Abbie Hoffman

I used to keep Abbie Hoffman quotes in a text-file as I came across them, and below is the collection I found on a backup disk.



A modern revolutionary group heads for the television station.

Avoid all needle drugs, the only dope worth shooting is Richard Nixon.

I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they killed, there would be no more wars.

I was probably the only revolutionary referred to as cute.

Once you get the right image the details aren’t that important.

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.

Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.

The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.

Peace is a very complicated concept. When the lion gobbles up the lamb and wipes his lips, then there’s peace. Well, I ain’t for that peace at all.

There is no such thing as an innocent bystander.

When decorum is repression, the only dignity free people have is to speak out.

Morality seems to enter the picture only when individuals interact with each other. It’s universally wrong to steal from your neighbor, but once you get beyond the one-to-one level and pit the individual against the multinational conglomerate, the federal bureaucracy, the modern plantation of agro-business, or the utility company, it becomes strictly a value judgment to decide who exactly is stealing from whom. One person’s crime is another person’s profit. Capitalism is license to steal; the government simply regulates who steals and how much.

I want to be tried not because I support the National Liberation Front — which I do — but because I have long hair. Not because I support the Black Liberation Movement, but because I smoke dope. Not because I am against a capitalist system, but because I think property eats shit. Not because I believe in student power, but that the schools should be destroyed. Not because I’m against corporate liberalism, but because I think people should do whatever the fuck they want, and not because I am trying to organize the working class, but because I think kids should kill parents. Finally, I want to be tried for having a good time and not being serious.

Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.

We are here to make a better world. No amount of rationalization or blaming can preempt the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on this planet. The lesson of the ’60s is that people who cared enough to do right could change history. We didn’t end racism but we ended legal segregation. We ended the idea that you could send half-a-million soldiers around the world to fight a war that people do not support. We ended the idea that women are second-class citizens. We made the environment an issue that couldn’t be avoided. The big battles that we won cannot be reversed. We were young, self-righteous, reckless, hypocritical, brave, silly, headstrong and scared half to death.  And we were right.

Life actors never rehearse and need no script. A life actor uses only what is available, nothing more, nothing less.

…you just get stoned, get the ideas in your head and then do ’em. And don’t bullshit. I mean that’s the thing about doin’ that guerrilla theatre. You be prepared to die to prove your point.

To steal from a brother or sister is evil. To not steal from the institutions that are the pillars of the Pig Empire is equally immoral.

There is absolutely no greater high than challenging the power structure as a nobody, giving it your all, and winning!

Wouldn’t you want to be indicted by the govenment for a high crime? It’s a great thrill. It’s an honor. It’s a compliment. It’s fun. I’m enjoying every minute of it!

It’s embarrassing when you try to overthrow the government and you wind up on the Best Seller’s List.

Free Speech is the right to yell ‘Theater!’ in a crowded fire.

So how do people ‘do democracy’? They do it by acting out the roles they always dreamed of playing.

Make war on machines, and in particular the sterile machines of corporate death and the robots that guard them. The duty of a revolutionary is to make love and that means staying alive and free. That doesn’t allow for cop-outs. Smoking dope and hanging up Che’s picture is no more a commitment than drinking milk and collecting postage stamps. A revolution of consciousness is an empty high without a revolution in the distribution of power.

You know that being on the side of the angels, being right, isn’t enough. To succeed you also have to work very hard with lots of cooperation from those around you. You have to have your wits about you continuously, show up on time, and follow through.

Murder in a uniform is heroic, in a costume it is a crime. False advertisements win awards, forgers end up in jail. Inflated prices guarantee large profits while shoplifters are punished. Politicians conspire to create police riots and the victims are convicted in the courts. Students are gunned down and then indicted by suburban grand juries as the trouble-makers. A modern, highly mechanized army travels 9,000 miles to commit genocide against a small nation of great vision and then accuses its people of aggression. Slumlords allow rats to maim children and then complain of violence in the streets. Everything is topsy-turvy.

We debate which “ism” is more important than which other “ism,” and I agree that all the isms lead to schisms which lead to wasms. We need a new language as we enter the next century.

The correct stance, especially now in these times, is one foot in the street – the foot of courage, that gets off the curbstone of indifference – and one foot in the system – the intelligent foot, the one that learns how to develop strategies, to build coalitions, to negotiate differences, to raise money, to do mailing lists, to make use of the electronic media. You need that foot, too. The brave foot goes out into the street to strike out against the enculturation process that says: “Stay indoors,” “Don’t go out in the street,” “There’s crime in the street,” “It’s bad in the street,” “You lose your job in the street,” “You’ll be homeless,” “It’s terrible,” ‘.’Yecch.” Civil disobedience – (I spent my summer vacation chained to a fence) – can be a necessary act of courage, but it doesn’t take a hell of a lot of brains.

I have never seen a national issue won that wasn’t based on grassroots organizing and support. On the other hand, I have never ever seen a local issue won that didn’t rely on outside support and outside agitators.

Above all, what you have as young people that’s vitally needed to make social change, is impatience. You want it to happen now. There have to be enough people that say, “We want it now, in our lifetime. ” We want to see apartheid in South Africa come down right now. We want to see the war in Central America stop right now. We want the CIA off our campus right now. We want an end to sexual harassment in our communities right now…. Be  adventurists in the sense of being bold and daring. Be opportunists andseize this opportunity, this moment in history, to go out and save our  country. It’s your turn now.

Understand that legal and illegal are political, and often arbitrary, categorizations; use and abuse are medical, or clinical, distinctions.

Abbie Hoffman: “I live in Woodstock Nation.”
Defense attorney: “Will you tell the court and the jury where it is?”
Hoffman: “”Yes, it is a nation of alienated young people. We carry it around with us as a state of mind, in the same way the Sioux Indians carry the Sioux Nation with them….”

It’s too late. We can’t win, they’ve gotten too powerful. (Purported suicide note)

“Abbie Hoffman is something akin to an American prophet.”-  President Jimmy Carter


1 Comment

  1. markonit

    …brilliant… simply brilliant… wouldn’t it be nice to have a young Abbie Hoffman coming up now..?


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