The latest incarnation of the vampire — in the conspiracy theories of David Icke — reveals the critical, revolutionary heart of the vampire legend. Discourse on the vampire appears above all to provide a structure of dissent, a metaphorical means of representing and soliciting critiques of the social order.
The Anunnaki form of the vampire — in its immersion in the constellation of contemporary conspiracy theories, in its reflection on global capitalism, and in its blurring of historical and fictional narratives — has moved this structure of dissent from the cloak of darkness to the light of day.
Considered by some to be the reigning conspiracy theorist in the United States of America, David Icke (who is British) formulates his theories of a worldwide, age-old conspiracy around an extraterrestrial race of beings called the Anunnaki. Self-styled the “most controversial author and speaker in the world,” David Icke has been subject to much ridicule but has nonetheless become an industry, publishing eleven books, producing video and audiotapes, embarking on a worldwide lecture circuit, and creating a website that allegedly attracts 10,000 visitors a day (Canadian Par. 13).
A former soccer player from a working-class family, Icke became a household name in the United Kingdom as a national sports and news reporter for the BBC and as the spokesperson for the Green Party (“About” Par. 7-8). Starting a full-time writing career in the early 1990s, Icke began with New Age-inspired works like ‘Truth Vibrations’ (1991), which combines accounts of his self transformation with psychically-imparted warnings on the imminent destruction of the earth, from there moving towards conventional conspiracy theories, and finally, beginning with his 1999 book ‘The Biggest Secret’, focusing his conspiracy theories around the Anunnaki and their nefarious involvement in human history.
The Anunnaki, whose name is Sumerian, meaning “[t]hose who from Heaven to Earth Came” (Icke 5), refer to a reptilian race that originated from the legendary planet known as Nibiru (Planet X), or the place of the crossing, which has a 3,600 year elliptical orbit that takes it between Jupiter and Mars and then out into space (5).
For the past 450,000 years, according to Icke, the Anunnaki have been ruling the earth in different guises and from different dimensions. Through genetic engineering, the Anunnaki have manipulated the evolution of humans as a slave race. “[T]he Anunnaki created bloodlines to rule humanity on their behalf,” he writes, “and these […] are the families still in control of the world to this day” (9). The interbreeding of the rich and powerful (primarily, for Icke, the European aristocracy and the Eastern Establishment of the United States of America) is not done for reasons of snobbery but rather “to hold a genetic structure that gives them certain abilities, especially the ability to ‘shape-shift’ and manifest in other forms” (9). Working with these crossbreeds are full-blooded Anunnaki, some physically present on earth, others influencing individuals and events psychically from what Icke calls “the lower fourth dimension” (25). Forming a “Brotherhood” or secret society network, the Anunnaki have effectively “hijack[ed] the planet” (46).
The recurring motif in the discourse on the Anunnaki is vampirism. In fact, so active is this component in their depiction that it is safe to say that Icke’s work represents one of the most recent developments in the discourse of the vampire. “While vampire beliefs are varied,” writes James Craig Holte, “certain elements of the vampire myth are consistent. The most important are the inability to experience death, the importance of blood, and the sexual connection between vampire and victim” (246). Other structural similarities between the traditional vampire and the Anunnaki include shape-shifting, hypnotism, and links to secret societies. After establishing the Anunnaki as a manifestation of the vampire, we will unpack the implications of this figure, using the tools of a Marxist critical practice.
The Anunnaki, like traditional vampires, enjoy eternal or extenuated life spans. Icke claims that “[t]he fourth-dimensional reptilians wear their human bodies like a genetic overcoat and when one body dies the same reptilian ‘moves house’ to another body and continues the Agenda into another generation” (46). What one type of creature Icke describes is a reptilian “inside” a human physical body; “[i]t seems that […] [the Anunnaki] need to occupy a very reptilian dominated genetic stream to do this; hence certain bloodlines always end up in the positions of power. Other less pure crossbreed human-reptilians are those bodies which are possessed by a reptilian consciousness from the fourth dimension, and these are people who psychics see as essentially human, but ‘overshadowed’ by a reptilian” (46). Crossbreeding to infuse reptilian genetics into human bloodlines, the Anunnaki gain the means to defy death, as we conceive it.
