The Kochs and the Yippies


This morning Matt Welch noted a disputed anecdote in The Washingtonian's feature on the Cato/Koch battle. That's as good an opportunity as any to bring up another interesting anecdote in the same article:

When [Jeff] Riggenbach suggested recruiting '60s activist Abbie Hoffman for Cato's radio program, [Charles] Koch seemed surprised but didn't say what he thought. "Ed [Crane] had to tell me later how much Charles really hated the idea," Riggenbach says.

Nuh-uh, says Charles Koch, says Ed Crane, says Jeff Riggenbach, says THE WASHINGTONIAN.

Riggenbach tells me that he wasn't proposing this as a one-time thing: He thought Hoffman should be a regular. Several figures on the left, such as Julian Bond, did contribute regularly to the program, which consisted of a daily syndicated 90-second commentary.

People are sometimes surprised when you tell them that a Koch-funded publication gave a platform to Noam Chomsky (who later said the magazine was "the only journal I could publish in as long as it existed"), or that in the lead-up to the 1984 election, David Koch wanted the Libertarian Party to nominate Earl Ravenal, a foreign policy analyst associated with the leftist Institute for Policy Studies. Lord knows how they'd react if there had been an Abbie Hoffman connection too.

Elsewhere in Reason: I wrote about Hoffman here and chatted with Rick Perlstein about him here. I detailed the younger Kochs' links to the left here.

Elsewhere not in Reason: Read National Review's 1979 attack on Cato and the Kochs as some sort of pinko conspiracy here. And hey: Abbie Hoffman might have missed out on that Koch connection (as opposed to a coke connection), but his Yippie comrade Paul Krassner did pop up in the same mag that published Chomsky.

NEXT: Attention Portland, Oregon! Doherty talking Ron Paul's rEVOLution at Powell's on Burnside, Friday June 8 at 7:30 p.m.

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  1. I was at the 84 LP convention for the epic Ravenal vs. Bergland throw-down.
    That was so long ago I was still a teetotaler. Youth is wasted on the young.

  2. "Ed [Crane] had to tell me later how much Charles really hated the idea," Riggenbach says.

    Is there really any reason to take self-interested double hearsay at face value?

    1. It isn't hearsay that the idea was floated or that it was shot down. I suppose it's hearsay that Koch really hated it, but that isn't what I'm writing about.

      1. I suppose it's hearsay that Koch really hated it,

        Actually, double hearsay, as in "X says Y said that Z said ________."

        And if the point of the article isn't what Koch said about a Yippie, why is the headline "The Kochs and the Yippies"?

        If the article is about Cato outreach to leftish icons, why include the double hearsay at all?

        1. Because it's a blog post and not a court case? The rules of evidence are a tad looser.

          1. You're out of order, Penguin.

            1. Sustained. Please answer the question, BP. Briefly, if you don't mind.

            2. A Swedish friend of mine told me of a rather famous instance where a Swedish lawyer jumped to his feet and yelled, "I object." He'd been watching too much LA Law or something because such things don't exist in civil law, apparently.

        2. And if the point of the article isn't what Koch said about a Yippie, why is the headline "The Kochs and the Yippies"?

          You have confused "The Kochs and the Yippies" with "What a Koch Said About a Yippie."

          If the article is about Cato outreach to leftish icons, why include the double hearsay at all?

          Because it's in the passage that I'm riffing on.

          1. Don't mind RC's law addled brain.

            1. Hey, I just thought it was pretty gratuitous, especially given how shoddy the sourcing is.

              1. Hey, I just thought it was pretty gratuitous, especially given how shoddy the sourcing is.

                I have inserted a new alt-text, RC, just for you.

          2. OK but you are allowed to write contact@ForABetterCato.com to see it they can remember the event.

        3. You're just going to make yourself angry if you try to make sense of Reason's recent title and article choosing behavior. Believe me, I know.

          1. I kind of liked yesterday when Reason pretty much stole all of Drudge's links for all of its Wisconsin election coverage...

