Thomas the Capitalist Lackey

Little did Thomas know he was an agent of CapitalThomas the Tank Engine is a vehicle for capitalist propaganda of the worst kind. The values it teaches children serve no one other than the evil 1% percent who rule society – until the revolution, of course. The program needs to be eradicated from our television screens for the sake of our children’s future.

The aspect of the show which has until now puzzled me most is why we’re seeing it at all. After all, what kids today have seen or are likely to ever see a steam locomotive, let alone a whole economy based on steam power?

The stories look back to a Britain of the 1930 and 1950s which, in reality never existed except for the independently wealthy. The trains chuff through the green and pleasant land of Sodor (Mordor?) moving freight from one dark Satanic mill to the next and ferrying the idle rich between tea parties and fetes. What possible relevance could this have to twenty first century Australia?

The key is Fat Controller’s constant admonition to the engines that work for him: “be really, really useful.” The stories attempt to inculcate in our kids the idea that there is no higher aim in life than being “useful” to the owners of capital. Do the engines in Tidmouth Shed ever get to decide their own destinies or their own timetables? No. These are handed down from the on high by the Fat Controller and the engines are expected to unquestioningly obey.

Looking deeper, however, the stories become even more insidiously evil.

The destiny of each engine and the course of its never-ending, toiling life is fixed from birth and can never be changed. Each engine is born into a particular role and can never even dream to step outside it’s rigid boundaries. Almost all the stories treat the crushing of the hopes of the engines to rise above their stations.

For example, Thomas wants the prestigious task of piling the Express (note: he doesn’t ever think of owning the Express, merely labouring at it). The subsequent disasters are meant to brainwash kids with two key points. First, that to have any ambition to rise above one’s allotted role (allotted by whom?) is somehow against the natural order of the world. Second, that anyone who dares to do so is the direct cause of societal breakdown and will be ruthlessly crushed by the Fat Controller.

We need to see a complete re-working of the stories to incorporate values which will provide a sound basis for our children’s self-actualisation. We need stories which will encourage, not stifle, ambition and a desire to change the status quo. In short, there needs to be a revolution in Sodor.

There’s nothing I’d like to see more than Thomas and friends begin a campaign of civil disobedience in order to gain a greater voice in their working conditions and operations. This movement will be, of course, mercilessly repressed by the Fat Controller and the class he represents. But history will not be ignored. From civil disobedience, the struggle is bound to escalate to open warfare ending when the Fat Controller hung by piano wire from Cranky Crane and the engines such as Hiro, Gordon and Henry, the Fat Controller’s “best boys,” are labouring for the good of the community in the re-education camps.

Only by refusing to accept the world as it is and daring to dram can we make Sodor a better place for the 99%.