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A Redpilled Reevaluation of the Peoples Temple Tragedy

“However, remembering the past is one thing, understanding it is quite another.”–Tim Reiterman[1]

3,313 words

On November 18, 1978, the congregation of the Peoples Temple, a radical, socialist/Leftist congregation of the mainline Protestant Disciples of Christ, died in a massive murder-suicide event on the orders of their leader, Jim Jones. Their suicide method, drinking poisoned water containing fruit drink mix on the orders of a narcissistic, sociopathic megalomaniac, gave rise to the expression, “drink the Kool-Aid.”

Much ink has been spilled about how the theology of Jim Jones was so strange and false that it was only natural that the Peoples Temple would end in disaster. There has also been a great deal of analysis of Jones’ own nature. Looking backwards from the field of corpses at Jonestown, towards Jones’s childhood behavior, it is clear he was a dangerous man. He may have needlessly killed small animals as a child, he probably sabotaged cars, he tried to shoot one of his friends in anger (twice), and he even stabbed a roommate in a bunkbed through the mattress with a hat pin.

However, the spectacular end of Jonestown and the Peoples Temple has within it the problems of all organizations which have Jacobin-style Leftism as one of their central goals. The Peoples Temple’s ideology was a very Jacobin mix of socialism and Communism. All such Leftist ideologies, whose roots go back to Maximilian Robespierre and the Cult of the Supreme Being, invariably end in blood and terror when its proponents become able to enact their ideas in the real world. Additionally, the cracks in the Peoples Temple match the cracks of all organizations which hold racial integration (most especially with large numbers of blacks) as a central goal. These cracks will be discussed below.

History of the Peoples Temple

Jim Jones was born in rural Indiana in 1931. As a boy, he studied religion and was intrigued by Pentecostalism, developing a knack for preaching and manipulating others. In the 1950s, he got into the Midwestern faith-healing circuit, and started a ministry in Indianapolis which had racial integration as its goal. For several months in 1962 and 1963, he suffered a nervous breakdown, and went to Brazil. When he returned, he moved his congregation to northern California. His church grew by leaps and bounds in the early 1970s – if nothing else, the Peoples Temple was well-organized.

In 1973, defectors started to appear, and Jones fought a custody battle over a child he claimed as his own. Eventually, the negative press the group received drove the entire congregation to an agricultural project that the church had set up in the jungles of Guyana. An organization called the Concerned Relatives petitioned US Congressman Leo Ryan to visit the place, which he did in 1978. The visit went badly, resulting in the Congressman and several others with him being killed, which was immediately followed by the mass suicide of most of the congregation.

Handling Dynamite: The Peoples Temple was Doomed to Failure

The bloody implosions of Robespierre-style Leftism have been explored in depth by others, and thus will only be briefly mentioned here. Suffice to say, Edmund Burke predicted the Reign of Terror in 1790 – three years before the Terror started. The Russian Revolution played out in the same pattern as the French. Jacobin-style bloodbaths then occurred across the globe in one country after another: Hungary, China, Cuba, Iran, and so on have all had their own style of “French Revolution,” and they all play out the same way, and Jones’ was no different.[2]

However, there is more to this. As mentioned above, all racially-mixed organizations, especially ones with Africans in the mix, have crack-ups. Something, somewhere breaks down. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Racial integrators tend to have extremely flawed, reckless personal lives. A key leader is usually one paternity suit, crime of passion, or divorce away from bringing disaster upon himself and others.
  2. Believers in racial equality misread data, fail to spot trends, and deceive themselves. This failing leads to appalling but preventable disasters.
  3. Mixed-race organizations must invent a boogeyman to keep the groups together. This phantom boogeyman creates a paranoia that feeds into the aforementioned flaws. Blogger Steve Sailer calls this KKKrazy Glue.[3]
  4. All racially-integrated organizations take the form of a plantation. Whites rise to the leadership posts and the black role is subordinated. In an officially egalitarian environment, there are still accusations of racism and plenty of disappointment and misunderstandings.

