Nation: Why People Join

[He has] no more pressing need than the one to find somebody to whom he can surrender, as quickly as possible, that gift of freedom which he, the unfortunate creature, was born with.

—Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

The landscape of their minds was as grotesque as the corpse-littered village they left behind. They had started as seekers after meaning, direction, comfort and love. The Peoples Temple, which provided a number of social services to the poor, had filled their lives with purpose. But in the jungle of Guyana, it had all turned into fear and hatred.

Why did they join an organization like the...

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