“Independence Day” – Who are the Aliens at the Millennium Threshold?

© Terry Boardman         This article first appeared in the German magazine Info3 in October 1996



The Hollywood summer blockbuster movie “Independence Day” begins with a shot of the American flag and plaque left behind by the Apollo astronauts on the surface of the Moon (“we came in peace for all mankind”). They are soon covered by the vast shadow of an alien spaceship approaching Earth. The first person to monitor the approach of the aliens is an American of East Asian origin working at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) institute in California. A minute or so later, for little or no apparent reason, the film cuts to a shot of the famous photograph of US troops struggling to raise the American flag on Mt Suribachi after the battle for the island of Iwo Jima, which they took after ferocious Japanese resistance in March 1945. The aliens, who, amongst other things, turn out to have no vocal chords, arrive on July 2nd. On July 3rd, they almost destroy human civilisation, and on July 4th, America’s Independence Day, they are themselves destroyed by a revengeful America. On that day, before leading his motley flotilla of hastily-trained citizen-pilots into battle, most of the professional pilots having been killed, President Whitmore (more white?) makes a speech in which he says that from now on, “July 4th will no longer be just America’s Independence Day, but the Independence Day for the whole world” – implication: America saves the world, America IS the world.

Jaded Europeans may put such sentiments down to a jejeune American sense of national superiority, but there is more to it than that. At the end of a century which began with America taking on an imperial role in the Philippines (1898) and Peking (The Boxer Rebellion 1900), a century which has been stamped by American gargantuanism, Hollywood has produced a fittingly fin-de-siecle gargantuan movie which seeks, in imitable American style, to overwhelm the senses, the alien spacecraft, as vast as New York City, arrive amidst burning clouds in true Old Testament style like Erich Von Daniken’s “Chariots of the Gods”(1). But wait, this film was produced by 20th Century Fox, and a careful look at the credits reveals that the company is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Murdoch also controls Fox TV in America, which produces the international TV phenomenon of the 1990s, the “X-Files”, a constant theme of which is a cover-up by the US authorities of UFOs, abductions by aliens and other such semi-occult or extraterrestrial goings-on. The satellite channel Sky TV is another Murdoch instrument, and there are references to both Sky TV and “The X-Files” in “Independence Day”!

A clever piece of intra-corporational advertising, you might think. But in the Murdoch-controlled ‘Sunday Times’ of 4th August there was an article about the NASA space probe Galileo which was looking for ‘the first signs that life might exist beyond Earth’ on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. (Europa was first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1616; Anthroposophists might recall that Rudolf Steiner spoke of European humanity being guided by the Jupiter Oracle in Atlantean times). Then, two days later, in the same week that “Independence Day” was released outside the US, (US release was July 3rd) the world’s media were deluged by the news that ‘life’ had been discovered in a potato-sized rock which American scientists claimed had left Mars 15 million years ago and landed in Antarctica 13,000 years ago! Found in 1984, it had been ignored until ‘reclassification’ in 1993. Might that have been the time when the idea for “Independence Day” was beginning to burble in some Hollywood mogul’s mind?

Indeed, since the beginning of the 1990s, enthusiasm has been building in the scientific community for investigation of the possibility of life on Mars. Russia’s Mars 96 probe is due to be launched from Kazakhstan in November, and America will also launch its Mars global surveyor  mission this autumn to map the planet’s surface in detail. In December, two American Mars Surveyor 98 craft will be launched to send back detailed weather reports from Mars; there will also be the Pathfinder mission which will land a six-wheeled vehicle on the surface. These American and Russian projects also have a heavy Japanese involvement, notably a financial one, since the Americans and Russians cannot afford to pay the ‘astronomical’ costs themselves. One may say, these developments are all inevitable, given the thrust of the space programme since the 1969 Moon landing; one might also argue that the spate of Hollywood movies (at least 12 are either completed or in production), beginning with “Mars Attacks!” featuring superstars Jack Nicholson and Rod Steiger, and  dealing with  Martians and other alien invaders, which we are going to be subjected to over the next 12 months, is simply another of the cyclic waves of SF movies which periodically go in and out of fashion. But might there be more to it than that? A whole nexus of phenomena – socio-cultural, historical, religious and occult – is coming together here.

July and August are called ‘the silly season’ by the British media. This is because politicians are on holiday, so media people, unable to play their usual games with their usual partners, create news by cooking up some bizarre stories. There is a deeper side to the silly season however, which Rudolf Steiner indicated was due to the outbreathing in summer of the earth’s elemental forces and with them, also our human feelings. In summer we are all, whether we realise it or not, a bit ‘out of this world’, dreamier, even less awake than usual (2). It was therefore not so surprising that in the first week of August, alongside the world release of “Independence Day”, we saw the US President himself hailing the significance of the discovery of ‘life’ in the rock from Mars. The 90s of every century have tended to have a certain transcendental character. This may well be due both to the nature of the octave, 9 being beyond the threshold of the self-contained 8, and also to the Janus-like, threshold  quality of the 90s of every century, looking back to what has been, looking forward with anxiety or optimism to what is to come in the new century.

