As we collectively wait for the longer article discussing the recent allegations that well known anarchist author Michael Schmidt has also been working as an active white nationalist, the dialogue all around the board has become confusing. Schmidt’s book Black Flame has been important in “red and black” anarchist circles, and he has certainly been known and trusted by many inside of organizing circles. The revelation that he could very well be joining the South African reactionary front is frightening, and people are reeling.
The global Anarkismo network, which ties together various “platformist” and “especifist” anarchist organizations released a statement on the issue, though it should be said that this does not necessarily reflect the opinion of all of the organizations or individuals involved with the project.
The international Anarkismo Network, which brings together class struggle anarchist organisations from more than a dozen countries in both the global South and North, and has relations with far more from across the globe, has noted with great surprise and concern the recent accusations by AK Press that Michael Schmidt is a fascist working undercover to infiltrate the anarchist movement .
Michael Schmidt has been a regular and long-standing contributor to Anarkismo.net and, in the past, has sat on its editorial and delegates groups. If these accusations are proven to be true Anarkismo will take immediate and appropriate action to ban him from posting on the website, as well as to guard against any possible future infiltration.
Before we can make any pronouncements on the matter, however, we need to carefully examine both the AK Press evidence, the article by Alexander Reid Ross, as well as Michael Schmidt’s response to the evidence and article. As a network Anarkismo has not taken sides, and will not accuse the accuser or the accused before there is more information and all the evidence has been presented. Both sides will have to explain themselves thoroughly first and be available for answering any serious questions about the information.
However, we must be clear that we feel the way in which AK Press has dealt with the matter is irresponsible and prejudicial, judging and condemning Michael Schmidt without presenting any evidence, and without allowing him the right to defend himself, or to respond to the article before making the public announcement of 25 September 2015.
Both sides must be given a fair chance to have their say.
The Anarkismo Network therefore demands that the alleged “incontrovertible evidence” be released by AK Press with immediate effect, and not to refer us to the journalist: since AK Press itself has endorsed the position, it must take responsibility for the proof.
We furthermore demand that AK Press unconditionally and explicitly state, also with immediate effect, that its allegations refer to Michael Schmidt alone, and not to any publishers, co-authors, editors, left organisations or currents with which Michael Schmidt may have been associated.
We urge AK Press to publish Michael Schmidt’s official responses on its newswires and sites, as we believe that he has the right to defend himself.
Schmidt has been active in the Anarkismo project, publishing quite a bit of original work there over the years and interacting with many of the member organizations.
The Institute for Anarchist Theory and History took a somewhat stronger stance in support of Schmidt, mainly citing the lack of evidence presented along with the accusations.
The Institute for Anarchist Theory and History (IATH) – a multinational research project currently based in the Global South (Brazil and South Africa) – heard the shocking AK Press accusation (Sept. 25th, 2015) that Michael Schmidt, one of our members, is supposedly an “undercover fascist”. AK Press states that they have “received and compiled” what they “consider to be incontrovertible evidence that Michael Schmidt is a white nationalist trying to infiltrate the anarchist movement”.
This statement was made without presenting any supporting evidence. It is only stated that a person called Alexander Reid Ross “will soon be publishing an article that presents all the details in a more comprehensive manner.”
The allegations came as enormous and terrible surprise. We would like in this statement to point out some of the measures we have already taken to deal with this matter, and to note some concerns regarding the manner in which the matter is being handled by AK Press.
Michael Schmidt is, at this moment, on a leave of absence from the IATH to allow him, and the IATH, to deal adequately with the matter. He will be on leave to prepare his defense, and will remain so until the IATH Council has taken a final position.
We will only make our final statement on the matter after carefully analyzing the AK Press evidence (not presented yet) and Michael Schmidt’s responses.
We cannot proceed further without criticizing the way in which AK Press has acted. AK Press has already tried, condemned and sentenced Michael Schmidt (in a “juridical” sense). They alone received and compiled the evidence, interpreted it, reached judgment and sentenced Michael Schmidt by cancelling his upcoming book, and by putting out of print two previous books in which he was involved.
All this was done without presenting evidence to the public, and without allowing him the right to defend himself. We think that these measures – which are guaranteed in the most basic of the “democratic” states that we so regularly criticize – must surely be guaranteed in any model of libertarian “justice.”
The result should have been foreseen. Hundreds of people have shared AK Press Facebook’s sentencing, and individuals and organizations have reproduced it. Michael Schmidt has been publicly condemned, with no evidence presented, and no opportunity to defend himself.
