The counterculture movement of the 1960s did not always present a united front politically. Many who embraced the peaceful elements of the hippie lifestyle were not especially anxious to confront the 'system' head on. Other factions, such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), were often all too ready to use physical force and the power of the masses to achieve political goals. Between these two camps were members of the Youth International Party, more commonly known as the Yippies. Founding members of the Yippies included Abbie Hoffman, his wife Anita and Jerry Rubin.
The Yippies were more likely to use guerrilla theater or public pranks to bring attention to their causes. Although the Yippies were more radicalized than the hippies, most members and associates drew the line at organized protests and sit-ins. Inspired by the humor-filled rants of Abbie Hoffman, Yippies created absurdist political manifestos suggesting incredible acts of civil disobedience. Suggestions of placing LSD in a city's water supply or having a circle of Yippies levitate the Pentagon were typical. Most literature produced by the Yippies consisted of obscenity-laced diatribes against mainstream society, but made few serious calls to militant action.
By 1968, the Yippies were ready to push for a radical change in the American political machinery. The Yippies planned to hold a "Festival of Life" in the park outside of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In an attempt to present a united front, prominent members of the Yippies, such as Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, agreed to meet with leaders of other counterculture groups, including the militant SDS and the National Mobilization Committee (MOBE), a grassroots protest movement. These meetings, which rarely ended with any sort of consensus among factions, were also attended by undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents.
The 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago proved to be a mixed bag for the Yippies. They managed to nominate a pig named Pigasus for president, and several Democratic leaders appeared briefly at the demonstration sites. However, the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, also called for increased security forces, including riot police and the National Guard.
The clashes between protesters and policemen became extremely violent. A number of Yippies were injured or arrested, including Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Months after the convention, a federal grand jury indicted Hoffman, Rubin and six other protest leaders for conspiracy to incite a riot. The legal proceedings became known as the trial of the Chicago Seven.
The Yippies became increasingly fragmented throughout the 1970s, although several underground magazines published in New York City managed to keep the Yippies' storied past alive. A new generation of Yippies still maintains a presence on Bleecker Street, but their impact on American politics has been muted in recent years. Founding member Abbie Hoffman, perhaps disillusioned by the apathy of 1980s American youth, committed suicide in 1989.
Jerry Rubin disavowed much of his actions as a radicalized youth, choosing instead to embrace capitalism as a legitimate businessman in the 1980s. Rubin died in 1994 after being struck by a car. Many surviving Yippies still espouse the same values they held during the 1960s, but now work for change from within the system.