Some long-time Mansonistas may be familiar with the name James Mason. Previously covered by Mansonblog.com here and here, Schreck's first book The Manson File probably provides the best potted introduction to this bizarre figure:
...James N. Mason is perhaps the most outspoken advocate of Manson as a political avatar. In a 1987 video interview by documentary filmmaker Brian King, Mason hymned Manson "the result of fortuitous genetic circumstance" that comes "once in a lifetime, like Hitler". Manson persuaded Mason, who in 1981 led the National Socialist Liberation Front, to drop the "reactionary" perpetual-motion of left-right skirmishes, and to embrace the "truly revolutionary" notion of "Universal Order" as exemplified by Manson's design of a balance scale with Manson's backwards swastika superimposed on it.In essence Mason is one of those weird fringe figures who were attracted to Manson and the scattered remnants of the Family after the Tate-LaBianca trials: an intellectual neo-Nazi who came to see Manson as some kind of political Messiah, championing the killings & Family lifestyle as a kind of 'political ideal'- something that wasn't exactly a new idea. And, as you can see below, I recently found a video of James Mason discussing this at some length- his relationship with Charlie, and the influence they both had on each other. But first...
...some context. At the time Mason first came into contact with Charlie the former was an associate of the National Socialist Liberation Front (NSLF), a splinter-group from the American Nazi Party. The NSLF was trying to break with the Reactionary-Square image of the Nazi Party: its members had long(ish) hair; its leader openly smoked dope; it didn't reject rock 'n' roll as 'Jew/Negro' music; and it published its own weirdo-druggy-XXX underground comix, the kind of thing you'd get if R. Crumb's talent was halved and he started mixing Mein Kampf with his LSD. The NSLF intended to set itself up as a far-right alternative to the Weathermen/SDS, angling to attract 70's/80's political-longhair types put off by the Counterculture's leftist bent. But after the NSLF's leader was shot and killed (by another Nazi, of course) Mason led the Ohio branch of the NSLF off into another political split, renaming it 'Universal Order'. This new group of his was heavily inspired by his growing fascination with Charlie; the 'Universal Order' name and logo came directly from Charlie himself, and the group's ideas ended up an eclectic mix of:
- 'Hitler-is-God' religious Nazism,
- Manson is 'Hitler-God's prophet, and
- The Family commune was "a racial-socialist utopia", the Family themselves a 'revolutionary vanguard', and their murders of "System-Pigs" and "Jewish Hollywood" big-shots an inspiring example of political DIRECT ACTION!
Anyhow, now for The Meat. While digging around on YouTube recently I stumbled across the following video. I believe it to be the 1987 interview mentioned by Schreck in the quote above. It's a 40-odd minute clip of Mason, a respectable bookish-looking chap, sitting in front of a velvet curtain in a Holiday Inn hotel room, being asked questions about himself, Nazism, Universal Order, and Charlie Manson. For the lazy, Mason begins specifically talking about Charlie and the family at the 03m50s mark, but almost the entirety of the footage revolves around Mason discussing Charlie to some degree or another.
Why should watching an eccentric political fanatic talk about his adoration of Charles Manson be of any interest to the Manson Fans at mansonblog.com? Mostly because of the odd minutiae Mason reveals about his relationship with Charlie, Squeaky, and Sandy, all of whom are mentioned multiple times in the video. For instance:
- Mason had already become attracted by the Family before he officially contacted him. When he first heard about the Tate-LaBianca killings on the news as a teenager, his immediate reaction: "Good!" Mason saw nothing wrong in killing bourgeois 'Jew-Hollywood' types.
- He initially contacted Squeaky and Sandy via letter while they were still in prison in West Virgina, having become aware via a newspaper article they were to be soon released. After he gained their trust (Squeaky first, then Sandy) he was able to establish correspondence with Manson.
- Manson is described as "very forthright" and "not worried about sparing anyone's feelings" (big surprise, huh!?).
- Communication was largely via letters, as Charlie was only allowed "about 3 minutes at a time" during telephone conversations during which he was always accompanied by a guard.
- Mason had "a heck of a time" not only reading Charlie's letters, but comprehending them- although when he did they were full of "many profound ideas". Squeaky had to physically transcribe the letters into a readable form of "modern English" [he doesn't explain whether this was done before or after she & Sandy were released from prison]. Squeaky & Sandy told Mason that, "you have to read Charlie's letters at least three times to understand them, before they sink in."
- At several points he remarks that he dislikes use of the term 'The Family' but uses it out of convenience. "Manson would deny he's a leader and deny there's a Family." The girls are also mentioned as being likely to 'strenuously object' to use of this term.
- Mason seems to have swallowed as 'deep' the many Charlie lines we've heard before, i.e. "Christians seem to live in order to die. Whereas Manson would have it, 'Live one day at a time. There's no past, no future, only now.'"
- Mason believes the Tate-LaBianca murders were "intended to free Bobby Beausoleil." Charlie has "never lied about this", and Helter Skelter is "Bugliosi's invention." Mason believes Charlie was pressured into the murders (and attracted so much police heat generally) through some of the 'flaky people' who hung around him (Tex's name is mentioned). Essentially the old 'Charlie did nuffin' wrong' line.
- He believes if Tate-LaBianca hadn't occurred, Charlie would have grown a massive political following and generated a significant degree of musical success. Hrmm...
Manson gave the people around him what they needed most. This is what they accuse Hitler of doing... Manson did the same thing. These people that comprised his Family were for the most part upper-middle-class, well-educated runaways - mostly female - that had run away from home because of an intense dissatisfaction with the system, values, way they were brought up. They were missing something vital and critical to human happiness and Manson simply supplied that... Manson had that genetic combination [like Hitler] that couldn't be denied in spite of his environment and he was able to supply those individual needs. When you can do that for a person or group of people you've won their loyalty, right straight to death if need be. And:
I run Universal Order and I run it in Manson's spirit, which at the same time is Hitler's spirit, which at the same time - if you're a Christian - is Jesus of Nazareth's spirit- it's that same spirit. Manson would call it the spirit of truth, and as he always says: "Truth is one. There's only one truth." It can be National Socialism, it can be Christianity, you can put different names on it for different periods but it's still the same thing. His name for it is Universal Order.Oo-ee-oo, huh? Mason's truth was clearly National Socialism, regardless of Charlie's input or not. For a concrete example of some of Charlie's inspiration on Mason, compare the changes he made to the logo Mason was using for his group- as Mason explains in the video, Charlie thought the NSLF logo was stupid (Mason didn't have an army behind him, so why advertise himself with a gun? wisdom!) so her personally re-designed the new logo himself:
|NSLF Logo - Pre-Manson|
|Universal Order - Post-Manson|
Interestingly, this incorporates the backwards-swastika we've seen other Family members used before, the one (supposedly) inspired by Native Americans... as well as the scales of justice, symbolising (of course) Universal Order. I'll leave the last word on this for Charlie:
All must have a one world government, money, army, all in order to bring order in fast and reset all to ATWA for life itself and all life support systems set in order, balance, and God's will. - Charles M. Manson
Might almost call that a ... Universal Order?