With respect to blood drinking, Icke is very clear: “The Anunnaki drink blood, which they need in order to exist in this dimension and hold a human form (288). Embedded in this need lies another parallel between the Anunnaki and the figure of the vampire — the power to shape-shift (from reptilian to human form for the Anunnaki, and usually from vampire form to that of bat or even mist for the traditional vampire).” However, the Anunnaki also feed off fear, aggression, and other negative emotions. Thus, while blood is needed as a vital life force, the Anunnaki are also addicted to “adrenalchrome,” a hormone released in the human body during periods of extreme terror (290, 331). Rather than sucking the blood directly from the necks of their victims, the Anunnaki apparently slash the throats of their victims from left to right and consume the blood out of goblets (303).
Icke claims that the origin of the vampire stories are the blood drinking and “energy sucking” rituals of the Anunnaki (26). “In India,” he writes, “it was called soma, and in Greece it was ambrosia, some researchers suggest. This was said to be the nectar of the gods, and it was – the reptilian gods who are genetic blood drinkers” (288).
In the sexual connection between slayer and victim, the Anunnaki also share another similarity with the traditional vampire. However, depictions of the Anunnaki by Icke contain none of the erotic allure and seductiveness that distinguish many vampire texts. Instead, the sexual bond between the Anunnaki and their victims is characterised by violence — rape, murder, and Satanic ritual. “Satanism at its core is about the manipulation and theft of another person’s energy and consciousness,” writes Icke, who states that “[s]ex is so common in Satanic ritual because, at the moment of orgasm, the body explodes with energy which the Satanists and the reptiles can capture and absorb” (295).
For Icke, of course, the demons honoured or appeased by satanic sex rituals are none other than the reptilian Anunnaki (34). Sex is also a fundamental tool of the Anunnaki mind control program and, more prosaically, it figures prominently as a means of blackmail. The picture that emerges is one involving vast networks of sexual abuse and ritual murder — graphic accounts of satanic practices at the playgrounds for world leaders, such as the Bohemian Grove, a 2,700 acre compound north of San Francisco — mass graves for victims drained of their blood and libidinal energies — and the cultivation of sexual crimes to create an energy field that nourishes these rapacious ETs.
There are other shared traits between the traditional vampire and the Anunnaki, for example, the role of secret societies. One of Icke’s chief contributions to the discourse on the vampire lies in his immersion of this figure into a vast web of clandestine organizations, from ancient mystery schools and cults like the Brotherhood of the Snake to the Knights Templar and the Masonic Order, from global entities like the UN, the Trilateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations to drug cartels, satanic churches, and the Black Nobility. A keystone in this architecture of conspiracy is the Order of Draco, which conjures up the most famous of all vampires — Count Dracula — and underscores his demonic, draconian, and reptilian associations. “According to [Laurence] Gardner, the name Dracula means ‘Son of Dracul’ and was inspired by Prince Vlad III of Transylvania-Wallachia, a chancellor of the Court of the Dragon in the fifteenth-century. This prince’s father was called Dracul within the Court” (56).
In their network of secret societies, of which the Order of Draco is but a single manifestation, the Anunnaki highlight the conspiratorial dimension of all vampires. Finally, the Anunnaki share with the traditional vampire the capacity to hypnotise: Icke writes that reptilian bloodlines “have the ability to produce an extremely powerful hypnotic stare, just like a snake hypnotising its prey and this is the origin of giving someone the ‘evil eye'” (42).
Icke’s paradigm displays more than the vitality, persistence, and adaptive qualities of the vampire legend. His theories reveal the dissident energies contained already in the vampire legacy.
