When I Met Abbie Hoffman

Abby Hoffman

Remember, Never take on a fight you cannot win.

I met him in Philadelphia, which is a city I rarely visited. However, my wife and I attended the first Midatlantic Green Party Conference in June of 1985. I had only been back in the states for less than a year. I just finished an 18 month gig as a ship’s cook. Having no job options during the Reagan years, I let the state pay my way through accounting school. My wife was always politically active and attending the conference was her idea of getting away for a weekend. Being newly married, I readily agreed. It was either that or spend the weekend alone with my stepson.

That conference began my love/hate relationship with the Green Party. I love the principles it was founded on, and I love the idea of belonging to the movement that caused real change in Europe. The hate part started after I discovered how deeply the black market had been involved in early Green politics, and how so many of today’s party members are bat shit crazy. Quite frankly, Cynthia McKinney scares the living crap out of me.

But I was talking about the first Green Conference in 1985. I was only 27 years old and incredibly naive. Politically I was would have to say I was a libertarian socialist. The libertarian part began at the age of 19. I was one of a handful of students to attend Karl Hess’ lecture at Lebanon Valley College. Hess was such a polished public speaker that he left me a true believer. The Socialist came in when I was 21 and attending Rutgers University. Dr. Stephen E. Bronner was beginning his career there. I credit Steve as being the man who taught me how to think, and he started me in my off and on association with the DSA.

At the time, the DSA was still catching up with the ecological crises, I thought the Greens might be a more profitable outlet for my energies. During that three day conference, I felt as if I had come home. Everybody seemed to hold the same contradictory view of politics I entertained. It never occurred to me that it was this very contradiction between libertarianism and socialism that invited the black market to settle in and make itself at home.

The irony is I fell into the black market crowd right out the gate. My wife, in all innocence, got in contact with this girl in Easton PA who was also going to the conference. That’s how we ended up traveling from Easton PA to the state capitol on the Rainbow Bus.

Being part of the New York punk scene, I heard rumors of the Rainbow Bus, and even knew some members of the Youth International Party. I went to a couple of parties at Number 9 Bleeker St. They were so frightening in their intensity, I would wake up determined to live a life of abstinence and holy charity. The resolution would last until the next Friday.

So imagine my delight when I got to introduce my new bride to Aron Kay, the man who hit Ronald Reagan with a banana cream pie. The banana was symbolic of Reagan’s banana republic politics. Then was Bruno, a person I lost track of and wish I hadn’t. He did a workshop on computers and networking that introduced me to a new idea called the internet. Then, of course, there was Dana Beal. Dana was the absolute commissar of YIP and controlled his minions through the pound of pot he always carried in a double ziplock. A year later, a big guy named Ozzy and I would be hunting Beal through the Lower East Side with the intent of beating the crap out of him. At the time, Beal was sizing me up for minionhood so he did his best to charm me.

Another character we met at the conference was Jack Herrer, the same guy they named a genetically modified pot plant after. At the time, it never occurred to me why a guy from Oregon would be at the Midatlantic Green conference. Today I know it was to promote his pot business. The truth about Herrer is the idea of legal marijuana scared the bejesus out of him. He was making too much money growing it and shipping it to Beal who sold it in Manhattan. They were involved with the Green Party to grow their network and to maintain a legal defense of police persecution in case of busts. At the time, I hated Herrer for hitting on my wife right in front of me. Yes, he was that damned low. It was a good thing he was doing time in South Carolina a year later, otherwise Ozzy and I would have been out looking for him, too.

But I digress, this was about Abbie Hoffman. Abbie was there, too. He was with the sincere Quakers, peace activists, ecologists, German Green Party representatives, The Committee of Correspondence and others who made the conference a success. Hoffman was our superstar. If I knew what I know now, I would have laughed my butt off at the way Beal and Herrer kissed Abbie’s ass. Beal was instrumental in having Abby and Jerry ejected from YIP, but that day they acted like Wayne and Garth with Alice Cooper.

Abbie was more than a gentleman, he was one of nature’s royalty. I don’t know if he held any ill will towards Beal, because he did not let it show. He took their adulation with quiet aplomb and mingled with the organizers. He joined us in the kitchen to help prepare dinner. That’s when I introduced myself and shook his hand. I mentioned that I was an accounting student and that seemed to amuse him.

