The Tale of TINA

The characters in the story are:

Boy-Wonder = Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert, manages his father's businesses in Australia The Goanna = Kerry Packer, Australi's richest man and media mogul. Letshim = Mark Latham. Leading right wing Labor Party intellectual and the author of _Civilizing Global Capital_ Sleazy Tenner = Lidsay Tanner leading member of th esocialist Left an asssociate of Latham's. Kimo O'Beeslee = Kim Beasley, current leader of the Australian Labor Party, a rightist and very, very pro-USA Oldhaukee = Bob Hawke former ALP Leader and Prime Minister Ming = Sir Robert Menzies, royalist, tory and Australia's longerst serving Prime Minisister. Dead and unlamented/ Oldguff = Gough Whitlam. right wing memeber of the ALP. Now sanctified by the Left because he was sacked as Prime Minister. 

Another Tale of TINA: The Red Patrol in the Land of There Is No Alternative

Readers will remember TINA is a land where the People strive hard to appease a savage divinity called the Economy-God. They are directed and organised in their efforts by a band of Priests, who demand more and more sacrifices to satisfy the God. Meanwhile we, through a stroke of authorial brilliance, were able to peek inside the Holy of Holies of the Temple of TINA and see that there was no god only a group of Elites who were waxing fat on the blood, sweat and tears of the People. So this is a land where the People groan and grumble but still strive hard to appease the Economy-God while the Priests when they are not snorting, snapping and slurping at the trough go everywhere chanting 'TINA, TINA, TINA'.

The Elites do not seem to do much except get ever fatter on the goods the People produce. But this is not so. The Elites keep a very careful eye on the People and the Priests and make sure that the Priests' trough is well filled. They also have patrols where they go and look for potential signs of trouble. One of these patrols is called the Red Patrol and traditionally it has been carried out by the Media Elites.

'What', you ask, 'was the "media"?' Well it was a means of encouraging TINA-Thought among the people. It consisted of screens where people could watch moving pictures that told them they were happy and at ease with themselves. There were also broadsheets written in very simple language where the people could learn that they lived in the lucky Temple-land and that everything was much worse everywhere else and that they should be grateful. The media was especially useful at those times when the Elites permitted the People to chose which group of Priests were to serve the Economy-God.

Once there had been quite a few Media-Elites but now there were only two. A huge, old, fat and ugly man known as the 'Goanna', and a young man who had come from another Temple-land to control the media his father owned. He was called 'Boy-Wonder'. These two did not really like one another. Indeed they both often muttered under their breath the favourite slogan of the Elites - "There can be only One." Nevertheless while they constantly struggled to out do one another they both still kept alive the tradition of the Red Patrol which had been started by their ancestors.

What I hear you ask, O Reader, was the 'Red Patrol'? Well this was a search and destroy mission carried out by the Media-Elites. They sought out and exterminated any Red Priests they could find. The strange thing was that no one had ever seen a Red Priest. Nor was there anyone who knew what these Red Priests preached. Certainly in none of the schools, nor on the screens, nor in the broadsheets could you find a single reference to anything a Red Priest had ever said. Nevertheless everyone knew that the Red Priests were most evil and mothers would get children to obey by simply saying that the Red Priest was coming to get them.

Boy-Wonder strolled over to Goanna's compound. He found the new High Priest, Littlewinstee, on his knees giving the Goanna a foot-job. This was a most sacred duty performed by every High-Priest. He was expected to wash and kiss the feet of the Goanna and other Elites. All the High-Priests were very prepared to perform this service. But of course some them were better at it than others. Of all the recent High-Priests, Old Haukee was reckoned by the Elites to have been the best. Some even said that he was as good a foot-kisser as the legendary Ming.

Boy-Wonder coughed aloud as he approached the Goanna. The latter turned and saw his rival approach.

'How is the touch football?' he sneered at the young man.

Boy-Wonder reddened visibly. He was aware of the rumours about the amount of time he spent with football players. Worse daddy had heard them too. But he could not stop loving touch-football. Indeed the Goanna and he had had a big fight over the football. Boy-Wonder had tried to buy all the players for his team. But he had not succeeded and in fact their fight had turned so many people off football that they had to make peace.

'Never mind the football', answered Boy-Wonder, 'It's time for the Patrol.'

The Goanna took his foot out of Littlewinstee's mouth and the latter appeared most reluctant to let go off it. In fact throughout the ceremony it had seemed almost as if he were trying to get the entire leg into his mouth.

'You can run along, now, Littlewinstee.' said the Goanna. 'But mind you are back tomorrow at the same time.'

The High-Priest bowed and scraped his way out. Then he turned and went down the long path from the Goanna's house. As he went he skipped and whirled his arms and then leapt into the air, holding his index finger aloft and screaming, 'Zat?'

