Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories:
Steve Schwartz: a neo-con apologist for the Uzbek tyrant Islam Karimov
by N. Cherkovski
Monday Jun 6th, 2005 1:50 PM
Here's a brief article about one of the more bizarre minor-league neo-conservatives, Stephen Schwartz. Steve is fond of describing himself as playing Robin to David Horowitz's Batman
San Francisco, CA
May 1, 2003

My 1993 article, "Left Communism or State Department Surrealism," exposed neo-conservative pundit Stephen Schwartz as a chronic liar, opportunist and comically self-abasing buffoon. Schwartz’s recent ravings against conservative writer Justin Raimondo for posting links to
this article on his web site indicate that my analysis of Schwartz is on target. The word is out about what Steve Schwartz is all about, and Schwartz is in a panic about it; his ability to function effectively as an ideological prostitute is being compromised.
I have never met Justin Raimondo. I don’t agree with almost any aspect of his politics, aside from his ardent opposition to recent acts of mass murder committed by the United States government. Raimondo’s posting of links to my article about Schwartz doesn’t imply any political connection between us, any more than my citing an article from the New York Times would imply agreement with the editorial opinions of the Times. Schwartz’s attempt to link Raimondo and I, and somehow mysteriously discredit Raimondo with this, is an example of the Stalinist amalgam method, where all opponents are deceitfully compressed into a homogenous mass. This is an example of a totalitarian mindset at
work, and the use of this transparently bogus tactic by Steve Schwartz proves that with the neo-conservative Schwartz you can take an intellectual mediocrity out of the Stalinist milieu that spawned him -- but you cannot take the Stalinist milieu out of the intellectual mediocrity.

A former obituary columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, author or co-author of several undistinguished books, and practitioner of a soporific prose style, Steve Schwartz continually reminds readers of The Weekly Standard and the National Review that he was once an armchair leftist. He has managed to dine out on this fact for almost 20 years,
using his credentials as the former leading member of a one-man Trotskyist organization to pursue a lucrative career as a cheerleader for violence by the US government against civilians in Central America, Serbia and Iraq.

The neo-conservative milieu is a strange and cynical scene, but few of its militants have a personal history as bizarre as Steve Schwartz. Schwartz first tried to call attention to himself in the punk rock subculture of San Francisco’s North Beach, way back at the end of the 1970’s. In those days Schwartz, the son of a pro-Moscow Stalinist bookseller, produced a self-proclaimed "ultra-left communist" fanzine,
The Alarm, and wrote in it under the names "Comrade Sandalio" and "S. Solsona," attempting to surround himself with a dashing air of mystery and adventure otherwise out of reach for an obnoxious loudmouth cafe habitué who couldn’t get dates with hot young punk rock chicks. One person who knew him then, anarchist writer Bob Black, derided Schwartz
as an "after-hours militant with nothing to say in six languages." Another acquaintance, John Zerzan, has said of Schwartz: "...he always struck me as a pretty ridiculous character. He went from Stalinist to Trot to `Surrealist Trot' to what he called `very close to classical anarchist,’ and given his flakiness it didn't seem to matter nor did it seem like it would surprise me whatever turn he would take. Now I know
this sounds like a claim to omniscience, but he always struck me as an unstable case who could end up anywhere!...he made himself a joke by trying to recruit San Francisco punks - who all laughed at him while spending his money..."

Reviled by bohemians when not altogether ignored by them, by 1983 "Comrade Sandalio" was getting tired of making a nuisance of himself in bars and driving a cab for a living. Then a new hope appeared on his horizon, when Schwartz met someone gullible enough to offer him a job based on his superficial intellectual merits. That person was a Yale
graduate, advocate of up-by-their-bootstraps ideology and trust fund beneficiary named A. Lawrence "Lawrie" Chickering. Chickering headed a Reagan Administration-connected San Francisco-based think tank called
the Institute for Contemporary Studies, and the encounter between Schwartz and Chickering was a true meeting of minds.

Schwartz read some of his wannabe-Surrealist poetry to Chickering, and Chickering offered Schwartz a job as a senior editor at the Institute. Schwartz offered to tell Chickering everything he knew about the Spanish Civil War, and Chickering offered to introduce Schwartz to the leading personalities of the Israel Lobby. For Schwartz, the world
had changed, and he had now seen the light; he became a passionate believer in government-assisted free market economic policies. He stopped trying to sell kids in black leather jackets on the virtues of Leon Trotsky and anarcho-syndicalism, and instead wrote editorials demanding increased congressional funding for the Nicaraguan Contras.
Chickering even allowed Schwartz to visit the White House and shake hands with Oliver North.

