Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin debating the future of America in 1986


 
Watching this debate between Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin from 1986, I was struck by how little has really changed since the late 80s despite the fact that, to Rubin’s way of thinking, we’ve had two “yuppie” Presidents in the White House. Hoffman’s vision seems more prophetic in light of the Occupy Movement, but I see the truth to be somewhere in the middle of their opposing points of view.

Despite his emphasis on maintaining a healthy body, no amount of good health helped Rubin. Ironically, the law-abiding straight-lace yuppie was killed in 1994 while fucking the system, run over by a car in L.A. as he was jaywalking. Hoffman gave up the good fight and committed suicide in 1989. The future they speak so passionately about in this debate was not theirs to further impact, though both had done their fair share starting in the Sixties. From founding the yippies, mobilizing the march on the Pentagon, leading the charge in Chicago in 1968 to inspiring John and Yoko’s sleep-in, there’s no question both Hoffman and Rubin managed to change the world we live in. Abbie’s style of guerrilla theater, activism and peaceful dissent was very much alive in the past few years on the streets of American cities like New York and in Europe, Turkey and during the Arab Spring movement. Rubin’s concept of revolution from within the system is less vivid and harder to measure. I don’t think it works for the most part but I’m still voting.

The debate took place in Canada. Rubin and Hoffman make their points with lots of energy and Hoffman is of course quite funny. The first couple of minutes has an appropriate musical intro,  “I’d Love To Change The World” by Ten Years After.
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Abbie birthday Hoffman: ‘Growing Up In America’
11.29.2012
10:14 pm

Topics:
Politics

Tags:
Abbie Hoffman


 
Something from the DM archives on the occasion of Abbie Hoffman’s birthday:

In Growing Up In America, Morley Markson revisits his 1969 documentary on Sixties’ political activists Breathing Together:Revolution Of The Electric Family with the original subjects of that film to get the perspective of age and hindsight.

Reflecting the past through the present, forming a kind of Möbius strip of history, we watch as they watch themselves: Jerry Rubin’s transformation from firebrand radical to Capitalist cliche, the evolution and assassination of Fred Hampton (through the eyes of his mother) and the self-actualization, occasional self-doubt and battered integrity of Abbie Hoffman, William Kunstler, Timothy Leary, former Black Panther Field Marshall and expatriate Don Cox, Allen Ginsberg, and MC5 manager and White Panther founder John Sinclair. This is a fascinating glimpse at lives that mattered and still do.

It’s hard to believe that with the exception of John Sinclair and director Markson all of these men are dead. Are these the last of a dying breed?

While Growing Up In America is a vital and significant document, its failure to include some women activists in the mix is a glaring oversight. Bernardine Dohrn, Angela Davis, Shulamith Firestone and Diane di Prima are just a few of the women who were formidable forces in the cultural and political upheaval during the Sixties and any one of them would have provided a much needed woman’s point of view to the film. Once again, we’re confronted with the sad fact that the Sixties counter-culture was mostly a boy’s club.
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
44th anniversary of the the exorcism of The Pentagon


Handbill written by Ed Sanders with instructions for Pentagon exorcism.
 
Next Friday, October 21, will be the 44th anniversary of the march on Washington, D.C. when 70,000 peaceful and very enthusiastic demonstrators gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the D.C. Mall to protest the war in Vietnam. Later that day, 50,000 marched across Memorial Bridge to the Pentagon. Among the demonstrators were Abbie Hoffman, Allen Ginsberg and The Fugs. In addition to protesting the war, the poets, pranksters and musicians had come to the Pentagon to levitate it. Fug member, wordslinger and alchemist Ed Sanders had prepared a magical incantation that would exorcise (exorgasm) the Pentagon and then lift it high into the air.

