Of course I have encountered several diverse voices over the years that have influenced me in various ways, but there are a select few that have strongly shaped my specific perspective/philosophy. With that being said, technically my environment has been my biggest influence, but just for fun here’s some real people in no particular order.
Bill Hicks: Biting, caustic social/political satire. Love KO Fear!
Noam Chomsky: Dissent of mainstream American media and American foreign (as well as domestic) policy. Basic anarchist ideas such as the necessity of the state to justify its actions or it should be dismantled.
Rage Against the Machine: Perhaps my oldest influence; their music drew me to such topics and increased my cynicism/hatred for the American government. They also led me to discover Chomsky.
John Lennon: “Give Peace a Chance” :)
Howard Zinn: Brought new meaning to the words “history,” “patriotism,” and “resistance,” for me. Helped me understand that the people on the bottom rung of society make the fundamental changes and not those on top.
Ralph Nader: It is possible to create change within the system and run honest campaigns, even if you don’t win them! Often refer to him for current politics.
Timothy Leary: Fantastic propagandist and overall champion of social change through new ways of experimentation.
The Yippies!: Chiefly Abbie Hoffman (right) and Jerry Rubin (left). Their wacky/bizarre media tactics and dissection of Amerika has been one of my biggest influences on both my writing and philosophy. I adore the equal importance of fun and revolution. After all, how can you have liberation without some kind of joy?
Hunter S. Thompson: Sarcastic social commentary; major influence on my own writing/sense of humor and early social/political influence.
Malcolm X: Provided with the great insight into the hardships of blacks in America and how we raped them of their culture. This doesn’t mean I can relate to this personally, but it does offer me a perspective and has shaped my opinions on these matters. His speeches, writings, etc. have also stood as great examples of how to make an argument with integrity and also how what the institution teaches you is usually false with the complete opposite intent. So, for Malcolm it was White is NOT right and Black is beautiful. For me it’s the media’s purpose is to (Mis)inform the public.
Emma Goldman: The beauty and basic principles of Anarchism.
Dave Dellinger: One of the greatest models of a nonviolent revolutionary; he was the American Gandhi. Stressed the importance of love and social justice in all movements. I’m proud to say one of the most inspiring Americans shares the same hometown as me!
Jello Biafra: Culture Jam! Pranksterism. Perhaps some of my first glimpses at anarchism. Similar to Yippies! but with more serious objectives: Anti-War, end War On Drugs, and so much more. Like Chomsky, Nader, and others, Jello is one of my key political references. For many that probably sounds frightening haha!
Judge James P. Gray: I owe much of the factual basis for my arguments for bringing down this filthy machine known as the War on Human Rights, excuse me, excuse me, I mean the War on (certain!) Drugs to my boy Jim. My views on this topic were basically already there, but I can sharply back them up with the help of the judge’s wise and so obviously reasonable suggestions. Since, he falls from the center-right on the political spectrum, he and I would more than likely disagree on a host of issues. With that being said, he is spot on with his indictment of our current prohibition and I highly recommend his book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It.
Mumia Abu-Jamal: His strikingly accurate views on a plethora of issues, particularly race relations and constant investigation of this corrupt and sick government. His story serves as one of the best arguments for how fucked up our criminal/prison system really is. FREE MUMIA NOW!
Steve Albini: Tearing down major labels and any other faggedy artist in sight in the most offensive way. Merciless satire at its finest!
Ian Mackaye: DIY Punk Ethic/Aesthetic. You can’t put a dollar sign on your art and if you do then you should be in a different business!
Jerry on the left and Abbie on the right. Both men were Revolutionary Yippies! in the 1960s, but who is cooler?
Hoffman was funnier
Rubin was zanier
Hoffman wrote more books including the incendiary Steal This Book
Rubin’s Do iT! is the best Yippie! book and far more colorful (plenty of pics, many displaying nude babes), wacky, and radical than any of Abbie’s, though his contain similar elements.
Hoffman staged more pranks: Throwing money over the New York Stock Exchange, levitating the Pentagon
Rubin was arguably more militant or “freakier.” He considered Charles Manson an inspiration and even chatted with him for hours in prison.
Hoffman was a member of SNCC in his early days
Rubin was active in the Free Speech Movement in his early days, though he made some Civil Rights protests as well
Hoffman wore an inverted Amerikan flag on his shirt
Rubin wore the Viet Cong (he spelled it Kong) flag on his shirt
Hoffman heard Castro speak
Rubin personally met him (if I’m not mistaken)
Hoffman has several biographies of him and including his own as well as an entertaining biopic called Steal This Movie
Rubin once stormed the halls of Congress half nude, dressed up in American Revolutionary attire, complete with war paint and ammunition, albeit a toy gun!
Hoffman along with Jefferson Airplane singer, Grace Slick once attempted to slip a hit of LSD into president Nixon’s coffee, but they never made it inside the White House
Rubin became a yuppie when the war ended: stockbroker, businessman,etc.
Hoffman was forced underground and became an environmentalist, when he rose above ground he continued his activism with the War On Drugs, and the CIAs sadistic, murderous involvement in Latin America as major targets
Well, I could go on and on here. Basically, both men were heroic and should be revered for their tactics, ideals, and for making revolution fun. So, who wins?……………
Abbie! because he never sold out and more importantly because of his unique form of media manipulation, which ultimately led to social change and gave people some laughs (or the jitters!).
Here’s some history in motion; this is Abbie right before the Chicago Democratic National Convention protests which culminated in him and seven others (including Rubin) being tried and convicted (though the decision was eventually reversed) for conspiracy to incite riots at the Convention:
And here’s just a classic Jerry Rubin moment:
Changes come from the bottom, not the top. As everyone knows, Obama championed the vague concept of “change” to the American people throughout his campaign. And of course everyone ate it up because eight years of a right wing war criminal in office will do serious brain damage to you. So, people wanted a Democrat to fuck things up once again. Anyway, as history demonstrates major societal changes, such as severely kicking racism square in the pills (though it’s alive and well and still needs ass whooping)come through the struggles of everyday people and then the elites react to it. Your history and government textbooks want you to believe the opposite: the elitists, like the Supreme Court randomly decided to battle racism and end legal segregation in the South. Yes, it’s true that that wasn’t the top priority for the majority of America, but as Abbie Hoffman once stated, “You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.” Well, the black rights and civil rights activists, such as Richard Wright and Rosa Parks, and countless others were the “dissidents” and the American people were the “assimilated conformists.” In simple terms, democracy is everyone’s opportunity to participate and have a major influence in the political process. Not mob rule as school an TV have led you to believe. So, the very idea that Obama will clean up the mess of the Bush Administration and previous administrations through health care reform, abortion reform, etc. is absurd. The social ills affecting everyone, particularly the poverty stricken people he doesn’t care that much about, cannot be obliterated through reforms because reforms imply that the system is well intentioned and good, but needs some tidying up. WRONG! you never hear a politician say “we’re doing our best to reform rape” or “With our new program we plan to seriously reform child abuse.” Of course not! because we want to ABOLISH the evils of rape and child abuse. In short, we don’t need reforms, we need changes…. but don’t look to your pal Barry for that, look to one another and create some real dialogue.