AK Press allegations against Michael Schmidt

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akai
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Jan 8 2016 19:53

Neither is xenophobia, war and border politics. Or home born terrorists... But why mention people like Brevik?

Nymphalis Antiopa
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Jan 14 2016 17:52

ocelot - you haven't answered [b]this[/b] from Red Mariott:

Quote:
ocelot wrote:

Quote:
anyone who thinks such "fastidiousness" over handling serious accusations is misplaced needs to go back and read the COINTELPRO papers again to see how the intelligence services make use of movement weaknesses for witchhunts (and the occassional bookburning)

.

Things like this only discredit the defence of MS even more; as artesian says above, this is nothing like COINTELPRO - and it's an insult to the victims of COINTELPRO to have it misused in such an opportunist way. Cointelpro was proven to have been state infiltrators spreading misinformation to ferment murderous division between political groups. Where's the comparison with that here? No one afaik - except perhaps MS with his 'jokey' pic of him with a table full of guns and a caption threatening a "whipping" to AK & co - has shown any evidence of that kind of danger.

And s/he's not the only person to have pointed out your evasive attitude (S.Artesian especially but not only him/her). You come over as having (I'm not sure, since I don't know you) your organisational role to defend that stops you ever thinking about how pathetic you come over in your intellectual arrogance, a role that needs to assert yourself as always certain and fixed, digging your heels in and refusing to backtrack on what are very self-evident false equivalents (comparing with COINTELPRO, etc.). You're not the type to admit any significant mistake. An admission like that would make you feel weak, though in fact it would make you seem more human, more eager to communicate rather than pontificate. Doubtless if you respond to this, it'll be to laugh it off with a sneering joke. Or you could choose to be unpredictable and surprise us.

So - either respond to Red Marriott's points about COINTELPRO or ... well, the rest of us can draw our own conclusions.

S. Artesian
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Jan 15 2016 15:49
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So - either respond to Red Marriott's points about COINTELPRO or ... well, the rest of us can draw our own conclusions.

Or both....although I think it's quite unlikely that Ocelot will respond. Substantive responses to substantive issues don't seem to be Ocelot's strong suit.

syndicalist
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Jan 15 2016 16:08

It will be interesting to see what plays out over the next few years. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that we may never fully know the extent of reality and individual fantasy (as nasty as it seems to be). And what was known and when it was known and how things were dealt with by south african comrades. I am tending to think they will circle the wagons on this and maybe say something mild. Who really knows as there seems not to be a desire for them to say peep about things. Which in and of itself a pity.

I'm pretty cynical that buying more time on tribunals that that sort of thing will do anything. Those who believe minor transgressions were made will believe that. Those who think something more full blown will believe that. Some may think that there's something fishy but not willing to say the BF book should never be republished (even if I have significant disagreements with it). I guess I fall into the later category.

Time has a funny way of revealing reality and fiction.

akai
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Jan 16 2016 07:07

l know only one reality. Racist and nationalist ideas are not acceptable, but slimy people sometimes find ways to smuggle them into the movement, especially when they come packaged in something similar to left politics or, for anarchists, for autonomy. Over the last almost 30 years l have seen the various attempts to pass this shit in movements in E. Europe. Many people have either been suckered in or have picked up these ideas themselves. Here there was a rather good fight back against this for a while. But in the past 2-3 years there were major setbacks in this field and we see that a lot of shit has also passed on to people in other countries. The biggest example being the spread of the red-brown ideological package. All l can say is that you have a lot of people who are confused and you have a lot of people with bad, superficial knowledge of these trends. But l observe more anarchists who cannot take positions or who sit the fence. And in the whole conversation, it is treated like some isolated incident and people are not looking for the pattern.

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ocelot
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Jan 19 2016 20:42
Nymphalis Antiopa wrote:
ocelot - you haven't answered [b]this[/b] from Red Mariott:

Quote:
ocelot wrote:

Quote:
anyone who thinks such "fastidiousness" over handling serious accusations is misplaced needs to go back and read the COINTELPRO papers again to see how the intelligence services make use of movement weaknesses for witchhunts (and the occassional bookburning)

.

