The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is studying these documents and has not yet reached any conclusions. If the allegations against Michael Schmidt are true, he should be expelled from the movement and treated as both a serious danger and a thorough scoundrel. If they are false, he has been appallingly libelled and he deserves public exoneration – and his accusers are guilty of, at best, reckless behaviour.
We believe that a tribunal, composed so as to hold moral authority in the Anarchist movement, should be established to investigate the allegations thoroughly and impartially according to the principles of natural justice and to publish a report of its findings. The Anarkismo Network, to which the MACG belongs, is pursuing an initiative along these lines. The MACG therefore appeals to the Anarchist movement to withhold judgement until such a time as either the tribunal reports, or it becomes clear that the attempt to form a credible tribunal has failed.
I have a lot of time for everyone in the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group, but on this issue I think they have it wrong.
In 2015 the nature and political content of anarchism is hotly contested by increasingly incompatible anarchist tendencies. This conflict over the soul of the anarchist movement is playing out in disputes on the Michael Schmidt matter.
In this context, there is no possibility of forming any tribunal, or any other body, that was “composed as to hold the moral authority of the Anarchist movement”. The disparate political and ideological tendencies that consider themselves the anarchist movement today do not have the degree of political or organizational cohesion required to undertake such a task. Any body established by or out of one tendency or group would be condemned by all of the others.
If there ever was an organization that was broadly held in sufficient esteem to undertake such a task, it was the AK Press collective. They have already, in a manner, assigned two people to conduct and investigation and publish a report. The articles by Alexander Reid Ross and Joshua Stephens have been greeted in much the same manner that any report by any “tribunal” would be.
In practical terms, any tribunal established amongst the Anarkismo network will leave groups and individuals wishing to understand the Michael Schmidt matter with roughly the same task. Approximately a hundred thousand words have been spilled on the Michael Schmidt matter in the past two months, most of it speculation, assertion, or “evidence” which defies verification. Anarchists will have to take a look at what Michael Schmidt admits he has written, make a judgement on it, and act accordingly.