Jerry Rubin: Counter Culture Capitalist

“Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.” —Frederic Bastiat

During the 60’s a number of anti-establishment groups emerged. Protesting anything from the Vietnam War to social and political norms. One of the most high profile was the Youth International Party. More commonly known as the “The Yippi Movement”, founded by Jerry Rubin (July 14, 1938-November 28, 1994), Abbie Hoffman, Anita Hoffman, Nancy Kurshan and Paul Krassner.

The Yippi’s proselytized a haphazard ideology based on: Libertarian Socialism, Anarcho-Communism, Green anarchism,  free love and communal living.  As a result  the Yippi’s would resort to stunts and spectacles to attract followers. Jerry Rubin who wrote the Yippi manifesto Do It. Played a key role in these public  displays. which included:  Forming human chains to stop trains shipping troops to Vietnam. Throwing money over traders at the New York stock exchange and nominating a pig for president.

Rubin stated in Do It : “TV time goes to those with the most guts and imagination. I never understood the radical who comes on TV in a suit and tie. Turn off the sound and he could be the mayor! The words may be radical, but the television is a non-verbal instrument! The way to understand TV is to shut off the sound. No one remembers any words they hear; the mind is a Technicolor movie of images, not words. I’ve never seen “bad” coverage of a demonstration. It makes no difference what they say about us. The picture is the story.”

Rubin would implement these ideas in a lot of his public appearances. Leading to live  arguments on television and testifying before congress wearing a Revolutionary War costume and brandishing a toy gun. By 1972, Rubin left the public eye and remerged. Surprisingly as a Wall street trader and a early investor in Apple Computer. Rubin even took part in a series of debates against former Yippi ally Abby Hoffman. Defending capitalism by arguing that abuse of Drugs, sex and private property. Had undermined any legitimate points of the Yippi movement. Also stressing that “Wealth creation is the real American Revolution”.

In his memoir Growing Up At Thirty Seven, Rubin explains his transformation:

“In the movement of the sixties we were guilty of many of the things we were fighting against in America. We were male chauvinists, we competed, we were entranced by the mystique of violence, we glorified youth, we lost touch with our bodies, we oversimplified reality, we became images to each other while playing the theater of protest. We OD’d on our own energy, demonstrated, screamed, pushed ourselves to exhaustion, and needed a rest to catch our breath. We lost control of our own energy. We manipulated ourselves into premature confrontations with men who used guns and brute force. We needed to stop-and look. It is vital for us to go inward and see how similar we are to the society and the parents against whom we are protesting. Changes cannot be made on the political level alone, or the society we are changing will be repeated. We must examine our own process.”

Rubin’s emphasis of self mastery, is refreshing to say the least . History is littered with “Anti-Establishment” movements, that became as bad or worse than what preceded it. Rubin continued to invest and by the early 90’s was a multimillionaire. Who had helped propel a number of businesses. I hope others can follow Rubin’s example, and look to the business sphere instead of the political sphere to challenge the status quo.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Jakob Renner

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