Open main menu

Abbie Hoffman

American political and social activist
There is absolutely no greater high than challenging the power structure as a nobody, giving it your all, and winning.

Abbott Howard "Abbie" Hoffman (30 November 193612 April 1989) was a social and political activist in the United States, co-founder of the Youth International Party ("Yippies"), and later, a fugitive from the law, who lived under an alias following a conviction for dealing cocaine.

QuotesEdit

 
Harsher penalties, urine testing, hysteria, budget cuts and the simplistic "Just Say No!' campaign (the equivalent of telling manic depressives to "just cheer up") have returned drug education and treatment to the Reefer Madness era.
  • The first duty of a revolutionist is to get away with it. The second duty is to eat breakfast. I ain't going.
    • Spoken to police immediately prior to his arrest at the Lincoln Hotel Restaurant in Chicago (August 1968), quoting himself in "Creating the Perfect Mess" (1 September 1968) in Revolution for the Hell of It (1968); also quoted in Abbie Hoffman : American Rebel (1992) by Marty Jezer.
  • All you kiddies remember to lay off the needle drugs, the only dope worth shooting is Richard Nixon.
    • "God Bless America — Shoot Nixon", on the spoken word album Wake Up America! (1970).
  • In this state, dig it, you get twenty years for sale of dope to a minor. You only get five to ten for manslaughter. So like, the thing is, if you're selling to a kid and cops come, shoot the kid real quick!
    • "Chicago", on the spoken word album Wake Up America! (1970).
  • I feel like a famous Indian Chief of the Fagowee nations, who led his tribe for 40 years in the desert amidst starvation, hunger, famine, strife, plague — finally staggered up to the top of this mountain, drug crazed, looked out and pounded his chest and said, "Where the fuck are we? Where the fuck are we?"
    • Wake Up America! (1970).
  • If this guy is God, then this is the God that the United States of America deserves.
  • For six years, the only consistent thing about our national drug policy has been its inconsistency. Harsher penalties, urine testing, hysteria, budget cuts and the simplistic "Just Say No!' campaign (the equivalent of telling manic depressives to "just cheer up") have returned drug education and treatment to the Reefer Madness era.
  • You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.
    • Tikkun (July-August 1989); also quoted in The Best Liberal Quotes Ever : Why the Left is Right (2004) by William P. Martin, p. 51.
  • I see Judaism as a way of life. Sticking up for the underdog. Being an outsider. A critic of society. The kid on the corner who says the emperor has no clothes on. The Prophet.
    • Tikkun (July-August 1989).
  • In the nineteen-sixties, apartheid was driven out of America. Legal segregation — Jim Crow — ended. We didn't end racism, but we ended legal segregation. We ended the idea that you can send a million soldiers ten thousand miles away to fight in a war that people do not support. We ended the idea that women are second-class citizens. Now, it doesn't matter who sits in the Oval Office. But the big battles that were won in that period of civil war and strife you cannot reverse. We were young, we were reckless, arrogant, silly, headstrong … and we were right! I regret nothing!
    • Closing words from his last speech, Vanderbilt University (April 1989).
  • It's embarrassing when you try to overthrow the government and you wind up on the Best Seller's List.
    • On the success of his book, Steal This Book, as quoted in Steal This Book Too!‎ (2004) by Sean Curtis.
  • 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.
    • The "Steal Yourself Rich" Book (1971), p. v.
  • Nostalgia is a form of depression both for a society and an individual.
    • Bye-Bye Sixties, Hollywood-Style, Square Dancing in the Ice Age (1982).

Revolution for the Hell of It (1968)Edit

  • I can only related to Chicago as a personal anarchist, a revolutionary artist. If that sounds egotistical, tough shit. My concept of reality comes from what I see, touch, and feel, The rest, as far as I'm concerned, didn't happen. If it did, so what, then it happened. Great! I am my own leader I make my own rules. The revolution is whereever my boots hit the ground. If the Left considers this adventurism, fuck 'em, they are a total bureaucratic bore.
    • On To Chicago (August 25-30,1968)
  • THE KEY TO ORGANIZING AN ALTERNATIVE SOCIETY IS TO ORGANIZE PEOPLE AROUND WHAT THEY CAN DO AND MORE IMPORTANTLY WHAT THEY WANT TO DO.
    • p. 135.
  • You ask, "What about the innocent bystanders?" But we are in a time of revolution. If you are a bystander, you are not innocent.
    • p. 183.
  • TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
    • p. 184.
  • The best way to educate oneself is to become part of the revolution.
    • p. 184.
  • I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they killed, there would be no more wars.
    • p. 187.
  • The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.
    • p. 188.