'What's the fool up to?' asked Boy-Wonder.

'He thinks he's playing clikit. The game Ming taught him'. answered the Goanna.

'What an idiot!', said Boy-Wonder who found clikit boring compared with touch-football.

'True,' answered the Goanna. "But he gives a good foot-job' 'Let's get on with the Patrol. There have been a few developments among the People's Priests we need to keep an eye on.'

As the Goanna and Boy-Wonder headed off they were accosted by two priests holding large bowls. These were the Revenue Priests. Their job was to collect money for the upkeep of the Temple. They would go among the people and threaten them roughly. Sometimes they even went to the Elites and begged them for a little something.

When Goanna saw the Revenue-Priests, he almost turned purple. He rushed over to them and spat in each of their bowls.

'Piss-off! Now!' he roared. 'I told you before not to come bothering decent folk. You are only to collect revenue from the riff-raff over there.'

He had pointed to where the People lived and the Revenue Priests fled in that direction.

Yes, gentle reader, I am aware that you found that little incident fascinating but that you have been wanting to know who the 'Pink Priests' are. Well they are a faction of the People's Priests, the party that is supposed to be super loyal to the People. The Pinkies as they are called wear Pink shirts to show their loyalty to the People. Once in fact the whole of the People's Party had worn pink but most of them had changed long ago into the predominant priestly colour of blue. Yet there were still a few Priests left who liked to declare that they were still pink, and sometimes at gatherings when they had become tired and emotional they would sing an old song called "The People's shirt is deepest pink." But truth to tell the pink had faded on the shirts so much that one could hardly tell what their colour was supposed to be. Besides most of the young 'Pinkies' as they were called had taken to wearing blue sashes and ribbons for decoration especially when any Elites were near.

When the Goanna mentioned developments among the People's Priests what he had in mind was one of the most rare events in the history of TINA. A young Priest from the People's Party had written a book. The priest who was known as Marko Letshim was showing his book to the Pink Faction and was trying to get them to read it. But the very thought of books put fear into the Pink Priests. Most of them did not know how to read anything other than the broadsheets and quite a few had not even seen a book.

Moreover the Pink Priests did not like Letshim. To begin with he used big words like 'hypothecation'. Also he belonged to a faction of the People's Party that used to laugh at them for wearing pink shirts and even beat them up sometimes. Nevertheless they had come to listen to Letshim because their leader Sleazy Tenner had told them they would never get the best positions at the trough if they did not follow important intellectuals like himself and Letshim.

As the Goanna and Boy-Wonder came up they heard Letshim say this.

'Comrade Pinkies...

(The Pink Priests liked to be called 'comrade' but they were afraid to use the word themselves.)

You all know that our Great Party is the only Party in Tina land that can serve both the People and the Economy-God. That is why our great Party was founded. But things have changed, comrades. When we were not chosen by the people recently, we were all depressed but this is a great opportunity for us to reconstruct ourselves. We need to renew the party.'

(When anyone talked about "reconstructing" or "renewing" the People's Party, they generally meant putting on more blue ribbons and badges.)

Letshim was really warming to his theme now and he continued

'Comrades, the competitive advantage paradigm and consequent overload of government are antipathetic to the legitimacy of the state public sector. The globalisation of capital has left the state suffering from high expectations for its role in fostering national economic successes. Traditionally we have relied on a strategy of domestic compensation, relying on public resources to compensate citizens treated unfairly by the profit system of production. The sustainability of compensation strategies of this kind is clearly restricted within the sphere of global capital, and the demands placed on government finances by the competitive advantage paradigm.'

The Pink Priests looked at each other and then back at Letshim in amazement. They began mumbling among themselves about what in the name of heaven he could be talking about. Sleazy Tenner hurried over to Letshim and whispered in his ear.

'OK. OK. In simple English then,' Letshim snapped at Sleazy.

'Comrades, I have been thinking and I have come up with some new ideas. No one has ever thought of them before. These ideas are not Red nor are they Blue. They are truly Pink. Comrades I know this will come as a shock to you but I must tell you that I have discovered that there are not many economy gods as we used to believe, but that there is only one Global God and his true Temple is in Wawlzstreet Land.

Wawlzstreet have asked me to tell you that we must now worship the One True God. Wawlzstreet has also told me to demand more sacr... I mean to bring in more reforms. The simple fact, comrades, is that we have been too soft on the People. We must get more revenue from the People.

(Some of the Pink Priests looked a bit startled at this but the Goanna and Boy-Wonder clapped furiously.)

Wawlzstreet has told me that if we do not they will take away the money they give us. That means, comrades, we will have no trough. So we must agree to worship the Global God.'

(All the Pink Priests seemed genuinely distressed at the prospect of life without the trough.)

