Interview: David Icke

Former football player and sports commentator David Icke talks about cock-up versus conspiracy and t

“I don't really use the expression 'new world order' any more,” says David Icke. “It's become devalued as a point of reference by its use in so many different contexts.” The 'Illuminati', or more precisely, the 'Babylonian Brotherhood', are his favoured terms for the forces he claims guide the course of human history.

After a career in professional football and sports broadcasting at the BBC, Icke became increasingly drawn first to environmentalism and then New Age philosophy. But public indulgence subsided into ridicule when he announced to Terry Wogan, and Britain, that he was a channel for the Christ spirit.

He took to sporting symbolic turquoise shellsuits, and dedicated himself to investigating the powers at play in global politics. Today, he remains a prolific author and speaker on the subject of the Illuminati. I spoke to him on his return from addressing the Oxford Union.

For Icke, recent events point to a final-stage centralisation of world power; taking in everything down to the ownership structure of ITV. This is orchestrated by the Illuminati, a shadowy group of families with reptilian blood in their veins, working to complete their millennia of power-grabbing. “We'll be living in a fascist global state within 10-15 years,” he asserts.

“They don't yet control the world, just massively influence it – and they're now looking to run everything,” Icke says. “They're able to control a spectacular amount through a Russian doll power structure.”

In his book 2002 book, Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster, Icke argued that the 11 September attacks on New York were the work of this global elite. He regards this as the only logical conclusion of an enquiring and sceptical mind, which has asked: “who stands most to gain?”.

Assailed on all sides, he currently reserves special disdain for what he regards as a naïve global Left. “They are asking us to believe that Bush and Blair lied about everything except 9/11. Who benefited from it? Clearly, those who wanted to use it as an excuse to impose an Orwellian state.”

But when asked to apply this logic in other areas, he grows irritable. I raise his extensive use of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as evidence. The book is widely seen as an anti-Semitic forgery.

"Whoever wrote it was either in knowledge of what was coming, or an extraordinary lucky prophet.”

But much of the The Protocols are simply lifted from fiction: Joly's The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.

“Maybe they were just a lucky prophet then,” he responds in what seems an oddly brittle defence of a source he uses as key evidence of a world conspiracy.

Icke contends that the Illuminati strives constantly to divide humanity, through social constructs such as religion. How does he explain events in world history which seem to run contrary to this narrative, such as the peace process in Northern Ireland?

“People ask whether I believe in the cock-up theory of history or the conspiracy theory of history. They're not mutually exclusive, because the Illuminati don't control everything, just an increasing amount of it.” Of course the effect of this approach means there's scarcely an event in history that cannot be either explained away, or taken as evidence of cool manipulation by a higher power.

Icke rather seems to project his own problem onto others. In criticising the mainstream media, he challenges the underlying norms which journalists accept about the world – norms which he contends are lies fed by controlling forces.

“If you have a pre-conceived idea of the world, you edit information. When it leads you down a certain road, you don't challenge your own beliefs.”

Does he fear that he, and other conspiracy theorists, may have fallen into precisely this trap – leading them to ignore both the inconvenient and the glaringly obvious?

He exempts himself from this human frailty, explaining, “I don't edit information, I follow it.”

And the human condition does present something of a problem to conspiracy theorists. The idea that ordered hands are able to penetrate every sphere of our lives is troublesome to reconcile with our understanding of the way humans work. But the fact that people are illogical, make mistakes and frequently fail to respond to authority is overcome by Icke's explanation that the leaders of this world movement are literally cold-blooded reptilians.

Wiser counsel may have advised him to leave this aspect of his theory in the realms of metaphor.

As he acknowledges, 'new world order', is now a meaningless term. He sees what was once a relatively unified theory sprawling out of control. Conspiracy theorists struggle to agree on the nature of the enemy and Icke finds that those seeking to help his research are rarely helpful. “About 90% of the people who come to me are talking nonsense,” he sighs.

Conspiracy theorists resolve that everything in the world that vexes us, known and unknown, is a single conflatable entity.

We should not believe that people like Icke are inherently bad. Indeed, instead of channelling the urge to blame a unified malevolent force at visible minorities, they look to an imagined controlling hand.

Invariably though, their theories are desperately incoherent and myopic. Human life on earth is complex and irrational and it's perplexing why David Icke can't see that.