We are not here, to defend one side, or the other. We believe that we will only be able to do so once all the evidence has been presented by AK Press and by Michael Schmidt in his responses.
But we would like to appeal to people in the “libertarian milieu” to proceed in the same way, taking into account the basic ethics that we believe anyone, who claims to be an anarchist, should uphold.
To minimize the damage, we insist that AK Press immediately make public the evidence it used so that we, and others, can analyze the case and take a definite, well informed and evidence-based position.
Likewise, the Anarchist Federation out of the UK was less confident in Schmidt, and reminds people that this situation with Schmidt should be a ‘wake up call’ about infiltration and ultra-right ideas. But this only lasted a moment, as they actually pulled the article they originally posted and replaced it with the line:
This article has been removed at this time on the back of internal discussions within the AF and communications with the ZACF. We should have an updated version of this article available shortly.
What this really says is that people are hesitant to roundly remove Schmidt from their community until they have hard proof, which is a reasonable position to take.
Schmidt uses several different Facebook accounts, with various different names ranging from his taken name(Michael Schmidt), to other aliases. On one of these he has posted responses to the AK Press accusations, as well as going deeper into how the issue was raised and how it was handled in the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front. On these Facebook threads, members of the Third Positionist National Revolution chimed in, which was alarming since they were clearly friends with Schmidt.
This seemed especially noteworthy after a fake page was created for AK Press that posted a long message saying that they retracted the accusations against Schmidt and have begun to see the “revolutionary potential” of National Anarchism. This is untrue, Schmidt’s books are remaining out of print at AK Press and there is no reason to believe that they will ever support decentralist fascist movements like National Anarchism.
Schmidt, in his large response to the accusations, said he thought that he was being interviewed by Alexander Reid Ross, who exposed this news, because he was listed as a source on Wikipedia about National Anarchism. The quote, which he was surprised was used as a source for this encyclopedia page, was taken from an article he did for Anarkismo. This line does sound somewhat sympathetic towards National Anarchism, but at the very least is uninformed about the way that National Anarchism actually plays into the ideological legacy of third positionist fascism.
Misdiagnosed by most anarchists as fascist, “national anarchism” fuses radical decentralism, anti-hegemonic anti-statism (and often anti-capitalism), with a strong self-determinist thrust that stresses cultural-ethnic homogeneity with a traditional past justifying a radical future; this is hardly “fascism” or a rebranding of “fascism,” for what is fascism without the state, hierarchy and class, authoritarianism, and the führer-principle?
We know that there is a Stormfront account run by Michael Schmidt, though he stated that this was used for research for his position as a reporter. The account, which is called Karelianblue, has a great number of extremely racist posts, going far beyond what appears to be reasonable research. There are also posts about the National Anarchist organization that he is accused of starting called Black Battlefront.
Black Battlefront is a racially-aware, anti-racist revolutionary cadre network of White African politico-social soldiers defending our unique culture, under the anarchist black flag! We are pan-secessionist militants who staunchly oppose Boer Genocide and we work for the establishment of White African base area communities in South Africa and Namibia (in particular, but also elsewhere in Africa) where we can live out our cultural prerogatives unmolested by the Black majority. We take our inspiration from militants and cultural warriors of the calibre of Nestor Makhno, Kai Murros, Jim Goad and Troy Southgate. Interested people can apply to join our facebook group and if we believe you are genuine, we’ll sign you up.
Now, the group mentioned was stated to be a fake by Schmidt used to get him closer to members of National Anarchist movements, but the double-sided politics displayed here looks more like an honest attempt to form this group than a total artifice.
These various connections should not be used as a hard evidence of Schmidt’s connection to the larger “alt fascist” movement, but they are creating a general confusion about what is true and showing that there is certainly an organized right-wing contingent that is holding a stake in Schmidt’s place in the anarchist movement. Schmidt has been using social media since the accusations came forward to constantly post articles and photos about anti-fascist traditions and issues that are relevant to a multiracial South Africa.
One notable absence from this discourse is Lucien van Der Walt, Schmidt’s co-author of Black Flame. He very well may just be staying out of the discussion until more clear evidence is made available, which may be a smart position to take. Many have thrown out accusations that he knew about Schmidt’s alleged association with the far-right, but this is really just hearsay at this point.
Any evidence about Schmidt’s connections to the far right has yet to be released, so for those who are unsure of what to do in this situation will have to wait a bit longer until the large expose is released. Right now there are forums everywhere that are becoming heated arguments taking sides on the issue. We prefer to say that it remains to be seen, though we respect the people making the accusations as well as Schmidt’s right to respond to them.