“There’s something out there waiting for us, and it ain’t no man.” —Billy, Predator (1987)
“alien (adjective) 1 a: belonging or relating to another person, place, or thing b: relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government d: coming from another world 2 : differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility” —Merriam-Webster.com
What would an alien takeover look like? If intelligent aliens wanted to conquer Earth, how would they defeat that which would seem to stand primarily in their way: humans? Although for a hundred years, humans have been fed a steady diet of science-fiction books, television series, and films that have installed in the collective consciousness the idea of a quick and/or violent alien invasion of Earth—H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth, the TV series Battlestar Galactica, and films like Star Trek: First Contact, Independence Day, and Pacific Rim, for example—intelligent aliens would most likely take a far less flamboyant tact in subjugating and appropriating the energies of any intelligent species that they encountered, one more akin to that found, for example, in John Carpenter’s 1988 film They Live or David Icke’s 2001 book Children of the Matrix. As opposed to the numerous action-packed portrayals of the initial stages of alien takeovers, Icke’s and Carpenter’s accounts portray the state of human subjugation in medias res—humans being already trapped and discreetly organized within a highly complex system that has been slowly and methodically imposed upon them, whether by aliens from another world as in They Live, or from another dimension as in Children of the Matrix. Unlike spectacle-oriented aliens, those depicted by Carpenter and Icke appear to have calculated that it isn’t smart policy to gratuitously blow up things or hover menacingly over large cities in ominous ‘mother ships’ in order to achieve their purposes. Indeed, intelligent aliens perpetrating the takeover of a species or planet wouldn’t be mindful of their intended victims’ cameras or other recording devices any more than a human fisherman is of the more perceptive fish in or outside of his net.
The pervasive and encouraged habit of seeing aliens as space pirates or city-leveling monsters, or as cosmic bullies who seem to have stumbled upon advanced technology and wish to ‘try it out’ on primitives seems a direct consequence of media corporations’ pervasive programming in this direction. Perhaps unsurprisingly, such programming has had the effect of causing human audiences to be almost entirely focused on the possibility of a noisy, fast, or violent alien incursion on earth. But why should it be? Just as humans harvest other lifeforms in various locales for various purposes without first menacing them by parking jets or trains or other intimidating technological contrivances in their ecosystems, intelligent aliens would likely ‘conquer’ (as a pest expert conquers an ant mound) Earth in a deliberate and quiet manner, one that emphasized maximization of resource cultivation. Any intelligent alien takeover would be (or already has been) a peaceful, pre-planned, well-oiled process taking generations to accomplish, and practiced many times before on other worlds. From humans’ perspective, most importantly, the aliens’ primary sought-after resource would be humans. Just as food stuffs and beasts of burden (living means of generating power) are vital resources to humans, new caches of conscious rationality and constructive imagination would likely be vital resources to intelligent aliens. Renewable resources, as always, would be best. ‘Conquering’ aliens wouldn’t, as they say, ‘throw out the baby with the bath water.’ Such aliens wouldn’t carelessly annihilate human bodies just in order to get rid of human minds, the latter of which, the aliens would have determined far in advance, might be ‘problematic’ to their processes of resource extraction and development. Minds themselves would be one of the sought-after resources of the aliens. Consequently, intelligent aliens would carefully and systematically contrive to confuse, deceive, and appease both human bodies and minds, and in a very patient manner. Showing off their enormous space ships or generally instilling mass terror in the human population wouldn’t further their cause.
