarchism groups have traditionally been on the frontlines of anti-fascist activities, and we are now seeing a rise in fascism that hasn't occurred since the late 1980s - early 1990s.
Beyond this, calling out other commenters as obsessed is just like being fixated on internet handles, when you too are deciding to take time to leave a comment on this thread. Are defenders such as yourself not also "obsessed", perhaps in defending your own links to Schmidt (as has been common)?
* Schmidt's defenders keep peddling this "let's move on as a movement" crap as a distraction from strongly denouncing Schmidt and cutting ties with him. As if such actions would be anathema for "the movement". It's utter nonsense, especially since many of those who have come out to defend Schmidt keep their contribution to the "movement" firmly within the pages of books and articles. Beyond that, this schism around the Schmidt affair has made some question the "movement" at all, or at least the neoplatformist role within it... though I used to consider myself a platformist, I want no part in a "movement" that glosses over and defends racism and fascism, drawing out this whole affair into a 6-month spectacle, with Lucien's long-awaited response taking a full two months since he was outed as RBW. And now we're supposed to wait even longer for some laughable commission. Are the critics of Schmidt truly drawing this out, making it a "pasttime for the idle", or is it the apologists for Schmidt?
Juan Conatz on libcom summarizes my views quite well so I'm pasting here --
Reid Ross and Stephens own racial, Eurocentric and colonial bias, from the ZACF statement:
20. Reid Ross and Stephens’ inaccurate representation of ZACF is based on poor research and analysis, and serious factual and analytical problems, regarding not just ZACF but South Africa generally. Eurocentrism and an uncritical embrace by the two journalists of deeply problematic anti-left arguments associated with the South African state and ultra-nationalists, but rooted in the colonial geography of reason, are part of the problem.
21. No use was made of easily available ZACF source materials and archives, and the two journalists have failed to contact ZACF throughout the series to check facts or to provide right-of-reply to charges made. Their account of ZACF is almost entirely based on the views of one former member active for a relatively short period, outsider opinions, dubious inferences from an inaccurate document by Schmidt that was rejected by ZACF, and unsubstantiated and often demonstrably false assertions. The history of ZACF cannot be based on so few sources, especially given that claims made by these sources contradict a larger body of other evidence that has been ignored.
22. Silencing black and African voices, and the ZACF, has been central to the articles’ methodology. ZACF sources were ignored. Contradictory data and testimony was ignored. In particular this relates to one ZACF ex-member and founder member, comrade Mzamani Philip Nyalungu, who was made central to one article (in fact he is the only person we feel was insulted by name, besides Schmidt, in their seven articles.) His testimony, at odds with key claims by the journalists, was not cited, yet the testimony of two white ex-ZACF members was repeatedly presented as self-evidently true. This can be construed as racist: while Reid Ross and Stephens may argue that they have grounds to criticise Schmidt harshly, there is no justification for this treatment of a serious black working class militant.
23. Claims that we are unduly emotional about what we feel is an unjustifiable misrepresentation of the ZACF, that trivialise this misrepresentation, or that present ZACF as ill-informed or ill-motivated, reflect the same colonial and silencing outlook.
The ZACF lost their ability to frame the debate and the way an investigation would be conducted when they refused to acknowledge Michael Schmidt's racist and fascist views in 2011, if not much earlier. Instead, the main evidence of his racism and fascism that they cite as inexcusable, the so-called "Strandwolf Creed", was kept online for 4-5 years for all to see (including budding young White Power fascists). ZACF knew about it in 2011 (if not earlier), and could have handled it then, however they sought fit in the South African racial context. When they decided not to confront the issue at all, they lost all credibility to complain about how any subsequent investigation into Schmidt would occur. This is doubly reinforced by the fact that all of the corroborating evidence about Schmidt's fascism was readily available on the Web, and an afternoon of Googling away.
Clearly, there were uncomfortable truths that were either passively dismissed, or purposefully covered up. If the ZACF wanted to decide the matter on their own terms, with a commission or whatever structure they sought fit, they missed the boat by HALF A DECADE.
Now, as Schmidt apologists such as "J" make clear, this conversation is descending into deplorable territory, where those who exposed Schmidt and opened up the conversation (ARR/JS, AK Press, and the Web commentators who did research into Schmidt and leaks) are considered anti-black racists. Beyond that, it's even proposed that they don't understand white racism or white identity, and perhaps misunderstand Schmidt's calls for a Boer homeland carved out of the Western Cape and Namibia. The assumption that anonymous commentators are white Americans is even more deplorable, and exposes these posts as garbage, intended to bring identity politics to the forefront of the issue.
the grand inquisitors ARR/JS and their adepts are demanding the head of the witch ?
and now they also want to burn the books ? - all the good books (and articles) of michael schmidt ? (http://drinkingwithghosts.blogspot.de/2015/11/michael-s....html)
or both ?
Alex, it is not a "witch hunt" to take a stance against a decades-long repeated incitement to hatred and violence against blacks-POC-Muslims to other white supremacists (especially on the white supremacist forum Stormfront which features a multitude of members documented to commit racially motivated murders). The content has been amply documented, presented and engaged, provided in the links above. The evidence speaks for itself.
Anarchist Affinity provided a proper response in their "Motion regarding Schmidt" in October. This includes the removal of Schmidt content published by Anarchist Affinity and a permanent ban on Schmidt from their organization.
Anarchist Affinity's statement is short and to the point. Here's an excerpt (http://www.anarchistaffinity.org/2015/11/motion-regardi...midt/):
This is the proper stance for those firmly committed to anti-racism.
AK Press has every moral right to terminate publication of Black Flame because it requires them to support a living white supremacist (different from Bakunin etc). Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt can take the manuscript to another publisher and release the book online for free. Lucien knew essentials of this content as of 2011 and did nothing to inform AK Press. Instead he kept it secret from them.
Lucien van der Walt was outed for lying in this affair starting in late November 2015 when he secretly defended some of Schmidt's worst racism as "RedBlackWritings" in these forums. As with the ZACF, he had long been aware of Schmidt's extreme racism and did nothing. The data was more than sufficient to provoke further inquiry and condemnation of Schmidt half a decade ago. Despite years of awareness, his reaction was to secretly defend Schmidt.
Lucien van der Walt is apologetic to racism. He finds it acceptable enough to repeatedly incite hatred and violence against blacks to an audience of violent white supremacists.
As others note in the ZACF reply, Lucien and the ZACF harbored a white supremacist, protecting his reputation for half a decade. The data was sufficiently available in 2011, and now they want to shoot the messenger and pass on responsibility for what is primarily their own moral failing.
Links and further explanations are provided in comments above.