This past weekend CNN played reruns of previous broadcasts featuring two of this blogs”pariahs”.Jim Jones and Charles Manson, charismatic individuals of above average intelligence each with a vision of the future that proved attractive to followers of both sexes.The followers themselves, as in most cults, are divided into a large passive group and a small active group with a deep investment in the cause.(More obvious in the Jonestown scenario.)From this group emerge the murderous followers willing to kill to demonstrate the strength of their belief.In the Jonestown group their zeal ultimately exceeds that of their leader who loses his hold on reality and who dies from a gunshot to the head possibly(from other sources than CNN) administered by his last mistress(some sort of paramedical?possibly a nurse) who also presided over the administration of the cyanide cocktails(particularly to the children.)
The acquisition of inexpensive or free land(Ellison’s Invisible Man’s Consolidated Edison’s electricity?) is also a common theme.The Jonestown cult received political support early on from California’s Governor Brown and U.S. President Jimmy Carter and later from the Socialist Guyanese government. There appears to be no clear cut evidence of direct support from soviet Russia although the several hundred dollar monetary accumulation found after the mass murder was intended for land purchase in the soviet union and failing that, a contribution to the Soviets.Manson counted on his non-presence at the scene of the ghastly murders to allow him to escape their consequences and Jones (probably ) had to be killed.Despite the identification with divinity(deity) there was no martyrdom in their character.Mental illness diagnoses fall short except for the obvious one of psychopathy.It is not inappropriate to construct a moral dimension and place these characters high on a dimension of EVIL.
The followers oddly enough are of more concern.Societal definition excludes them from a definition of value.Some embrace a negative definition and are activists;decades later to wonder “How could we have?” The societal lesson, in the day of Isis (the SAUDI Wahaabee sect descendant)Al Qaeda and many more that gather members from western society,and the pertinent message is that a null identity cannot be tolerated by the human psyche.(Not really mysterious F.B.I.!)A negative identity is better than to be invisible.The inflection point that some of us sense has been reached in today’s America is the result of the cry of the invisible to be transferred, no matter how briefly or how long, to visible negative status and to bring to visibility the contextual issue of the distribution of access and opportunity(not property and wealth)to “the dream”.The immigration conundrum taking place in Europe and the middle east demonstrates that it is not only an American dream.
The acquisition of land to be worked as a part of some primitive industry and the assignment of labor, with the will of the leader being enforced by activist members, including the use of firearms, are familiar themes;so too is the sexual domination of the leader of the female members of the group with sexual access even between legal spouses only by special permission. (An obvious negation of the rules of extant society.
The aim of producing or contributing to race war or class war is also a shared attribute.The messianic vision of the leader contains the need for his services and skills for resolution of the chaos which he and his group have helped to produce.The atavistic issue is power and its acquisition.The evolutionary process from the days of roving small bonds is still operational and powerful.


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