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2) They were basically Marxists with some layer of 60's "power-of-mind=spirit" biz who had disguised themselves (and had begun) as a black spiritual church with miraculous healings, etc. But he would throw the bible on the ground and dare god to strike him with lightning, then start talking about socialism, and then the spirit would come on him and he would start 'healing cancers' (verified fakes with beef hearts, etc). I highly recommend the documentary "Jonestown" to all and sundry. Far too many people are ignorant of the details here and just buy the hype. It's far more of a tragedy than just those 900+ peoples death.
3) It's complicated. It was essentially an act of spite.
Originally Posted by wikipedia
Jones made frequent addresses to Temple members regarding Jonestown's safety, including statements that the CIA and other intelligence agencies were conspiring with "capitalist pigs" to destroy Jonestown and harm its members. After work, when purported emergencies arose, the Temple sometimes conducted what Jones referred to as "White Nights". During such events, Jones would sometimes give the Jonestown members four choices: (1) attempt to flee to the Soviet Union; (2) commit "revolutionary suicide"; (3) stay in Jonestown and fight the purported attackers or (4) flee into the jungle.
On at least two occasions during White Nights, after a "revolutionary suicide" vote was reached, a simulated mass suicide was rehearsed. Peoples Temple defector Deborah Layton described the event in an affidavit:
"Everyone, including the children, was told to line up. As we passed through the line, we were given a small glass of red liquid to drink. We were told that the liquid contained poison and that we would die within 45 minutes. We all did as we were told. When the time came when we should have dropped dead, Rev. Jones explained that the poison was not real and that we had just been through a loyalty test. He warned us that the time was not far off when it would become necessary for us to die by our own hands."
The Temple had received monthly half-pound shipments of cyanide since 1976 after Jones obtained a jeweler's license to buy the chemical, purportedly to clean gold.
After this increasing pressure on the group from the U.S. by their concerned relatives (who had indeed formed a lobbying/activism group by that same name), the visit of Congressman Ryan prompted, along with Jones's increasingly drug-driven paranoia, the escalation of the "revolutionary suicide" option. If you listen to the suicide tape or read the transcriptions you hear an older women asking if 'Russia is still an option'. Then there is also the issue of Jim having essentially stolen one of the children of a couple who was no longer in the PT (he said he was actually his son) and so the five-year old became a central issue in formal legal challenge to Jonestown. As things had begun getting gnarley in Jonestown due to Jim's increasing paranoia, drug intake, and need for displays of abject power he was afraid that the Congressman's visit would cause a loss of faith among his followers. Which it did, people (not many) wanted to leave with the Congressman, which sealed the deal to his paranoid mind that "revolutionary suicide" had to be now or the CIA would come and either kill or CIA-imprison/disappear everyone, take their children, etc...
Originally Posted by wikipedia
Before leaving Jonestown for the airstrip, Congressman Ryan had told Temple attorney Charles Garry that he would issue a report that would describe Jonestown "in basically good terms." Ryan stated that none of the sixty relatives Ryan had targeted for interviews wanted to leave, the 14 defectors constituted a very small portion of Jonestown's residents, that any sense of imprisonment the defectors had was likely because of peer pressure and a lack of physical transportation, and even if 200 of the 900+ wanted to leave "I'd still say you have a beautiful place here." Similarly, Washington Post reporter Charles Krause stated that, on the way back to the airstrip, he was unconvinced that Jonestown was as bad as defectors had claimed because there were no signs of malnutrition or physical abuse, while many members appeared to enjoy Jonestown and only a small number of the over 900 residents elected to leave.
Despite Garry's report, Jones told him "I have failed." Garry reiterated that Ryan would be making a positive report, but Jones maintained that "All is lost."
A 44-minute cassette tape (the "death tape"), recorded at least part of a meeting Jones called under the pavilion in the early evening. Before the meeting, aides prepared a metal vat with Flavor Aid, poisoned with Valium, chloral hydrate, cyanide, and Phenergan.
When the assembly gathered, referring to the Ryan delegation's air travel back to Georgetown, Jones told the gathering "one of the people on that plane is gonna shoot the pilot, I know that. I didn't plan it but I know it's going to happen. They're gonna shoot that pilot and down comes the plane into the jungle and we had better not have any of our children left when it's over, because they'll parachute in here on us." Parroting Jones' prior statements that hostile forces would convert captured children to Fascism, one temple member states: "The ones that they take captured, they're gonna just let them grow up and be dummies."
On the death tape, Jones urged Temple members to commit "revolutionary suicide". Such "revolutionary suicide" had been planned by the Temple before and, according to Jonestown defectors, its theory was "you can go down in history, saying you chose your own way to go, and it is your commitment to refuse capitalism and in support of socialism."
Now I am not so much into conspiracy, but it should be pointed out that it's entirely likely that Jones was a CIA accessory prior to creating the People's Temple while involved in the mission field in South America. The similarity between the Peoples Temple's message and that of many "socialist" regimes and church movements in South and Central America at the time is notable. I actually find the basic message of the early People's Temple to be entirely sensible if one is sympathetic to socialism. It's only later that the wingnut stuff comes into the picture, although with the faked miracles etc the undercurrent is there. What does that indicate exactly?
Some people say the Temple was a CIA mind-control experiment gone wrong (or according to plan?). I think it may be more complicated than that.
I also think that if one of his followers had seen the writing on the wall, done the smart thing, and discreetly poisoned or otherwise assassinated him, it is entirely possible that Jonestown may still exist and be a vibrant, positive, cultural force in Guyana to this day. Many of his higher ups seemed like very sensible people being driven to their breaking point by a madman expert at setting people like themselves against one another.
That's a tricky discussion to have in the DIR's, as one would like to be respectful to the belief system discussed. But I have long been obsessed with the historical minutia of cults and charismatic personalities like Jim Jones, Rajneesh, Sai Baba, L. Ron Hubbard, etc. I think they are parasites of some of the most noble and evolutionary impulses in man. Due to a comparative lack of inertia by people who actually 'get it', who themselves are usually too busy living life to teach on a large scale, create ambitious institutions, etc, the people who step into these roles are often a special breed of charismatic parasite. Expert at both setting people against each other and attracting them to them. More intelligent then their peers but unlike most intelligent people who insulate themselves with others of their ilk they intentionally seek (and eventually need) to surround themselves with the of the naive. They look at people as trained monkeys and then promise to take responsibility for their souls.
As I said I think if an inner cadre had the balls to quietly assassinate Jimmy J and everyone thought he died of malaria or something then he might have made a fine martyr and maybe just maybe they would have had their business together to do something really remarkable down there.