“Do these stories cleverly employ psychedelic drug culture and techno-gnostic philosophizing in order to cloak what may have been considered “dangerous” and “unspeakable” political commentaries?“
“The Empire Never Ended” is a refrain mysteriously repeated throughout Philip K. Dick’s final magnum opus, VALIS, which is an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System. Not only may understanding this phrase bring much of PKD’s work into a better light, it may also help to shine better light on the world’s current totalitarian state of affairs.
Throughout VALIS, PKD never really explains what this phrase means, and as with the entire novel, the reader eventually must decide for themselves where the lines between fact and fiction -and between his madness and his genius- really lay.
Was he actually hit by a beam of pink light which gave him intuitive knowledge of things he should not have otherwise been able to know and understand? Is that why he really was able able to save his child’s life and correctly diagnose a rare and deadly illness, when doctors would have never thought of it?
There are times where it seems that his work is extremely literal and almost non-fiction, and other times where it feels like a vast coded language intentionally weaving metaphors together with facts and fictions, almost as if to blur all the lines on purpose, in order to draw us into questioning, ‘what exactly is the true reality here’?
In one striking tale from the novel, he describes seeing ancient Rome transposed over 1970’s Berkeley California, during a particularly strong LSD trip. Gnostic mysticism was clearly a major influence on the ideas he explored in his novels, and also heavily influenced the Matrix series and many other sci-fi authors, with the most basic Gnostic premise being that we are currently living in a false, illusory reality. The way he described his trip in the early 70’s was similar to what we may think of today as “breaking through the Matrix”, though what he says he saw, instead of numbers and data, was ancient Rome.
The way he explored ideas evolved throughout his career and near the end, in VALIS, he begins to extrapolate wildly on the details of the mechanics of the grand illusion we are all experiencing. One of the main great illusions is our identity itself -a theme PKD plays with constantly- and this leads him to tell you in the beginning of the novel that the main character is actually him, that the character’s name is a thinly-disguised pseudonym, and that he is writing the novel to get perspective on his life. But then he actually appears as himself in the novel as well, and the two characters interact. Throughout all of the shifting of realities and identities he presents, the reader is left wondering what is real and what is an illusion, and I suspect that to leave us with this sense of questioning is very much his intention.
Is he literally theorizing about time travel, divergent and conflicting timelines, alien laser beams of pure information, pathways for karmic liberation of the soul and the potential that we are living in an artificially-intelligent holographic prison simulation, a la the Matrix, Elon Musk and many modern theoretical physicists?
Or do his stories cleverly employ psychedelic drug culture and techno-gnostic philosophizing in order to cloak what may have been considered “dangerous” and “unspeakable” political commentaries? Perhaps he is even intending to do all of this at the same time?
Does his work intentionally force us into questioning reality as we have accepted it and seek to guide us into a state of “re-examination”, even if it is only, at first, directed at the reality-bending within his novels, so that we may learn this skill and begin to apply it to other “illusory” realities that we have accepted, including our identities themselves and the fundamental assumptions of reality that we take for granted?
PKD explores the themes of false realities and shifting identities constantly throughout his many works, including some of his more famous novels and stories such as Total Recall, Minority Report, Through a Scanner Darkly, Blade Runner, the Three Stigmata, Flow My Tears and the Man in the High Castle.
For some prime evidence that much of his reality-shifting themes may be a genius disguise for hiding radical political commentary and teaching us how to re-examine our most fundamental assumptions of reality, lets look specifically at the Man in the High Castle, where PKD describes a world in which Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan have won WWII and control America.
In this alternative reality, Japan controls the West Coast and Germany controls the East coast, with a “no-man’s land” wild buffer zone in the Rocky Mountain States between. The title character lives in the no man’s land, and is using the I Ching to slowly write and publish an alternative history, wherein the US has won WWII, and Japan and Germany are now free democracies.
Towards the end (spoiler alert) one of the main characters accidentally breaks through a dimensional crack into this alternate reality, just at the moment in which an I Ching reading reveals to the title character that this alternative reality that it has been helping him to write about is, in fact, the “real” world.
This final reveal is greatly compounded by PKD’s admission to the reader at the beginning of the novel that he himself has used the I Ching to write the alternative history in the book you have now just finished. This self-referencing final reveal presents the reader with the logical implication that the reality they are living in is actually the illusion, and that the alternative reality PKD has been writing about, wherein the Nazis actually won WWII and have taken over America, is the true reality.
Now of course, it is crazy to suggest that the Nazis literally won WWII. This is clearly a false statement. Is PKD really asking us to re-examine such a widely-accepted “reality”? Just hold that thought and let’s dive briefly into a rapid-fire history lesson on the evolution of the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the German Empire.