It’s hard to believe that 27 years passed and the conference I swore I would never forget is so vague. Eric Sternglass was there, and I remember his lecture on acid rain. John Judge was there as well. Along with some rather painful conspiracy theories, he was also the man who outed the Eastern Service Workers as a cult. Abbie’s speech was the last event of the conference. He spoke on his best subject, organizing, and I wish I had a transcript. I would send it to every member of Occupy I could find. They need to read it, learn it, and live it.

His message was to never take on a fight you cannot win. It demoralizes the troops and robs the movement’s energy. Today I look at the pathetic state of the left, and realize how right he was. We haven’t had anything resembling a definitive win since Nixon was impeached. The false success of having Obama elected has faded into the ashes of being had.

A couple of years later, I was at an Abbie led protest and watched him get people arguing over who got to lie under the bulldozers. Hoffman was a natural leader who brought out the best in people. I heard that in his lecture, when he explained why he used sports analogies in his rallies. By using a language everybody could relate to, he got the message through and raised enthusiasm for the cause. Most importantly, he stressed the need to keep things simple. It is easier to win against a single issue than to clog things up with extraneous goals.

Now that I think of it, we owe the organizers of that conference a tremendous debt. They were the people who funded Abbie Hoffman so he could lead the fight against nuclear reactors. Were it not for them, the crises that is still happening in Japan could have happened here. Abby put an end to US nuclear reactor proliferation.  His victories lasted until the election of the current moron-in-chief, who is trying to gear up the nuclear madness again.

I am proud to say that I was a part of Abbie’s fight, and I kept on fighting after the Greens and I parted ways. The New York leadership took the moderatorship away from Dana Beal a few years after that first conference, and my wife and I had the misfortune of being known as YIPsters,and we got caught in the purge. For years we were ignored by most of the party, but I didn’t care. I was one of Abbie’s people and didn’t need them.

The day after Abbie’s lecture, we all gathered to sign the Midatlantic Charter before going home. Abby stood next to me when it was my turn to sign. I wrote it big, so Ronald Reagan could see it without his glasses. That made Abbie laugh so hard we became friends and stayed in touch until he died.  We met at several other conferences, and he helped my family get home after Beal and Herrer arranged to have my wife, son, and I stranded in Erie PA. 

The last time I saw Abbie, We had just “dumped the pump” on the Fork’s river. At the time, I owned a book store in Allentown PA. Three days before he died, we had coffee in my back room, making plans for my shop to become a meeting and recruiting center. It was never to happen. He died when we needed him most. I have to argue with both the suicide and murder conspiracy people. It was an accidental overdose. There is no doubt in my mind.

When Abbie Hoffman died, the left died with him. We haven’t had a significant victory since The Pump got dumped. Just as religion took over the right, it took over the left in the form of the New Age movement. To my shame, I have to accept my own responsibility in promoting that bullshit. In retrospect, I have to wonder what it was I was thinking. The concept of consensus as opposed to democratic leadership has poleaxed the American left. Today the vocally mentally ill have driven out the sane people, and it all started with the foolish idea we didn’t need leaders.

The need for new leadership is made manifest by the OWS movement, which is becoming a clusterfuck before our eyes. That last demonstration in Oakland was pathetic. The cops provoked a reaction because less than ten percent of the demonstrators have non-violence training. Nobody protested with Abby without non-violence training. The police were never able to provoke us. That is an important reason why we won and OWS is getting its asses handed to them. We need to find the strength to start enforcing the limits and taking the mic away from the crazies. Somebody has to have the responsibility to prioritize and choose which of the many issues facing us needs to be addressed first, and keep addressing it until it stops being an issue. Then choose which issue we move on to next.  So far, Democracy has proven to be the best way to choose and to replace leaders.  I think it’s time to go back to what works.

Obama and Clinton

Hope and Change? Wait until you think they'll fall for next!