            Well except for Matt's piece.

  3. Famed LSD guru Timothy Leary was a libertarian. He even held a fundraiser for Ron Paul in 1988 at his home.

    From what I remember of my long ago reading of 'Steal This Book', Abbie Hoffman didn't distinctly come across as one -- but then again he certainly held a contempt for authority, like when he promoted a pig for president during the '68 Democratic convention.

    (Another story I recall, when he and some buddies dropped hundreds of dollar bills onto the floor of the NYSE, leading to a near riot/mad scramble, doesn't exactly come across pro-market but I suppose it could have just been a statement against corporatism.)

  4. I actually met Abbie Hoffman at some fluff class being taught by a Washinton Post columnist Coleman McCarthy.

    I was taking the seminar with another Physics major who was a complete and thorough Leninist (but really nice guy aside from his murderous philosophy).

    Hoffman talked about his campaign to force the Washington Metro open its platforms to the homeless, and Alex started arguing with him - using a Marxist rationale. IIRC the argument went along the lines that the people owned the subways and needed them to travel, that the homeless would interfere with this purpose, therefore a policy that put homeless on subway platforms was, in effect, ripping of the people for the good of the few.

    Hoffman and Alex sparred for a good 15 minutes, and every sally that Abbie made was expertly parried by Alex using impeccable Marxist cant. Abbie's face got redder and redder and finally he lost it: "Shut up! Just shut up!" he shrieked. "I forbid you to talk anymore! I forbid it!".

    Coleman McCarthy sat there smiling vacuously the whole time. Alex smirked, picked up his back-pack and walked out.

    When I heard a few months later that he had killed himself, I was unsurprised, the man I had met was full of anger and rage and was clearly very unhappy.

    1. I saw Hoffman speak twice. The first time, in 1984 I think, he was in good humor and had a lot of charisma. The second time, in 1987 or '88, he was filled with the bitterness and rage that you mention here. He killed himself in 1989.

      1. True story. I saw him in a debate in 1989 shortly before his death in a debate with G Gordon Liddy. Had a long and animated discussion with him about the morality of covert action after the debate. He killed himself like two weeks later. My friends all said I was the guy who drove him over the edge.

        1. THAT'S A CONFESSION!!!!!111!!!!!

          J'ACCUSE JOHN!

        2. So MNG wasn't the first.

          1. No. And I was much worse then than even now.

            1. Then there's no doubt you drove Hoffman over the edge.

              1. Those who knew me best all agreed.

        3. "My friends all said I was the guy who drove him over the edge."

          Christ John, no one here has a hard time buying that. We can empathize with Hoffman.


        4. My friends all said I was the guy who drove him over the edge.

          This anecdote says everything you need to know about John, he's such an off-putting cunt that even his "friends" think he drove someone to suicide, and he's proud of that.

          Then, because he's so proud of being an asshole, and so arrogant that he thinks people care, he decides to share the anecdote.

          We know you're a self important, boring asshole. You don't need to pile on any more proof.

          1. If John commits suicide in the next two weeks, I'm blaming you.

            1. If it comes, I'll shoulder that burden.

          2. He's so boring that you write long diatribes trashing him. Or is your life even more boring than John allegedly is?

          3. Ah Someone is butt hurt. Got a new alias there Mary.

          4. Mary,

            Abbie volunteered to engage someone who disagreed with him in a public debate. It wasn't like John was harassing him and putting libelous notes about pedophilia in his neighbors' mailboxes.

            If you have a heart condition, and you put on the cleats and trot out on the pitch, the guy who you were trying to outsprint when your heart gives out is *not* responsible for your death.

        5. Sooo....

          Is the whole reason hit and run crowd connected by Hoffman's pre-suicide days?

          No wonder I always felt left out.

          EAST COAST SUCKS!!!

  5. I think a lot of people of the post baby boom generation confuse the beats with the New Left that came later. The Beats and the original hippies were not boomers. They were like nearly everyone who made a cultural impact in the 1950s and 60s of the silent generation. And they really were libertarians in many ways. People like Ken Kesey and Kaurac and even Tim Leery were the kind of people Libertarians could do business with.

