Writings of Eugene Chaikin

[Editor’s notes: This page was transcribed by Cole Waterman. The editors gratefully acknowledge his invaluable assistance.

[Insofar as possible, these letters have been arranged in chronological order. They retain their original spelling and grammar.

[Peoples Temple member often used old reports and documents as scratch paper, using the reverse side of these pages for their letters. We have labeled and transcribed those scratch pages which include information about Jonestown.]


EE1-C10a – C10k

[Editor’s note: This letter is analyzed here in the context of similar writings by other Jonestown leaders who expressed dissent.]


I know that some will feel that I split because I was afraid of dying in the situation – or for my children to do so. While the latter is somewhat true my main motivation was not that at all. I always expected that this particular aspect – the immediate threat of arrest of John [Victor Stoen] and/or yourself would be resolved. I left because I am no longer willing to live in a situation of weekly or biweekly crisis, and the atmosphere of anxiety, hysteria and depression that exist with it.

I am unwilling to live in that sort of environment for several reasons: 1) My nerves just won’t take it now – I am too beat. 2) It is impossible to build anything in that sort of atmosphere because building requires lots of planning and continuity of effort and application – the continuity is destroyed by the crisis mentality; 3) because I feel that the crisis environment is to some extent created and maintained by your state of mind and methodology – though I know, of course, that the problems we have faced, and continue to face are very real.

One of your messages indicated that you have known for some time that I think you are crazy. Not so. What I think is that you suffer from a lack of balance – both of perspective and behavior. I expect that the etiology is a combination of metabolic conditions, fatigue and reactiveness to years of punishment. Still, from my viewpoint it exists and has severe ramifications.

Throughout the years, in the U.S.A., it was necessary, at least to some extent, to create and maintain an conspiritorial atmosphere and the impression among the



people that we were under attack almost continually in order to motivate them to work at adequate levels and maintain some organizational cohesiveness.

I think that both of these factors have tended toward a pattern of overreaction or perhaps overemphasis is a better word, which in recent months has gotten out of hand and can have serious ramifications, not the least of which is simply the continuity of “stop and start” development.

The situation with John is an illustration. I readilly agree that it was both most serious and painfull to you (and also others like Maria K [Katsaris] who are most attached to the child). You had assurances from Dr. Reio on the matter. He sent his personal deputy. We have always heard and experienced that he is a man of his word. So far, so good. He and Fred Wills were out of the country for the signing of the Panama Treaty. One of the new Judges signed some dumb, illegal orders. There was cooperation on some levels by Government – some policies process servers, G.D.F. plane. Obviously [Ptolemy] Reid was not in control of the situation altogether at that moment. Without doubt, from the perspective of an Head of State, plagued with strikes and internal party dissention and disloyalty yours was not a major problem, but one that would be taken care of in time in true Guyanese fashion. You could have waited till one of them got back and straightened out the mess because it would have been damn hard to arrest you out in the bush. Or you could have had [Lionel] Luckhoo arrange for surrender and bail, spend 15-20 minutes in custody, put up some small money and let Luckoo fight it out in the court for months while you went about your business – Giving Reid time to do his work. Either of these things could have been done without disruption



of the program or interfering with alarming large numbers of people. However the whole thing immediately rose to the level of hysteria. Countless calls on the radio, obviously hysterical, countless calls to [Peoples Temple attorney Charles] Garry culminating in a futile and totally unnecessary trip to Chicago under a threat of some sort of mass suicide or other kind of blood bath. (Incidentally he told me on the phone, and contrary to your message, that he thought your strategy “dumb, stupid shit”; had lived through a 24 hour nightmare; and felt your behavior to be totally unleaderlike – he thought my decision to split and return to the states was wise – that maybe it would bring you to your senses) Charles is a good man – lots of problems, sure I am not in love with him, but he is the best man we can get for our job there, and I am sure, now, that he has lost tremendous respect for you. Marceline [Jones] freaked out which she does frequently, but she does did not need the added anxiety with her health. Officials all over the U.S. and Georgetown were importuned; our private affairs broadcast; “ultimatums” were presented to government which can only serve to make us look hysterical and immature to government, causing diminished respect and therefore diminished power and influence here; work – the whole project stoped both in U.S. and here, all plans halted with resulting loss of time momentum and money, and in great frustration. And what happened? They came back on their schedule and are taking care of the matter on their schedule in the normal course of their business. All of the above totally unneccessary and highly wastefull and destructive. A Relatively modest and ultimately controllable incident was made, by you, into a catastrophy of major proportions involving the full expenditure of such goodwill