Advertisements

Conclusion: the Libertarian Appeal: Part Two

Dear Lord, Save my Nation From Libertarians

Dear Lord, Save my Nation From Libertarians

The Libertarian appeal is that it is based on fairy stories.  It is a direct appeal to the propaganda we were exposed to as children.  We were raised on stories about the American Revolution and the brave heroes that established American freedoms.  Libertarians deliberately confuse human freedom with corporate freedom.  They exist to prevent laws that will sacrifice corporate profits in favor of human rights. Eliminating clean air laws is good for the corporations, but most of the kids in Richmond, California suffer from asthma due to air pollution from the oil refineries.  Are these kids free?  Eliminating school taxes may increase corporate profits, but it raises a generation who never heard of the Holocaust.  Is ignorance freedom?  Outsourcing may increase corporate dividends, but it leaves the black market as the sole means of survival for many poor people. Are these people free?

Libertarians exist as a fifth column in American society.  Fascist movements can come out of the left as easily as out of the right.  Mussolini’s Corporationism was a left wing movement back in the day, while Hitler’s Nazis were a right wing movement away from socialism.  Libertarians have spread across the political spectrum, and act as a divisive force in American politics.  Libertarians on both sides of the spectrum constantly confuse individual liberty with corporate rights. Laws that limit corporate crime do not threaten your freedom.  Yet Libertarians will tell you that they do.  Laws that watch online transactions only prevent corporations from laundering dirty money.  Yet Libertarians would have those laws appealed so that corporations can steal more easily.

Libertarians constantly identify with the employers rather than with the employees.  They resist unions, work place safety regulations, and the minimum wage with the same fervor as a Christianoid keeping Harry Potter out of the school library.  Libertarians jump up and down and hold their breaths over laws that limit hate speech, but they resist any attempt to make Fox News and CNN accountable for their lies.  Back in the 1920s, William Randolph Hearst instituted a huge lie campaign to outlaw hemp.  Thanks to deregulation as advocated by the Libertarians, corporations can once again lie and get away with it.

Another part of the Libertarian appeal is that they promise to bring us back to a simpler time.  Karl Hess painted a picture of a simpler America that never existed.  It was an America that never needed foreign trade.  It was a magical land where there were no class distinctions because the Free Market treated everybody the same.  According to Hess, all America needed to do was get rid of those pesky federal regulations, and the economy would take care of itself.  The Blue Meanies would run away and all would be right in Pepperland.

Welcome to reality.  Some of you may be reading this from a library, because you can no longer afford an Internet connection.  More of you may be reading this in the library because you no longer have a home in which to install an Internet connection.  Some of you may be waiting for the foreclosure notice to come in the mail or the sheriff to come to the door.  You have watched your retirement accounts disappear and waved goodbye to your jobs as they flew away to the mysterious east.  We can all thank the Free Market and Federal deregulation for the loss of our homes and our jobs.

Stop and think.  Banks from Socialist Europe are coming in to save our economy.  The Euro is now holding up the dollar.  Europe enforces its anti-monopoly laws and has stricter financial regulations than the United States.  Libertarians claim that such regulations should have restrained trade and choked the European economy.  Europe has strong unions.  Libertarians claim that unions choke commerce through red tape and inefficiency.  Europe has national health.  Libertarians claim that should have killed investment through over-taxation.  Yet Europe bailed us out to the tune of half a trillion dollars.  Banks in Socialist Europe had the capital to save us from our free market economy.

Libertarian philosophy brought us into this mess.  We have ignored our own best interests and listened to free market fairy tales.  We have gained nothing but pain from deregulating the economy.  We have gained nothing from the lowering corporate taxes.  We have been so hoodwinked into thinking that deregulation is our friend, that we have been cheering on the corporations as they ripped us off.  It is time to ignore Libertarian madness.  If we don’t wise up, our children and grandchildren are going to face the exact same disasters we are facing today.  What’s worse is that these are the same disasters our grandparents faced in 1929.  How many times are we going to fall for the same lies before we wake up?

Change That European Bankers are Demanding

Change That European Bankers are Demanding


Conclusion: The Libertarian Appeal Part One.

