snowballs chance hell

Jerry Rubin

Jerry Rubin (July 14, 1938November 28, 1994) was a high-profile, left-wing American social activist during the 1960s and 1970s. He became a successful businessman in the 1980s.


Rubin attended Cincinnati's well-known Walnut Hills High School, co-editing the school newspaper, The Chatterbox and graduating in 1956. While in high school Rubin began to write for the Cincinnati Post, compiling sports scores from high school games. He later went on to graduate from the University of Cincinnati, receiving a degree in sociology. Rubin attended the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964, but dropped out to focus on social activism.

Early life

Rubin was the son of a bread delivery man and union representative. Born in Cincinnati, Rubin grew up in the then-upscale Avondale neighborhood. Rubin's parents died within 10 months of each other, leaving Rubin the only person to take care of his younger brother, Gil, who was 13 at the time. Jerry wanted to teach Gil about the world and decided to take him to India. When relatives threatened to fight to obtain custody of Gil, based on his plans to go abroad with his brother, Jerry decided to take his brother to Tel-Aviv instead. Gil learned Hebrew, later decided to stay in Israel and moved to a kibbutz.

Social activism

Rubin began to demonstrate on behalf of various left-wing causes after dropping out of Berkeley. Jerry's first protest was in Berkeley, protesting the refusal of a local grocer to hire African Americans. Soon Rubin was leading protests of his own.

Rubin organized the VDC (Vietnam Day Committee), led some of the first protests against the war in Vietnam, and was a cofounder of the Yippies (Youth International Party) with Abbie Hoffman, and Pigasus, the pig who would be president. He played an instrumental role in the disruption of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Along with seven others (Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, John Froines, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, and Tom Hayden; Bobby Seale was part of the original group, but his case wound up being tried separately), Rubin was put on trial for conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting a riot.

Julius Hoffman was the presiding judge. The defendants were commonly referred to as the "Chicago Seven" (after Seale's exclusion). The defendants turned the courtroom into a circus and although five of the seven remaining defendants were found guilty of inciting a riot, the convictions were later overturned on appeal.


Jerry Rubin's anti-establishment beliefs were put down in writing in his book, DO IT!: Scenarios of the Revolution, (Simon and Schuster, 1970, ISBN 0-671-20601-X), with an introduction by Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver and unconventional design by Quentin Fiore. In 1971 his journal, written while incarcerated in the Cook County Jail, was published under the title We are Everywhere, (Harper & Row, ISBN 06-090245-0). The book includes an inside view of the trial of the Chicago Seven, but otherwise focuses on the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, LSD, women's liberation and his view of a coming revolution. In 1976, Rubin wrote another book entitled "Growing (Up) at Thirty-Seven," which contained a chapter narrating his experience at an Erhard Seminars Training (EST) that was later included in the reader "American Spiritualities." "Growing (Up) at Thirty-Seven" is described as "tracing his personal odyssey from radical activist of the 60's to a practitioner in the growth potential movements of the 70's."

  • Do It! was also the inspiration for a track of the same name on the 1972 Aphrodite's Child album 666.

Success as a capitalist

After the Vietnam War ended, Rubin became an entrepreneur and businessman. He was an early investor in Apple Computer.

In the 1980s he embarked on a debating tour with Abbie Hoffman entitled "Yippie versus Yuppie." Rubin's argument in the debates was that activism was hard work, that abuse of drugs, sex and private property had made the counter-culture "a scary society in itself," and that "wealth creation is the real American revolution—what we need is an infusion of capital into the depressed areas of our country." A political cartoon of the time showed two sketches of Rubin—first as a hippie, wearing a button that said "Chicago 7" and then as a businessman in a suit, wearing a button that said "S&P 500."

Rubin's differences with Hoffman were on principle rather than personal. When Hoffman died in 1989, Rubin was one of two members of the Chicago Seven to attend his funeral, the other being David Dellinger.


On November 14, 1994, Rubin jaywalked on Wilshire Boulevard, near UCLA in Los Angeles, California, while on his way to dinner with his fiancée. It was a weekday evening and, as usual, traffic was heavy, with three lanes in each direction. A car swerved to miss Rubin, and a second car (immediately behind the first) was unable to avoid him. He was taken to the UCLA Medical Center, where he died 14 days later, never having regained consciousness. He is interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.


"I am a child of America. If ever I'm sent to Death Row for my revolutionary 'crimes', I'll order as my last meal: a hamburger, french fries and a coke."

"What would happen if the white ideological Left took power? The hippie streets would be the first cleaned up by the 'socialist' pigs. We'd be forced to get haircuts and shaves every week. We'd have to bathe every night, and we'd go to jail for saying dirty words. Sex, except to produce children for the revolution, would be illegal. Psychedelic drugs would be capital crimes and beer drinking mandatory. Rock dancing would be taboo, and mini-skirts, Hollywood movies and comic books illegal."

"I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on TV."

“His words and courage inspired us" - Rubin wrote concerning Charles Manson in his book, We Are Everywhere.

Other appearances

Jerry Rubin appeared in the 2002 British documentary by Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self. He appears in episode part 3 of 4 This segment of the video discusses the Est Training in great detail, and includes interviews with New York Times columnist Jesse Kornbluth, Werner Erhard, and Est graduate John Denver. Jerry Rubin himself was a graduate of Erhard Seminars Training.

Rubin also appeared on Saturday Night Live's second episode of its first season (in one of the few comedic moments in a show almost entirely devoted to a Paul Simon musical performance). He was announced as "Jerry Rubin, Leader of the Yippie Movement." His sketch is a fake commercial for wallpaper featuring famous protest slogans from the 1960's and 1970's (i.e., "Make Love, Not War", "Off The Pig!", "Give Peace A Chance", "Hell, No, We Won't Go!", etc). He ends the sketch by parodying a famous radical slogan as "Up against the wall-paper, motherfuckers!" (with the last word bleeped out). The fake commercial was later played in a few other first season episodes.

In the motion picture about Abbie Hoffman, Steal This Movie, Rubin was portrayed by Kevin Corrigan.

External links


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