Intelligent aliens, let us be sure, wouldn’t destroy humans en masse, or even discreetly in small numbers, very much, but rather modify humans in order to, as unobtrusively as possible, make them more ‘useful’ to their (alien) ends—malleable to alien purposes. Sneaky devils that they most likely would be—as most predators are (and how many physicists have compared the universe to a jungle?)—intelligent aliens would work cleverly, in ways needful to their ends, to make humans non-human in the most essential ways. They wouldn’t stomp into Earth’s orbit like brash ‘alpha aliens’ who desired, or needed, their strength and technological superiority to be noticed by inferior ‘hick species’ living at the edge of the galaxy. Does a race car driver show off his new car and advanced driving skills to a turkey that he plans to eat? Does a mathematician explain his latest proof to a lobster before boiling it? Do humans in general require cows and fish to first notice their superior intelligence and strength before making of them a tasty treat? For intelligent aliens, both humans and Earth’s other resources would be merely the objects of yet another galactic or intergalactic harvest—one to add to the hundreds, thousands, or millions already accomplished in countless star systems over millions of years. Why, people always ask, if ‘they’ exist, haven’t ‘they’ contacted ‘us’ yet? As if intelligent aliens would let humans know when they are nearby or already here on Earth. If aliens did notify earthlings of their presence, rest assured that it would be only to toy with them—for example, “Is that a weather balloon?!?” The real question concerning any intelligent alien takeover (‘conquest,’ if you wish) of humans—whether occurring on past, present, or future Earth—is not the methods by which aliens would annihilate or devastate the human species, but rather the methods by which they would enslave the human mind. The 1999 film The Matrix at least touches on this. And the general answer is: by slowly dissolving humans’ ‘non-useful,’ specifically human, that is, qualities. Human being, it should be noted, is not equivalent to its higher intelligence or its complex imagination. As stated before, intelligent aliens wouldn’t want to destroy such resources. That is, from the perspective of a sufficiently advanced predatory intellect, intelligence and imagination could, and would, be co-opted, distilled, and appropriated (‘high-jacked’) for specifically alien ends.
A simpler way to pose the question of what an intelligent alien takeover of Earth would look like is to ask how aliens would destroy, not the biology of humans, but rather their humanity. Mass murdering of humans would certainly be counterproductive, and messy, to the purposes of an efficient alien harvest—and let us be sure that intelligent aliens will be, or were, efficient. Efficiency, that is, is the usual motivation (rationalization) for both destruction and subjugation of all kinds, once the mind has shirked the dictates of what it inevitably, after a dangerous degree of education, comes to label ‘contextual’ values. Humans may be, or have been, the primary reason that aliens come/came to Earth—as a logger goes into an old forest of ancient timbers that he has long known of and watched grow, one interspersed with other useful lifeforms, but looking now for a particular kind of wood which he sees as ripe for his blade. An emperor doesn’t murder a slave in order to make it a better slave; a farmer doesn’t burn his crop in order to make it yield more. Domestication of humans would be the goal of any intelligent visitors to Earth, not destruction. Human ‘wildness’ or recalcitrance—however intelligent aliens may perceive the human quality that most stands in their way—would be that which they would see as most in need of ‘taming’ or ‘purging.’ For, the particular kind of intelligent aliens that would be in the business of harvesting humans—harvesting the intelligence and imagination of technologically less advanced species—would be of a collectivist variety.
No doubt there are a profusion of alien types existing throughout the universe that are capable of interstellar travel. No doubt, like the various types of humans existing on Earth, these types interpret existence in wildly incompatible ways. Unlike some of these types, however, which would be equally intelligent and observant to (but likely more thoughtful than) the collectivist aliens that pursue their long-term ‘harvesting’ project—and wouldn’t interfere with human development—collectivist aliens would see their selfish and piratical approach to existence as necessary to their and humans’—as well as everyone’s—‘survival.’ Feverishly, as is their kind’s way, collectivist aliens would seek to ‘cut off at the pass’ the development of newly discovered intelligent species (such as the human one) into more advanced individuals. Like ‘the gods’ of old, however—and who or what were they, exactly—the collectivist aliens’ individualist fellows would laugh at their efforts—looking, as is their way, more at the ‘long run’ of things—perhaps as these individualist aliens have already laughed and looked for eons, observing over and over as the strange and fearful collectivist troop endlessly nances about the universe ever and again trying to stave off new versions of their self-imposed darkness by ‘sharing’ it with other conscious beings.