To begin with, Icke’s work represents a significant fusion of the vampire cult and the field of conspiracy theories. Richard Hofstadter, in his famous essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (1963) claims that the “distinguishing thing about the paranoid style is not that its exponents see conspiracies or plots here and there in history, but that they regard a ‘vast’ […] conspiracy as the motive force in historical events. History is a conspiracy” (29). Conspiracies, even when they are not construed as vast, over-arching plots, however, have an internal, integrative logic. In other words, there is a momentum in conspiracy theories to pull in all other theories, and finally to arrive at a state in which everything is connected. Part of Icke’s popularity lies in his ability to integrate most contemporary American conspiracy theories into one over-arching framework. Situated squarely in the centre of this design is the ancient figure of the vampire. Thus, the vampire (or, more specifically, the Anunnaki Vampire) has colonised the field of conspiracy theories — government-sponsored alien cover-ups, the New World Order, suspicious deaths, the secret government, suppressed research, the intrigues of the CIA, and the list goes on indefinitely.
From a Marxist perspective, of course, this development is more than just a formal or aesthetic innovation, for many of the conspiracy theories now circulating in the cultural medium of the United States of America contain, at their core, critical, dissenting, and rebellious points of view (encompassing both extreme right and left) that are articulated in opposition to the social, political, and cultural status quo. While Hofstadter claims that the United States of America has no monopoly on conspiracism, other scholars like Peter Knight hold that conspiracy theories hold an essential place in American ideology formation, and that current “conspiracy theories can be read in part as panicked responses to the increasing multiculturalism and globalisation of the present” (5). Revolutionary or reactionary. However, these theories are inimical to the governing elite and represent a tradition of oppositional practice. As Knight puts it, “conspiracy theory has become the lingua franca of a countercultural opposition that encompasses a vast spectrum of political thinking from the committed to the casual” (6-7).
An initial difficulty in seeing the vampire as a symbol of the ruling class — capitalist or otherwise — lies in the distinct variations taken on by vampires in different places and times. As Brian Frost puts it, “the vampire is a polymorphic phenomenon with a host of disparate guises to its credit” (1). Among the various legendary “guises” of the vampire inventoried by Frost are spirit vampires, astral vampires, psychic vampires, animal vampires, and real-life vampires who are “sadistic criminals […] urged on by a physical craving for blood” (15). Complicating the picture is the fact that Bram Stoker’s character of Count Dracula, who for many encapsulates the aristocratic ethos of the vampire, “lacks precisely what makes a man ‘noble’: servants. Dracula stoops to driving the carriage, cooking the meals, making the beds, cleaning the castle” (Moretti 90). Furthermore, in some of the earliest European vampire legends, the undead feed off the living members of their own families (Murgoci 18), which at first glance mitigates the social-class dynamic often conjured up in the image of aristocratic vampires draining the lifeblood of their locals.
There is, nevertheless, a critical and even radical dimension to the figure of the vampire, who, as a parasite, circulates as a political metaphor. The word vampire has from the start been used in oppositional literature as a symbol of an exploiting class, government, industry, or institution. A decade “after the introduction of the word ‘vampire’ in an English publication in 1732, (an account of the investigation of Arnold Paul in Serbia) […] [a] serious utilization of the vampire as a political metaphor occurred in Observations on the Revolution of 1688 ([…] published in 1741)” which identified foreign investors as “‘Vampires of the Publick'” (Melton 538). Only “[a] few years later, in 1764, Voltaire, in his Philosophical Dictionary,” refers to “vampires” as “‘stock-jobbers, brokers, and men of business who sucked the blood of the people in broad daylight'” (538).
However, it was Marx who first suggested that the vampire can be interpreted as a metaphor for capitalism and who also implied a method for this interpretation. In volume one of Capital (1867), he writes that “[c]apital is dead labour, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks” (342). Extrapolating on this analogy, Franco Moretti provides a reading of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, writing, “If the vampire is a metaphor for capital, then Stoker’s vampire, who is of 1897, must be the capital of 1897” (92). Accordingly, Moretti sees Count Dracula as the expression or figure of monopoly capitalism, which, to the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie, could not be recognised as an emerging force but only as a relic of the past displaced into the present (93). Whether or not one agrees with Moretti’s reading of the Count, it is his method that’s of most value. As Rob Latham pus it, “Moretti stresses that, while the vampire is a perfect general image for the basic mechanism of capitalist development, individual vampire texts illuminate specifically the historical phases of capitalism in which they are produced” (129).