Reckless Personal Lives

There is something about “civil rights” – i.e., the support for African uplift and other such schemes – that attracts white philanders, scammers, and charlatans. Jim Jones matched this pattern. In Tim Reiterman’s account of the Jonestown Affair, we see that Jones was endorsing civil rights as a way to enhance himself and get what he wanted. When he was courting the woman who would become his wife, Marceline Baldwin, he claimed that he’d been a star basketball player but quit after the coach disparaged blacks. In fact, Jones had not been an athlete at all.

As his ministry became a success, Jones started to sexually indulge. It is important to mention here that Jones’ staff was complicit in this activity and created their own reckless pairings.[4] The brakes on the breakdown of monogamy in the Peoples Temple weren’t applied until the situation was beyond recovery, and then only by defectors, not the Temple loyalists.

Reckless sexual behavior lit the fuse on the dynamite that was the Peoples Temple. In September 1973, a group of eight defectors wrote a letter to Jones explaining why they left. The problems with illicit sex stand out:

Proceeding, a revolutionary as you and staff would say, does not engage in sex. Anyone with any awareness concerning socialism would give up sex. The reasons for giving up sex are agreeable with us. However, who takes the privileged liberty to abuse such a decision? STAFF. Carolyn Layton, Sandy Inghram, Karen Layton, Grace Stoen, Janet Phillips etc., have to be fucked in order to be loyal. Jack Beam Sr., Tim Stoen, [name withheld by request], Mike Prokes etc., have to be fucked in the butt for the same reason. Who has to do it to them but Jim Jones.

It was Jones’ relationship with Tim and Grace Stoen which helped push things towards disaster. Tim Stoen was the Peoples Temple’s lawyer. Jones always took his advice and praised his work. Jones encouraged Tim to have sex with different women in the congregation, thus compromising him as an attorney. After Tim and Grace had a child, Tim signed an affidavit that the child was fathered by Jones. The child of Tim and Grace Stoen “would, through no fault of his own, become a critical factor in determining the fate of a thousand people.”[5] The child in fact wasn’t fathered by Jones, but the affidavit made the situation cloudy and led to a custody battle that eventually cornered Jones legally via contempt of court charges.[6] After that, Jones saw every interaction with regular Americans as a mortal threat.

Jim Jones was not alone in being a “civil rights” supporter with a reckless personal life. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were both philanderers. President Kennedy even carried out a tryst during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Martin Luther King, Jr. carried on numerous affairs, the perversion of this “Christian Reverend” having been proved in the recently declassified documents regarding the Kennedy Assassination. Even the grandfatherly Charles Kuralt caused a scandal after his death regarding the disposition of his estate. It turns out he had a mistress who raised legal challenges in probate court. He met the woman while covering her efforts to build a park in a black neighborhood in Reno, Nevada in support of “civil rights.”

Misread Data

In the Peoples Temple, Jim Jones was not the one misreading data. Throughout his career he carefully sensed what people wanted to hear, wanted to believe, and wanted to do, and used that knowledge for his own ends. The people who misread the data were the key members of his staff, who really did believe in the organization’s goals.

Misreading data in a way that leads to some embarrassment, scandal, or disaster is common in all integrated organizations. Since integration became a major goal in the 1960s, US government policymakers – especially those carrying out military policy – have tended to misread data. The Vietnam War’s fudged body counts and fake intelligence reports are one example of this, Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” is another. Recently, the Air Force Academy was spectacularly taken in by a “hate hoax.” The press (probably as a deliberate strategy to get viewers or readers and pursue their agenda) falls for every racial hoax that comes along. This becomes even more acute if religious belief is added into the mix. “Religious people,” writes Tim Reiterman of Jim Jones’ faith healing in the 1950s, “with their eyes and minds on the heavens, and their heart open, were more susceptible to a con job and sleight of hand than most people.”[7]

In the Peoples Temple, the staff misread data regarding Jones from the get go. Disciples of Christ ministers who knew Jones were shocked at his lack of basic biblical and theological knowledge, but swallowed their doubts. They mistook his theological snafus for lack of education, instead of the reality that Jones’ ministry was becoming one of megalomania. Even Jones’ “faith healings” were a fraud, but no minister in the Disciples of Christ was willing to call Jones to account for his swindles. In the early part of his ministry, Jones even alluded to his adultery and other serious moral failings to his fellow ministers – and yet his behavior was not stopped.