Things like this only discredit the defence of MS even more; as artesian says above, this is nothing like COINTELPRO - and it's an insult to the victims of COINTELPRO to have it misused in such an opportunist way. Cointelpro was proven to have been state infiltrators spreading misinformation to ferment murderous division between political groups. Where's the comparison with that here? No one afaik - except perhaps MS with his 'jokey' pic of him with a table full of guns and a caption threatening a "whipping" to AK & co - has shown any evidence of that kind of danger.

And s/he's not the only person to have pointed out your evasive attitude (S.Artesian especially but not only him/her). You come over as having (I'm not sure, since I don't know you) your organisational role to defend that stops you ever thinking about how pathetic you come over in your intellectual arrogance, a role that needs to assert yourself as always certain and fixed, digging your heels in and refusing to backtrack on what are very self-evident false equivalents (comparing with COINTELPRO, etc.). You're not the type to admit any significant mistake. An admission like that would make you feel weak, though in fact it would make you seem more human, more eager to communicate rather than pontificate. Doubtless if you respond to this, it'll be to laugh it off with a sneering joke. Or you could choose to be unpredictable and surprise us.

So - either respond to Red Marriott's points about COINTELPRO or ... well, the rest of us can draw our own conclusions.

I didn't reply to Red's post for the same reason I don't reply to the majority of stuff people say that I don't agree with - there isn't enough time or space, and for me to respond to every single point would not only hijack the thread but try everyone's patience (mine included).

I disagree with Red's imputation that I am comparing the MS affair with COINTELPRO. My point was that that saga demonstrated clearly the need for antagonist movements to be disciplined about process when it comes to dealing with serious allegations against people. That is all.

edit: also, as I've previously said - I take particular umbrage at Red's imputation that I am defending MS rather than opposing self-destructive (from a movement perspective) process.

S. Artesian
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Jan 20 2016 05:30

No, Ocelot, you're not comparing the MS affair with COINTELPRO actions, you're just specifically accusing those you have accused as participating in "mob justice" as, at the very least, aadvocating actions destructive to "the movement."

That's bollocks.

Your claims about mob justice, lynchings, mini-Stalinism, creeping authoritarianism whatever are also bollocks.

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lucien_lies_too
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Jan 22 2016 21:16

Everyone involved in this has had plenty of time for responses, even the organizations. Though most of the groups are multilingual, a draft can be prepared in English and then circulated, translated, discussed, and edited.

This is all about the waiting game; looking for any excuse to keep the clock ticking and hoping that we all settle down, move on, and forget. For communities of exceptionally-prolific writers, these calls for more time are disingenuous.

Hey Lucien - how's your response coming? No doubt it will take some finesse to shoehorn your apologetics into the warped timeline of your buddy. Fiction is a tough trade.

akai
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Jan 23 2016 09:38

People, l spent some time this morning reading the reply of ZACF. l don't see it on the lnternet anywhere, so l actually do not know if l am free to publish it - l assume not.

lt is 40 pages. A few lines refer to the racist document written by Schmidt. Most of the document is a criticism of the poor journalism of JS and ARR and a defense of ZACF. The defense has disappointed me in this respect as, whether or not they ultimately agree with calling Schmidt a racist, which it seems they do not, l would have hoped they could spend more time telling us, if they consider him not a racist, why. They do say that they did not accept the racist document.

l have some critical observations on it, but keeping in mind nobody here has read it, l will wait for its publication. One thing which it strongly criticizes is the author's priveleged role as Americans. They also point out that members of ZACF were largely left of the discussions, because of failure to be asked by the authors of the expose and by virtue of the fact that few members are sitting on the internet and have followed this.

Regardless of what impression l have overall of the document, l think this point is quite valid. l personally did not get the feel that the critical articles by JS and ARR were aimed against ZACF, so l was a little surprised that they concentrated on defending themselves rather than addressing the more immediate issue, but maybe that is how they perceived it.

As far as the JS and ARR articles are concerned, they call for the Anarkismo network to start a commission of inquiry.

Anyway, hopefully to be published soon.