The Institute for Contemporary Studies worked to create a favorable public relations climate for US-backed counterinsurgency efforts in Central America in the 1980’s. They fought to defend the sacred right of private property, to make this world a better place for the hacienda-owning class, and keep the infant mortality rate in Nicaragua high enough to satisfy the publishers of the Wall Street Journal. All
this offered Steve Schwartz an opportunity to not merely read about history, but take a small part in making it. Schwartz took to the crusade as a hog to the wallow, even publicly indulging in a Walter-Mitty-style fantasy when he bragged on KRON-4 TV in November 1987 about spying on opponents of US policies in Central America, and feeding the information he’d uncovered to the Feds. Schwartz is, of course, a
pathological liar, so it’s possible he didn’t really do this, and was just ass-licking his way into his employers’ continued good graces when he boasted about snitching on TV.

Schwartz’s tenure with the ICS hinged on his ability to pontificate soulfully and at stupefying length about the evils of Communism. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union this extremely narrow field of specialization was no longer in demand. Stalinism was historically spent, as dead as Pharaoh, and Schwartz’s ideological shelf-life was
past its expiration date. His employers were probably tired of Steve running around the ICS office hollering at the top of his voice about the latest developments in the feud between Trotsky and Stalin, anyway, so they unloaded him on the SF Chronicle. There he was assigned to toil on the obituary page, a sarcastic tribute to Schwartz’s earlier journalistic efforts to keep the graveyards of Nicaragua plentifully
supplied with the corpses of impoverished peasants and wage workers.

The years rolled by, and after the Reagan-Bush foreign policy
triumph in Central America the former Yugoslavia became a focus of US national security concerns. Growing weary of his sinecure at the Chron, and drawn once again to the smell of human blood being shed in copious quantities, Steve Schwartz remade himself as an "expert" on the Balkans.
He simultaneously transformed his public persona, growing a very long beard, sporting a skull-cap, converting to Islam, and changing his name for the duration of US military action in the Balkans to Suleyman Ahmad Stephen Schwartz. He even relocated to Sarajevo for some sordid reason, no doubt savoring the new lease on life provided by going to a part of
the world where few knew him firsthand, or had seen what he is all about.

They probably found out soon enough. In less than two years
"Suleyman Ahmad" had scurried back to the US, losing his new Islamic-sounding brace of names and moving to Washington DC in search of his next personality makeover. Today the former "Suleyman Ahmad" pays his rent penning pompous pronunciamentos for various neo-con journals.
Back when Schwartz claimed to be an enemy of capitalism, people as dissimilar as John Zerzan, Franklin Rosemont and the late Grandizo Munis all ended up despising him; whatever you think about their politics they are individuals with strong principles, and any one of them could smell a rat. But among the neo-conservative set a porcine prostitute can always find a place at the table! The intellectual and ethical standards of certain former Trots and Stalinists are ultra-liberal when compared to those of housepainters, bass players, and ultra-left Marxists in France. If the neo-cons are so hard up that they must tolerate Schwartz in their ranks they will obviously tolerate anything.

Occasionally the former "Comrade Sandalio" lets his old sentiments show through, as when he described the Spanish CNT as "... the anarcho-syndicalist mass movement that was the greatest labor organization in history" in an article in the defrocked Stalinist David Horowitz’s of April 29th. Posting his nostalgia for Spanish anarchism on a far-right website is the political equivalent of Tourette’s Syndrome and typical of his grotesque cluelessness.

Schwartz’s vicarious identification with long-gone enemies of bosses and capitalism is a comic non sequitur as well, since Schwartz himself is a craven, servile, fawning employee, a toady and sycophant who will do anything to grovel his way into jobs as a hack propagandist. Schwartz claims to admire rebels like Durutti and Joe Hill, but Schwartz himself
is a model of conformist psychopathology. This brings me back to where I began. With Schwartz, as with other ex-leftists slithering around the neo-conservative scene, you have an example of a totalitarian personality, like that of a loyal apparatchik in the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, but in the service of a different pack of killers; an individual whose fundamental values are completely malleable, based solely around the requirements of the men who hold power, and who makes his living pedaling the big lie of the day.

Nietzsche called beings of this sort "men of ressentiment;" without Stalinism, Schwartz and his fellow neo-cons are left without anything to not believe in. A character like Schwartz has to go through life hiding behind a huge portrait of Stalin, hoping all attention will be focused on the image of the tyrant and no one will notice the foul smell coming from behind the picture.