If They Could See Us Now

If They Could See Us Now

I was only nineteen years old when I met Karl Hess.  I was attending Lebanon Valley College in 1977.  It was a sleepy little Methodist college that ignored the Sixties.  The college prided itself on being out of touch with the rest of the world.  I was one of the few people on campus who had even heard of Karl Hess.  Hess’ income tax strike had been heavily promoted by Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine. At nineteen, it never occurred to me that Hefner had a vested interest in eliminating the income tax.  I was unaware that eliminating the income tax was one of the rallying cries of Barry Goldwater’s racist right.  Goldwater had stopped being a political force when I was still in grade school.  All I saw was Hess’ as one lone hero standing up to the government.  That is why I avoided writing my theology essay, and went to see the man who was striking a blow for truth, justice, and the American way through income tax evasion.

I never thought to wonder why Hess had not been incarcerated for tax evasion.  He claimed that he was fighting it in court, and that he was living on barter so the IRS would not take his money.  I mentioned this to my father, a retired Treasury Agent, and my father said that sounded somewhat unlikely.  Thirty one years later, I have to agree with my Dad.  My years of experience in sales, marketing, and public relations tell me that Hess was full of shit.  If he was avoiding his income taxes, he had some powerful influence behind him.  Otherwise the IRS would have taken much more direct action to collect their money, such as confiscating his land in West Virginia or jailing him.

Karl Hess was a man of great personal presence.  He looked like a mountain man.  He was tall and broad shouldered, with the heavy muscles of a laborer.  I could easily picture him in the role of wagon train captain or one of the Green Mountain Boys of the American Revolution.  Today I recognize this as a deliberate affectation.

Hess was the first truly polished professional speaker I ever encountered.  As Barry Goldwater’s speech writer, he had been in the political arena for years and knew all the tricks of public speaking.  Later he was an image consultant for the Black Panthers, the SDS, and a Mafia Don.  He knew all the little tricks for coming across as sincere.  He knew the power of testimonials and storytelling.  Years later, working in Public Relations, I came to recognized the professional tricks he had played on us.

Even more brilliant than his approach was the brilliance of his message.  Just as the German fascists wed the rhetoric of their socialists adversaries with Mussolini’s fascism to create “National Socialism”, Hess mixed the rhetoric of Sixties radicals with fascism and created what I call “National Anarchism”.  He based his ideas on the  rhetoric of the SDS.  Hess even ripped off the SDS’s name for themselves.  He called his movement “The New Left”. The name was the only thing “left” about Hess’s movement.  The rest was pure fascism.  Like the SDS, Hess emphasized the Constitution and the need for all sides to come together for consensus.

Then Hess split off into Naziville.  I will give him this much: he knew his audience.  He knew that if he tried to confuse the Constitution with the Federalist Papers, he would have been stone cold busted.  So he limited himself to where the Federalist Papers and Constitution agreed and ignored the parts of the Constitution that would have tripped him up.  He painted a picture of American history that never existed. It was a history where Alexander Hamilton didn’t create the Whiskey tas never enacted, and the American economy was never bolstered by British-owned monopolies.    The Protestant Work Ethic assured all Americans prosperity, so long as we got rid of all those pesky, unnecessary ecological and financial regulations.

Most telling was his point that the federal government was unnecessary.  In Hess’ fantasy world, bigotry and prejudice were not that bad.  Jim Crow gave African Americans the space to create their own culture, so why have civil rights laws?  Why have ecological protection, when the Free Market would starve out polluters?  Most telling was his stand on federal financial regulations. Why bother with them, when the free market would adjust itself just like Adam Smith promised?  Hess made each point with a telling reference to the Federalist Papers or the Constitution.  He adeptly emphasized the parts of the Constitution that backed up his point while avoiding the entire second section and several amendments.

Three years after Hess’s college campus tour, Ronald Reagan and Neoconservatism took over our nation. That was Hess’s true purpose.  It did not matter to Hess that his college tour did not pack the lecture halls. Hess was out to find true believers.  His job was to prepare college campuses for the Reagan campaign.  A majority of Hess’s New Left moved into the Reagan camp, because Reagan’s message of small government and free market capitalism was the same as Hess’s. They were both reiterations of Goldwater Conservatism.  The defection of Hess’s New Left shattered the Old Left so there was no effective counter movement against Neoconservatism.  Both the New Left and the Right were spouting Goldwater rhetoric.   Hess’s New Left was a brilliant public relations maneuver, that paved the way for the mortgage crises.