To summarize the disaster, Tim Reiterman writes, “The trusted ones who knew at least part of the truth [of Jones’ personal failings] were so committed or compromised that they rationalized whatever he did.”[8] Furthermore, “Jones did not act alone in seizing the psyches, belongings, and lives of his followers. He had accomplices among elected officials who looked that other way . . .”[9]

The Invented Boogeyman

Throughout Jones’ ministry, the invented boogeyman really ties into points one and two above – especially the part about others misreading data. In this case, however, Jones’ followers misread the data on the type and scale of resistance to the Peoples Temple’s racial agenda. Essentially, in the 1950s and 1960s, Americans on the whole believed in integration.[10] The body of knowledge that predicted integration’s eventual failure, which had been compiled from the time of President Jefferson, was simply ignored at the top of American society.

Jones claimed his racially-integrated ministry was constantly threatened by enemies. These enemies consisted of the same boogeymen that the press and the political Left claim exist today. Jones insisted that rednecks, the KKK, the press, the FBI, and the CIA were out to get him. Associates of Jones got middle-of-the-night heavy breathing phone calls. Their cars were sabotaged. The church got hit with racist graffiti, and dead animals were left on their property. These “attacks” occurred in the same way in Indiana and California. In August 1973, the San Francisco Peoples Temple building was firebombed. It is now known that all of these “hate-hoax” events, including the arson, were either carried out by Jones or arranged by him.

Once the church was relocated to Guyana, the boogeyman became even larger. Jones told the congregation that the United States had been taken over by fascists. The KKK, according to Jones, was now patrolling the US border. He even called out the entire Jonestown congregation to guard the perimeter of Jonestown to watch for attacking enemies for four long days.

One postscript deserves to be mentioned here. The Right-wing boogeyman which Jones claimed threatened his congregation is still real in the mind of Kathryn (Tropp) Barbour, a nice, liberal white lady who was living at the Peoples Temple in San Francisco during the fatal ending of Jonestown. Kathryn Barbour “has worked with Amnesty International, the Rainbow Coalition, the anti-apartheid movement, the Gray Panthers, and Single Payer Now, and is a sustaining supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center.” She writes about a “dream” which showed her that Jones was involved in the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program. MK-ULTRA was a shovel-leaning boondoggle that was supposed to produce “mind-control” for the CIA. Yes, indeed, she cites a “dream” as the primary piece of evidence for this nonsense.

And indeed, all race-mixed organizations must have a boogeyman to make sense of their own failings.

It’s Still Just a Plantation

For all his other faults, Jim Jones was not a hypocrite regarding his belief in racial integration. His own family included adopted non-white children. However, his family was also fraught with racial tension. Reiterman writes that after they moved to California and the ministry began to pick up steam that “[t]he ‘rainbow family’ – Jones’s living symbol of brotherhood – was cracking. Jealousy and rivalry kept the children at odds.”[11]

Furthermore, the Peoples Temple became a figurative plantation. “Because many whites came to the Temple with educational advantages and social skills, the pragmatic preacher drew a disproportionate number into his inner circle. His white elite in turn attracted even more well-educated whites, with many of them from the Bay Area . . .”[12] Consequently, there were accusations of racism. One example of this is from the September,1973 letter from the defectors:

It is known in People’s Temple that Helen Swinney[13] isn’t to be messed with. She brings in a lot of money for the church, so she’s left alone, in spite of the fact she’s a racist through and through. When Helen meets People’s Temple’s black members downtown or in public eye, she ignores them. We’re not speaking of outside the ranks black people, we’re speaking of Peoples Temple’s black members. We have many testimonies to this fact.

