So, here we are at the end of my account of the day spent listening to David Icke.
What to say?
Section four of his presentation was about changing the world or, to be precise, about preparing yourself for the change that is coming.
Recall that Icke thinks we are currently being controlled by a very particular harmonic vibrational energy, one that imprisons us in five-sense reality. However, this is a temporary state of affairs: as we move out of one age and into another a new frequency will emerge and shift us out of our lethargy and imprisonment. This is the truth vibration. All we need to do is wait.
Icke’s message is interesting insofar that he doesn’t really advocate people doing anything to change the world themselves. For example, the changes that are being advocated by environmentalists and the like are, to Icke, just more symptoms of our imprisonment. Icke thinks anthropogenic climate change is a scam, energy efficient lightbulbs are part of the system of control (he believes that they are amplifiers and transmitters of the vibration that currently imprisons us) and smart meters bathe us in malign radiation. Icke doesn’t require that we do anything other than continue to believe that we can be free: we can help the revolution not through action but rather by subscribing to his particular groupthink. Once again, I can’t help but think, if we grant some of his claims, that maybe Icke is part of the system of control he rales against, given that he advocates inaction and just wants his followers to hold on long enough to see the truth. It is as if he is proposing inaction as a covert way of letting the Illuminati keep their control over us.
Of course, Icke’s regime of doing nothing fits his theory: the world only looks ravaged by industrialisation and filled with starving, impoverished billions because we are trapped in one, limited, form of sense-reality. If we could see past five-sense reality we would know the world is still environmentally pristine and that there is food enough for everyone. We could move beyond nation states and partisan disagreements (He talked about Israel specifically in the past tense during this part of the talk) to equality, harmony and love.
Classic Western-style, based on Western views of Eastern, mysticism, which is fine for people in the developed world to believe, but is cold comfort to those in the undeveloped world (“It’s not that there is no food for you: you just can’t see it!”).
That is his message: hope for the best and see it realised in your lifetime. Icke’s magical thinking, the notion that if enough people know the truth then the truth will set the whole world free, reminds me a lot of the notion of the nousphere, an idea that had a lot of traction in the 50s and 60s and can be traced back to the work of such thinkers as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (on whom I wrote my MA). Teilhard’s work focused on the sphere of human thought being the next big evolutionary change for our species: when we finally learn to think in unison we will change the world for the better. In many ways Icke is a relic of the mid-twentieth Century. He is a reminder of what conspiracy theories used to look like.
By the end I felt like I was back where Icke began, with that that classic Wogan interview. Icke likes to look like he’s changed and learnt over the years: he claims to have moved past that messianic stage and embraced a bigger world picture, and yet the message he was trying to impart (quite successfully too, given the audience of over six hundred attentive people) wasn’t any different from the one he started out with. Then, as now, he wants us to embrace a spirituality that will bring us together in some earthly paradise, free from the sins of those who would have control over us. Sure, he’s added touches of science fiction to it, and dabbles in a little, light anti-Semiticism to get in the crowds, but it’s still the same story. It is still platitudes and false hopes which will make you feel good about doing nothing in particular.
David Icke is not a stupid man. Indeed, he has a dogged determination to get to the bottom of things which is admirable and, if it had been expressed and nurtured properly, probably would have led to him being an excellent science reporter for the BBC (given that he was, I am told, a perfectly good sports journalist). He has the charisma and presentation skills to keep an audience captivated for eleven hours, let us not forget. Even true believers get leg cramps, the urge to eat and the like, but this crowd stayed the duration.
As did I.
So, what happened? Why is David Icke a promoter of weird mysticism rather than a rationalist? I cannot say for certain, but he did tell a story which kind of explains it.
He was in his twenties, back when he had a sporting career, and he made a poor financial decision which was sufficient to make his life uncomfortable. He said that, at the time, he was conflicted about what to do: his head said to do one thing and his heart another. He followed his head because, well, that was what he (and the rest of us) have always been taught to do. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the wrong decision and so he decided, from that day forward, that he would follow this heart in all things.
Because of this he has been able to survive all the ridicule and infamy that has come from being David Icke, promoter of weird and wacky views. He does not, in his own words, “give a shit” about what other people say because he knows, in his heart, he is right.
The kind of belief formation process Icke uses (which he calls “synchroncity”) may well have come out of that conscious decision (was it his head or his heart who decided this, I wonder?) to follow his heart but I can’t help but think that there is a possible world where Icke, burnt by that bad financial decision, decided to ask “So why didn’t that work out?”
It’s a world in which he investigated why decisions which seemed good on paper don’t always work out, a world in which he looked into why even the best epistemic practices don’t always lead you to performing the best action.
It’s a world in which David Icke became a skeptic rather than a believer.
I thought that in writing this account of Icke’s talk and my thoughts upon it, that it would help me sort through his theory. To an extent, it has. For one thing, I now think his view is nowhere near as novel as it perhaps appears. Yet I’ve also gained a greater respect for Icke the person. He seems to really believe what he says… Which is tragic. I think he doesn’t quite realise just what his ideas lead to and who his fellow travellers are.
In truth, I don’t know how to end this account. I plan to go back to the beginning and rewrite it into something more succinct and less reliant on what one commentator called “prison paragraphs.” Perhaps on the third go round I’ll come to some conclusion.
Next time: Errata.