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Just because you don’t believe alien lizards rule the world, it doesn’t mean you’re right

Will Self's "Madness of Crowds" column.

It must have been a hippy-dippy-happyhoppy fortnight round the David Icke household, what with Jimmy Savile being exposed as a paedophile. The Savile business has all the hallmarks of one of those “Who knew?!” moments (this to be exclaimed mockingly in the manner of Jeff Greene, Larry David’s roly-poly agent in Curb Your Enthusiasm). I mean to say: children’s TV presenter and confirmed bachelor who reveres his mummy and feels most comfy in loose fitting sportive nylon turns out to be a kiddy-fiddler . . . Who’d’ve guessed it?!

Well, Icke for one, whose world view, aptly summarised as “New Age Conspiracism”, includes the tasty insight that many public figures are satanic paedophiles. Icke, a former TV presenter (although let’s not read anything into that), is rather better known for his contention that the human race is the result of a millennialong breeding programme run by the Annunaki, a race of reptilian super-beings from the Draco constellation.

Green godhead

What the precise relation is between child sex-abusers sporting devil horns and extraterrestrial lizards I’m not in a position to divulge, not having waded through the reams of apodictic text that Icke has generated since his revelations of the early 1990s set him on the course from Grandstand presenter to godhead, via a stint as one of the Green Party’s speakers. (At one time he was touted as “the Greens’ Tony Blair”.)

Still, I’m not dredging up any of this Ickiness with a view to mocking the man or his beliefs – such dismissals, to my way of thinking, are mostly complacent, often revealing an equally credulous belief – on the part of those making  them – in their superior rationalism, seldom confirmed by anything they say, do, or think. No, what got me going on the Ickenield way was an encounter I had with Raj (not his real name, or implied ethnicity), who I often run into in the park where we’re to be found being exercised by our dogs. (I could, in an Ickeian fashion, enlarge on this: might it not be the case that human civilisation is a 200,000-year-old conspiratorial breeding programme organised by canine super- beings to create conditions in which intelligent apes with opposable thumbs will open tins of food for them and pick up their excreta?)

Raj is in his early 40s and a decade or so of hard-drug and alcohol abuse have knocked him about a bit – there are teeth missing and deep lines on his face where only a Beckettian septuagenarian should have them. Still, Raj has been clean and sober for years now – and by my standards highly selfless; because while he has fuckall himself, he works part-time as a carer for dementia sufferers. I know – just know – from the way he talks about his work that Raj is almost desperately caring. When I saw him the other morning he was upset because he’d had to take the day off due to a bad dental abscess; he was worried that whoever filled in for him might not be as . . . well, caring. All this, and because he’s waged he’s not eligible for free dental care, meaning that unless he lies on the form, the cost of the treatment will just about pauperise him.

Anyway, he was saying this and I was thinking: what a miserable world it is in which decent folk have to skulk about the system – I wish the entire coalition front bench could be struck down by a plague of gum boils, when Raj slipped in that he’d just dobbed up for a ticket to see David Icke’s gig at Wembley Arena. This, the culmination of a two-year promotional tour for his latest work: Human Race Get off Your Knees: the Lion Sleeps No More, during which Icke has been addressing enthusiastic crowds the world over and indulging them with his trademark Gladstonian rhetoric, speaking sometimes for eight hours non-stop.

Paranoid android

As I examined Raj – with, dare I say it, the reptilian scales falling from my eyes – he went on to explain that he had all of Icke’s books at home and that the Leicester-born prophet of universal consciousness “spoke a great deal of sense”. And there you have it: I don’t believe in Icke for a second – but I do believe in Raj, fervently. And if great crowds of Raj-a-likes believe Icke speaks sense then it’s a mistake to dismiss their belief as mere ignorance and credulousness.

Even on the most cursory examination of Icke’s ideas I can see he’s doing something that the left in this country has abandoned: speaking truth unto power. There may be no conspiracy of satanic paedophiles bred by alien lizards but the way corporate entities and their capital flows undermine any possibility of real democracy in Britain, while all main political parties ignore it, has the lineaments of a conspiracy. Remember: just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you, Jimmy.

Will Self is an author and journalist. His books include Umbrella, Shark, The Book of Dave and The Butt. He writes the Madness of Crowds and Real Meals columns for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 15 October 2012 issue of the New Statesman, India special