For intelligent aliens, in any case—which some humans would become aware of, but perhaps too late in the mentioned harvesting process—harvesting wouldn’t be a matter of physical destruction so much as it would be of psychological manipulation, behavioral conditioning in which human intelligence is (or was) by various means cajoled into using its unique talents against itself—the obvious ‘path to power’ on Earth for any intelligent aliens. For, in order to destroy a population of intelligent beings, not simply annihilate its physical instantiations, that population’s metaphysical reality must be undermined: its values must be ‘reformed.’ Perhaps over centuries or millennia, intelligent, patient, collectivist, aliens, by means of careful planning and quiet steps, would modify, vilify, and, finally, annihilate organically arisen human values—in order to replace them with values which the aliens would deem ‘useful.’ Knowing their general gullibility as well as the common nature of the conditioned response mechanism that sets many humans to ‘think the best’ of others in the face of all manner of evidence to the contrary, one suspects that most humans would interpret the alien harvest—the takeover that wouldn’t be seen as such—as eminently appealing. They would, in all likelihood—as intelligent aliens would predict—ignorantly embrace the aliens’ covertly disseminated ‘new and improved’ values. They would joyously join in the process of their own destruction—gleefully and proudly admiring the shininess of their new toys—the ready-made alien values—as they recklessly annihilated their own little-understood, or underappreciated, ancient principles and archetypal memories and purposes—at the same time destroying their past, present, and future. Of course, this sort of sleight of hand has happened many times before on Earth, though regionally. Most humans are, now, aware that various twentieth-century regimes easily employed humans’ urge to bovinity to great effect. But the killing of human values, intelligent alien ‘conquerors’ would determine (determined?), is the method by which humans’ means of resistance is also killed. This, after all, as intelligent aliens would (did) understand, is where a human derives his strength to resist all ‘alien’ takeovers from. Kill a few million humans or a few billion, and you create so many martyrs—thus ‘waking people up.’ Can’t have that! intelligent aliens would reflect. No, intelligent aliens, rather than maniacally disintegrating the White House or liquefying the Eiffel Tower or laying waste to ‘cutting-edge’ population centers housing ‘progressive’ institutions, would think about this sort of thing, carefully.
What intelligent aliens would think can be summarized by the following statements: Don’t literally kill human beings, here and there and everywhere as they pop up, even with awesome ray guns, all random-like: don’t merely kill their bodies. Mentally kill them all—even if that process takes much longer. This is the way that intelligence works: an intelligent human, for example, doesn’t directly confront a tiger and ‘call it out’; he sets up a tiger trap, made especially for a tiger—not for a bear or a monkey—and he waits. Intelligent alien ‘conquerors’ of Earth and humanity, somewhat like humans who trap animals for sport, detestable though the latter may be—perhaps, for instance, frail bureaucratic or priestly types hailing from some small desert planet where a certain brand of hermeneutic intellectual acuity is highly developed but imagination and spirit are disgustingly atrophied—would still be intelligent. True, they may be the sort of creature that wants to always reduce other creatures’ thinking to their way of ‘thinking,’ other creatures’ passions to their obsession—the latter, perhaps, having as its ‘sacred object’ some random abstraction that has helped the aliens, over millennia, to cope with the darkness of space, and which is what the aliens have, through a series of wrong turns, ethically speaking, become disposed to unhealthily fixate on—in sum, be of that kind that has no other purpose to its existence than to take away good and ancient things from populations of beautiful and vigorous ‘natives’ and then systematically, out of a strange obsession with ‘efficiency’ and ‘progress,’ replace these good and ancient things with shades of a false and selfish light. But, they are still intelligent. And, being intelligent, they would know that to do what they really want to do requires killing something deeper than human values: natural human desires.
Natural human desires form the rough basis for natural human values, the liquid lava that solidifies over time into lava’s hard rock. More directly, values grow from sensibilities, and sensibilities grow from primordial attractions and aversions. The latter are Nature’s gifts to humans that enable them to thrive and flourish (eudaemonia). “Destroy them too!” intelligent aliens would chortle, referring to their manual “Improving Humans” (subtitled: saving ‘them’ from themselves). “Replace them!”—with unnatural, alien, desires ‘useful’ to alien purposes. According to the alien plan, such ‘replacement desires’ would, first, cast doubt and, then, undermine natural human desires, as well as the natural offspring of the latter: human values. This process, intelligent aliens would argue (to themselves—they certainly wouldn’t argue with those who are ‘clearly wrong’), would be ‘necessary.’ And many humans would, as in other stages of the harvesting process, be completely buffaloed by it, this time by means of the aliens’ artificially inculcated desires’ ‘shiny and new’ qualities. However, these, for aliens, ‘better’ desires would encounter at least one obstacle standing in the way of their successful emergence.
