The Charles Manson Murders and Darwinism

Jerry Bergman

(Investigator 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, 2013)

Charles Milles 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.

Manson expected 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:
the 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).

Those who 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:
 underwent 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).

 Other testimony in his murder court case that supported this theory was as follows:

Kasabian: 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.

Q: (By 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?

A: Blackie [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).

Another court trial witness noted that Nietzsche was one philosopher that influenced Manson, testifying that:
Charlie 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).

The many comparisons between Hitler and Manson include:
Both 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).

Manson's 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).

Promiscuous sex, which was connected to his racism, was also central to Mason's worldview. Manson used sex to help eradicate what Manson viewed as Christian hang-ups:
If a 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).

In another 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:
but 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 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.


This case is one more of many examples where Darwinism has influenced racism that has caused criminal behavior (Bergman, 2005).


Bergman, Jerry. 2005. "Darwinian Criminality Theory: A Tragic Chapter in History" Rivista di Biologia/ Biology Forum.  98(1):47-70.  Jan-April.

Bishop, George Victor. 1972. Witness to Evil. New York: Nash

Bugliosi, Vincent. 1974. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. New York: Norton.

Guinn, Jeff. 2013. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Sanders, Ed. 1971. The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion. New York: E. P. Dutton.

Watson. Charles. 1978. Will you Die For Me?  Cross Roads Publications.