Woodstock Nation (1969)Edit

  • In Woodstock Nation there are no writers*mdash;only poet-warriors.
    • Landing a Man on the Earth Without the Help of Norman Mailer
  • I think this is a pile of shit, while John Sinclair rots in prison.
  • WOODSTOCK NATION is built on ELECTRICITY. It is our energy, music, politics, school, religion, play, battleground and our sensuality. I hesitate only in using the word Morality, for Morality means soul and ELECTRICITY lack soul but so too does the wood pen I scratch against the yellow pad. Morality rests in God's imagination and if we see ourselves as gods I guess we alone make those choices. Moral decisions never rest in our tools, be they electricity or pencils, flowers, or guns.
  • One tries not to be cynical; after all, they are jumping around on the fuckin moon and no matter what you think of PIG NATION, you have to admit that it dies have a good special effects department.
    • Moonshine
  • Some day we too will fly off in some communal capsule, Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Hippies, liberated women, young workers on the line, and G.I.'s sitting in stockades because they don't want to go to Vietnam. There will be a whole mess of us laughing and getting stoned on our way to OUTERSPACE, and the first thing we're gonna do out there is to rip down that fuckin flag on the moon.
    • Moonshine
  • God, I'd like to fuck Janis Joplin!!
    • Down on Me and Janis Joplin
  • The Beatles may be more popular than Jesus but heavy cats like Chairman Mao, Uncle Ho, and beautiful long-haired Che Guevara are more popular than The Beatles.
    • Down on Me and Janis Joplin
  • LONG LIVE THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION!
    • Down on Me and Janis Joplin
  • It's July fifteenth, 2 a.m. on a farm somewhere in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It's a beautiful warm night, filled with a starry blue sky waiting for the astronauts to violate its silence. Lying on your back you can look up and repeat all the old hippy cliches to yourself about dropping out and heading for the country. Why not? After all, on a clear night i New York City up on my roof I can sometimes see two stars and Anita jokes about how they must be attached to a long electric wire that comes out of the Con Ed building across the street, for there are no clear nights in New York. There is an underground newspaper conference going on at the farm. It's a good place to start describing some of the changes that have gone down in the hop community over the past few years. For the underground press is the molder and chronicler of the amorphous body of long -haired freaks you see sticking their tongue out at you in the TV news at night or luring your daughter to a rock-and-roll dance in the park.
    • Death to the Pigs Who Invade Our Land
  • Your universities teach you to be eternal cynics, a cynicism that can be only drowned in alcohol and diet pills and psychoanalysts and golf. Forget your cynicism. There is not one who has more respect for life than a revolutionist.
    • Che's Last Letter
  • For a revolution, in order to be a true revolution, must be a world revolution. To achieve that world revolution, you the children of the Yankees must lend a hand. You must vomit forth your cynicism in the streets of your cities. You must mount an unrelenting attack on everything the bastards that rule your country hold dear. You must refuse to serve in their armies, you must reject the heroin offered in their universities, you must become clogs in their productive machines.
    • Che's Last Letter
  • Every group was broke cause the liberal bulge that used to support most radical causes was off on some other trip, playing around with anti-ABM campaigns and sending food to Biafra. Even though they wept and shed some blood in the streets of Chicago, they were gone for good - gone with their money. Our revolution was becoming too radical or crazy or violent or young. We were fuckin up their cocktail parties and it mattered not the blood we were shedding or the growing fascism in the country. New ways had to be found to get bread cause the days of the mailings and benefits were over. In fact, for the Yippies, they had never even begun.
    • The Great Rip Off
  • It's in those moments that you start to think about being white and male and over thirty and too smart for your own fuckin good. You start to get pretty down in the dumps sometimes. Besides, every group was into calling the other an imposter and fights were breaking out all over the place. The left was moving into Stalinism and the hippies were moving to the country (as usual). It was mighty lonely on the fence.
    • The Great Rip Off