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Jan 23 2016 11:59

My earlier comment wasn’t made as a question expecting an answer, but anyway...
Whether or not proposing a valid relationship with COINTELPRO qualifies as a “comparison”, the reference to COINTELPRO was completely unnecessary and inappropriate if one only wanted to emphasise the need for assessment based on complete examination of all available facts in a fair and transparent way. (Which is not something that’s been practiced by some of MS’s closest defenders, eg VdW.) It could be seen as an attempt to fearfully invoke the horrors of COINTELPRO where the dangers are not at all comparable or equivalent; nor the consequences. Making such false implications could easily be seen as opportunist and as attempting to be emotionally manipulative. (In trying to find the relevance, nor is it clear how a tribunal/”just process” would have prevented COINTELPRO.)

Unless someone has some new epic revelations, this is not an external state attack of being fed deadly misinformation by infiltrators but an issue internal to and generated within certain groups and scenes who’ve all been able to present their evidence as they wish. So I’m foxed as to what bearing COINTELPRO has on it, unless you want to try to influence events through exaggerated scaremongering by invoking a danger out of all proportion to any likely consequences in this case.

If these aren’t the acts of a “defender” – well, aside from scaremongering, there are ways of trying to ‘excuse with faint criticism’. And there are ways of ‘urging caution’ that, intentionally or not, just indefinitely delay decisive judgement and imply that already available damning evidence is therefore indefinitely ‘insufficient’.

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lucien_lies_too
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Jan 23 2016 13:58
akai wrote:
People, l spent some time this morning reading the reply of ZACF. l don't see it on the lnternet anywhere, so l actually do not know if l am free to publish it - l assume not.

lt is 40 pages. A few lines refer to the racist document written by Schmidt. Most of the document is a criticism of the poor journalism of JS and ARR and a defense of ZACF. The defense has disappointed me in this respect as, whether or not they ultimately agree with calling Schmidt a racist, which it seems they do not, l would have hoped they could spend more time telling us, if they consider him not a racist, why. They do say that they did not accept the racist document.

l have some critical observations on it, but keeping in mind nobody here has read it, l will wait for its publication. One thing which it strongly criticizes is the author's priveleged role as Americans. They also point out that members of ZACF were largely left of the discussions, because of failure to be asked by the authors of the expose and by virtue of the fact that few members are sitting on the internet and have followed this.

Regardless of what impression l have overall of the document, l think this point is quite valid. l personally did not get the feel that the critical articles by JS and ARR were aimed against ZACF, so l was a little surprised that they concentrated on defending themselves rather than addressing the more immediate issue, but maybe that is how they perceived it.

As far as the JS and ARR articles are concerned, they call for the Anarkismo network to start a commission of inquiry.

Anyway, hopefully to be published soon.

Thanks for the update. I do think, however, that you are perfectly within your rights to publish ZACF's response, if it's circulating around the community anyway. It seems to me that this is another attempt to a) bury us with words, b) ignore most of the body of evidence, c) whitewash the Schmidt memo as something less abhorrent, and d) shoot the messengers. Without seeing it, I can't be more specific than that, but if I'm reading your comment correctly, this is exactly the type of response from ZACF I had feared.

Rather than face the facts of the case and keep close to them, we're blaming ARR and JS for their U.S. privilege? I'm not in agreement with everything in their analysis (some extraneous trains of thought flow through the prose) but let's stay the fuck on topic and face the evidence!

Keep in mind that we still have not heard from Lucien and others close to Schmidt, and it may well be that there is campaigning behind the scenes to bury the truth (or, at least, blunt its impact through careful half-truths and weasel words). Earlier drafts of the ZACF response may reveal inconsistencies and/or purposeful distortion. I, for one, do not trust the people who shielded Schmidt for about a decade to be honest and straightforward.
Edit: by "the people who shielded Schmidt" I do not mean everyone at ZACF, especially newer members.

There is NO proper response besides an all-out denouncement of Schmidt, and a strong one at that. Here is a good example, not 40 pages in length:

Quote:
As a group we’ve read the recent series of articles by Alexander Ross and Joshua Stephens with substantial shock and concern.

Michael Schmidt is an author we have read, hosted in public events, and published in our magazine. The documents and information published by Ross and Stephens demonstrate that Schmidt has argued for and advanced deeply racist and white supremacist politics since at least 2006.