and energies as we have available? Hindsight? I don’t think so, just reasonable analysis. The whole thing has been handled in an hysterical and destructive fashion. Jim, what are you going to do when they try again – when Grace [Stoen] come and they file for custody on the line? Are you going to demand that she be summarily evicted from the country and pound on the Prime Ministers door to try and get it done? I am not being sarcastic – but realistic. The game is likely not played out, and having escalated to this level over a modest attack what are you going to do when they make a full scale attack for the boy? Do you believe that the Guyanese Government can afford to deny a U.S. citizen access to the country and JUDICIAL SYSTEM for the redress of grievances? There are over 500,000 Guyanese living in the U.S. – all have family and friends here – what if the U.S.A. should reciprocate and treat Guyanese that way! Undoubtedly she would ultimately loose in Court, politically arranged, but there must be the impression of fairness and of access to the judicial process. Would you go through the months of litigation in the faith that Guyana wants us and would ultimately protect us or will you again send out emergency – Life-n-death calls to Angela, Huey, etc. to find another country? Do you really expect that in the last resort we would have a better position here, or be treated more favorably, than an esteemed Guyanese citizen? Could they afford to put us (Yankee foreigners) in a special class of elite – even if they wanted to? Reid has always supported us – but in indirect ways, never out front because he could not afford it politically –



and still can’t. Out front demands on him most create problems for him. Obviously there are those among his camp who support us, and those who don’t, and he has to live with all of them. Forcing him to take increasing public positions for us also serves to polarize the opposition against us. As you know, these positions among the younger ministers can be critical to our future. Were all of these points considered? I doubt it. Not because I wasn’t there to raise them – they are all fairly obvious and I am not that bright or perceptive, especially right now. I think your immediate reflexive response was to call out all of the “troops” at once – a sort of “If you give an inch they will take a yard” philosophy.

I did appreciate talking with Mike and Joyce, and the message you sent. I believe, sincerely, that you do care about me, and, to some extent your belief that my thinking now is affected by my health is correct. However your attempt at self justification over how this most recent affair was handled left me very cold because it tells me that you are really not willing, or able, to see how badly you have acted. The “see, it worked” commentary was hardy appropriate. It was not the polemics, threats, or the importuning that worked – rather, it was that they do want us here because we are an inspiration for an emerging Socialist nation.

Beyond my current fatigue, etc I have substantially lost confidence in your leadership, because of this type of thing. It is, as I see it, a strong matter of reactional methodology of yours. I do not feel it is bad – did good with [Lester] Kinsolving, for example but I feel that you no longer use it selectively. I Question wether you have the openness and insight to see it and correct this pattern in yourself and correct it or wether you will. If you don’t you will ultimately alienate all of your friends and tear the organization and people apart. This is the point I wished to make



and could not make strongly enough to be heard except by doing what I have done. It could not be done in a tete a tete because if I were to demand a private conversation anyone could; it could not be done in a counsel because I would not care to be so frankly critical and also because you would at once be defended by a clique of “yes people” because they would feel it their duty to protect and defend you. A least this way I know you will read this with some concern.

I hate to write – seems as how the ideas never get fully expressed or organized the way I mean them to be – fully expressive of my thoughts. Talking to you would be worse. You could sell snowballs to the eskimos. Best talker I ever met. I’m tired of being “sold,” Jim. You say what you feel you have to in order to keep somebody in, I know that – it is an organizational necessity. I do not wish to be subjected to it just now.

This was written between 5 and 8 AM Tuesday morning. I’ll reread it, annotate and correct later…I am sure I left out half of what I wanted to say.


I reread these notes. There is nothing I wish to change. In summer: I think you have gotten so “up tight” that you use bullets to kill bumble bees, but that you only have so many in your pocket and when the tigers come you will have non left to fire at them. I think this has become reactive on your part.