Roman Coin showing Eagle, Wreath & Fasces Motifs
Rome began as a People’s Republic which fell due to a prolonged constitutional crisis that was intentionally exacerbated by leaders such as Pompey. Power became centralized in the executive branch of Caesar, and Rome became an empire, with a clear focus on imperialistic military conquest.
The empire spread out all directions, conquering Egypt and northern Africa to the south, Hispania to the West, attacking Germania to the north, taking all of Eastern Europe and Turkey, and pushing all the way to the Middle East “Holy Land”, which has remained the de facto eastern front lines of Roman imperialism all the way to the present day.
Wait what?!?! Up to present day?!? Didn’t the Roman Empire fall a long time ago? The short answer is, no, absolutely not.
After a period of expansion and consolidation, the Empire became split into a Western and Eastern version. Soon after, the Western Roman Empire fell to the Germanic tribes in the north around 500 AD. Constantinople was eventually conquered by Ottoman Turks in the 1400s, and renamed Istanbul. This marked the official “end of the Roman Empire”, but long before this happened, the Western Empire had fallen in 500 to Germanic tribes and then arisen from the ashes again in 800 as the “Holy Roman Empire of the German People”.
This is the epoch of the empire that many history professors like to help their students remember by telling them was “neither Holy nor Roman.” By territory, it was far more German than Italian, but it was certainly a mix of both, and the strongest center of political and military influence remained in Rome.
Before we continue the story, let’s take a quick look at how the Roman flag changed throughout its evolution from a Republic to an Empire to the dual-centered Empire stretched from East to West, and finally to what is formally known as the “Holy Roman Empire of the German People.”
Here we see an early flag of the People’s Republic of Rome:
Next lets look at the flag of the early Roman Empire, after power was centralized in the Caesar, and their focus became extremely imperialistic, (even though they liked the idea of a Republic and kept the “SPQR” Senate & People of Rome for a long time.)
Here the wreath motif has evolved and the three colors are gone, replaced with solid red, which is similar to what we see in openly fascist nations today such as Russia and China.
The new motifs featured are the Eagle alighting on a bundle of sticks with axe in the center, which is called a “Fasces” in Latin, a symbol of “strength in unity”, representing the use of authoritarianism to force many different “sticks” -representing both individuals as well as independent nations- to come together and act as one. The fasces symbolizes the motto “From Many, One” as fascism is essentially a far-right system of repressive authoritarian government.
The Eagle is a symbol for militaristic imperialist expansion. The flag shows the Eagle resting on the Fasces, which is communicating that the empire’s imperialist military strength relies on using authoritarian force to impose orders and decrees upon all individuals in a nation, or across a wide variety of formerly independent nations.
Now here is a flag of the Roman Empire after it expanded and split into East and West with centers in both Rome and Constantinople:
A few centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire around 500 AD, the Holy Roman Empire (of the German People) arose around 800 AD and lasted all the way until Napoleon around 1800 AD. Here is a later era flag:
Here we see the double-headed eagle from the late Holy Roman Empire’s flag, wearing crowns, now sticking it’s tongues out, and with collections of many feudal coat of arms, which represent the many Germanic kingdoms that have been united with northern Italy, with Roman Catholicism as their official national religion.
Ok, so now that we have a fresh feel for Roman Empire flag motifs and their meaning, let’s get back to the story.
The “barbaric” Germanic tribes to the north ultimately caused the Roman Empire’s western half to end around 500 AD, and Ottoman Turkish forces finally took the eastern capital for Islam and renamed it Istanbul in the 1400’s. This is officially when the Roman Empire ended and the loyal retreated back to Rome, back to it’s Vatican fortress, where it had long been consolidating wealth and power, and already long begun to spread itself around the entire world, disguised as a religion.
With the Roman Catholic Church as a front, even before they joined with Germany to create the Holy Roman Empire in 800 AD, they led a series of brutal religious military conquests of the middle east ‘Holy Land’ known as the Crusades, but failed to hold the territory long term. They also began doing international “missions work”, leaving a wake of genocide and exploitation around the world. All of this was really nothing but “morally-defensible” imperialism, disguised with religious duty and piety.
The Roman Catholic church worked directly with colonialist trading companies for centuries as they conquered and exploited many different undeveloped nations, all around the world. Their Missions would slowly infiltrate and take over other less developed nations from within, often using religion basically as what we would today call a “psyop”, either to conquer and dominate the people long-term, or to befriend them just long enough to exploit them and/or their resources.
In the Americas, the Roman Catholic Missions were especially violent and brutal in their treatment of non-compliant natives. For more facts on the Roman Catholic Church’s many brutal and deceptive imperialist and militaristic endeavors throughout the era of colonialism, and the “Holy Roman Empire”, see The Pope’s Soldiers by David Alvarez or research more on the church’s involvement with monarchs and trading companies throughout the age of colonialism. And do I really need to mention ghastly horrors the Roman Catholic church perpetrated on millions of innocent people during the Holy Inquisition?