'Letshim continued, 'I know that this might sound a little harsh but TINA, TINA, TINA. Besides we now have an historic opportunity. Our beloved People's Party has a new role. From henceforth we can tell the People that we will civilise the Global God'.

At the mention of "civilising the Global God", both Boy-Wonder and the Goanna glanced at each other and snickered.

Letshim meanwhile looked around the Pink Priests. Their Leader, Sleazytenner, was nodding vigorously in agreement. But the others did not appear so happy. He decided to play his ace.

'Oldguff agrees with me.'

(Oldguff was a former High-Priest who had been sacked because the Blues thought he had not demanded enough sacrifices from the people. He had been very rough on the Pink Priests when he was leader, but now they adored him because he had failed. The Pink Priests always loved failures.)

"But Wawlzstreet sacked Oldguff. Why should we worship their god?" asked a Pink Priest.

"Are you some kind of Red Priest?' Letshim snarled in reply.

'I am not', squealed the Pinko. 'Please don't say that.'

He had turned deathly pale at Letshim's words for if the rumour got out that a Priest was 'red', then that Priest would never, ever, get at the trough, and he would have to either go back to slave among the People or starve to death.

'Well you had better swear allegiance to the One True Global God and the Temple of Wawlzstreet, or you're in trouble. I don't know why you are hesitating. Your leader, Sleazytenner, has joined me.'

Sleazy was about to signal his approval when he spotted Kimo O'Beeslee waddling up.

'Quiet, Marko. Here comes that fat slob, Kimo', he said. 'Remember, you promised not to tell him about our agreement.'

Kimo was the leader of the People's Party and he did not like nor trust Letshim. 'Smart-ass' was his favourite nickname for the intellectual priest. He waddled over to the pile of copies of Letshim's books and in front of everyone he piddled profusely on them.

'That does it! I'm off to the Back Bench!' screamed Letshim.

The Back Bench was traditionally a place where priests went who were preparing to assassinate their leader. Kimo roared and charged at Letshim.

'I'll backbench you, you little bastard', he growled.

Years of fighting to get at the trough had made Kimo remarkably swift for a fat man and he soon cornered the whimpering Letshim. But just as he was about to garrotte him, he saw the Media Elites watching and he pulled up short.

'Nice, Letshim. Nice boy.' he said patting the cowering intellectual on the head. 'We really like your ideas. My own daddy taught me to love Wawlzstreet but it's just that the People are saying that they will never choose us again. It isn't smart to talk about reforms just now.'

This last sentence was accompanied by an extra heavy pat on Letshim's head.

Kimo turned away from the prostrate intellectual. He glowered at Sleazytenner and then bowed to the Elites. As he moseyed off he was accompanied by Old Haukee who was weeping with joy at Kimo's 'leadership qualities'.

'We might have to have a word with Kimo', said the Goanna.

'Naw. You are being paranoid', said Boy -Wonder. 'My dad says that Wawlzstreet really likes Kimo and they know he truly believes in the Global God. Besides if the people start to get too restless with that fool Littlewinstee, we might have to get Kimo chosen. In the meantime we can give Letshim a good run in the media. Let us say that he is making a great contribution to intellectual debate and Tina-Thought. That will keep the pressure up on Kimo.'

He and the Goanna turned to head off home. As they passed the compound of the Blue Priests they were stopped in their tracks by a huge uproar. A procession of very strange looking individuals was passing by. These were people known as the Inbreeds.

(Inbreeds were people who lived in very remote parts of Tina Land. They did not like anyone from other Temple Lands and used to keep themselves to themselves very often. They also called themselves the "True Blues".)

The cavalcade was led by an ugly red haired woman. She was screaming that there was no Global God and that the People must abandon their sinful ways and once more worship their very own, old Economy-god.

'Should we do something about her?' asked Boy-Wonder. 'My daddy says she is bad for our business in other temple-lands.'

'Perhaps,' said the Goanna. 'But she could come in useful if any Red Priests showed up.'

At the mention of 'Red Priests', Boy-Wonder shivered. No one had spotted a Red in ever so long. But his daddy always told him that you could never be sure that a Red would not pop up like a mole in the middle of the nicest lawn.

So passed another Red Patrol. Boy-Wonder went off for a session of touch-football with his favourite footballer and Gonna headed off for another foot-job. There was a young Blue wannabe, called Costellus, who had assured him that he could give a much better foot-job than Littlewinstee and a clandestine demonstration had been arranged for that day. The Goanna loved foot-jobs. He sighed with contentment at the thought of the caresses of another eager tongue on his foot.

Before they parted the Gonna and Boy-Wonder shared the age-old secret ceremonial salutation of the Elites. This was

'Life was meant to be easy', intoned the Goanna. 'But only for us', came the ritual reply from Boy-Wonder.

Gary McLennan