No matter how hard even intelligent aliens tried to force their ‘new and improved’ desires and values onto humans, no matter how hard they worked to make these clearly artificial values seem otherwise, such alien desires and values would remain strange to all healthy-minded humans—not only to their conscious minds but also, for most humans by far, to their unconscious awareness of their uniquely human genetic memories and physiological intuitions. Most humans, that is, by far, would be not only psychologically averse to the alien-introduced contrived desires, but physiologically incompatible with them. Intelligent aliens, of course, would have planned for this eventuality as well. Their plan would be based upon their prediction that such unnatural desires and values would create an overall chaotic condition among all humans that would, from the aliens’ perspective, ‘rub off’ onto the still normal and mentally strong humans. The aliens would plan (who knows whether they would, or could, hope) that: 1) their contrived desires and values plus 2) the general chaos emanating from humans compromised by their gullibility and passivity in the face of such introduced ‘new’ desires and values, would, together, create a situation on Earth in which the still strong humans would not be in a state of being conducive to inspiring and activating the resources of their specifically human totality—which is exactly, intelligent aliens would know, what the non-corrupted humans would require in order to protect their ‘higher’ selves, their specifically human potentialities, from alien incursions. This two-step process, intelligent aliens would realize and plan for, would be an essential method in their takeover of humans and Earth’s other resources; the aliens would have calculated that such ‘higher’ potentialities as just alluded to are exactly what allow humans to perform at their ‘upper limits,’ physically as well as mentally—limits at which humans are able to repel all-comers and all threats to their existence—such as the said intelligent alien invaders. From the aliens’ perspective, however, this would be (or was) the very point of introducing unnatural desires and ‘new and improved’ values into the human population: that is, in order to weaken human resistance on multiple fronts, as any good strategist would seek to accomplish, in the emerging alien ‘resource’ which, eventually, will only look human.
Human, not animal, traits are the only obstacles standing in the way of an intelligent alien takeover of Earth—whether from ‘within’ or ‘without.’ The first key to success in conquering the human species, from any ‘alien’ perspective, is to destroy human nature—not human bodies, not human cities, not human art. Take away natural human morals—the means for living a human, rather than an animal’s, or a machine’s, existence—and ‘de-moralization’ follows. As intelligent aliens would know, de-moralization is de-humanization: “Manners maketh the man.” A human without principles isn’t a human; he is a constituted bundle of perceptions, desires, and proclivities, all of which, as required, will bend “any way the wind blows.” Inundation is the second key to conquering the human species. Intelligent aliens would know to inundate humans with shallow, mesmerizing, ‘new and improved’ desires and values that both: 1) appeal to the young who believe and 2) are incompatible with the old who know. Only the latter, intelligent aliens would (do) know, possess the culturally transmitted sense of certainty required for a population to overcome any obstacles. Therefore: the old must go and the young must be remade, intelligent aliens would understand. That is how a world is ‘conquered’; all conquerors know this. And then, the third key: insinuate ‘new and improved’ desires and values as fundamental desires and values: ‘principles’ that are so vague and content-less that they can serve as no deep source of inspiration or ‘fight,’ and which, eventually, allow for the emergence of even more dis-eased desires and values. Degradation of the human element: this is the master key. Contrive axioms of such banality, such non-specificity—encapsulated in such products of carpet-bagging sloganeering as appear in vague statements about ‘freedom,’ ‘choice,’ ‘change,’ and ‘hope’—that the intellectual element that determines human being is atrophied, eventually to be forgotten and then considered, by the ‘new generation,’ well forgotten. Above all, however, sow discord in the slave species and then…let the problem solve itself. Whatever force accomplishes this, whatever beings affect this on what once was a human population, no matter its planet or dimension of origin, no matter its anatomy, physiology, or genetic structure, is alien: not non-human but anti-human.