The Chess Set -The Script in 3 modules

by Pat Drummond

Voice Over.
(Light on Dark Knight seated)

"Do not go gentle into that good night.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day

Rage, rage against the dying of the light" Dylan Thomas

(Light on The White Knight seated)

"Lord, Give Me The Serenity To Accept the things I cannot change,

the Courage to change the things I can

and the Wisdom to know the Difference."

Often attributed to Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr (The Serenity Prayer)


(Module 1 - The Function of Art - The War on Terror - The Iraq Invasion - the Role of the Military & The Ethics of War)


Dark Knight: "Once there was a time when musicians and poets dented the powers of suppression and tyranny with words and music, with ideas and with dissent.

In 1915 it was Joe Hill. He wrote for the copper miners and factory workers in a land racked by inequality.....He stood up to the Industrialists across America and on a cold winter's morning in Salt Lake City, Utah; on trumped up murder charges, they led him into the prison yard and executed him for it.

In the 40's, it was Woody Guthrie who toured the dustbowls of America raising the tough issues in his songs. His guitar had four words, "This Machine Kills Fascists", emblazoned across it. Long before the Allies had the guts to stand up to Hitler... it was Woody's brand of Folk and Country Music that was making the voice of Freedom and the plight of Hitler's victims heard across the world.

In the 50's it was Pete Seeger and the Weavers who stood up against the Nuclear Threat and in the 60's there were new voices.

Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Paul Simon and Barry Maguire fanned the flames of a Peace Movement that saw the most powerful nation on Earth dragged out of South East Asia, shamed and beaten. Such was the power of lyrical Music.

The 70's and 80's brought us Eric Bogle, Judy Small, Alistair Hulett, Kevin Baker, Phyl Lobl, Jessie Winchester, Annie De Franco, Redgum, Jackson Browne, Billy Bragg and others whose songs became the conscience of their generation.

Now, what often passes as acoustic music is the unedifying spectacle of a waif-like 18 year old bleating endlessly about their last failed relationship or waxing euphoric about their new boyfriend's cute arse.

Pop music always was the triumph of form over substance. We accepted that for what it was. Brainless.

Folk and Country Music used to pride itself on being a bit above that. What has always separated significant lyrical music from Popular pap was it's capacity to deal with the great themes and to inspire and move the hearts and minds of it's listeners.

This is a song about the writers who did just that....."

Song: The Keepers Of The Flame (hit 'Back' in your browser header' to return to this place in this 3 act version of the script not the 'back to script' link )

White Knight: Oh God! Spare me these angst ridden, aging, singer songwriters attempting to recapture some vestage of their socialist youth by boring the rest of us to death.

Why is it, that the blokes like this, persist in believing that political songs have ever had any effect on the real world at all?

I mean, I don't know if he noticed or not... but George Bush never actually consulted Eric Bogle before sending the troops into Iraq.

And, as for this nonsense about it being the function of folk and country music to change the world, it's not only's boring... and it's historically inaccurate.

Most traditional Country and Folk Songs are not about Issues...they're about Love.

People do not want to hear political diatribes when they go to music venues. They want to be entertained, not lectured.They get enough of that during the week. They come out to see us, to get away from all that stuff.

This bloke (indicates Dark Knight) can tell you what he likes but walk around any festival at night and have a look at where the people actually are. They're not beating their breasts about the fate of humanity, hanging out in coffee shops and listening to endless earnest songs in the Key of A minor. They're in the Blues Tent or the front Bar of The Locomotive Hotel at Tamworth dancing their arses off.

Why?? Because Music is now, and has always been, fundamentally about Celebration. The celebration of Life, Love, Courtship and Family; Weddings and Parties, mate. ...It chronicles the truly significant moments in people's lives. Which for most of us doesn't include voting.

Not a lot of us have photos on our mantle pieces of us going into the polls at the last election!

Look, it was the people who wrote the Love songs, The Drinking Songs....The Dance Songs and the Good Time Music that were the real heroes of Folk and Country Music. Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Jigzag, Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, Slim Dusty, Hank Williams, Garth Brooks.... The Wolverines for God's sake.

(Sing) 'Hey Good Lookin...What ya got cookin' (spins a stylised pirouette)

Because regardless of what he says..... Music is about PARTYING!!! To whit...