There are many other anecdotes that speak to this circumstance. Many blacks felt racially abused, and whites were likewise disappointed in the lack of knowledge of socialist theory and revolutionary fervor on the part of the blacks. Jeanette Kearns, a survivor, had a bad experience after she was accused of being a snob for wearing her glasses too far down her nose:

People began to call her names. One white woman who was accepted by the blacks because of her Jewish heritage leaped to her feet, slapped Kerns across the face, knocking off her glasses, then shoved her into a corner.[14]

Team Hillary and the 2016 Election

When looking at the Peoples Temple tragedy from the perspective of a “redpilled” white advocate, the four problems faced by organizations which seek integration with blacks really stand out. When one observes these problems in integrated Jonestown, one notices that they apply to others as well. The 2016 Hillary campaign matches this pattern. Hillary Clinton, of course, represented the extreme pro-integration wing of the Democratic Party and was painted into a corner to support Black Lives Matter in the teeth of their escalating, violent actions. Her campaign demonstrated all the characteristics.

Although there are rumors to the contrary, Hillary Clinton might not have a reckless sexual life, but her key supporters did. They include her husband Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Harvey Weinstein, and comedian Louis CK. Hillary did get tripped up by a reckless personal decision regarding her private server, and probably ran some sort of pay-to-play scheme with foreign governments that got discovered.

Likewise, Team Hillary misread the data regarding the swing states in the Midwest. She failed to understand why she was losing so many primaries in states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Furthermore, Hillary’s career as Secretary of State was a series of misread data events. Her Syria policy was a disaster. She lied or failed to understand what happened at the US Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Her policy proposals in Syria during the 2016 campaign were more of the same, in spite of their clear failures.

Hillary Clinton also seems to genuinely believe in invented boogeymen as the cause of her failures. “The Russians,” she has claimed, “hacked” the election. Furthermore, she claimed (or believed) that those opposing her campaign consisted of enemies that Jim Jones might have recognized. Hillary’s basket of deplorables were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic — Islamophobic . . .” All of this tied into points one and two. Actually, those ordinary Americans who opposed her included those who had been victimized by the “free trade” agreements she had supported, and the sex scandals of her husband and his pals didn’t help.

And lastly, as establishment Republicans often say, the Democratic Party has the features of a plantation. Blacks support the Democratic Party, but still accuse key Democrats of racism. The Clinton administration’s singular achievement in cutting down black crime in the early 1990s was held against her by black activists. The Bernie Bros. and homosexual activists were also disappointed that blacks were not going along with their agenda.

Indeed, the problems of Jonestown still exist, and a great many people are “drinking the Kool-Aid.” It is our job to stop it.

Notes

[1] Tim Reiterman, with John Jacobs, Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and his People (New York: Tarcher Penguin, 2008), Kindle loc. 102.

[2] Walter Russell Mead wrote, “There are two major revolutions in modern history that set the world on two competing paths. The Glorious Revolution set the course for political developments in much of the English-speaking world; the French Revolution has played a much larger and wider role in state formation. The Anglo-Americans won the military and economic contest with France for world power; when it came to exporting the political structures of modernity, however, France often prevailed.” Walter Russell Mead, God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World (New York: Vintage Books, 2008), p. 290.

[3] Jim Jones claimed his dark hair and olive skin were the result of Cherokee ancestry. Since the development of DNA technology, it turns out that most whites who claim they are part Cherokee are not. Jim Jones’ family tree is on ancestry.com. Searching his tree shows that his family had deep roots in Indiana as well as some that stretch back to colonial Pennsylvania. His dark looks were probably more the result of Welsh blood than anything else. His claim to be part Cherokee does match another Steve Sailer concept: the flight from white.

[4] The whites on the staff of the Peoples Temple were also making reckless sexual personal decisions outside of affairs with Jones himself. Jonestown survivor Laura Johnston Kohl said as much in an interview. This is a direct, unironic quote that lays bare her poor judgement regarding sexual relationships: “I met a guy in the Temple who was exactly what I was looking for (you know). He was a former heroin addict. He’d just gotten out of prison. He was like a bad boy. Just exactly what I’d wanted! And I thought, ‘Well, you know, this is great, it’s everything I’ve always wanted and I have Jim to watch over it. And kind of make sure it was safe.’”

