The Anarkismo network has already published a statement that it would wait until all parts of the accusations by Reid Ross and Stephens were published, as well as the answers of M. Schmidt, before making any judgements on the case. Now that this has been forthcoming, as well as two more responses by Reid Ross, we are issuing a second statement to make public our intentions regarding the present situation.
It is difficult for us to draw definitive conclusions about this case based on the evidence provided so far by both sides. This is because to do so would require translating all the material, accusations and defence, into numerous languages in order to allow debate in each organisation, with organisations then debating each other through their delegates to the Anarkismo network. This is impossible to carry out with our current capacity – especially for organisations with daily militancy and work of social insertion and/or operating under difficult social contexts – without sacrificing other daily activities. However, the accusations against Schmidt are extremely serious and we take the issue of fighting racism and white supremacy as high priority. Therefore, the Anarkismo network has decided to call for a commission of enquiry to investigate more closely both the accusations and the defence, and to make recommendations to the broader anarchist movement based on their findings. As it is well known that Schmidt was a former militant in one of our member organizations and both helped to found and contributed extensively to the anarkismo.net website, it is our intention that the commission should include members of other tendencies and non-affiliated anarchists in order to avoid partiality.
We have already stated in our previous statement how we feel about the methods of the accusers. Further than the specific case of M. Schmidt, those methods raised an internal debate about how we deal with such situations. The accusations may be true or not: this will be for the commission to settle. We cannot ignore that the methods used by the accusers – especially the lack of a criteria for minimum of justice – could be used one day in an unjustified accusation against any one of us in order to defame a militant, an organisation or a whole movement. As political organizations we have a duty to protect our members. While Schmidt may not be a member of any of our affiliated organisations, the way we deal with the current situation will have consequences for similar situations in the future.
This is why the Anarkismo network, before sending an invitation to members of other tendencies to join the commission of enquiry, will now work internally to figure out the commission's composition, the parameters of what decisions are within its range and on the questions of how we define justice and ethics in a way that does not reproduce the modus operandi of mainstream society. This is in order to propose a methodological and ethical framework for this commission (which, then, will need to be discussed with the tendencies we wish to invite to form the commission). We think this is necessary because, if this commission has no clear criteria, it will end up adopting, as a result of a dynamic of social pressure, those of the movement in general. And unfortunately, we cannot say that the criteria of ethics and justice today in our milieu are the best.
This work will take us a while. Not only because it is a vast discussion, but also because we lack the capacity to deal properly with this case without stopping our daily work.
There will be a further communication when the Anarkismo network is ready to make a formal proposal.
The Anarkismo Network