Applying Moretti’s method, we can perceive the Anunnaki as metaphorical of the unique forms capitalism has taken by the twentieth-first-century. Indeed, Anunnaki vampires embody the market for genetic engineering as well as space exploration. These dimensions are projected back into the origins of Anunnaki control over earth and its resources: travel from another planet, interdimensional traffic, and a crossbreeding agenda coterminous with the evolution of the human race. Anunnaki vampires also control finance, which was undergoing a tremendous transformation and development during the time when Icke was writing that, of all the spheres of Anunnaki domination, “[t]he most important […] in terms of control, is banking” (207). Electronic banking, credit, and the remediation of stock exchange through online trading are some of the critical elements in the recent development of the finance industry (Castells 152-53). However, we can go deeper than this kind of analysis and discover in the discourse on the Anunnaki examples of remarkable changes, not in select markets, but rather in the very structure of the economy.
In this, more significant sense, the Anunnaki are linked to present-day capitalism through their association with global control. Icke consistently depicts these alien bloodsuckers as monopolising world leadership positions in government, finance, religion, and the media. In this sense, Anunnaki vampires represent a demonised expression of the unique form capitalism has taken during the very period in which Icke’s theories were formulated, published, and popularised. The late 1990s issued in — for the first time in history — a global economy, defined by Manuel Castells as “an economy whose core components have the institutional, organisational, and technological capacity to work as a unit in real time, or in chosen time, on a planetary scale” (102). Thus, “this is a new brand of capitalism, technologically, organizationally, and institutionally distinct” (160-61).
The forces spearheading this change derive in part from key industries, notably information technology — centring on the Internet — finance, and biotechnology (Castells 161). Other contributing factors in the formation of the global economy are government policies that restructured capitalism through laws deregulating and liberalising economic activity (148). The global economy has, of course, catapulted the scale of capitalism; “for the first time in history, the whole planet is capitalist or dependent on its connection to global capitalist networks” (160-61). However, as Castells points out, the global economy “is not a planetary economy […] [because] it does not embrace all economic processes in the planet, it does not include all territories, and it does not include all people in its workings, although it does affect directly or indirectly the livelihood of all humankind” (132). Thus the global economy is significant, not only for its inclusivity, but also for its significant and shifting exclusions, marginalisations, and hidden bypasses fraught through its great grid or network of power relations.
Anunnaki vampires are ideally suited to, and a perfect representation of, a global economy in the scope of their engagement and their profile in emergent industries, but there are other ways as well. This is because their secret agenda has always already been the creation of a one-world government — a New World Order — bypassing nations and creating a system or web from which there is no escape. The New World Order figures prominently in conspiracy theories and in literature such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). However, during the millennium and the start of the twentieth-first-century, demonstrations against globalism have been on the rise, responding to rapid developments in transnationalism. Another aspect of the Anunnaki relevant here is their multicultural image. The Anunnaki have been written retroactively into all mythological systems, making them true transnationals. For example, they people the pages of the Indian Vedas, Babylonian myths, as well as the books of the Bible, and they are at the heart of ancient snake-worshipping cults worldwide. Moreover, they are seeded into the human genome through the Anunnaki engineering of the race, interbreeding alien genetics into all peoples, symbolised, for example in Genesis, as the saliva Jehovah mixes with clay to form the first man.
