The Rural People’s Party (RPP) was officially ratified into existence in 2004 when our founder was released from federal prison after serving a sentence on weapons charges. This was the result of a federal investigation during the hysteria of aggressive and unchecked post-9/11 undercover operations aimed at so-called domestic terror groups and other factions at odds with the government. Other comrades on the outside had already scouted out and purchased a rural location for the founding of a commune. That began to come into its own in terms of infrastructure around 2006-2007 with the purchase of additional outbuildings and some small agricultural development (which is always a struggle considering our area of South Carolina is located in the sand hills).
Our original intent was to establish strictly a local formation, but over the years, our political theory has attracted persons from various parts of the country, including post-graduate students at various universities (primarily political science students working toward their doctorates), Latino youth in urban areas as well as recruits from other demographic backgrounds (such as migrant Mexican and Central American workers). The governing body of the party which is the Central Committee (i.e. party center) consists entirely of persons of poor and rural backgrounds in keeping with the principles outlined in our Programme for the Creation and Cultivation of the Proletarian State.
The party was founded with a very straight-forward aim to promulgate and put into practice the theoretical advancements of the (now defunct) Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM). This posits that at this juncture in American history, the majority of the so-called working classes are actually a labor aristocracy (i.e. enjoying a level of privilege far above that of the rest of the world). We differ from other groups upholding the Maoist Internationalist Movement line however, due to the fact that we do not reject everyone within the United States as being “bought off” by imperialism. From the beginning, we understood that there are certainly legitimately oppressed classes within the United States including the rural poor, inhabitants of the ghettos and projects in urban areas, certain sectors of the black nation and other historically oppressed people groups.
From this point of departure with a traditional MIM line, we began searching out historic precedents for the grass roots philosophy that has bound the party together since its inception. Through a member who was familiar with Peoples Temple from an academic perspective, we began exploring the group in-depth and instantly found an absolute resonance with the work of Jim Jones and his movement. From that point on, we have actively sought to fully imbue the party with the spirit of Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. While certainly not accepting a dogmatic approach – which is anathema from the perspective of dialectical materialists – we have found overriding more positive than negative in Peoples Temple. In a scientific manner – and despite working with limited resources and facing the difficulties and lack of opportunities familiar to our class – we have sought to emulate the process Jim Jones started.
Most communist groups in operation within the United States today seem to be primarily comprised of intellectuals and students. One almost universal characterization of these groups is the deification and emulation of foreign models. Practically speaking we found such an approach untenable. In addition we found it strange that communist groups were almost completely disconnected from the populace that they claim to represent (i.e. those who we believe are legitimately oppressed by capitalist society). Our goal is and always has been forming independent institutions of the oppressed – the poor and underprivileged sections of society, including the homeless – so they might find opportunities for self-reliant action, cultural opportunities, and a sense of purpose and community that is lacking both in rural areas and in crime-ridden urban areas. Our efforts over the years to assist the homeless has caused a backlash from liberal charity groups, who act as if they have a corner on the market and who interestingly enough consider it unethical to expose the homeless to political processes. We also seek to educate people about the nature of local government and the nature of class society so that persons who might not have all the benefits of a middle-class suburban upbringing and who might otherwise wind up (as an example) starting a methamphetamine lab and going to prison can avoid the common pitfalls facing the poor and do something significant for humanity.
The communist movement in this country has not taken kindly to our on-the-ground approach. We are considered to be a threat to established doctrine, which tends to be static. But our approach is also attractive to their adherents, and we have attracted former members of groups like the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and Communist Party, USA. Other communist organizations have taken it upon themselves to attempt and actively sabotage some of our ties with foreign communist parties as well.
Our identification with Peoples Temple has also had its consequences. Other sectors of the left have thrown at us all of the usual derogatory opinions concerning Jim Jones, including claims that Jones was a psychopath, that Peoples Temple was nothing more than a religious cult, etc.
Despite these reactions, the party has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, due to the enthusiasm of our membership for accomplishing the task at hand. While many dismiss the RPP (specifically because of our upholding Peoples Temple as a communist model) we have seen that serious students of political science as well as persons who have a legitimate class interest in seeing communist realized (most of whom have never been familiar with communism outside of the Rural People’s Party) have no such hang-ups and are in fact more favorable to Peoples Temple even over the more traditional models.
(For more information on the Rural People’s Party, visit their website at http://ruralpeople.atspace.org. More detailed articles on the Rural People’s Party perspectives on Peoples Temple include Honoring the Legacy of the Peoples Temple Martyrs of November 18th, 1978, and Comrade Jim Jones: The Nature of the Theoretical Task. A photograph of one of the Central Committee members on pilgrimage to the former Los Angeles site of Peoples Temple – as well as a photo of the church itself – is here.)