English: 2012 'Arbetaren'/ SAC interview with Michael Schmidt on 'Black Flame'

  • Posted on: 16 June 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://black-flame-anarchism.blogspot.com/2012/06/english-2012-arbetaren... Flame</a> - By Olle Eriksson, <em>Arbetaren</em>, Sveriges Arbetaren Centralorganisation, Sweden
<em>He wants to give a new vision of anarchism</em>
<strong>South Africa has a long history of anarchism and syndicalism, but this has had little or no place in the Western anarchist historiography. Michael Schmidt, an anarchist, journalist and writer from South Africa, wants to change that. For <em>Arbetaren</em>, he talks about upcoming book projects, movements in southern Africa and his work with the network Icorn.</strong><br />
<br />
Michael Schmidt, who is one of the authors of the famous book <em>Black Flame</em>, visited Sweden last week as an observer to attend a conference organized by the global Icorn, the International Cities of Refuge Network, which works with freedom of speech issues and to protect threatened and vulnerable writers and journalists around the world.</td><td><img title="what is new is what was..." src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/snake-mouse.jpg"></td></tr>...

&#8220;It is an important project in which people who have fled from countries like Iran, Gambia, Kenya, Belarus, are given the opportunity in another country to subsist&#8230; and thus be able to continue their writing,&#8217; said Michael Schmidt.<br />
<br />
Otherwise, he and fellow author Lucien van der Walt are right now feverishly working on their <em>Counter Power </em>book series that consists of two parts. Part one, <em>Black Flame</em>, was introduced in 2009 and part two, <em>Global Fire</em>, is expected to be completed within one to two years. He says that they worked on the books for ten years. The idea of <em>Black Flame</em>, which is one of the most talked-about books on the anarchist literary scene in recent years, was to present a coherent anarchist theory.<br />
<br />
In general, Michael thinks that anarchists have failed to define what anarchism is all about, by reducing it to being merely anti-state and something into which everything possible can be gathered, contributing to a chaotic picture.<br />
<br />
&#8220;There has always been a libertarian page in human history, but that does not mean there has always been an anarchist movement,&#8221; said Michael Schmidt, dating anarchism&#8217;s birth to the 1860s when Michael Bakunin and his comrades lived and worked.<br />
<br />
Besides theory, <em>Black Flame</em> also raised a host of individuals, groups and organisations that they believe worked as anarchists in history. The criticism of the book has focused on its definitions being too narrow and that the writers on the one hand, include individuals and groups who are not so obviously perceived by others &#8211; or even defined themselves &#8211; as anarchistic, and on the other hand, exclude many activists and groups that call themselves anarchists.<br />
<br />
The aim of the upcoming <em>Global Fire</em> is to conclude a coherent history of anarchist organising worldwide from the 1860s until today.<br />
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&#8220;We must correct the impression that the history of anarchism deals exclusively with the U.S. and [Western] Europe. A lot has actually happened in Latin America and other parts of the world. The first unions formed in China and Egypt were by anarchists, and the first trade union for people of colour in South Africa was anarchic. In the work on the book, we have studied movements in Vietnam, the Philippines, Uruguay, Algeria, Kenya and Afghanistan, many countries where people may not believe that anarchist organisations existed,&#8221; said Michael Schmidt, who with his writing, [inspired] the leaders of Cosatu, a South African trade union with nearly two million members, to start reading Bakunin.<br />
<br />
&#8220;At a conference some years ago, Cosatu&#8217;s general secretary [cited] <em>Black Flame</em> and said that we must begin to take inspiration from anarchist and syndicalist ideas,&#8221; said Michael Schmidt.<br />
<br />
The reason for this regeneration, he believes is due to the most open-minded people within the union who understood that the old Soviet paradigm was dead. The options previously presented came from the country's Communist Party who follow a Chinese model of neo-liberalism and fascist corporatism.<br />
<br />
&#8220;Then you have to remember South Africa's particular history of apartheid&#8230; Today's political elite has a fairly fresh illegal and revolutionary background, which probably makes them somewhat more open to these kinds of ideas,&#8221; said Michael Schmidt.<br />
<br />
During the 1900s, there were a number of anarchist and syndicalist organisations in South Africa. Today there are organised syndicalists in Cape Town working with wine farm labourers, who among other things worked with the Swedish SAC syndicalists in the system&#8217;s [fair trade] business with South African wine producers.<br />
<br />
Michael Schmidt, who helped to form the anarchist <em>Zabalaza</em> struggle organisation, says that they have good relationships with anarchists in particular in Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and through the dissemination of information, seek to support these respective countries' struggle for democracy.<br />
<br />
The events of recent years in North Africa gives reason to be optimistic and perhaps hope for a mass anarchist movement, Michael Schmidt believes.<br />
<br />
&#8220;When the day comes that anarchists are killed and imprisoned and we find that some of our comrades are police spies, then we will know that we are on track, that we really challenge power.&#8221;<br />
<br />


PLATFORMISTS! Am i right?!?!?!


We must need South Americans the correct form of anarchy: nihilist insurrectionism.

if the final goal isn't social revolution then its not anarchy.

if the final goal isn't anarchy then it's not anarchy.

that doesn't make any sense.

You don't make any sense.