    The boomers who followed them and are mostly now identified with the hippie movement were not. They were the government loving totalitarian bastards that make up the left today. Sadly they stole the hippie brand from the much more noble people who invented it.

    1. In my mind, that dichotomy is personified by Hunter Thompson vs. Gary Trudeau.

      1. Yeah, nice example.

    2. I dig some Paul Krassner too. Kesey, Hunter Thompson, Leary, et al represent a culturally significant intersection between beats, free-speech movement, hippies, and the infancy of Libertarianism. Unfortunately, by the end of the 1970's this volatile mix had been sorted into born-again conservatives, and liberal statists.

    3. Wow John, you really nailed that one. I am saving that one. Dont be surprised if you get a thank you card from my wife who has been saying the same thing for years.

    4. Even with the high standards you have set, that is possibly the worst spelling of Kerouac ever.

  6. Well, "Byline" did have Nicholas von Hoffman as a regular, so that must've been the compromise.

    Gotta say, though, that the consensus at the time was that the inclusion of Julian Bond as a regular was so stations would carry "Byline" without the FCC catching on that it was intended as a mostly libertarian program. That was still in the days of the Fairness Doctrine. So by having a little bit of Julian Bond, they made it so they wouldn't have to have a lot of material like his.

    The only time I met Abbie was at the Laissez Faire Supper Club of Manhattan. I liked how he referred to the Daily News and Post as, respectively, Zingo and Wingo, after their lottery games.

    1. At least that's how I recall John Fund (part of the "Byline" stable since he was a student living in San Francisco) explaining it a short while later. Or maybe it was Chris Hocker or Dave Boaz or someone else associated with CATO explaining why "Byline" had such a statist as Julian Bond. They already had Nicholas von Hoffman and occasional others they could claim as "liberal" to fill out the "liberal, conservative, and libertarian perspectives" the show's intro advertised; so I guess they needed a real authoritarian for some semblance of balance.

      Oh, and BTW, "Byline" had Steven Chapman too. So what's H y R's excuse?

      1. Quoting something Riggenbach wrote on an email list a while back: "people like Von Hoffman, Hentoff, and Howard Jarvis...occasionally said something unlibertarian in their commentaries. They didn't do it very often; they had been chosen in part because they could be counted upon to take positions that were mostly unobjectionable to libertarians. But now and then, they said something unlibertarian. I felt that we needed to keep the bigger picture in mind. It was people like Jarvis, Hentoff, and Von Hoffman who got our program on the air, and once it was on the air, people could hear me, Ed Crane, and Joan Taylor, too. It was a trade-off."

        I presume that Julian Bond was also selected as someone who would be more or less libertarian on the issues that he spoke about, even if he wasn't a libertarian on other issues. The only Byline contribution of his that I've read was an entirely unobjectionable commentary denouncing apartheid.

        1. I don't remember that one from Julian Bond, probably because stuff like that is so bland in a society where practically everyone would denounce apartheid. I just remember Julian Bond's making practically nothing but anti-freedom statements in his Bylines. Everyone else I thought was better than a fair trade-off, because their interests led them nearly always to agree with libertarians on the things they spoke about, while they could still be identified as "liberal" or "conservative" (come to think of it, that was about the idea of Inquiry magazine too), but Julian Bond seemed to be a severe outlier.

  7. Wait, Jeff Riggenbach wanted to put Abbie Hoffman on Cato Radio? The same Riggenbach who is part of the Auburn gang that claims moral authority to arbitrate who is and is not a True Libertarian?? That Riggenbach?

    1. Is he like that these days? Seems every libertarian gets to that point some time or other, but most don't stay in that phase too long. Sheesh, It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand seems to be all about that. Even the ones who preach inclusion seem to have a mental reserv'n when they do so, thinking, "But of course I don't mean you'd count these over here as libertarian."

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