Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin as Heroes

In emails, and a couple of post comments, I am catching some flack for the Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin clips I am running here at EPJ.

No, I have not turned Marxist. Here's how and why the clips ended up here.

Last week, I commented on Tyler Cowen's view that an alliance between libertarians and liberals was about to bloom.

I didn't exactly see things Tyler's way. I wrote:
I am really, really baffled by this. I just don't see "agreement on many issues".

Liberals (in the modern day sense) appear to be full-time interventionists when it comes to the economy. Does Tyler think they are going to be for less regulation in the financial sector? Does Tyler really think they are going to take a pro-free trade stance that will damage their union support? Are they going to suddenly come out against hikes in minimum wages?

The only place it ever made sense to align with the left was on wars and privacy, but now that they have their man in the White House, with a few exceptions, they remain noticeably silent on our overseas adventures and on privacy encroachments.
And then I got to thinking about the Vietnam war protesters and a private "conspiracy theory"/curiosity I noticed some time ago. That the two top Vietnam war protesters were dead, at very early ages, just before the current wars heated up. Were they knocked off by the government? I have no idea? It's a curiosity. I posted on the curiosity and the blog post gained legs. It will definitely be in the Top Ten for the week. Maybe at #1.

Then an EPJ reader pointed out to me that there were clips of Hoffman and Rubin on youtube. I decided to post a couple so that other readers could get a sense for the kind of characters these two guys were.

Now, in my original post on Cowen, I mentioned that the one place an alliance with the left made sense was on anti-war. That's why in my posting of the Rubin clip, I wrote:
They don't make anti-war protesters like this anymore. Substitute Afghanistan and Iraq for Vietnam and you may know why he was accidentally hit by a car before the current wars heated up.
Listen to the Rubin clip again. He knew why war was wrong. Further his antics and those of Hoffman kept the anti-war movement on the front pages. Those two guys, like them or not, saved a lot of lives.

I have no idea whether they would be anti the current wars, or not. But, I can tell you that Hoffman and Rubin wouldn't protest wars the way it is done now. First, they wouldn't attempt to be destroying things the way left wing-anarchist protesters do now. But more important I can't imagine them filling out forms for protest permits.

It would be more like them to announce to the press that they wouldn't be protesting at a political convention but merely checking to see if convention delegates had the proper "permits to screw the people" before unblocking a road to the convention.

As for designated wired in "protest pens." Not a chance with Rubin and Hoffman. I could see them under the cover of darkness sneaking donkeys into the protest pens at a Democratic convention, but you would never see Rubin or Hoffman quietly protesting from inside a pen.

The current anti-war movement has nothing close to these two. If they protested the Afghan, Iraq, Pakistan etc incursions, people would know. As for them being Marxist, I think they were sincerely anti-war, but from there they were hustlers that would say and do anything to gain attention to themselves to make money.

A friend of mine who knew Hoffman in the years before he died was told by Hoffman that he made tons of money during the anti-war protests.There's a book, Young Men With Unlimited Capital, written long ago by the creators of the original Woodstock Festival, it supports the fact that Hoffman was hustling as a protester to make money.In the book, they detail how Hoffman approached them for money to provide "security". He told them that if he wasn't allowed to provide security that someone might end up putting LSD in the water supply. They paid.

And it shouldn't be forgotten that Jerry Rubin ended up being an investment banker. He also ran a very successful "business networking" event in New York City.

After Steve Rubell was busted for tax evasion and Studio 54 was closed down. Rubin rented the place for his weekly business networking events. It was a very clever move. The place was huge but he filled it every week. Anyone between the age of 20 and 40 in NYC wanted to be at the event. Who wouldn't want to get into the once famous Studio 54? Rubin somehow packed the place with thousands and at the same time gave off the impression that it was "exclusive." You needed a printed invitation to get in. In actuality, the event was more a meat market for men to meet women and vice versa then a true business networking event, but that was all part of Rubin's clever spin to get NYC women in, who would never show up for a meat market event.

Bottom line: These guys were marketing geniuses, who knew that if you were going to protest a war, you were not going to do it by following the rules of the man, and respecting the man.

If these guys were around to protest the current wars, we would know there was an anti-war movement.

I repeat, becasue of them, the anti-war movement was on the front page everyday and the Vietnam war came to an end much sooner. They saved many lives.


  1. I agree.

    The present anti-war movement has made the mistake of trying to be politically correct.

    As Paul Craig Roberts just pointed out in his farewell column, the antiwar folks made a fatal error when they bought into the gov 911 conspiracy theory. Oh so dumb.

    Hoffman and Rubin would have smelled the 911 inside job rat right at the git-go. They had to go.


  2. Well said Wenzel. It is sad that there are no high profile protestors who can put the disobediance in civil disobediance demonstrations. The kind that dominate the news and make people uncomfortable.

    Instead most americans seem ready to submit to strip searches rather than protest the violation of their rights in the hope this will protect them from the blowback from the middle east wars. To paraphrase Ben Franklin: Those who sacrifice their rights for a little security deserve neither.

  3. I remember the jolly tactics of Rubin and Hoffman, and yes, the Tea Partyers could well learn from them. They could do more than that.

    40 years ago now, at the height of the Vietnam War, some imaginative anti-war activists at the University of Michigan put together a Left-Right Conference, hoping to bring the non-Marxist Left and the then-dawning Libertarian Right to come together and discuss what goals they had in common. Only a dozen people showed up, which was a tragedy in its way.

    In the years since then we've seen the Libertarian right emerge as a new and dynamic political force, far removed from the troglodyte conservatives of the Old Right, the Religious Right and the Neo-Cons. We've also seen, thought of course it hasn't made the media, a growing Libertarian movement on the Left as well -- though they call themselves Anarchists instead. (Standing joke: What's the difference between a Libertarian and an Anarchist? About $20,000 a year.)

    It's indeed time they got together. We have a lot more in common now than we did back then, and a lot more urgent reason to unite.

    So how do we do it? How do we dig past the rhetoric to find each other?

    --Leslie <;)))><