To repeat--Jones did not just manipulate his immediate followers.
Jones brilliantly manipulated the context--social, political, even journalistic-- in which people made thier choices.
He didnt just put items on the menu--he chose the paper that menue was printed on!
We cant stand to face the extent to which the context of our choice making can be manipulated.
But if we can face this steadily, this awareness is infinitely more liberating than any ideology of false empowerment which claims 'there are no victims' and 'you are free to leave.'
By using his charm and social justice projects, Jones adroitlynot only ran a cult--he also manipulated the paracultic milieu
as well--the secular and political social context of the City of San Francisco.
It wasnt just his own members Jones manipulated--he used members of the SF political establishment as chess pieces, and used his social justice projects as flypaper.
Here is a present day example of how this strategy works:
(quote)Former cadre Whitnack believes by maintaining the pretense of the mutual benefit association, NATLFED entities keep their organization alive, retain high profile members and business partners, and appear like a just another service group.
“They have a ton of doctors and lawyers,” says Whitnack. “The bigger fish, they let them have independence. They don’t want to lie to them. It’s all basically flypaper to suck in new members.”
Substitute 'politicians' and you have Jim Jones.
*(quote) An anonymous, former full-time volunteer who NATLFED convinced to drop out of college about ten years ago – I’ll call him Bob—explained his feelings about this tactic: “It’s my understanding the number one thing they want is not to help poor or increase donations. The number one thing they want is to recruit more members that will allow them to continue their organization, just to keep it going. New organizers come so terribly slowly that they have to reach thousands to get one to be full-time.
"“They try to make you believe there is no plan on the planet that can address the problems of poor people like theirs can…I had a difficult time saying no. When someone says to you, ‘I have given up my job and an ordinary life to pursue the goal of ending world poverty,’ you can’t just look at them in the eye and say no like you can to a salesman…They are genuine, but manipulative to the point that it’s not funny
This was a secular political cult.
But this same strategy of using establishment figures as wallpaper (and making no demands that they participate in the cult!!) and using the poor and good cause projects for the poor as 'flypaper'--and as PR window dressing was taken to virtuouso heights by Jim Jones--
for in toto, it amounted to manipulation of the para-cultic social milieu
of politicians, sympathetic journalists, newpaper readers and disadvantaged neighborhoods who appreciated Jones social projects--Jone's 'flypaper' which resulted in too many people ending up 'stuck on him.'
The sidebar on the article makes a statement about NATLFED that is just as applicable to Jim Jones and gurus who give a few thousand dollars to charity concerns in India but keep millions more for themselves--
'They use the poor as flypaper'.
Again, at the risk of making future saints go through a checkpoint, one has to check the bonafides of anyone doing good cause work.
It has served as a cover for too many scoundrels.
Bernie Madoff was reputed to be a pious man.
And...there are hints that long term, over years, Madoff reportedly became friends with SEC regulators, making himself psychologically invisible to them, making it become unthinkable to them that he could ever be seen as capable of doing wrong.
That too is a way to manipulate context. Befriend the guardians of society--and do it gently, softly, gradually. No sudden moves. Patience, patience. Buy a lot of lunches. Schmooze. Give people pleasent memories of you.
Make it unthinkable for them to re-frame you as even a potential crook--or cult leader.
Someone once said more money has been stolen or conned away in Gods name or in the name of 'love' than was ever taken at gun point.
Mel Brooks, in one of his 2000 Year Old Man routines, mused on how it was we had a skull over our brains but nothing to cover our private parts.
Brooks then suggested why this is so:
'You dont want some stranger coming along and stroking your brains
. You might get confused, make a mistake with your checks, loose money.'
Well, the reason we have RR.com is a lot of folks are out there trying very hard,and succeeding all too well in 'stroking our brains.'
Having a cranium for protection is just not enough anymore.
And The Anticult has done brilliant work showing use exactly how this is done.
Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2009 12:25AM by corboy.