Jim Jones Makes Personal Plea to Soviet Embassy for Emigration, September 1978

[Editor’s notes: The transcript of this document retains its original spellings, with corrections noted only where necessary for clarity.

[Likely in an effort to save paper, Temple members often used the reverse side of old documents. That is the case here, and the three reverse sides of the pages on this memo were not transcribed.]

[There is no date on this document. Based on the context of its contents – for example, there is a reference to the recent departure of Temple attorney Mark Lane, who had visited Jonestown in late August 1978 – we are placing it in early September.]


Message from Jim Jones

Greetings Comrade (in Russian) [handwritten marginal note: “Write in Russian”]

My Russian is not particularly good, but our children are [illegible word], and you would be impressed greatly. They are fantastic in lingual ability. We have a breakdown in communications, Comrades. I’m of course suffering with a health problem and it’s now, I believe, gone into the fourth month with an elevated temperature which seems to be getting higher. The last couple days it’s nearly been 105° and it exceeded 105° at one point and I had to have a series of cold showers and alcohol sponges. I need medical attention greatly. But I understand that we have now inconvenienced the Soviet Union someway by using your telephone and that there is some disturbance over this. Frankly, comrades, we have a very fine collective. We are not perfect. This is a collective that would be a model to any nation. We have broken ageism, sexism, and elitism, and racism.

There is a harmony and joy observed by Mark Lane (internationally famous author, investigator of American conspiracies). He just left and said, “After being here a few days I noticed that no-one raised their voice to another, that there is no hiding, that everything’s done by logic, and the love and warmth between people. Children reading to seniors, seniors teaching children arts that would be lost when the seniors passed on to the finality of death.

My major concern is that we are in a country that is not socialist. There are socialists at heart in the Cabinet, but in so many areas, in so many echelons, there are not socialists. Through the brainwashing of Hollywood films, (one Cabinet Minister tried to stop the incoming of Hollywood films but he’s been unsuccessful), and as long as this imput [input] of false ideals and materialistic values are put before the people, there will be no change. There’s not enough structure for a real socialist society in this country. We have structure but much joy, much entertainment, all sorts of fascinating experiences in theater, art and dance.

But I desire at this point particularly with my health the way it is to go to the Soviet Union to set up a collective there. It will perhaps be helpful to you (if we do) to show the hypocracy in the USA, its stance on human rights. We have several hundreds of stories here that could be told in detail about how people’s human rights were denied, brutally denied. We’ve been attacked so badly and harassed fiercely that momentarily I’m feverish and it’s late in the morning about 2:00 AM and I don’t even feel like discussing it. I can let some of the comrades discuss that with you. But I hear now that there may be no possibility of this. We’d like to know. We are not a people who believe in dilusions or illusions. If we are to die, and we wish to know that we are to die. For six days and seven nights, we thought we literally we were about to die. As you perhaps heard, one of the conspirators came forward and said rockets were aimed at our radio room and on generators where many of our lives would have been taken, and he said that if the mission had gone off, they knew that many would have died, children and women (innocents), but the old American image of being the conqueror was more important than anything having to do with mercy and regard for what are people wanted to do with their lives. Fortunately, the one man who had the control of the brigade


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pulled back. He said this is a lie. These people are happy. He could see that there are no barbed wire fences and there are no patrols.

Then, if the Soviet Union is out, I don’t think that I can make it. I’m a man who believes in Communism. I believe in speaking out against evil when I see it, the CIA it’s [its] manipulations and machinations in Africa, the Soviet policies in Ethiopia and Angola. I firmly believe in the Soviet Union’s domestic policies as well as her foreign policies. I am probably more Soviet than some, in fact I know I am. I met two Soviets some years ago and I am far more pro-Soviet than they were. And that’s true too of all of this community. If you find that hard to believe, that’s why I’m anxious for you to come. But I’d really like to know. I don’t want any games between us. If it’s not possible, or if it’s going to take a long time, my community still needs me because I’ve [illegible word] of been a helper in every time of storm. I’ve got them out of troubles, people of color are always framed, and by this agency or that agency, police, and even many whites in our midst who are professional people have gone to great harassment. Temples (our headquarters) have been burnt down, our senior citizen’s homes. There’s an incredible amount of things that have been done to us.