[5] Reiterman, Raven, Kindle loc. 3144.

[6] This author is at a loss to explain why Jones wanted to claim the child.

[7] Reiterman, Raven, Kindle loc. 1322

[8] Ibid., Kindle loc. 116.

[9] Ibid., Kindle loc. 123.

[10] In the 1950s and ‘60s, racial integration was, in fact, the top priority of the entire American ruling class. With the exception of stubborn, small congregations with a Calvinist bent, like Pastor Richard Butler’s Christian Identity movement, every religious organization supported integration in principle, if not in practice. President Johnson made sure the Democratic Party eliminated holdouts from his agenda with primaries and other tricks, the military integrated, Hollywood generated a massive metapolitical effort showing blacks in a positive light, and the press framed the debate so narrowly that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s many flaws were ignored. In academia, race-realist intellectuals like Carleton Putnam and Carleton S. Coon were shoved aside.

[11] Reiterman, Raven, Kindle loc. 2882.

[12] Ibid., Kindle loc. 3215.

[13] Helen Swinney was a survivor. She, along with Charlie Touchette, Richard Janaro, and Phil Blakey were on a Temple boat – the Albatross III – in the Caribbean at the time. http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=35419

[14] Reiterman, Raven, Kindle loc. 4433

Related

10 Comments

  1. WWWM
    Posted December 10, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    This was a gem of an article. I just thought you were going to point out the obvious racial factor in the Jonestown massacre, which is virtually ignored in all the documentaries about it. I believe David Koresh’s Waco disaster has a similar black or mixed race rabble before their fiery downfall.

    But your article really did a great summing up of the groupthink the left wing is so prone to. Could we use this to our advantage? I have suspected Trump barely won because Hillary lost it due to incompetence. The very left wing candidates like Kerry and Dukakis lost in similar ways, being clueless about the facts on the ground of their own campaigns. Bill Clinton is a expert salesman and would be a force in any election. Obama, that is a different story…

  2. Miha M
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    This is a good essay with correct observations. And you correctly identifies parallels between Jones and Clinton. But I could easily draw parallels to alt-right just as well. In fact the basic concept can be applied to any group.

    Every group works in what they believe are their best interests. Main difference among groups is their objectivity and time preference. Alt-right is among most objective and lowest time preference groups. But this is not so because alt-right is so damn good, but because the rest are so damn lost.

  3. Petronius
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    The jump from Jones to Clinton is not very convincing.

  4. rhondda
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much. This is such an excellent analysis. Dysfunctional people ruining lives because they have misread the data is a profound idea. Ego gratification wins over objective analysis. People afraid to speak up over their real doubts and thus let things happen. The similarities between the cult of Jim Jones and the cult of the Clintons really are mindboggling. It seems to be true that feminism, equality, multiculturalism has become a religion and like most religions they are exempt from questioning whereas everyone else must accept the dogma. We are the heretics, the deplorables, the dissidents. Is history repeating itself?

  5. Pietas
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I had much to say, but I will only say that cf Robinson has rocketed to the top 3 or 4 Altright writers for me. I love his carefully reflected expositions on cultural and social events of the past 40 years or so. I never understood “drink the kool-aid” till now!

    • JimB
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure you already know this, but for the sake of other readers, it’s common nowadays to say it about Alex Jones and his Infowars, too. Meaning, to absorb his insane mixture of truth and lies (fruit flavored sugar-water mixed with deadly poison), to drink it down thirstily, and swear that it’s 100% Truth.

      • Pietas
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        I don’t read him

        • Pietas
          Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

          I’m a scientist who deals in truth

          • JimB
            Posted December 8, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

            “I don’t read him… I’m a scientist who deals in truth”

            mm-hmm. Great. Wonderful. Good for you.
            But if you don’t know who A. Jones is, you live in a cave on another planet.

  6. BroncoColorado
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    An interesting and prescient article. There does indeed appear to be a strong symbiotic association between vanity, extreme monotheism, and leftism. Most contemporary religious denominations are at varying speeds traveling down the Jim Jones highway.

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