The explanations offered by Schmidt have been seriously unconvincing. The argument advanced by Schmidt that his racism on Stormfront and elsewhere was part of an undercover investigation (undertaken for eight years without result) stretches credulity. Even were this explanation accepted, the internal correspondence by Schmidt, that Ross and Stephens have published, demonstrates deeply unacceptable racism.

Whilst there have been reasonable objections to the manner in which the Schmidt material was announced and published; these are significantly less important than dealing with the problem that a prominent anarchist author, someone many in our tradition (including Anarchist Affinity) have drawn on, has concealed deeply racist views and practice for a number of years.

As a group, Anarchist Affinity has decided to cut ties with Michael Schmidt, and to remove works by Schmidt from our website.

http://www.anarchistaffinity.org/2015/11/motion-regarding-michael-schmid...

akai
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Jan 23 2016 14:43

There are a number of legitimate points in the ZACF piece. (However, l have already seen evidence that at least one point is not true - but that will come out later.)

That said, it is slightly different than what l thought might be produced, but is more or less in line with predictions. After reading it, l would personally be most interested in talking directly to the current members of ZACF and would hope to be able to do that.

subcomandante_juan
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Jan 23 2016 20:29

My guess is they bury the evidence again in 40 pages. Let's see them answer straight-forward facts about the evidence:

Memo: Is Schmidt's 2008 ZACF memo entirely racist? Is Schmidt's 2-paragraph media response and his 11-paragraph explanation in his auto-biography accurate and acceptable? (Schmidt's claims: his memo is inclusive to blacks, that one paragraph is borderline racist, etc.)

World Cup: Schmidt incited South African white supremacists on Stormfront to "flood" the World Cup and display their hate symbols on flags and shirts. Can this be in any way justified?

Nazi tattoo: Is the fact that Schmidt has Nazi-associated tattoo (Lebensrune symbol) of relevance? What about the fact that he left it off his list of tattoos in his "defense"? Just a "mistake"? Or the fact that he notes the "printing press" symbol next to it is not a racist "runic" symbol, as if the "printing press" symbol were the one in question?

This is not to mention the editor disavowal and other insanely racist things Schmidt did.

I'm betting Lucien van der Walt and Schmidt had a heavy hand in trying to persuade ZACF of Schmidt's innocence and constructing the arguments in the ZACF response. Now they want to lean on Anarkismo, an organization with individuals they know well (Schmidt was originally a co-founder and ZACF delegate to Anarkismo) and with strong ideological affinity, for a "commission" which they believe they can influence and persuade, so they can claim "peer review". You know, not a commission of journalists and media organizations in South Africa, black anti-racist professors, or Black Student Movement individuals they don't know from a hole in the wall.

Incredible huh?

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Jan 23 2016 20:12

Am I the only one who finds the preoccupation with this "celebrity" author worrisome? This thread in general depresses me and I'm dubious of our ability to learn anything meaningful from this whole affair.

akai
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Jan 23 2016 21:44

l think it is more depressing that in the 21 Century, people are able to carry on such activities, write such things and not be dealt with in a clearer fashion.

As for what Juan supposes, it is better to wait than suppose. But, that said, you do suppose very well.

Only a few lines about the racist document and much more about the poor journalism of the authors. Nothing about the world cup matter. Nothing about the tattoos. Not even anything really about all the other stuff - MS's articles as a journalist or about the defence article.

ln short, it is more or less a "how dare you slander Zabalaza" (you Americans) piece that is meant to turn the criticism of MS into a non-existant slander campaign against Zabalaza, which we are supposed to feel guilty about. l might even feel guilty about it - if the whole thing was really aimed against them, l mean about the current membership. Maybe somebody read that into it, or maybe they are defensive about it. OK. But for me, it is an mainly an attempt to pay steer the questions away, Although with some points.

A few people have already commented it privately, so l expect if these people (the Anarkismo, Lucien ones) are smart, they've already modified the text.

Also, if some of the ideas expressed in the text are indeed the ideas of the Zabalaza collective, well...