Not surprisingly, Anunnaki narratives have a lot to say in terms of the location, construction, and commodification of the self. Unlike traditional vampires who feed solely off a victim’s blood or soul, the Anunnaki thrive off of negative energies such as fear and aggression. These ETs drain individuals of their sense of wellbeing through the manipulation and absorption of libidinal energies and — ultimately — the theft of consciousness and agency. On the one hand, the location of the self that the Anunnaki attack seems closely linked to consumerist notions. For example, New Age self-actualisation products as well as the market for energy drinks — even caffeine-enhanced water — not to mention designer drugs — are only a few of the new industries catering profitably to the very malady Icke derives from Anunnaki domination. Also, of course, Icke’s works themselves represent a (profitable) venture in a multi-million dollar market for conspiracy theories in American popular culture.
On the other hand, discourse on the Anunnaki is not necessarily complicit with the capitalist system that produces such effects. A current line of cultural theory “has alleged that the modalities of consumer culture — and the forms of subjectivity they enable — do not necessarily integrate seamlessly into the capitalist society which has mobilised them but may instead be potentially subversive of its purposes” (Latham 132). The consumption of Icke’s works — in fact, the growing market for conspiracism in the United States of America — would seem to be a case in point here, disseminating and perpetuating an oppositional worldview, a “hermeneutics of suspicion,” while contributing to the accumulation of capital.
Another revealing dimension of Anunnaki vampires lies in their collective depiction; unlike many accounts of the vampire, Icke’s theories do not revolve around distinct Anunnaki individuals but rather focuses on them as a class or group; in this sense, the Anunnaki do not convey the same individualistic focus so often encountered in vampire narratives. Even Anunnaki forms of consciousness are best described as a “groupthink” mentality. On this, Icke writes that “[t]he reptilians seek […] to influence everyone by stimulating the behavioural patterns of the reptile region of the brain — hierarchical thinking, aggression, conflict, division, lack of compassion and a need for ritual” (46). Symbolic of contemporary capitalism, this collective depiction of the Anunnaki reflects the rise of networks, and their decentering development, which have instrumentally caused – and are themselves produced by — the new global economy. The network supersedes the individual as the subject of the vampire narrative. Here Castells, speaking on the network society of global economics, is instructive: “For the first time in history, the basic unit of economic organization is not a subject, be it individual (such as the entrepreneur […]) or collective (such as the capitalist class, the corporation, the state)” (214). Instead, “the unit is the network, made up of a variety of subjects and organisations, relentlessly modified as networks adapt” (214).
In their networked, post-subjective form of the vampire, the Anunnaki are metaphorical of the precise trajectory assumed by contemporary capitalism. Network is the same term, Icke uses to describe the reptilian base of operations today, writing “[a]fter thousands of years of evolution, the reptilian network is now a vast and often unfathomable web of interconnecting secret societies, banks, businesses, political parties, security agencies, media owners, and so on” (259). Discourse on the Anunnaki vampire is in step with broader trends in American conspiracy theories, themselves responses to ideological crises associated with post-modernism and the growth of a network society. Writing on conspiracy theories in the postwar United States of America, Timothy Melley points out that “the term ‘conspiracy’ rarely signifies a small, secret plot any more. Instead, it frequently refers to the workings of a large organisation, technology, or system, a powerful and obscure entity so dispersed that it is the very antithesis of the traditional conspiracy” (59). Melley argues that conspiracy theories in the United States of America have historically been an ideological means of validating individualism. Also, this new, impersonal breed of conspiracism reflects anxiety over the loss of individuality and agency and stands as both “an acknowledgement, and rejection, of postmodern subjectivity” (65).
Perhaps most revealing of all is the dissolution of the boundary between fantasy and reality — the presentation of the vampire as a historical agent rather than a fictional character. Profoundly ironic and radical, this slippage of fact and fantasy drives the vampire legacy much closer to its critical core. If the traditional vampire articulates dissent, it also distorts the representation of real relations, which are displaced into the realm of the imaginary. In the form of the Anunnaki, however, vampires have infiltrated the field of conspiracy theories, spilling from the page onto the pavement, as it were. Moving from metaphor to a kind of mimesis of the grotesque, the vampire legacy shape-shifts — its implicit charge evolving into an explosive critique.