I am reposting something I wrote on facebook on Sept. 25 2015, at the request of a friend.
The first reaction to the Michael Schmidt infiltration by most thinking anarchists has been: that’s not us! But lets not take this as an opportunity to reassert our moral purity. It is us – we were all reading Schmidt, debating it, and, truth be told, the least we can say is that we all enjoyed very much rejecting his work. Today more than ever there is a certain enjoyment, a self-satisfaction, that we get from his expulsion from the movement and indeed from his infiltration as well. We would be wise to recognize this instead of avoid it.
Moreover, the reaction has also been: lets not see in Michael Schmidt’s work any honest representation of anarcho-syndicalism or anarchism more generally. The problem is precisely that we did see in him a serious thinking in that regard. It is very safe to claim now that he has been outed as a fascist: he was never one of us! The proof: even ADCS, the journal I edit, published a debate about his book (Black Flame). So I was conned just as much as anybody else. I am not stating this to one-up anybody, but simply to take some responsibility – when he was practicing as an anarchist, when he was writing anarchist texts, he was, for all intents and purposes, an anarchist. His works survive as anarchist texts until we find what within them contain this retroactive fascism.
For now, and yesterday, there is and was no deeper truth hiding behind his works: they did not reveal a secret and powerful white nationalist fascist ideology. This shall be future task: to discover what within all of the work we once admired and debated was always already fascist without us detecting it. And why it was that we did not detect it sooner.
The responsibility is on us.
The next point I want to make concerns the nature of “sectarianism.” The most sectarian thing one can do here is to claim that one ought not be sectarian regarding this incident. When people claim that we ought to not find what within our readings of his work was fascist, when they claim that Schmidt is just somebody ‘outside’ of our tradition that we have now eradicated, they miss the whole point of infiltration. For example, some noted anarchist authors have already come out and claimed: “I secretly always believed that Schmidt was a fascist.” This provides a nice moral posturing through the third sense. Our response as thinking anarchists ought to be: “of course you always thought he was a fascist – you think EVERYBODY is a fascist!” Thus, when a real fascist is found, we validate our delusions.
Infiltration is something we can not control – it is something that happens to all of us. This, if anything at all, is what micro-fascism is all about. To be sectarian at a time like this is essential. We must be sectarian so as to rescue anarchism from self-defeat by puritanical fanaticism. Zizek once claimed, through T. S. Eliot, that there are “moments when the only choice is the one between sectarianism and non-belief, i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split from its main corpse. By means of this sectarian split, by cutting himself off the decaying corpose of the International Psychoanalytic association, Lacan kept the Freudian teaching alive — and it is upon us today to do the same with Lacan.”
The only way to rid ourselves of fascist infiltration is to cut ourselves off from the anarchism that we’ve always known – that is, the anti-fascist anarchism which survives only by attacking the exception, the fascist, instead of, truth be told, strategically finding means to overthrow neoliberalism. We can morally disgrace one or two fascist, we may even punch one in the head – but we still have to live as neoliberals.
We need to be sectarian for anarchism.