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Jan 25 2016 16:49
Tarwater wrote:
Am I the only one who finds the preoccupation with this "celebrity" author worrisome? This thread in general depresses me and I'm dubious of our ability to learn anything meaningful from this whole affair.

Schmidt still enjoys the active defense and passive protection of influential anarchists and organizations, despite the egregious evidence against him. We have learned a lot from this affair, and that is that if a prolific anarchist author turns out to be something dangerous, in this case some bizarre admixture of anarchism and fascism, he or she will not be denounced accordingly. In fact, there will be behind-the-scenes politicking and distortion of the facts. As it turns out, this is even true if that person was actively recruiting anarchists into fascist circles and inciting white nationalist violence.

You are correct that Schmidt and his allies have a lot of influence at home and abroad, and might be considered "celebrities". Of these, Lucien van der Walt is perhaps the best known, though he has publicly remained silent on this issue and would rather defend Schmidt through pseudonyms (as has been made clear in this thread and on reddit) and organizations (as I think will be made clear from the ZACF and Anarkismo responses).

There would be no "preoccupation" if Schmidt wasn't being defended with willful ignorance and devotion by those closest to him. Except, perhaps, the proper response of introspection and reflection.

akai
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Jan 25 2016 18:04

Well, l feel the same when syndicalists defend people with ties to the right or brush the incidents under the carpet for whatever different reasons.

radicalgraffiti
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Jan 25 2016 19:10
ocelot wrote:

One of the advantages of books like Black Flame and Global Fire is that precisely they prompt people to make notes in the margins, go and check sources quoted for narratives they find questionable, and then go on to find other additional sources that shed more light on the matter. To that extent the worth of a history text is not how near it is to being "right" in a final sense, but the degree to which it is close enough or provoking enough to prompt others to review and revise it's propositions and then write the next generation of better books.

i meant to reply before
this is not how i've ever seen bf presented, usually people recommending bf recommend it as an introductory to anarchism without any criticism of the contents or indication that it should be read critically

syndicalist
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Jan 25 2016 19:14
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(as I think will be made clear from the ZACF and Anarkismo responses).

Is the ZACF report public yet. This is the second mention of it and have yet to see it anywhere.

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Jan 25 2016 22:34
radicalgraffiti wrote:
ocelot wrote:

One of the advantages of books like Black Flame and Global Fire is that precisely they prompt people to make notes in the margins, go and check sources quoted for narratives they find questionable, and then go on to find other additional sources that shed more light on the matter. To that extent the worth of a history text is not how near it is to being "right" in a final sense, but the degree to which it is close enough or provoking enough to prompt others to review and revise it's propositions and then write the next generation of better books.

i meant to reply before
this is not how i've ever seen bf presented, usually people recommending bf recommend it as an introductory to anarchism without any criticism of the contents or indication that it should be read critically

Agreed; and to the extent that a history text misuses sources, misrepresents their factual meaning and is an ideologically biased revisionism its distance from "being right" is in that sense dishonest and a serious problem, not one to try to excuse.

http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/new-historical-syndicalist-book...
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/books-italian-anarcho-syndicali...
But then, if writers (esp. professionals with more time and resources to check facts than most of their readers) are economical with historical truths - and even applauded for it - then other economisms may well follow.

akai
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Jan 26 2016 14:34

About the status of the ZACF document, apparently it was published on some Black Rose site. But since it was circulated, a letter was sent saying it is not the final version. So l guess most of you will not see the version l did and maybe the new version will be different.

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Jan 26 2016 16:54
radicalgraffiti wrote:
ocelot wrote:

One of the advantages of books like Black Flame and Global Fire is that precisely they prompt people to make notes in the margins, go and check sources quoted for narratives they find questionable, and then go on to find other additional sources that shed more light on the matter. To that extent the worth of a history text is not how near it is to being "right" in a final sense, but the degree to which it is close enough or provoking enough to prompt others to review and revise it's propositions and then write the next generation of better books.

i meant to reply before
this is not how i've ever seen bf presented, usually people recommending bf recommend it as an introductory to anarchism without any criticism of the contents or indication that it should be read critically

Well I don't know about other countries, but in Ireland this is not an option as the claim that James Connolly was part of some "broad anarchist tradition" is obvious bollocks and not accepted by any Irish anarchist, ever. And given Connolly's (tediously omnipresent) local role as the patron saint of the Irish left, this is not a marginal issue here.