Who can blame America for falling for this garbage?  When I was nineteen years old, I fell for it hook, line, and, sinker.  At nineteen, I was really impressed.  I was so impressed that I accepted Hess’s invitation and had coffee with him after his lecture.  The night I spent talking about Life, The Universe, and Everything with Karl Hess was one of the shining moments of my youth.  Hess had reached me at a primal level. He adroitly manipulated my emotions through appeals to the beloved myths of elementary school.  In Hess’ world, Washington never told a lie, Lincoln freed the slaves, and the free market was ordained by God.  For years I was hurt because he never returned my cards and letters.  Today I realize that he was there to do a job.  He did it very well.  The corporations were able to rape the American public once again thanks to Karl Hess and the New Left.

We Don't Want to Clean George's Mess

We Don’t Want to Clean George’s Mess


9. Corporate Power is Protected

It's All His Fault

It's All His Fault, Folks

This is where it all sums up.  The entire purpose of the Libertarian movement is to protect corporate power.  Both inhuman and inhumane, corporations already rule this country with an iron hand.  Rather than depend on one single political movement as Henry Ford and Prescott Bush did with the Nazi Party, the American-based corporations had three waves of Fascism.  First was the Republican party as represented by Barry Goldwater.  Then came the religious right.  About the same time that the late, unlamented Jerry Falwell was rising to the top of the septic tank, Karl Hess was founding his “New Left”.  The term was co-opted from the free speech and civil rights groups of the Sixties.  The only thing it has in common with the SDS and the Black Panthers is the name.  Hess’s “New Left” was only Goldwater conservatism dressed up in a hippie wig.

Barry Goldwater was the darling of the pro-Vietnam war faction of the United States.  As the governor of Arizona, he joined with Georgia governor Lester Maddox and Alabama governor George Wallace as champions of the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation.  The difference is that Goldwater was smarter than Maddox and Wallace and avoided racism in his rhetoric.  Goldwater’s entire rationalization against civil rights was based on the Federalist Papers.  That was the birth of the Libertarian movement.

The corporations had been taking a real beating since the FDR administration.  There were federal watchdog agencies seeing to it that they conducted themselves in an ethical manner.  There was no more selling on the margin for the stock brokerages, and the media could no longer pull con jobs on the public as Randolph Hearst so enjoyed doing.  Legally protected collective bargaining assured even the humblest American his share of the American dream. Jim Crow guaranteed that corporations would have an excess labor pool which kept wages low and profits high.  Civil rights destroyed that excess labor pool and removed wages from supply and demand.  Wages would be set through collective bargaining instead.

The corporations had a brilliant friend in Goldwater’s scriptwriter, Karl Hess.  He was a public relations expert who accurately predicted the rising popularity of Anarchy on the left.  I suspect it was because he worked for the Black Panthers after he left the Goldwater camp.  Hess came up with a “national anarchy” which was simply fascism with a new rhetoric.  It was a rhetoric based on the Federalist Papers where the listeners were encouraged to identify with the Founders of the United States.  It equated American freedom with free market capitalism.  It rewrote history to forget that President Jackson had to bust the monopolies in order to preserve freedom.  Hess promoted the myth of government spending as a means of preserving corporate profits and reducing the citizen’s ability to enforce corporate responsibility.

Human rights were reduced to the right to starve under a free market regime.  Under Hess’s New Left, families and churches were responsible for the poor.  Apparently Hess’s time with the Black Panthers failed to teach him that poor people generally have poor families, and anybody who walks through a major city will see how well the churches take care of the poor.  Hess also promoted the Protestant Work Ethic and blamed the poor for America’s failure to maintain a minimal standard of living.

The most surprising thing is that nobody equated Karl Hess’s New Left with the rhetoric Ronald Reagan used when he took the White House and handed the nation over to the multinational corporations.  The rhetoric was the same.  Simply put, both Reagan and the New Left claimed that we had no responsibility for the state of our nation and our economy.  We were supposed to let the mysterious force known as The Market Place take care of everything.  This is the same as the Christianoids saying “let go and let God”.

