Could Jonestown Happen Again?

Jun 2014
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*Snip*

Now, forty years on, a new documentary recalls what would culminate in the largest loss of American lives in a single event until 9/11.

Named after their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ, Jonestown was envisaged as a “rainbow family” of all ages and races, working towards the utopia the preacher had promised them: “Divine principles. Total equality. A society where people own all things in common, where there is no rich or poor, where there are no races.”

Here, good old-fashioned Pentecostal preaching would be fused with the revolutionary ideals of the Sixties and Seventies.

Here, the walls would be daubed with signs proclaiming: “Love one another.”

When they finally counted the bodies after what would become known as the Jonestown massacre of 18 November 1978, the total came to 918, of whom 304 were children. They had been persuaded to “drink the Kool-Aid”.

Jones’s legacy, you might think, is just an expression about drinking the Kool-Aid, deriding – not celebrating – a failure to question mass delusion.

But now the airing of a new documentary about the massacre has raised questions about whether it could all happen again.

Leslie Wagner-Wilson, a survivor who contributed to the A&E documentary Jonestown: The Women Behind the Massacre, has warned: “I think Peoples Temple rose from a social political environment that’s similar to what we’re facing now.”

Ms Wagner-Wilson, now a 61-year-old grandmother, told Fox News: “There’s a need. People want to be a part of something. They want to feel safe; they want to feel a sense of community.

*Snip*
The Jonestown massacre and how 918 people followed a cult leader to Guyana and died in a single day

Jonestown is not the only recorded mass suicide.

Every Mass Suicide In World History

It's unique, though, for the huge number of victims and child victims. Jonestown also is unique for exploiting the high level of discontent in America to recruit members and later, persuade them that there was no hope left for lives worth living.

So.....are these same conditions present in modern America, IYO? Could it happen again?
 
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Jun 2014
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Yes ... as long as there are lost and/or gullible people, it could happen again.
There are always lost and gullible people, and there are murder/suicides in the U.S. every year. And maybe Jonestown is only different because so many people died, but I don't think so.

I think Jonestown is more comparable to mass suicides that occurred in Germany and Japan at the end of WW2. The sense of hopelessness and paralyzing fear of what comes next.

Are there big groups of such people in the U.S. now?
 

Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
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It is what happens when a bunch of people so commit their whole lives to something stupid that they become unable or unwilling to change when it becomes untenable. They would rather die than admit they were wrong, or that what they committed to had turned into something absurd.
 
Jun 2014
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It is what happens when a bunch of people so commit their whole lives to something stupid that they become unable or unwilling to change when it becomes untenable. They would rather die than admit they were wrong, or that what they committed to had turned into something absurd.
I agree. Some of the worst mass suicides in my memory were doomsday cults or held very odd beliefs about extraterrestrial life.
 

johnflesh

Former Staff
Feb 2007
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For clarity:

Jonestown isn't technically a mass suicide though it was labelled as such at first. Mass suicide is when a group plans to kill themselves and does so.

The people of Jonestown did not join the group or travel with the group on a plan to kill themselves.

1/3 of the people at Jonestown were children.
And many more were injected with cyanide, they didn't take it willingly.
And those who refused were killed.
Many more drank the poison without understanding what was going to happen or what was in the cup.

It was a murder-suicide, mass murder or massacre as described by today's terms.

Yes it could happen again. The more we move away from stable society the more likely it is.
 
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It's not a question of if but when.

Of course it will happen again.

Extremely disturbing documentary to watch by the way.

Since I'm not trained in this matter everything I would say are just opinions but there are sociological events that trigger groups like this from what I understand. We've been at relative peace in that area the last few decades but times are changing and the odds of new groups forming up in a changing society are likely to happen. All it takes is a certain type of charismatic leader to convince them.

Perhaps someone with more expertise on the matter could chime in on this.