After the 1804 dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire by Napoleon’s forces, what is called the “Second Empire” or the “German Empire” was founded only a few generations later, in 1871. I want to point out again that the Germanic tribes were the military force that caused the Western Roman Empire to fall in 476, and that it was precisely these same German tribes that slowly evolved into various feudal kingdoms and lordships which 300 years later were all “united” with Rome into the Holy Roman Empire of the German People.
This medieval “Game of Thrones” style feudal empire lasted for a thousand years, and was notoriously abusive, vulgar and corrupt. Even though the Roman Catholic church behind the “Holy Roman Empire” had left a disgraceful legacy and despicable trail of oppression, genocide and pillaging in less developed nations around the world for many centuries before being defeated by France, allowing them to collect a vast fortune of gold, precious gems, art and artifacts from around the world, the Roman Catholic church still managed to rouse the same German population again just a few generations later to form the “Second Empire” more commonly referred to as the “German Empire” or Imperial Germany. Here is a flag from that “edition” of the Empire.
I note that the German people eventually united with Rome after first sorely defeating it, and that the many Germanic tribes and kingdoms were ultimately controlled by Rome through this “unification”, because it helps to display a pattern that we may still be able to see repeating today. Rome managed to slowly infiltrate and take control of it’s once-stronger enemy from within, to manipulate them and eventually to use them like puppets to more indirectly expand their own influence and dominance.
The Second Empire, German Empire, or Imperial Germany, did not spread very far, and lasted only from 1871 to 1918, basically right up to the time of Hitler and the start of the “Third Empire”, infamously known as “the Third Reich”. “Reich” simply means “Empire” in German.
Here are some of the infamous flags and symbols used by the “Third Empire”:
It’s interesting to note here that the Nazi’s actually went back to the much older Roman SPDR wreath motif, instead of using any of the motifs from the flag of the medieval Holy Roman Empire versions, as if they were very intentionally trying to connect their party with the deeper roots of the Italian Roman Empire, rather than with the more recent Holy Roman Empire of the German People.
We can clearly see the influences of the style of flags and badges used by the Nazis, with the more sleek, modern eagle design taken from the Second Empire, and the wreath motifs being very traditional, going back to the early Roman Empire and even the Republic… the modern inheritors of which were in fact, secretly funding and directing the Nazis from behind Vatican walls.
Despite public lip service to the contrary, the Vatican ended up being one of the biggest sponsors of Mussolini and the Nazi party, along with the Rockefeller, Carnegie, Rothschild and Bush families.
When the “Third Empire” fell, it was generally credited to the massive push of military forces from the United States that came across the Atlantic to support the UK and France in the war, ultimately defeating the Nazi and Italian fascist alliance, though at an incredible cost of human lives.
Of course, this did not for a moment deter the inheritors of Rome’s ancient empire from pursuing their age old goal of worldwide domination. The Nazis promised they would rise again as a “Fourth Empire” and the Vatican immediately began to employ the same strategy as it did after the fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic tribes. That is, they began infiltrating the United States, in order to take over from within.
This can concisely explain why in a matter of decades after WWII, the United States military went from being beloved war heroes to despised storm troopers operating a global imperialist police force brutally dominating much of the world with coups and high-tech modern warfare, attacking other nations to maintain claim on their resources, such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, by employing the biggest, most advanced military in the world with thousands of bases in over 80 different countries.
Immediately after WWII, the US became heavily influenced by former Nazis and Vatican infiltrators and began to dramatically shift towards the ideologies and practices of a fascist imperialist empire. Operation Paperclip is just one of many official histories that have been uncovered which prove that top ranking Nazis were funneled into high ranking positions in the United States government, US military for weapons development, US pharmaceutical corporations for vaccines and drug development, and into top level US academics and research departments, all during and immediately after the end of WWII. The former head of NASA even worked directly under Hitler and had been brutally “sworn in” to loyalty (as all top ranking Nazis were) to uphold the Nazis’ racist, imperialist goals.
Now if I wanted to attempt to verify the hypothesis that the United States has now long been infiltrated and essentially taken over by the modern descendants of the ancient Roman Empire, I’d probably need to dive into a thousand controversial details about the Jesuits, their ties to the Vatican and control of US intelligence agencies, as well as the mafia, their control of the School of the Americas “covert military” aka “terrorist coup training” organization in South America, and direct coordination with the CIA in numerous political assassinations and military coups throughout south and central America, how they first coordinated with various US government agencies to help the Nazis escape Germany, resettle in Argentina and then take over most of South America with coups and engineered crises.
I’d rather not try to prove any of this though, and instead I’d like to offer a different approach to opening up new paradigms by taking a look at a few examples of the symbols used on flags, money and official seals of the United States of America:
Of course, none of these images proves anything, but rather, perhaps much like PKD, these images are an attempt to find a more subtle and effective way to offer a radically different perspective, and lead the reader through a process of “re-examination.”