Flint
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Jan 26 2016 17:59
akai wrote:
About the status of the ZACF document, apparently it was published on some Black Rose site. But since it was circulated, a letter was sent saying it is not the final version. So l guess most of you will not see the version l did and maybe the new version will be different.

It was a draft document that Anarkismo delegates had access too. It wasn't intended for publication yet. Someone misunderstood. Its not published on the Black Rose webpage, FB, etc... an email about it got forwarded outside the org.

ZACF doesn't intend that draft to be out in public, so I think its probably wise to wait until they do have something they want to publish publicly.

S. Artesian
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Jan 26 2016 18:08

Ocelot:

Quote:
One of the advantages of books like Black Flame and Global Fire is that precisely they prompt people to make notes in the margins, go and check sources quoted for narratives they find questionable, and then go on to find other additional sources that shed more light on the matter.

That "reasoning" can be used to justify an anarchist press publishing Mein Kampf, ffs. No, publishers do not publish books so people will make notes in the margins and check sources for quotes. That's complete bollocks.

Ocelot's glorious liberalism gets us to the point where editors, publishers have no responsibility for what gets disseminated, distributed, under the banner of anarchism or "radicalism."

Any publisher responsible for a book with dubious information, written by a dubious character, has an obligation to resolve those issues-- by withdrawing the book or providing a disclaimer, or identifying in a preface the issues and items in dispute.

Can you imagine a anarchist publisher publishing works by Stalin or.... Donald Trump.. in the hope that readers will pencil notes in the margins? What shite.

Do us the favor Ocelot. After you climb down from that high horse you're on, let it drink itself to death.

S. Artesian
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Jan 26 2016 18:09
Flint wrote:
akai wrote:
About the status of the ZACF document, apparently it was published on some Black Rose site. But since it was circulated, a letter was sent saying it is not the final version. So l guess most of you will not see the version l did and maybe the new version will be different.

It was a draft document that Anarkismo delegates had access too. It wasn't intended for publication yet. Someone misunderstood. Its not published on the Black Rose webpage, FB, etc... an email about it got forwarded outside the org.

ZACF doesn't intend that draft to be out in public, so I think its probably wise to wait until they do have something they want to publish publicly.

What ZACF wants or does not want to be public at this point is worse than immaterial, it's antithetical to a full exploration of the issue.

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Jan 26 2016 18:34

What's the most interesting is that his article crying about poor white racist landlords getting killed (while blacks remain the most exploited, marginalised and oppressed section of South African working class, with ANC being basically "house negros" of the mostly white capitalist class) did not raise anybody's eyebrow on Anarkismo, and even here there are people who think this wasn't dubious at all...

Flint
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Jan 26 2016 18:39
S. Artesian wrote:
What ZACF wants or does not want to be public at this point is worse than immaterial, it's antithetical to a full exploration of the issue.

Personally, I think once ZACF sent out anything even in draft to Anarkismo--while they may request that such a draft document be kept in confidence by all the groups in Anarkismo, I think that's hundreds if not thousands of people. And the internet being what it is...

Still, they did not want that draft to be published yet. If you want the draft, I think the thing to do is ask ZACF for it. ZACF is clearly preparing something for publication.

I'm sure everyone can drag this on for a few more months and another thousand or so comments.

syndicalist
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Jan 26 2016 20:20

And your impressions of the document, Flint?

akai
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Jan 26 2016 21:15

Well, l have another question. As l understand it, the document is being changed and editted by people outside ZACF. Correct me if l am wrong (that's what l heard). lt also looked to me like the document was rather inspired by (if not largely written by) a certain SA professor.

l think a lot of people want to hear what ZACF have to say, but personally l am not sure if we are gonna get that or a carefully redacted damage control piece.

And it does not address the main questions people want to know about.

Flint
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Jan 26 2016 22:22
syndicalist wrote:
And your impressions of the document, Flint?

Even if I had read it (which I haven't), I wouldn't be at liberty to discuss it.