I was down in Ulladulla at The Marlin Hotel. Anyone ever been to the Marlin? ( standard Introduction to song as per Naked Poets 2)

Song: 40 into 24 (hit 'Back' in your browser header' to return to this place in this 3 act version of the script not the 'back to script' link )

Dark Knight: Yeah... That's Right...Go on partying....

They were partying in the Sari Club when the bomb went off ... They were partying in New York when the planes went into the Towers. The Western World staggered out through the smoking wreckage of it's hedonistic dreams and the most significant thing was not that their populations were outraged....It was that they were bewildered...

They still didn't get it.

They still couldn't understand that their single minded and selfish pursuit of "Margarettaville's" endless party has always been at the expense of the poorest and most dispossessed people on the face of the planet. They were, and are still, emotionally, psychically and spiritually incapable of making the link between 40 years of rapacious Western Foreign policy and the rise of terrorism.

And anyone who tried to explain it to them was howled down as a heretic and a traitor. Anthony Mundine was stripped of his world boxing title as Freedom of Speech became the first casualty at the hands of those who would soon wreak such vengeance in its name.

Even now as we talk about trying to control the rise of Terrorism in countries to our North, our own government and it's corporate partners are attempting to steal the oil revenues from East Timor; one of the most impoverished and war ravaged countries in our region.

And the problem with most of us is that we are as ignorant of History as we are of Economic Politics. It took the Australian Poet, Keith McKenry, to point out to many of us that the date September 11th; was far from random.

That was the date in 1973 when the United States.. through it's funding, training and support of General Pinochet's forces perpetrated an unparalleled act of terrorism against the people of Chile; murdering their Democratically elected President, Salvador Allende and consigning over 50,000 people including the great singer/songwriter and poet, Victor Jara, to torture and death under the new regime.

50,000 people ... That's a number that makes the 3,500 Americans who lost their lives in the New York tragedy pale somewhat by comparison.

And why? Because American companies were about to lose hundreds of millions as a result of Allende's political agenda.

The Religious Right that supports Bush and Howard can say what they like about God ...but they only have one God.....Money. And they'll do anything for it.

Song:Money To Be Made (hit 'Back' in your browser header' to return to this place in this 3 act version of the script not the 'back to script' link )

White Knight: Yes, go on applaud... but that's nothing short of disgraceful. Like so many other Anti-American idiots around the world at the moment, you seem to have taken some sort of perverse pleasure in what happened in New York.

You finally got to see The Yanks get their noses bloodied did you?.... That's it, isn't it?

Well it isn't....This wasn't David getting in a lick against Goliath. It was 3,500 innocent civilians slaughtered in front of our eyes by a bunch of Muslum Fundamentalist fanatics. And they weren't the 'poor and oppressed of the world' that you go on about either. They were educated, middle class, revolutionary zealots with visas.

These guys have quite an agenda. They're the people you were screaming about to Amnesty a few years back over their oppression of women, and the torture and executions they made commonplace in Afghanistan, as part of their fundamentalist implementation of Sharia Law.

They dispensed with religious freedom, destroyed the giant Buddahs and murdered their own people. They're vandals and they're tyrants. You civil liberties types wouldn't last one day in the world that they would create, if they were given half a chance.

It's people like you that must make Americans wonder why they even bothered with the Battle of the Coral Sea.Without which you'd have grown up eatiing alot more whale meat than you greenies could have stomached.

For the last 50 years it has been the Americans that have stood up for Freedom around the globe. Without them the world would still be living with the threat of Soviet Russia. The world was under seige from Communism. It was a strangling vine that was spreading around the planet and everywhere it took root Freedom was obliterated and human rights destoyed. Eastern Europe, China, Korea and it was taking hold in South America too which why the U.S. had to do something about Cuba and Nicuragua and Chile, since you mention it.

You blokes on the left have the nerve to preach to us about human rights. Where were your songs of protest when Stalin was slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Soviets dissendents in Siberian Gulags. A bit of a gap in the historical reportoire of you protest singers, isn't there? The Left was strangely silent while your sainted activist, Jessie Street was swanning around Russia as Stalins guest.

