UFOs Again and Again

At the beginning of this year, I wrote an article for Counterpunch arguing that UFO sightings were a new kind of quasi-religion based on the cultural peculiarities of modern post-war America: technologism, managerism, a decline in traditional religions, cold war “after-glow”, and last but not least a pervasive sense of loss of control over one’s destiny and increasing alienation from society and politics.

I still hold these views. I believe that man’s perennial search for meaning in the world coupled with his fertile imagination and a possible “oceanic”/religious feeling will always manage to spin new communal archetypes with which to express itself. In some ages these archetypes are well defined such as crying icons of mother Mary, a collective sighting of Jesus, or the sonic call of God Himself (Joan of Arc comes to mind here). Different times, different visions. What archetypes we construct depends on what civilization we live in. Today, ours is a world of interplanetary spaceships, atomic bombs, and the possibility of killer AI. No wonder our collective imaginations tend to see abstract “supersonic” archetypes in the shapes of saucers, triangles, pyramids, and “tic-tacs”. Sleek, fast, abstract mathematical symbols. The very same images could be used to describe our own technical-scientific civilization.

When we “see” UFOs we “see” a hypertrophic projection of ourselves and the world we inhabit. It would be surprising if after 1945 (which is approximately when UFO sightings began in earnest) we would have recorded a surge in sightings of “flying Jesus” and/or “chariots of fire”. That world and its visions have passed; although the frequency of sightings and the mental/cultural predispositions for them were probably very much the same.

Yet some people still insist that the government is “hiding” something. And the government truly is hiding something—but not UFOs. It is hiding its complicity in mass surveillance, its illicit use of personal data, its covert networks of economic, social, cultural, and political influence and its ultimate support for a formal system of democracy which serves to hide an increasingly Totalitarian practical core. All this seems a lot more damning I would say than a few scraps of extraterrestrial metal hidden away in a secret hanger (although of course that too would be damning). Yes, the government is hiding a great many things as is our society at large.

This feeling of being generally lied to has a real basis in fact. We are living at a time where the “citizen” has been transformed into the “consumer” and the political has been filled with the economic. We have been emptied out by cynical actors mouthing ancient words of “freedom” “liberty” and “justice” and reduced to tiny manipulated objects on a vast matrix of power and money sanctified by the ideology of human (even animal) rights. How well that ideology stands up to the realities of power in the early twenty-first century, every reader must ponder for him or herself.

Getting back to UFOs and the government, the actual situation might be exactly the opposite: the US and other governments actively encourage belief in UFOs as a strategic distraction from their more heinous and deeper acts of anti-democratic treason. It is quite convenient for peoples attention to be focused on “phantom” threats and objects rather than to focus on their real enemies and problems. Also, UFOs can help to disguise military and technological experiments very nicely. But in the main, it would not be surprising that UFOs are just another “psych-op” deliberately implemented by the US government to sow confusion, distract attention, and inject another essentially useless discourse upon which civil-society can expend its precious energies and dispositions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think it is high time that we realize that UFOs are truly a Neo-Orwellian hoax made up by the real aliens here among us: powerful bureaucrats, CEOs, security services, politicians and other high criminals that help steer our world, real and imagined, to where they think best to continue to secure their semi-visible control over key events and masses of peoples.

Dan Corjescu teaches at the University of Tübingen’s TRACS program.