Paul Evans is a freelance journalist, and formerly worked for an MP. He lives in London, but maintains his Somerset roots by drinking cider.
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The New Times: Brexit, globalisation, the crisis in Labour and the future of the left

With essays by David Miliband, Paul Mason, John Harris, Lisa Nandy, Vince Cable and more.

Once again the “new times” are associated with the ascendancy of the right. The financial crash of 2007-2008 – and the Great Recession and sovereign debt crises that were a consequence of it – were meant to have marked the end of an era of runaway “turbocapitalism”. It never came close to happening. The crash was a crisis of capitalism but not the crisis of capitalism. As Lenin observed, there is “no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation” for capitalism, and so we discovered again. Instead, the greatest burden of the period of fiscal retrenchment that followed the crash was carried by the poorest in society, those most directly affected by austerity, and this in turn has contributed to a deepening distrust of elites and a wider crisis of governance.

Where are we now and in which direction are we heading?

Some of the contributors to this special issue believe that we have reached the end of the “neoliberal” era. I am more sceptical. In any event, the end of neoliberalism, however you define it, will not lead to a social-democratic revival: it looks as if, in many Western countries, we are entering an age in which centre-left parties cannot form ruling majorities, having leaked support to nationalists, populists and more radical alternatives.

Certainly the British Labour Party, riven by a war between its parliamentary representatives and much of its membership, is in a critical condition. At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has inspired a remarkable re-engagement with left-wing politics, even as his party slumps in the polls. His own views may seem frozen in time, but hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young graduates, have responded to his anti-austerity rhetoric, his candour and his shambolic, unspun style.

The EU referendum, in which as much as one-third of Labour supporters voted for Brexit, exposed another chasm in Labour – this time between educated metropolitan liberals and the more socially conservative white working class on whose loyalty the party has long depended. This no longer looks like a viable election-winning coalition, especially after the collapse of Labour in Scotland and the concomitant rise of nationalism in England.

In Marxism Today’s “New Times” issue of October 1988, Stuart Hall wrote: “The left seems not just displaced by Thatcherism, but disabled, flattened, becalmed by the very prospect of change; afraid of rooting itself in ‘the new’ and unable to make the leap of imagination required to engage the future.” Something similar could be said of the left today as it confronts Brexit, the disunities within the United Kingdom, and, in Theresa May, a prime minister who has indicated that she might be prepared to break with the orthodoxies of the past three decades.

The Labour leadership contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith was largely an exercise in nostalgia, both candidates seeking to revive policies that defined an era of mass production and working-class solidarity when Labour was strong. On matters such as immigration, digital disruption, the new gig economy or the power of networks, they had little to say. They proposed a politics of opposition – against austerity, against grammar schools. But what were they for? Neither man seemed capable of embracing the “leading edge of change” or of making the imaginative leap necessary to engage the future.

So is there a politics of the left that will allow us to ride with the currents of these turbulent “new times” and thus shape rather than be flattened by them? Over the next 34 pages 18 writers, offering many perspectives, attempt to answer this and related questions as they analyse the forces shaping a world in which power is shifting to the East, wars rage unchecked in the Middle East, refugees drown en masse in the Mediterranean, technology is outstripping our capacity to understand it, and globalisation begins to fragment.

— Jason Cowley, Editor 

Tom Kibasi on what the left fails to see

Philip Collins on why it's time for Labour to end its crisis

John Harris on why Labour is losing its heartland

Lisa Nandy on how Labour has been halted and hollowed out

David Runciman on networks and the digital revolution

John Gray on why the right, not the left, has grasped the new times

Mariana Mazzucato on why it's time for progressives to rethink capitalism

Robert Ford on why the left must reckon with the anger of those left behind

Ros Wynne-Jones on the people who need a Labour government most

Gary Gerstle on Corbyn, Sanders and the populist surge

Nick Pearce on why the left is haunted by the ghosts of the 1930s

Paul Mason on why the left must be ready to cause a commotion

Neal Lawson on what the new, 21st-century left needs now

Charles Leadbeater explains why we are all existentialists now

John Bew mourns the lost left

Marc Stears on why democracy is a long, hard, slow business

Vince Cable on how a financial crisis empowered the right

David Miliband on why the left needs to move forward, not back

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times