The New Left has grown into the Libertarian Party, but remains true to its roots in Goldwater Conservatism. The Libertarian solution to everything is to ignore our responsibilities to our nation and our fellow citizens and let the corporations do anything they want without limit.  Why they do this is found in the rhetoric that Libertarians use. We will look at this in tomorrow’s post.

Your Employer Will Become Your Health Agent

Your Employer Will Become Your Health Agent


5. Rampant Sexism

Early Heinlein Heroine

Early Heinlein Heroine

The world is changing and not even the Born Again Christians have been able to stem the tide of changing sex roles.  The steady decline in the standard of living have made the two salary household a necessity.  As Born Again Churches have to bow to this necessity, so does the Libertarian movement.  This does not mean that Libertarians have abandoned sexism.  Sexism is alive and well and living in the Libertarian movement today.  Only it is a sexism more in tune with today’s world than the ancient sexism in the Nazi Party… or is it?

Fascism has an element of hypocrisy which cannot be disguised.  While pretending to be progressive, fascism promotes reactionary principles.  Mussolini’s Corporationism pretended women’s suffrage while pandering to the Catholic Church and its misogynistic teachings.  German fascism outright admitted that women were for producing more soldiers.  Libertarians have to be a lot more subtle.

Libertarian sexism can be found in the works of Robert A. Heinlein.  The late Heinlein was a political reactionary of the Goldwater school.  This gave him much in common with Karl Hess. Hess was a professional Pubic Relations agent who had been Barry Goldwater’s speech writer.  Hess was one of the fathers of the Libertarian Movement.  Heinlein’s stories dovetailed perfectly with Hess’s “New Left” which rehabilitated Heinlein from a dangerous reactionary to a shining progressive.

Heinlein’s characterizations defined Libertarian sex roles.  His men were tall, strong, shot straight, and never asked the government for anything.  In his earlier works, his women all wanted to have babies. Then, in the early 1960s, Heinlein complicated his female characterization with Stranger in a Strange Land.  In that book, women could have multiple sex partners, but did so to satisfy a Martian cult leader.  Later works removed the religious angle but maintained the basic sexism. Homosexuality was mentioned but rarely portrayed.  Women ran their own businesses, but only to maintain their true role as baby machines.

Confusing political progressivism with sexual progressivism is the hallmark of Libertarian sexism.  It is also the hallmark of Libertarian class distinctions.  It is perfectly acceptable to screw like mad minks if you can afford to raise the babies.  If you cannot, then reproduction and sex itself is closed to you.  Wealth becomes an important part of the Libertarian sexual identity.  The main difference between European fascism and Libertarianism is the outright classism.  You are not fully a man or a woman unless you are wealthy.

Gays and Lesbians are granted equal rights with the same lack of interest that Libertarians give junkies. Libertarians do not accept gays and lesbians as true equals, and place them within the same lower class as poor people who cannot afford to raise children according to Libertarian standards, or drug addicts.  This is not to say that there are no gay or lesbian libertarians, but that gays and lesbians are not welcome into Libertarian society as full members.  Traditional ideas of sexual morality are maintained in Libertarian society.  The difference is that straight men have even more rights than anyone else.

An excellent example of this would be The Church of All Worlds.  CAW identifies itself as a Libertarian church based on the works of Robert A. Heinlein.  CAW encourages promiscuity amongst its members. Indeed, they discriminate against members who prefer to maintain an exclusive relationship.  Homosexuality amongst male CAW members simply does not happen. I have only heard of one male CAW member who identified as bisexual.  Bisexuality amongst females is encouraged as it is a turn on for the men.  Men certainly do not put on little sex shows for the women.  Full lesbians are not welcome amongst CAW.  After all, men have no power over lesbians.  I will be mentioning CAW again in the section about religion and fascism.

So that pretty much describes sex roles amongst Libertarians.  Men are straight-jacketed into traditional stereotypes, while women are now the mutual property of the men, and their sexual freedoms stop where the male sex fantasies end.  When you stop and think of it, Libertarians have a lot in common with Joseph Smith’s Mormon movement in the 19th Century.  Women are still seen as baby machines for the state. The main difference is that now women have to earn half the salaries and remain second class citizens and sex objects.

No Girls Allowed

No Girls Allowed