I know that your blood pressure gets out of control, you have insulin problems, you suffer from chronic excess fatigue. What I feel you are not sufficiently aware of is how much all of this effects your judgement and actions. Since you seem not to take the medically indicated steps to alleviate the condition (due to problems to be delt with) this also becomes a Question of your judgement. Your leadership ability – when functioning well – is by far the greatest asset the group has. When you impare it (and it is impared) in the problem solving you ultimately create more serious problems for the group in the future.

I would like to tell you why I Question your ability to see this condition and correct it. First, I think – rather have the impression – that you come from an “I’m O.K. You’re not O.K.” position. Therefore I am afraid that you will read all of this with an eye to understanding Chaikins thought so that you can best straighten Chaikin out, rather than really considering its Application to you on the presumtion that my observations about you might have some objective validity. Second, I feel in some way it might interfere with the reassurance you seem to need. (I am not mocking this, everyone needs to give and receive reassurances) Example: your periodic calls for pledges of loyalty from RC. You know that the responses were partly hypocritical. Is it only the psychological mechanism of maintaining attitudes by affirmation? I don’t think so. I thnk it was, and is, simply need fulfilling. Likewise



your “request of the group for you and your son” filled your need for support and approval, and, under more extreem circumstances might well have been appropriate – but objectively the position was nowhere near that critical at that time. I think that to some extent you use the “chrisis mentality” to get positive reinforcement and approval. If so, then these comments must serve to interfere with that – and will not be well received.

Some general comments:

I detest being lied to and manipulated. You have, over the years done a lot of both. The “great gun theft” is a classic case in point. I am sure that you remember when I left the locker open in my office, Terri took the guns out, I reported them missing – you announced the theft from the pulpit. There have been a score of other such incidents. How would you feel if I had ever (and I never have) knowingly gave false factual reports or false legal opinions to you in order to manipulate your behavior? Would you find that conduct acceptable in me on the grounds that: (1) my goal was pure (2) the ends justified he means (3) I understood the situation better than you? Hell no you wouldn’t – you would be totally pissed when you found out.

Even in the present situation when I asked for the children you lied to me – said you would send them out, but held off till Phyllis [Chaikin, wife] could get



here so that you would have some basis for hanging on, and I am sure that after she does arrive you will send them out. I would rather be told straight out then “put on.” What I do at this juncture depends to a considerable extent on my belief that you will do what you say – and this not help.

One final thought and I will stop. I was hesitant to come down this time – I am not sure why. My main purpose in coming was to try to cut through some of the hysteria and get you to see that the situation was not so severe as to warrant your reaction to it. When I arrived and saw that the whole thing had progressed to a point where I couldn’t do anything about it – and felt that there was just nothing I could do to quell that response to this situation, and that there would be nothing I could do in the future to quell that same anticipated response to all the like situations I can forsee arizing in the future – I felt totally helpless to alter the situation – that I left.


One final point: Some of this is predicated upon evaluation of objective circumstances. My evaluation was shared by Clarke, Luckhoo, and Garry, to name the first few that come to mind.



Response to tape

Karen made the unqualified committment to me that (From you) you would send the children out. Mike said the same thing. Just this morning I got your message from Joyce that “If you had known my changed position” you would have put the children on the plane. 3 people, 3 sources all saying they come direct from you. Now the tape denying all of it, saying you will not send them. It seems as I softened my stance in an effort at reason you made yours more Rigid. So, in fact, it is all a game on your part, and with that self righteousness that can admit of no error or mistake.

You so misunderstand me. You think my concern is with a “Nuclear family” life. Not so. My concern is with stability that would make development possible on a sane, rational basis, stability that all of the children need, and that depends on the stability of your head. After all, you never saw me, as I have seen you, loose control of yourself on many occasions and require physical restraint. It is not that I do not understand it, I do, it is that you do not admit it.

You “don’t know why I can’t come in to Jonestown” – when 3 people at different times tell me that you will send the children – as a message from you – and you deny it, I obviously can’t trust anything you say. You leave me little to have confidence in. Your word is no better than the expediance



that motives you to utter it. Joyce Parks even Looked depressed when she gave me the tape, she knew damn well you had contradicted yourself in the same day. I knew what it would be before I played it & essentially told her so.

You leave me very few choices. Phyllis will come in tonight and I suppose we will talk… but I think you and I now have very little to say to each other.


EE1-C6a – 6b

Eugene Chaikin Letter to Jim Jones



I saw Lynetta [Jones] only a few times – but often read things she had written. Her wit, spunk, and style were as unique as they were enjoyable. She was a strong, and a good person. I will remember her a long time.