That sounds just as dogmatic as the platformist "one tactical line one theorectical line". Sadly in South America platformist has also appeared with some force. As far as "nihilist insurrectionism" my opinion is informed by the sad case of the chilean insurrectionist Mauricio Morales who died while trying to explode a bomb in a Police Station. It seems paradoxically that insurrectionism can ask you a lot of personal sacrifice for actions such as these with almost null impact on society and on the state but that could end up causing your personal tragedy.

This understanding of maurico's actions is one informed by an angolophone understanding of his life and death. Many comrades in the spanish speaking realm feel differently. Careful who and what you categorize as having 'null' impact.

I mentioned his case as far as the tactics of insurrectionarism itself. In the US there are some insurrectionarist informed eco-anarchists serving long prision terms for actions of sabotage who also haven´t been able to get public opinion support but which of course ended also in personal tragedy.

Whether these platformists like it or not, individualist anarchism is as anarchist as their particular choice of authors and movements. In fact in Spain there was much less conflict over this. I recommend those who understand spanish (and these "Black Flame" authors) to read "El Anarquismo Individualista en España: ((1923-1938) http://www.viruseditorial.net/pdf/anarquismo%20individualista.pdf

In it one can see that the individualist anarchist press was widely read by CNT workers as well as FAI members. That spanish individualist anarchist Miguel Gimenez Igualada was a member of CNT and that other individualists were members of FAI as well. On the other hand the Dielo TRuda platform was mostly rejected as "too marxist" when the FAI was established. For more details on this as well as the pathetic platformist episode led by George Fontenis in France check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis_anarchism

For sure. And another thing, many individualists have always participated intensely in red anarchist projects over the years because they have seen shared goals in them, despite differences in ideology. But would a platformist EVER join a group started by individualists, except to try to take it over maybe? No. By definition, their desire for ideological purity would not let them, unlike indivdualists, who often find it worthwhile to join a group they see as beneficial to anarchy even if they are collectivists.

Individualists join projects by the reds because they are weak and incapable of initiating struggle on their own.

workers personal interest in philosophy in pre-revolutionary spain had very little to do with their collective liberation and they knew that which is why they collectively participated in the CNT.

Well yeah and they also got information on birth control, information about alternative education and pedagogy, ecologist contents and other valuable information in individualist publications like "Iniciales". The complexity and richness of Spanish Anarchism was due to this diversity, unlike the marxist-leninist platformist law of "tactical and theoretical unity"

Who are these "reds" that you talk about? Anarchism has the black flag if it has any flag at all

platformism doesnt exist

agreed, comrade, but if it did we would definitely have to annihilate it.

internet tough talk.

Hands down, best introduction to anarchism: black flame.

Hands down, worst misrepresentation of anarchism: Black Flame.

how so?

because it evades or ignores important information about the anarchist idea as a whole. If one wants to have a good overall view of anarchism better go to the works of less ideologically restricted anarchist historians such as Max Nettlau, Daniel Guerin (also a platformist but not afraid to deal with Max Stirner), George Woodcock and Paul Avrich. This Black Flame book seems to be good only for the trostkist anarchist. I also know texts that are designed to argue that "anarcho"-capitalism is anarchism and not just that but the "best anarchism"(Brian Caplan).

¿Are leninists and neoliberal yuppies in a plot to take over anarchism and use it for their authoritarian goals?

Yea, this is exactly why Black Flame is the best introduction to Anarchism. There is no such thing as "anarcho-capitalism," and Woodcock, Caplan and Guerin make the definition for anarchism so wide that apparently Ghandi and capitalists are now under the tent. Fucking ridiculous.

i lol'd. 7/10

its the best introduction to anarchism without a doubt. historical accounts are incredibly useful. I think mostly, alot of @narchist types shy from it because its too material and not philosophical/out of touch with reality enough.

although I disagree with the syndicalist conclusion.. syndicalism was appropriate for its time period and it is wrong strategically for anarchists to continually try to parody the strategies of the past. in stead we should be adapting to present conditions and situations.

No comrade, their parody will never end. Whereas a 'movement' that came to one conclusion will come to another.

Disagree, but only because I don't think syndicalism - like insurrectionary practice - is a static thing. It has changed radically since its inception, and is still doing so today, adapting itself to its peculiar local and historical needs. I thought Black Flame did a good job of showing that, as well.


I can't hear you!

I'm going to keep arguing against The Platform and the IWW's 1905 preamble, and base my arguments mainly on the fact that Bob Black and Wayne Price are assholes.


I am not an asshole, I'm just misunderstanded.

-- Bob Black (pig ffffucker and all round good fella)

If one discusses a political ideology one has to have as much "metaphysics" as "materiality". But for those anarchists who want to learn about successful and real anarchist practice there tons of historical accounts on Spanish Anarchism. But also it might show how beneficial it was for them to ignore the platformist philosophy.

Fuck yea, Black Flame. Glad to see this interview - Schmidt's book is among my favorite anarchist texts to come out in years.

Of course not all of Black Flame is only of good use for the anarchist deviated trotskist. It has some good information on non US and European anarchism. Nevertheless individualists anarchists, anarcha-feminists, naturist anarchists and others like them also existed in places like Argentina (Severino Di Giovanni, the anarcha-feminist Virginia Bolten), Colombia (the stirnerist nietzschetian Biofilo Panclasta) and Cuba (anarcho-naturists influenced by the spanish anarchist naturists).

"good use for the anarchist deviated trotskist." lol, what?

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