So with that in mind, I now want to ask you to suspend your disbelief for just a moment, allow yourself to take fresh look at something you probably already have a very fixed idea about, in light of the history that we have just revisited.
Here is the flag of the United Nations:
Next, we have the flag of the World Health Organization:
Following the historical pattern of flag motifs used by the Roman Empire, this flag would seem to symbolize “Roman” influence wrapping around the entire world under the guise of Medical Care, very similarly to how they used Christianity as a cover for their fascist, imperialistic goals throughout the world in the past.
In light of all this history, is it really just a coincidence that the recent wave of totalitarian medical fascism spreading across the entire planet first started to spread to democratic nations from northern Italy?
I understand very well just how unpopular of an idea it is in the current climate of pandemic panic to even suggest that the UN and the WHO might be some kind of ancient Roman/neo-Nazi plot for fascist world domination. I imagine you would agree with me that it would be considered in very bad taste to even insinuate that some of the most famous and respected politicians alive today are literal Nazis or Vatican agents, working to take over and destroy America from within.
Even though much glaring evidence exists for these ideas, even though “New World Order” is a phrase that was coined by George Bush Sr. in a famous speech, and even though his father Prescott Bush was indicted for Trading with the Enemy due to his direct support of Hitler during WWII even after the US entered the war, openly making references to the Bushes -or really any US politician- as being an actual Nazi is simply too “unspeakable” to be accepted in the mainstream. Perhaps this information is seen as too offensive or too disruptive and therefore too “dangerous” to be tolerated.
This leads me to question if mainstream intolerance for this type of potentially “dangerous” political commentary could have been why Philip K. Dick chose to hide such controversial yet poignant political insights under the cover of wildly psychedelic fiction?
He seems to be offering some very similar messages through a variety of his novels, in a variety of subtle ways, from the story he told of seeing ancient Rome transposed over California, to the mysterious refrain repeated over and over in VALIS, “The Empire Never Ended”, to the way he powerfully suggests to the reader at the final reveal in the Man in the High Castle that, in fact, it is the reader’s reality, the one we are living in right now, that is the illusion, and that, in fact, the “real” world is the one he is describing, wherein the Nazis won and have long ago taken over America.
When PKD postulates in novels such as VALIS that we are all living in a false timeline, and are actually still back in the Roman Empire living in the revolutionary times of Jesus, is he really just offering us a trip-out dose of literary LSD? Or is that just the packaging? Is he actually using drug culture dialogues and intriguing layers of psycho-naut mysticism as a backdrop to subtly convey “unspeakable” political commentary to a heavily-propagandized and unreceptive public? Perhaps the truth is not so much an “either-or” but a matter of “both-and”; and he is sincerely doing all of this, all at the same time.
The theme of false realities runs throughout much of his vast bibliography, but looking especially at VALIS and the reveal at the end of the Man in the High Castle, I pose the question, is PKD really just some tripped-out sci-fi yarn-spinner, or has he just been made out to look that way by the media after his sudden and untimely death? Was he actually cleverly hiding “unspeakable” political insights in many of his various sci-fi, alternative reality and 70’s drug culture novels? Did he write to the FBI because they had been keeping tabs on him as a “dangerous” political dissident? Did he actually use the novel A Scanner Darkly to expose corrupt police working with mafia-run drug cartels (controlled by the Vatican), as well as routine illegal police entrapment of both their paid informants and unsuspecting citizens, and even clearly suggest to readers at the end of the novel that this corruption goes all the way to the top?
Throughout his mind-bending novels, was he secretly working to expose “dangerous” truths to the public through elaborate literary mechanisms? Was his constant use of the theme of shifting realities a mechanism employed as a subtle effort to suggest to the mainstream public that we radically re-examine some of the most fundamental realities that we take for granted?
Throughout so many of his works, we can see a continual theme of quiet warnings against fascist overreach and government corruption, as his novels deal with dystopian government surveillance and egregious political and police corruption, “thought-crime police”, over-reliance on technology, and even literal forced slavery through forced drug addiction and mind control, which may actually be real abuses of government that he was very subtly exposing to the public in the 1970’s, all disguised as literary elements of his unique brand of speculative fiction.
Philip K. Dick was clearly a visionary with an astounding writing genius, and I suspect he was also secretly a political radical and idealogical revolutionary, subtly pointing out explosive insights about our world that perhaps he knew from experience that most people would simply not be open to hearing directly, and perhaps that he might even get into trouble for talking about openly, but that he still felt he needed to share somehow, because he believed that this information was indispensable for people to understand and come to terms with, if we are to preserve our liberties from the very real threat of imperialist fascism, and to preserve not only the dignity of our lives, but perhaps even our lives themselves.
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