My socialist committment has often fallen short of the mark. Still I retain a large measure of the bourgeoise values and attitudes that were all I knew till I joined the Temple. In your eyes, I am sure, these stick out Like so many stains on a clean cloth.

Now, my physical condition is obviously poor. Wether it is reverseable I don’t know. Miracles happen, but I [several illegible words] though weak, am in no great pain and have no lease on life. The only regret I would have if I died tonight would be the added burden I had left on the rest of you – the little I could have shared. Nevertheless, in the event I do, in fact have a Terminal blood disease I wish to make my desire clear to you. Unless there is a very Goodchance of correcting the condition, I do not want a lot of time, energy, and money spent on medical care. There are better uses for it. I would much prefer to stay here and do what i can to build this place. I am not at all interested in a parade of physicians, sanitoriums, transfusions, and the like. If it is of organizational value, I (though, not really a killer) would be willing to go to S.F. to take Tim [Stoen], Grace [Stoen], or whoever with me. There is little threat that the system can make on a dying man whose family is beyond retaliation.

Please do not take this note as being maudlin. I don’t feel that way at all. My spirits are good, and I have a good sense of humor. This is just my effort at socialist realism prompted – at this moment – by Lynetta’s death – whose memory I will Love, cherish.

Thank you for your love, care and concern.




Eugene Chaikin Letter to Jim Jones

Tues Jan?


I really screwed up today. I lost my temper with Lula Ruben, a senior, was swearing – not at her in the sense of name calling, – but nevertheless talking loudly and unkindly to her. Such conduct on the part of a white supervisor is not excuseable. Several others heard it and I am sure it went all through Dorm 5. Mrs. Ruben went away saying this was just like the U.S.A. … I apologized to her at the time. I am bringing myself up for that because it will have to be made public to clear the air…wether or not you [several words illegible] it to your attention.

By way of explanation, but not excuse, the flue bug has got to my stomach so I haven’t been eating much for the last day and a half, my blood sugar was off and I just lost my self control.

I feel very guilty about the whole episode and would like to work Sunday afternoons for 4 weeks.




Reverse side used as scratch paper listing various items

Marcel Hagemann [code for Rep. Don Edwards]

Cassava flour
Cassava Bread
Plantain flower
Cassava eep
Yellow Pages NY “flour”
Rezs shipping quantities

400-500 100lb bags

Write about products to offer –
Write about food processing machinery –




Eugene Chaikin Letter to Jim Jones


I would like to consider buying more large animals now. I think they will rapidly become more scarce and expensive – especially dairy cows which government is mooving to control. In addition to goats, I feel we should get at least 5 or 6 donkeys. As I understand it, they are good light draft animals, (pull small carts) & have modest nutritional requirements. With horses and donkeys we can breed mules which are also good draft animals.

It might be well to send someone again to town to buy animals, and also to investigate animal feeds such as better varieties of sugar cane, sorgum and field legumes.

I don’t know wether this should be brought up tonight – but thought to bring it to your attention.




Reverse side of page used as scrap paper, with a scribble through it.

Radio: Tell [illegible word]- outrageous our new mattresses coming in all dirty.

Letter to bureaucrats re the plastic doughboy pools –

Info on adobe – e.g. investigate ways of making & drying brick – what is needed

Dogs – to do abortion on few dogs & neuter both males & females. Need info & partic on how much anesthetic per # body wgt of dogs & cats.

Rabbit feed – did any come out on board? Need if issued [?]

Wallabees Tanks? Rheav [Rheaviana Beam]



Eugene Chaikin Letter to Jim Jones



I may be beating a dead horse. However, I feel that a point [Guyana police assistant commissioner of crime] Skip Roberts made is very important for us. That is, we should let him know if we are conducting any surveillance or similar operations, before we start. What we do is not illegal, but may well be misunderstood. Perhaps the last alpha [White Night] might have been avoided had we thought to do this – I don’t know – but it may well help to prevent future situations.

My suggestion is that Georgetown be so instructed, as a matter of course. If there is some reason not to do so, on a particular occasion, that could be so instructed. I am not very concerned that he may know of our modus operandi– he knows it already, at least in the areas that we would tell him. I also feel Government might feel a bit more secure with us, if we were more – at least seemingly – trusting of them.