And Where were your protest marches for human rights when Mao was running The Cultural Revolution. Your precious socialist Utopias didn't quite workout the way they were supposed to.. did they?

There wasn't a lot of people climbing over The Berlin Wall To get into East Germany, mate...but there were a hell of a lot of them going the other way trying to get out.

It was another great American, Thomas Jefferson who said, "The Price of Freedom is eternal Vigilance."

Someone once told you that too....or have you forgotten?... He didn't know who said it...but he sure knew what it meant. He'd escaped from the USSR in the early eighties.

(To Crowd) We met him coming into Ballarat in the middle of a rainstorm. He was standing beside the road, drenched to the skin. When he got on board I asked him how long he'd been waiting for a lift and he said, "About an hour and half."

I said "In this!"

He said, "Yep, But I'm used to it."

I knew by the way he said it.... that there was a story behind it. This bloke had a lot to say about Freedom and how easily we can lose it........

Song : Flicker Of An Eye (from 'The Local Rag' SR 12) (hit 'Back' in your browser header' to return to this place in this 3 act version of the script not the 'back to script' link )

Dark Knight: Freedom! You bloody hypocrite..

The Coalition have done more to erode Freedom and Civil Liberties in Australia in the last 5 years than than any government in our young history.

You talk about me only telling half the truth. Why don't you tell them what else that bloke said........That it was our own governments that you have to watch out for, not refugees....not terrorists...not governments on the other side of the world.

...And he said that when they take our rights and freedoms they don't do it in one big bite. We lose them in little nibbles. That's the way it happened in his country..That's the way it always happens. Governments chip away at our Rights and Freedoms when we're not looking.

(To Crowd) For example, first they gave a tax file number. Then it was photos on our drivers license.

Remember we told them in no uncertain terms that we didn't want an Australia Card. We voted on that! We made it clear that Australians wanted no part of a mass citizen identification data base run by a 'Big Brother' government.

Well, next time you go down to the RTA have a look at the little A4 poster hidden right down the back where you are not supposed to even notice it.

It'll tell you that, recently and without your permission, the RTA and their equivalent in every state has begun to store the photo from your drivers license in a mass citizen identification data base. You got The Australia Card.... by stealth! (gestures at White knight) Thanks to these bastards!

And it's not just drivers's kids too. All those young Australians who regularly line up like lemmings at the RTA to be photographed so that they can get a card which gets them into licensed premises... Well, guess what.... they're getting into a lot more than just the pub!

He can say what he likes about legal precedents and invasion, but the Refugee detention camps were the first step in a direct assault on the principle of Freedom for us all. Habeas Corpus guarenteed that no one at all.... could be thrown into prison unless they had been arrested, charged, tried and found guilty of a crime..

It's the bedrock of all democratic Freedoms. It's the one on which all other freedoms are built and without which.... all other freedoms are meaningless.

The Coalition has basically dispensed with it.

How did they ever get Australians to go along with that?

(Looks at White Knight ) How?

(To Crowd) Well, it was classic Nazi stuff. First they used September 11th to get us scared. They lied about the Children Overboard affair and used it to whip up hatred against these people who seemed to be so different to us.

And then, when they removed core Rights and Freedoms from those people; they did it by excising the camps from Australian Territory so that Australian Law could not protect anyone within the confines of those centres....and they counted on our fear....and our inherent racism... to ensure that no one objected.

There's one man...Peter Qasim.... who has been in prison now for over eight years.. Eight years!.... without ever having been charged with a crime....

(Sighs) Once they got us to accept that. It was only a matter of time before they got around to us as well.

(To White Knight) Welcome to 1984, Mate. It might have been twenty years late... but it's well and truly here.

(To Crowd) Because now we've got the ASIO Bill which allows our secret police to take Australian citizens off the street, hold them for up to seven days without charging them with anything... and without even telling anyone that they've got you.

(Ticks off points on fingers)

You no longer have the right to remain silent.

The burden of proof has been reversed.

The maximum length of interrogation sessions has recently been doubled

and, had not the last Senate intervened, there would not even have been the guarantee of an independent observer, to prevent abuse.

(softly and menacingly) And now you don't even have the Senate to protect you.

How much worse does it get?

Well, much worse.....