Steal This Book (1971)Edit

 
The duty of a revolutionary is to make love and that means staying alive and free.
  • It's perhaps fitting that I write this introduction in jail.
    • Introduction.
  • 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-buinsess, or the utility company, it becomes strictly a value judgement to decide exactly who is stealing from whom. One person's crime is another person's profit. Capitalism is license to steal; the government simply regulates who steals an how much. I always wanted to put together an outlaw handbook that would help raise consciousness on these points while doing something about evening the score. There was also the challenge of testing the limits of free speech.
    • Introduction
  • 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.
    • Introduction, p. iv.
  • Your body is just one in a mass of cuddly humanity. 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. 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 in consciousness is an empty high without a revolution in the distribution of power.
    • Introduction, p. v.
  • Usually when you ask somebody in college why they are there, they'll tell you it's to get an education. The truth of it is, they are there to get the degree so that they can get ahead in the rat race. Too many college radicals are two-timing punks.
    • "Free Education".
  • Those who say a demonstration should be concerned with education rather than theater don't understand either and will never organize a successful demonstration, or for that matter, a successful revolution.
    • "Demonstration"
  • Dealing, although dangerous, is a tax-free way of surviving even though it borders on work.
    • "Free Dope"
  • Amerika is just another Latin dictatorship. Those who have doubts should try the minimal experience of organizing a large rock festival in their state, sleeping on some beach in the summer or wearing a flag shirt. Ask the blacks what it's been like living under racism and you'll get a taste of the future we face. As the repression increases so will the underground - deadly groups of stoned revolutionaries sneaking around at night and balling all day.
  • It's ridiculous to talk about a revolution without a few words on guns. If you haven't been in the army or done some hunting, you probably have a built in fear against guns that can only be overcome by familiarizing yourself with them.

Soon to be a Major Motion Picture (1980)Edit

 
A modern revolutionary group heads for the television station, not the factory. It concentrates its energy on infiltrating and changing the image system.
  • My critique of democracy begins and ends with this point. Kids must be educated to disrespect authority or else democracy is a farce.
    • p. 64.
  • A modern revolutionary group heads for the television station, not the factory. It concentrates its energy on infiltrating and changing the image system.
    • p. 86
  • Free speech is the right to shout "Theater!" in a crowded fire.
    • p. 214.
  • There is absolutely no greater high than challenging the power structure as a nobody, giving it your all, and winning. I think I've learned that lesson twice now. The essence of successful revolution, be it for an individual, a community of individuals, or a nation, depends on accepting that challenge.
    • p. 297.
  • 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.
    • p. 297.


DisputedEdit

  • I was probably the only revolutionary referred to as cute.
    • Cited as being in Soon to be a Major Motion Picture (1980) p. 222, this does not appear accessible for verification in online scans of this book. So someone needs to go to the library.

The quote is "I was probably the only professed revolutionary ever referred to as "cute." It is on the page cited. I have a copy of the book.


MisattributedEdit

  • Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.
    • This has been attributed to Hoffman by referencing The New York Times (20 April 1989), but that article (Section A, Page 16) actually says "But the Rabbi also quoted one of Mr. Hoffman's favorite sayings: 'Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.'" This statement doesn't attribute the saying to Hoffman, but only says it was a favorite and presumably he used it repeatedly.
    • An earlier version is "Sacred cows make great hamburgers", recorded as an anonymous saying in Encyclopedia of Graffiti (1974) by Robert George Reisner and Lorraine Wechsler.
    • There are earlier instances of essentially this quote. In the form "Sacred cows make the best hamburger" it appeared in October 1965 in a student newspaper at Pennsylvania State University, The Daily Collegian, saying it was borrowed from Aardvark magazine, according to the Quote Investigator blog.


External linksEdit