Abbie Hoffman explains the Free Stores
- Interviewer: So you thought of your appearance down on Wall Street as a kind of confrontation?
- Abbie Hoffman: Sure. Your very dress, your being was a confrontation. A deliberate confrontation. And an affirmation of a spirit, of an art, of a more humane kind of existence. Cooperation versus competition. We didn't have to spell out our ideology because it was pretty clear if you followed our acts, and if you tried to make all the intellectual connections, you'd find plenty of theory. We had utopian visions, like "abolish money" was big. And "abolish work." We were anti-work, anti-money. So the throwing out of money at Wall Street would fit into that. You could say that we were anti-capitalists, which we were, but we didn't have an "ism.' We had the idea of "free.' We kept putting across the idea that it all should be free, since our society's so rich. We had free stores, and you could just go in and take all the clothes you wanted. Free food in the park. Free poems and free rock concerts. The idea was that we were living in "post-scarcity.' We had great affluence in that period, as a society. So we should be working towards full unemployment, we should be working towards a society with more quality time. Why work for full-employment? It's boring. Well, of course, because people need money. Well, we're so rich we're just going to divide up the wealth. People have a right to medical care, free medical care, which we all provided on the Lower East Side. We had various institutions that acted as models for a while, as long as we could sustain them. When you'd see a store that says "free store,' you could come on in and have anything you want with your good looks. No shoplifting allowed. And people would come in and dump all their junk, and we'd have other people sorting it out. We were building a community of maybe forty or fifty thousand, in New York, on the Lower East Side.