Certainly, there is a fair slice of pre-millenial religious and existential tension nagging millions of subconsciousnesses at the moment, but we ought to recall that East Asian-American at SETI and the shot of the flag on Suribachi; we ought to recall that the Pacific war was fought by America against a race regularly castigated as the Yellow Peril, ‘aliens’, ‘vermin’, ‘rodents’, and other such terms (3). We should recall that the aliens had no vocal chords and that the 16-petal lotus flower of the throat is the Mars chakra. We can recall that although the ‘canals’ of a Martian civilisation had first been ‘discovered’ by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877, it was not until the 1890s that the popular consciousness really took off for Mars, when the French scientist-author Camille Flammarion wrote enthusiastically about communications with Martians; when four women unknown to each other, two Swiss, an American and a Frenchwoman all had mediumistic and positive experiences of Martians which were investigated by psychologists (who included C.G.Jung) (4), and when H.G. Wells finally gave us the archetype of the hostile aliens in his massively influential “War of the Worlds” in 1898. This was the age when, in a culture which had thoroughly imbibed the tenets of Social Darwinism, grand and bombastic imperialism was becoming the order of the day. All the events cited above took place in or close to the year 1895, when Japan defeated China after a year-long struggle and thus made its bid to join the westerners’ imperialist club. Responding to this, the Kaiser made his infamous comments about the need for Christian Europe to take a stand under the Archangel Michael against ‘the Yellow Peril’ and sent his equally infamous Yellow Peril cartoon to the Czar. Two years after “War of the Worlds” came the Boxer Rebellion in China which led to the first example of a united ‘peacekeeping mission’ by the Western Powers. The Kaiser exploded: “Peking must be attacked and razed to the ground. This is the fight of Asia against all Europe” (5). From various directions then,  the western bourgeoisie were being encouraged to fear East Asians, the people of the Atlantean Mars Oracle, who, even more than the collectivist working classes of the west, had become symbols of a powerful and irrational fear of the elemental forces of the threshold in westerners’ subconsciousnesses.

The 20th century has seen the awakening of the sleeping giant of East Asia in the Chinese Revolution of 1911, the titanic Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45, the Chinese Civil War, the rise of Mao, the Cultural Revolution, the Korean and Vietnamese Wars, and the current economic ascendancy of the region, led by Japan. Today, the world waits with wondering eyes as the Chinese dragon writhes anew while America, just as 100 years ago, studies how it can profit from riding the dragon. This century’s colossal movement of the Mongoloid peoples was previewed 700 years ago in the 13th century at the beginning of the Age of Samael the Mars Archangel, by the equally phenomenal rise of the Mongols. Steiner  pointed out that the backward-looking Luciferic impulse of the Mongols had to be balanced by the Europeans exposing themselves to Ahrimanic influences centered in the American Continent (6): seeking to understand East Asia, the Europeans ‘discovered’ America. The Eurasian Mongol empire was, for a relatively short time, the largest empire the world had seen and it stimulated a great expansion of Eurasian trade. The ultimate consequence of the Mongol expansion was America’s integration into the world community and economy.

At the centre of the second verse of the Foundation Stone Meditation are the words “Lasset vom Osten befeuern was durch den Westen sich formet.” (Let there be fired from the East what is formed in the West) The Mars Spirits initiate new processes, which often involve pain and even violence, but whereas Mars is adept at beginning things, he often does not know where he is going or how to stop. Since 1900 humanity has unconsciously crossed the threshold; powerful occult forces in the west are seeking to make that crossing a materialistic one into outer space – but the martial phenomena of the 1890s and 1990s challenge us to meet Mars in ourselves here on Earth. They challenge us to avoid the Luciferic-Ahrimanic temptation to give up on Earth and export our divisive problems by colonisation of other planets. They also challenge us to avoid the neo-Darwinist temptation of East-West racial confrontations and wars, so that we may embrace our brothers and sisters of other races and beliefs and create a new culture out of the spirit of that other line from the second verse of the Foundation Stone: In dem Christus wird Leben der Tod. (In Christ life arises from death) If we meet these challenges constructively, we may avoid repeating in the third millenium the colossal East-West violence of the second, and look forward instead to an era of East-West harmony.


(GA = reference no. for Rudolf Steiner’s collected works)

1. Erich Von Daniken, “Chariots of the Gods” – Was God An Astronaut?” 1971, Corgi. The first of a series of books written by Von Daniken arguing that the Gods of myth and religion were extraterrestrial astronauts.

2. lecture of 3.4.1923, GA 223

3. See John W.Dower, “War Without Mercy – Race & Power in the Pacific War”, 1986, Pantheon, New York, pp 77-94 passim.

4. Fortean Times magazine, No. 76, Aug.1994. In connection with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Rudolf Steiner drew attention to the way the utterances of mediums were used to prepare people for the outbreak of certain socio-political events. See lecture 18 Dec. 1916, GA 173.

5. G.Lowes Dickinson, “The International Anarchy 1904-1914″ (1926, Allen & Unwin, London) pp. 284-291.

6. lecture 17.9.1916 GA 171.

© Terry Boardman

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