chapter  45
Abbie Hoffman
Pages 8

Abbie Hoffman's life brings into focus the turbulent and contradictory strains of 1960s radicalism: its attempt at fusing culture and politics and its ambivalence regarding such crucial tactical issues as violence vs. nonviolence, direct action vs. electoral politics, and reform vs. revolution. Hoffman's radicalism was rooted in the American experience. His activism encompassed, and often exacerbated, a dilemma that has always plagued the American left. How to reconcile the artistic, liberational, and transcendental agenda of a bohemian-influenced left (with its romantic call to youth of all ages) with the less spectacular, even dull, coalitionbuilding priorities of the programmatic left (with its more mundane, workaday, reformist agenda)? Abbie Hoffman's experience as an organizer reminds us that both perspectives must be cultivated, but that there is no easy way to end or nullify the dilemma.