At a time when even The British Government refused to countenance it, our government rolled over for the US administration by refusing to protest the holding of Australian Citizens in Guantanamo Bay for periods of several years without access to a lawyer or any visitors.

It is clear now that these people have also been tortured.

And......recently, both The British and US High Courts have ruled that evidence obtained by the use of torture is now admissible in Court.

The people held in Guantanamo Bay are held and tried outside of the rules of The Geneva Convention and The US Justice system.

They live in a legal limbo; as a category of human beings invented by the fascist fantasies of the Bush Administration and recognised by no country on earth. 'Unlawful combatants' is the term manufactured for them.

It is unnervingly the same as the one John Howard and The Liberal Party developed for the Refugees.... 'unlawful immigrants'.

'Unlawful', despite the fact that they are held without access to Law...... or even the basic standards of Child protection that Australians expect for their own children.

We turn our back on these people because they are not like us.

We allow their rights and freedoms to be violated because we are suspicious and frightened of them. In doing so, however, we open the floodgates of totalitarianism within our own governments and it is inevitable......inevitable... that within a very short time if we do nothing....these precedents will be used against us also.

Martin Niemoller, the great Protestant theologian,was once asked why he didn't oppose the Nazi's earlier in his career.

His answer should haunt Australians today.

He Said; "First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Finally, they came for me and there was....( slows) no one left to speak out."

(To White Knight) It has been said that one man's Terrorist is another man's Freedom Fighter, Mate. Throughout history there have been heroes who have taken up arms against just this kind of oppression.

William Wallace, George Washington, Ned Kelly, Peter Lalor, Che Guevara.... and, be warned, there are new heroes rising...

Song: What Goes Round Comes Around (hit 'Back to Chess Set Script' to return to this place in the script. )

White Knight: (To Dark Knight) You've got the wrong sort of heroes, Pal. But then again, Australians generally do. They lionize these sort of rebellious figures, thugs like Kelly and Captain Thunderbolt. And it's such a joke!

(To Crowd) Kelly was a criminal rebelling against the Law. He and his family had charge sheets as long as your arm. When he was bailed up in the Glenrowan pub, it was by the very same policeman he had just tried to murder...en masse. Like some kind of armour plated Bin Laden, he'd torn up the railway tracks in the hope that, by causing a train wreck, he could largely wipe out the 200 hundred odd police and railway workers that were aboard.

He was a terrorist. Plain and simple.

He and his gang had plans to walk among the wreckage callously executing any troopers that remained alive. And they would have done it too, if the school teacher hadn't risked his life to escape and raise the alarm.

It was the teacher, not the terrorist, that was the hero that night in Glenrowan. But that's not what most Australians want to hear, is it?

(To Dark Knight) It's always the case with you Lefties. The police, the military, those people that wear the uniforms and put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe are somehow the bad guys in Australia.

And, while you turn disgusting human beings like Chopper Reid into movie celebrities, the real heroes are largely forgotten.

You want to know who they are.... They're the nurses and teachers you wrote about in 'Vertelli's Wire". They're the military, the police, the S.E.S.; the men in uniform that your mob are always so down on.

You want to see a real hero. Have a look at the Australian soldiers in East Timor or the blokes on the ground in Acheh after the tsunami. They weren't standing round debating the Protocols of international diplomacy and the principles of human rights, the way the UN endlessly does.

They were already packed, equipped and deployed. They were saving lives and installing fresh water systems while the rest the world were trying to work out how to spell 'tsunami'.

But while they're trying to get desperately needed supplies to the people you're supposed to care about; those idiots in the Free Acheh Movement are taking pot shots at anything that moves.

(To Dark Knight) The rebels are 'the idiots'.. not 'the heroes'. It's about time we had some songs for the real heroes.

The people who put their lives on the line to pull your arse out trouble when the chips are really down...often at a huge cost to their mental and emotional well being.

I was up in Kempsey...when I met this young bloke who epitomised that. (standard Introduction)

Song: A River Too Wild (hit 'Back' in your browser header' to return to this place in this 3 act version of the script not the 'back to script' link )

Dark Knight: Ah Yes, Heroes in uniform. Of course there's two sides to that picture too.