We were nearly lynched two years ago as two of our busses traveled through Northern California and a place called Santa Rosa near Sonoma when a mob surrounded one of the black bus drivers and were going to hang them on the spot. And what did the court do, slapped them on the wrist and gave them a suspended sentence.

USA is not the place for us to go. It is not the time for revolution there. There is not a strong communist party in the USA. It is not strong yet. The ones that are very dedicated know that there are many infiltrators. There is no strong socialist movement; Dr. Carlton Goodlett has often made that observation, and the trade union movement is not free. That makes the difficulty of overcoming fascism most difficult indeed. So we are in the precarious situation of being very very activist, well-known communist, Marxist-Leninist socialist oriented. So we cannot go back, according to all of our counsellors, our Soviet friends there, who would be jailed, framed. And we would not mind that but it would be harder on children and seniors. But we have to make a decision. We don’t like living in a vacuum. We don’t like talking to people who don’t even understand the first ABC’s of Marxist-Leninism, who don’t understand the concepts of detente and peace. We were speaking with someone higher up in the PNC the other day who was giving such a eulogy of China. I explained the doctrine of Three Worlds to him, and I said “of course you know that the doctrine of Three Worlds says that the USSR is the greatest enemy and that the facts that the decent argument upon are CIA misinformation, that the Soviet Union has the largest standing army, whereas half the Soviet Army or the proportion of it is involved in human service work, and the pay scale is different. And all the facts are misconstrued. It is obvious that the US is the greatest threat to peace in the world.

In the Near East, the US now plans, and the Sanai [Sinai] it looks like perhaps an airforce base. There is an aggressive belicose attitude


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which seemingly often comes with a democratic [Democratic] administration. There often seems to be the need for democrats to prove themselves, to be very very loyal and exceedingly anti-communist. And I explained to him that there was trickeration (and that’s a phrase that we use in the ghetto), just the tricks that China plays and the dangerous, dangerous moves they’re making that are affecting world peace. When I got through, he said, “I had never heard the doctrine of the Three Worlds.” He never realized that China considered herself the leader of the thirdworld, which is a great laugh to say the least, as China’s history in Africa and in Chili [Chile], and all over the world is obvious (I needn’t go into that with you).

We’ve learned to love you very much. Our people have spoken highly of you and I hope it will be possible that we could make a life there, set up a collective to show Americans [illegible word] working proudly, that you could set as a model, because we are workers. We are workers. You need to see our project. We believe in work and we don’t have to coerce to work. We work because, I don’t know, perhaps because I’ve set the example through the years. I’ve never shunned any kind of work. We always rotate our work with the soil. We consider it the mother of our lives. We all respect manual work, and each have work-study educational programs.

It’s a very wonderful community, and I in my tiredness and feverishness could not possibly extend to you its beauty. But I do say – I hope that it’s possible to get together soon while I still have health enough to lead this great community because I have leaders in the sidelines that are ready but they need a couple or three more years. If this is cancer, as one slide has revealed, then I may have five or seven years – that would be more than adequate for me to build a community so that it can continue.

I would like from you just a direct response. Are we or are we not welcome in the Soviet Union? Can it be or what is the procedure of the possibility of it being so?

The Mirror has been a puzzlement to me. We have been friendly when it endangered us with the PNC. We invited the Mirror to a Press Conference with Mark Lane in the Mirror so very little of the beauty had [he’d] told him (Mark Lane, the famous author), of all the beauties he had seen here. They didn’t say much about that at all. It seems a very, very strange situation we find ourselves in. And the PNC’s news organs are extremely careful about us. In fact until I really got irate, they were going to tell us I could not talk about socialism on the radio at all.

Well, I shall close by saying “I want Peace.” (In Russian) [Marginal note: “Write in Russian”] and I hope we will be friends and be able to build together in years to come.


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