Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “Comments Oct. 14”
Date cues on tape: Contents consistent with identification note
Louise (last name unknown, died in Indianapolis)
Mrs. PearsonTemple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Joe Mazor (by reference)Other Temple members:
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Diane (numerous in Jonestown)
Pat (numerous in Jonestown)
Johnny Moss Brown
Ricky Johnson (speaks)
Eva Pugh (speaks)
Teri Smart (by reference)
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Vicki Perry. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
During a meeting in mid-October 1978, Jim Jones faces a Jonestown community that includes some members so unhappy and hostile, that they have attempted to run away or to commit suicide. The leader approaches the crisis in a number of different ways, reminding the would-be suicide that it doesn’t work – they’ll be back in another life – telling the people of his own problems, recalling the miracles he has performed over the years, and explaining how true socialists behave, but the theme he returns to the most is how to deal with dissidents.
While Jones’ attention eventually focuses on the two young men before him, the tape opens with him addressing the crowd as a whole with his oft-repeated critique of how sexual relationships ruin people for socialism. He eventually includes other culprits, such as pop music – another familiar target – and explains how even buying an ice cream cone or Coca-Cola supports capitalism and detracts from their mission.
But the most important message to the community at large that night is that they are avoiding responsibility – “All night long I’ve heard people covering their ass” – and that means, they aren’t communist or even on the road to communism. All that behavior shows how much each person looks out for himself or herself, and that means they still have ego. “Communism is the end of ego,” he says. “Replace socialist-centric behavior for ego-centric behavior.”
He deplores the lack of honesty, the refusal of some people to confess their faults, and especially their insistence that they are doing the best they can. “Nobody can stand in my face and tell such a lie like that,” he warns, then adds, “When are we going to grow up? Are we going to lose this revolution?” The only way to win the revolution, he says a few moments later, is to follow the “goddamn rules.”
Jones returns to the theme of personal responsibility more than once. After one tape edit – which apparently has eliminated a contextual introduction – Jones says he does not have a personal vendetta against Tim Stoen. “I don’t retaliate out of vindictiveness. I don’t seek to avenge my enemies.” Instead, he says, “I seek to find the class enemy and destroy the class enemy.” And Stoen is the class enemy.
More importantly, though, the people of Jonestown shouldn’t pattern their own behavior on what Stoen has done, or what anyone else does. Socialism does not depend on anything but what each of them does. “[Y]ou sacrifice yourself and to hell with what the rest of people do.”
Another important piece of the socialist consciousness is guilt, Jones says later. In describing some of his miracles, he says he doesn’t understand his power – how he does what he does – but he is compelled to use it. If he didn’t, or if he did and failed, he’d feel guilt. But he also feels the guilt that others have (or should have), just as they themselves should feel the guilt and use that to their benefit. “As you take guilt and appropriate it in work and appreciation, it becomes the biggest determiner for communism. If you take guilt and resent it and don’t appropriate it properly, it can do nothing for you or anyone else… [Guilt] is the only thing that can keep an organization moving to the pure goal of socialism.”
But the problem at hand is the attempted runaway and the attempted suicide. He says that the young men demonstrated signs of insanity – “It’s insane to run away three times in a jungle, filled with snakes and perhaps mercenaries” – and any “sane society” has to respond with appropriate measures.
The remedy is in closed and measured language. “I have a strong feeling that people act like this should never even get out. I think that we want to change the hospital unit … and give them one whole capacity and we’ll treat you just like do in mental patients.” Later he describes the boys as “two basket cases,” and suggests that it’s going to take a while – he mentions a period of “sixteen months” – to bring them back to stability.
It is unclear what Jones is specifically proposing to ensure they never get out, or to predict the length of time of some incapacitation, but reports from this time period in Jonestown’s history suggests several dissidents were sedated or drugged.
Towards the end of the tape, Jones recalls some of the miracles he has performed, even if it is in granting release to people who are suffering from terminal and difficult diseases. He discusses his own thoughts on how he approaches miracles, and the way he feels as he’s performing them.
He also discusses some of his own spiritual beliefs. “I’m telling you, I don’t believe in anything loving in the universe,” he says, then returns to the subject later. “I don’t believe in ordered universe. I don’t believe any love’s up there that I’ve been able to perceive because it is absolutely unloving.” How can he, he says, when there is so much pain in the world, so much disease and hunger.
But the discussion has a deeper purpose. Each time he talks about what may or may not be in the universe – no matter that “I’m a skeptic and a cynic, and no matter how many victories I win, I’m still a skeptic and a cynic” – there is one thing of which he is sure: The mind doesn’t die with a suicide, but comes back. He describes that characteristic of the universe’s treatment of suicides as “perverse” at one point, and as “diabolical” at another point, but it is certain: “the mind supersedes the body… it goes out of body, it lives on.” Returning to his argument against suicide, he warns, “you will accomplish nothing by trying to kill yourself.”
“I’m just saying,” he says near the end of the tape, “don’t fuck with suicide.”
Date of transcription: 6/18/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On June 4, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B93-111. This tape was found to contain the following:
A lecture by JIM JONES on how the people in Jonestown should turn the other cheek.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted April 2008