The Charles Manson Murders and Darwinism
158, 2014 September)
One of the most
horrific crimes of the last century was the Charles Manson murders that
involved the senseless killing of five people, including director Roman
Polanski's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, on August 9, 1969.
Two days later,
the Manson family, specifically Charles "Tex" Watson, murdered
supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in their
upscale home. The case made headlines around the world, and was the
subject of at least five books, the most recent published only last
year. The most popular book on the case, written by attorney Vincent
Bugliosi, was the best-selling crime book of the last century (Guinn,
Manson (born November 12, 1934) is an American ne'er-do-well who led
what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune in California,
in the late 1960s. Manson believed in what he called Helter Skelter, an
expression he exploited from a Beatles song of the same name. The
Helter Skelter involved the belief in a soon to occur apocalyptic race
war between blacks and whites.
that the murders that his Family committed would help to precipitate
that war. He did this by attempting to blame his family's murders on
the Black Panthers by such acts as writing in blood in the homes of his
victim's words like "Pig," a common term used to describe whites by
radical blacks. Manson naively felt that this would encourage the
race war that he felt was sure to come soon. Manson taught that:
Family were going to descend into a "Bottomless pit," … and remain
there until the blacks had decimated the whites. Finding themselves
incapable of ruling the world, the victors would call upon the Family
to take over while they (the blacks) reverted [back] to their natural
servant status (Bishop, 1972, p. 353).
testified at Manson's trial were adamant that this was Manson's central
thesis. They testified in court under oath that the reason for the
Manson murders was because "a war between the blacks and whites was
imminent and he called that war Helter Skelter" (Bishop, 1972, p. 352).
When Manson developed his Helter Skelter theory he:
a complete change of life-style. He began amassing material things,
"Firearms, vehicles, money." He needed these things, he said, "to go to
the desert because Helter Skelter was coming" (Bishop, 1972, p. 352).
testimony in his murder court case that supported this theory was as
Well, they knew that we were super-aware, much more than other white
people, and they knew we knew about them and that they were eventually
going to take over, his whole philosophy on the black people, that they
wanted to do away with us [whites] because apparently they knew that we
were going to save the white race or go out to the hole in the desert.
Bugliosi): Did Mr. Manson mention the term Helter Skelter to you?
A: (By Miss
Kasabian after five separate objections by Kanarek): Yes. It is a
revolution where blacks and whites will get together and kill each
other and all non-blacks and brown people and even black people who do
not go on black people's terms …
Q: Did he say
who was going to start Helter Skelter?
[was]. He used to say that Blackie was much more aware than whitey and
super together, and whitey was just totally untogether, just would not
get together; they were off on these side trips, and blackie was really
together (Bishop, 1972, p. 142).
trial witness noted that Nietzsche was one philosopher that influenced
Manson, testifying that:
claimed to have read Nietzsche and that he believed in a master race,
plus the emergence of a startling number of disturbing parallels
between Manson and the leader of the Third Reich, led me [Bugliosi] to
ask Poston: Did Manson ever say anything about Hitler?" Poston's reply
was short and incredibly chilling ... "He said that Hitler was a tuned
in guy who had leveled the karma of the Jews" (Bugliosi, 1972, p. 236).
comparisons between Hitler and Manson include:
Manson's and Hitler's followers were able to explain away the monstrous
acts their leaders committed by retreating into philosophical
abstractions. Probably the single most important influence on Hitler
was Nietzsche. Manson told Jakobson that he had read Nietzsche… both
Manson and Hitler believed in the three basic tenets of Nietzsche's
philosophy: women are inferior to men; the white race is superior to
all other races; [and] it is not wrong to kill if the end is right
(Bugliosi, 1972, p. 474).
motivation was "it is a matter of evolution" and "the black people are
coming to the top, as it should be" (Bugliosi, 1972, p. 420).
which was connected to his racism, was also central to Mason's
worldview. Manson used sex to help eradicate what Manson viewed as
person indicated reluctance to engage in a certain [sex] act, Manson
would force that person to commit it. Male-female, female-female,
male-male, intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, sodomy—there could be no
inhibitions of any kind. One thirteen-year-old girl's initiation into
the Family consisted of her being sodomized by Manson while the others
watched. Manson also "went down on" a young boy to show the others he
had rid himself of all inhibitions (Bugliosi, 1972, p. 327).
example of racism, Manson used to get upset at people who listened to
black music on the radio. They didn't like this music because it
"offended their Okie-Aryan racism" (Sanders, 1971, p. 141). And again,
in one incident Manson's goal was to please a gang of bikers:
not all of them passed the race test. For instance, Joe of the Straight
Satans once brought a guy to the ranch that was one-half Indian, a guy
named Sammy. Charlie would not allow him to make it with the girls. A
person named Mark who was only one-quarter Indian was not allowed to
commerce with the Aryans at the Spahn Ranch (Sanders, 1971, p. 41).
The family also
openly rejected Christianity and, instead, "believed in reincarnation
and in the possibility of monitoring past lives. So the child was the
sum culmination of the life-chain of evolution" (Sanders, 1971, p. 61).
Watson became a
born-again Christian in 1975 and, through non-incarcerated friends,
operates aboundinglove.org. His book about his role in the murders
includes his testimony that he now feels enormous remorse for his
actions, and believes that God has forgiven him. He also supported the
conclusions documented in this paper.
is one more of many examples where Darwinism has influenced racism that
has caused criminal behavior (Bergman, 2005).
2005. "Darwinian Criminality Theory: A Tragic Chapter in History" Rivista
di Biologia/ Biology Forum. 98(1):47-70. Jan-April.
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Vincent. 1974. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.
New York: Norton.
2013. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson. New York:
Simon & Schuster.
1971. The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack
Battalion. New York: E. P. Dutton.
1978. Will you Die For Me? Cross Roads Publications.