Reverse side of page, all words struck though

Export Items


  1. Casava Bread
  2. Cassareep
  3. Plantain flour



  1. Cassareep
  2. Plantain flower
  3. Ball Park



Eugene Chaikin Test Answers

Gene Chaikin 6/9/78

  1. 4 Enemies: Trotskyism, Revisionism, Social Democracy, & Anarchism
  2. Prop. 13: Passed in California by an Initiative, reduced Calif. Take by about 1/3 = reduced the budget by 7 billion dollars. This will result in 500,000 people in Calif. losing their job too. Will also result in the loss of the entire welfare budget. This will most surely effect the black community which = the most dependent on public benefits.
  3. Marxist Theory is that the oppression of the working class will produce a class consciousness that there will be a revolution whereby the working class will take power from the Capitalists – political control of government and control of the means of production – an distribution. Since the Capitalist class is in power and will not give it up, it must be taken by force by the working class. Force is armed struggle – it can be anything from the assassination of a few key figures to a full scale military conflict. Any act done with force or the threat of force intending its use, for the purpose of furthering the working class struggle against the Capitalists is “armed struggle.” The revisionist would twist or alter Marxism to say a revolution can be achieved through peaceful democratic, gradual and legal means. A current example is Chile. It didn’t work. Left the revisionist to label any act of armed struggle, such as the Red Brigade [Italian Prime Minister] Aldo Moro kidnap liquidation as “terrorism” because it uses force. However it was calculated to and likely did have a good affect on the working class struggle.* [* leads to following fragment written at bottom of page: “created conflict in the Italian Christian-Democratic party.”] Bombing a working class movie house would be an act of terrorism. It would serve no Revolutionary purpose.
  4. SB 1437 (1) revised statutory constitution allowing interpretation of criminal laws for benefit of the gov’t. (2) Make illegal to publish a govt document not obtained via proper channels. (3) illegal to strike if it would offset U.S. war effort. (4) illegal to do any act which would impare [impair] the effort of U.S. in any conflict. (5) long jail term for narcotics charges. (6) extended definition of subversion to include criticism of war effort. (7) Establish a “local jury” standard for what is pornographic.
  5. Ethiopia, Zaire
  6. Said U.S. insulted Africans by intruding in African affairs. Who gave them the right? Told [U.S. President Jimmy] Carter to leave Africa alone. Africans resents U.S. presence and they will manage their own affairs. Also said [illegible word] Cubans in Zaire.
  7. They divert the attention of the working class from the class struggle. Also creates some behaviors that conflict with class struggle and this helps the capitalists keep the working class down. Ex: Bible verse “Slaves obey your masters,” etc.
  8. Both have a police/military establishment that uses its power politically to maintain the capitalist establishment.
  9. Because it was the police plot to kill him.
  10. ZANU [words inserted above line] Zimbabwe African National Union]. They are liberating Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
  11. Retribution for Cuban/Russian involvements in Africa.
  12. On the face of it the conflict is a border dispute – particularly over some islands. More profoundly, Vietnam is U.S.S.R. oriented and supported & Kampuchea is, tho socialist, China oriented and very chauvinistic. – The Khymer [Khmer] people
  13. Chilean [illegible word] was used for torture and rape & Chilean patriots often the “putch” [putsch] in 1973. Now welcomed with honor in S.F. Harbor. It was used as a concentration – torture – interrogation center.
  14. That U.S.S.R. get out of Africa.
  15. Turkey may leave N.A.T.O. [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] because U.S. Congress put a ban on arms sales to Turkey bec. [because] Turkey had used U.S. arms against Greece in the revolution.
  16. China, also U.S.A.
  17. Ask what are the charges. Do not answer questions or sign anything. Demand to see a lawyer.


  1. Egypt, Israel, Cuba, Rhodesia, Union of South Africa, U.S.S.R.


  1. He is alive.
  2. Black prison leader recently executed who got a message out of prison deriding the terrible conditions.
  3. Joanne Little is a black woman who was acquitted of a charge of murder of a jailer who tried to rape her. She was in jail, escaped to N.Y. Was turned in by her companion. Now fighting extradition back to (Alabama?) and her appeal against the extradition order just turned down by N.Y. Supreme Court.