In the name of the amulets of touching, seeing, groping, hearing and loving, we call upon the powers of the cosmos to protect our ceremonies in the name of Zeus, in the name of Anubis, god of the dead, in the name of all those killed because they do not comprehend, in the name of the lives of the soldiers in Vietnam who were killed because of a bad karma, in the name of sea-born Aphrodite, in the name of Magna Mater, in the name of Dionysus, Zagreus, Jesus, Yahweh, the unnamable, the quintessent finality of the Zoroastrian fire, in the name of Hermes, in the name of the Beak of Sok, in the name of scarab, in the name, in the name, in the name of the Tyrone Power Pound Cake Society in the Sky, in the name of Rah, Osiris, Horus, Nepta, Isis, in the name of the flowing living universe, in the name of the mouth of the river, we call upon the spirit to raise the Pentagon from its destiny and preserve it.

Norman Mailer who attended the march summarized the exorcism ritual thusly:

Now, here, after several years of the blandest reports from the religious explorers of LSD, vague Tibetan lama goody-goodness auras of religiosity being the only publicly announced or even rumored fruit from all trips back from the buried Atlantis of LSD, now suddenly an entire generation of acid-heads seemed to have said goodbye to easy visions of heaven, no, now the witches were here, and rites of exorcism, and black terrors of the night – hippies being murdered. Yes, the hippies had gone from Tibet to Christ to the Middle Ages, now they were Revolutionary Alchemists.”

The Pentagon did not levitate, though some of us who were there may have seen it shudder a bit. As to whether the exorcism worked or not, I think it may have for the 50,000 ecstatic people in attendance - the vibes around the Pentagon would never ever be as sublime as on that afternoon.

In this rarely seen footage, Edward Folger shot some 16mm film during the march and created what he describes as an “impressionistic immersion in the experience of the march.”
 

 
Thanks to Reality Studio.

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Abbie Hoffman and the theater of revolution


 
In the video below shot a few days before the 1968 Democratic National Convention, radical prankster Abbie Hoffman discusses guerrilla theater, drugs, sex and the role of humor as a tool for shaking up the status quo. Dissidence with a touch of Dada.

While the shit is hitting the fan it’s always good to have a sense of the absurd to keep things in perspective.

“Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.”

Much of the tone of the current Occupy Wall Street movement, with it’s colorful signs, face paint, freak flags, costumes and optimism in the face of so much opposition, can be traced to the Sixties provocations and theater of Hoffman, Jerry Ruben, The MC5, Ed Sanders, Paul Krassner, Allen Ginsberg, Dana Beal and the Youth International Party.

While Abbie showed us that political activism could have a playful side and that yippie tactics could be an effective means to grab headlines, releasing word viruses that could fuck with the status quo, he was also wise in his grasp of political realities:

Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit. When all today’s isms have become yesterday’s ancient philosophy, there will still be reactionaries and there will still be revolutionaries. No amount of rationalization can avoid the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on the planet. I still believe in the fundamental injustice of the profit system and do not accept the proposition there will be rich and poor for all eternity.

Become an internationalist and learn to respect all life. Make war on machines. And in particular the sterile machines of corporate death and the robots that guard them.

Being a revolutionary isn’t just about talking a good game, it’s also about showing the world what freedom loving human beings are capable of: a robust passion for life and a deep respect for humanity and the earth we stand on.

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
― John Lennon

When people discount the role the Sixties play in contemporary attitudes about politics, sex, the environment and human rights, I say open your gawdammed eyes and take a look around. The press, pundits and people in general are comparing the OWS movement to the radical uprisings of the Sixties for good reason - they arise out of the same basic impulse toward justice and freedom….and something innate in all humans: the desire to fuck with authority.

With their limited frames of reference, I keep hearing people referring to the OWS protesters as hippies. Well, I guess we’re all hippies now. Pass the patchouli. Yippee!
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
September 24, 1969: The Chicago Conspiracy Trial Begins
09.24.2009
06:43 pm

Topics:
History

Tags:
Dorian Cope
Abbie Hoffman
Bobby Seale
Chicago 8

image

Forty years ago and on this day 24th September 1969, the Chicago 8 (which would soon be 7) Conspiracy Trial began ?

Written by Jason Louv | Discussion