It’s been said that you become a better writer the longer you work at it, but Schwartz’s career contradicts this. A recent Schwartz rant, "Two Faces of Fascism?" (, April 23rd) is a good example of bad writing. Here the former "Suleyman Ahmad" unsheathes his polemical scimitar to get revenge on’s Justin Raimondo, takes an awfully long time to do it, and loses his way in the process. When it becomes obvious that he knows nothing about his subject he compensates by hurling discombobulated data at the reader, like custard pies in a Three Stooges movie. His argument isn’t organized in an even
minimally coherent manner, and apparently he thinks that since he takes himself too seriously his readers will have to take him seriously, too. Schwartz has now gone from being a graceless pedant with a flatulent bovine prose style to being a drooling, gibbering, unintelligible pedant.

My guess is that Steve Schwartz’s days as a paid liar for
neo-conservative publications may be drawing to a close.
Neo-conservatives have nothing against lying, of course, but a liar no one believes isn’t useful and he will backfire on his employers; he compromises the effectiveness of all the other lies they must tell, and calls attention to the rottenness of their politics. Schwartz’s increasingly frantic response to critical examinations of his life and deeds indicate that the news is getting around about Sleaze Schwartz. His credibility is shot, and Schwartz’s reputation for slimeball opportunism and clownish antics clings to him like a phantom limb. How
much longer will the prats at National Review pay for his foamy effusions? Who else would be impressed with his sophomoric erudition? It would be against his bosses’ moral principles to allow an unemployable Schwartz to go on welfare, so they should help him move on to something
he is suited for. They should get him a job as a reporter with FOX News.

My article from Anarchy magazine examining the specimen of repellent dark humor that is Stephen Schwartz, "Left Communism or State
Department Surrealism," is available on line among the 'Love and Treason' docs of the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project web page, at

I also recommend readers check out the article, "American Defeat: an anti-state communist perspective on the Iraq War," at:

for the abolition of wage labor,

Kevin Keating
San Francisco, CA

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Stephen Schwartz
Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 11:31 AM
Neeli Cherkovski did not post this idiotic rant by Kevin "I am totally inadequate, unknown, friendless, ugly, and getting older and stupider daily, so I call myself by the names of anarchist heroes and Communist mass murderers" Keating.

Keating is known for such witty aliases as "Keith Sorel" (after an inspirer of Mussolini), "Nestor Makhno" (on whose eyebrow he wouldn't make a hair) and "Tibor Szamuely" (head of the secret police under the brief Communist regime in Hungary). Actually, it should be Szamuely Tibor but Keating doesn't know anything about Hungary except that he wishes that like Szamuely, he could order people killed. When I knew him his big dream was to make anarchist biker porno flicks. He once got so drunk on a first-class air flight back from an anarchist tourist vacation in Greece he wet his pants. A total coward who now appropriates the names of living people to use in his lunacy. That he and Dennis "I hate Jews" Raimondo would be in bed together was predictable.
by Stephen Schwartz
Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 11:33 AM
I never described myself as anybody's Robin in a Batman relationship, least of all relating to David Horowitz. I don't live in comic books.
by Magon
Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 2:39 PM
Hey Stevie-- Kevin isn't the most popular guy around here but he just got two brownie points and a gold star for putting his foot up your phony neo-con ass.
by shame on you
Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 3:02 PM
" Kevin isn't the most popular guy around"
Just saw someone by the name of Magon post to another thread and it sounded a lot like Kevin.
Talking about yourself in the third person is funny enough but praising youself with a comment on your own article....
by Magon
Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 3:09 PM
I'm not Kevin. But if you want to believe that--that's okay. Kevin has enough brains to know the Chavez is a fraud but you probably don't.
by Stephen Schwartz
Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 6:12 PM
Magon? That's really low -- Keating appropriates the name of someone truly honorable.

Everyone knows Keating is a physical coward who has always hid behind aliases that make him sound bad. And a two year old smackdown? What next, Kevin defining wetting his pants while on a first class flight home from his Grecian holiday pretending to be a terrorist as some kind of revolutionary act?

Kevin, how about you signing yourself realistically, like, Bozo the Clown or Fake Radical or Failed Beefcake Star? Man, you're over 40 and bald. Nobody respects you. The idea of citing a blowhard like Franklin Rosemont or a crank like Zerzan as great arbiters of morality is absurd. Munis ended up being expelled from the movement he founded, after he expelled me. What a joke.

by Magon
Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 6:39 PM
Hey Stevie-- It's more than just Keating and Raimondo that think you're dickhead. I'm sure your Stalinist background gave you some decent minor league training in becoming a high ranking liar for the neo-cons.

And why are you senstive about little ole Kevin-- is he getting under skin? Is he right about the neo-cons cutting off your allowance? Did they take away your membership card at their country club for being an ineffectual propangandist?
by I. Puente
Friday Jun 10th, 2005 6:59 PM
Our bloated bloviate for the crimes of the US ruling class against working people everywhere can now be seen on this history list, here:

It will be the only way a pig like this will be remembered...
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


Donate Now!

$ 195.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network