Fact 1.. Australians were dragged into the war against Iraq by the Liberal National Party Coalition on the basis that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Fact 2. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Fact 3. Over 100,000 innocent civilians, Iraqi men, women and children have now been slaughtered as a result of our illegal invasion.

(To White Knight) And before you say anything, Mate? . That figure's been confirmed by The Lancet, the impeccably researched conservative journal of the British medical establishment. It's not exactly your stock standard left wing publication.

Fact 4. The US Congress's own report showing that there had been no WMD in Iraq was released two weeks before our last Federal election. Australians, like you, (points at White Knight) who supported the war are, to a greater or lesser degree, directly complicit in the deaths of those people. Your vote was your seal of approval. Exit polls showed that Australians who voted for the Coalition ranked their personal prosperity as being far more important than any other issue, including their military's involvement in the murder over 100,000 innocent people. Any Australian who voted for the Coalition at the recent election effectively supported that War.

What's that tell you? Heroic Men in Uniform...dropping bombs on unarmed civilians? (Shakes his head) You work it out....

I was up in Mungandai ...(Col. Doug Tassie anecdote)

Dateline: Mungandi Queensland.

Song: 10,000 Miles Away (hit 'Back' in your browser header' to return to this place in this 3 act version of the script not the 'back to script' link )

You haven't the faintest idea what life is like for Men Under Arms. You were a bloody draft resistor. You wear your prison sentence like a badge of honour.

O.K. you didn't run stood up to the government for your beliefs. I'll even admit that took some courage, but at least you knew that it was never going to cost you your life.... or worse still, leave you crippled or genetically damaged by Agent Orange and then return from 'Nam to find yourself reviled and spat on by an ungrateful and ignorant population.

O.K. O.K. The weapons weren't in Iraq.... but not because Saddam Hussein hadn't been offered them...he had....and not because he didn't want them either...he did! But when he was approached by the head of the Pakistani Nuclear Program he thought it was a CIA setup... and turned it down.

The only reason we know that, is that after we went into Iraq, Gaddafi was terrified that Libya was going to be next.

Why? Because he had bought the technology. He knew he was 'odds on' to be the next US target, so he rolled over. He sent his son for a rendezvous with British MI5 agents in a hotel room in Egypt..... and, not only did he give up Libya's WMDs, but he gave us the whole Nuclear Black Market pipeline that had supplied Libya, North Korea and Iran as well.

The head Of Pakistan's Nuclear programme is now under house arrest.

O.K. the intelligence got it wrong about the Weapons in Iraq....but ....if we hadn't gone into Iraq... if we hadn't shown that we meant business.....Gaddafi never would have switched sides.....

And, when a nuclear device was exploded in an Australian city you would been screaming that somebody should have seen it coming and done something.

Well, we did see it coming... and we did do something.

Look, I admit we made some mistakes and some of them were tragic and some politicians did twist things to suit their own agenda but ...look....I don't expect your mob to ever be fond of the military but there was time you at least tried to emphasize with those men.

Remember those visits to John and the blokes on HMAS Melbourne in the mid-eighties. You were a tad less judgmental when you wrote this song.

It was the B side of the Chippendale Song. in 1981

You thought you were writing Science Fiction when you wrote a song about a cataclysmic War in the Middle East set 20 years in the future.

Here, I updated a few lines in one verse to make it bit more current but the bulk of it is still unchanged.

You used to be more compassionate about soldiers. Maybe this might remind you of their lives are really like.

Song: The Lucky Country (hit 'Back' in your browser header' to return to this place in this 3 act version of the script not the 'back to script' link )

(New last Verse: For while we waste our oil on foreign soil and our blood on the face of the earth There's been terrorist strikes in Sydney and Bright and two hundred dead now in Perth Yes. our country is split... but you ought to know this If we all fight on different sides A people divided can't hope to survive in The Land Of The Great Divide.

Wishing For Home (After The Taps Call)

Wishing For Home (Lying In My Bed)

...And I pray to God for the soul of the Lucky Country,

Yes I pray to God for the soul of the Lucky Country")



(module 2 - Personal salvation vs Social Justice - Religion as a political tool - globalisation & business ethics - Mandatory detention and child protection)

(module 3 - Being Australian - A sense of Place for migrant and Indigenous Australians - Sum up and Resolution)


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