Will Self reports from the front line of the year in Absurdistan

It's been a funny old year here in Absurdistan, what with all the livestock dropping dead with no-food-in-their-mouth disease. Anyone would think we actually depend on these beasts for our livelihood, the way people moaned on and on about it. I say: "Listen, it's just Gates's way of telling us he wants a monster shish kebab." But other people are so touchy about Gates - our leaders, for example. The Tonyban's solution to NFTMD was pretty typical: kill all the livestock whether or not they had it. I don't know, it's behaviour like that which ended up making the Tonyban so unpopular. When these sharp-black-suited warriors swept into Londbul with their lean good looks and impassioned rhetoric, we all thought: here's something different, not just another gang of mercenary poodles in hock to a foreigner. How wrong we were.

We should've spotted how bad things had got when they kept with the Torijhadim's policy of hiving off all of the train network into separate ethnic companies. Uzbekirail, Network Pashtun South East, Tajiconnex. It was bewildering - and it made no sense. Obviously, if the tribesmen who own the track, the tribesmen who maintain it, and the other tribesmen who run the trains, all speak a different language, you're not going to get anything to work properly. As it is, the firefights, the looting, the atrocities have all gone on just as they always did. The problem is the same one that we have in the schools and the hospitals. No investment. It was all very well the Tonyban pointing out that we were one of the poorest countries in the world, but if that was the case, why were so many foreign "investors" desperate to come here?

Foreign investors such as Bin Murdoch and Al Gap and Abdullah Motorola, crazed zealots who won't rest for a second until they see 500 branches of Starbucks up and running in downtown Londbul, people who regarded the sacred beliefs of all other peoples merely as a colourful backdrop for soft drink advertisements. And yet the Tonyban gave a haven to these fanatics! The Tonyban harkened to everything they said as if it were the word of Gates! In their name, the Tonyban compelled the entire population to listen to appalling muzak and watch unreality television - as if that would make things get any better. And then there was the way they treated women, denying them any voice in society except in the High Court. Forcing them to parade up and down in uncomfortable thongas. Using them shamelessly as lobby fodder. It had to be stopped.

Under the Tonyban, the population was kept at an unwilling pitch of zealotry, men, women and even children, praying all day to Gates, ceaselessly logging on and logging off, logging on and logging off. It became not uncommon to see the people riffling the keys of their PowerBooks on trains, in planes, in the street, everywhere. There seemed no way for the people to understand their world any more, except by looking through the Windows of Gates. It was a bizarre aspect of this fundamentalism that the people came to believe that there could be nothing in the world that had not already been foreseen by Gates. No art, no science, no philosophy, no beauty, no truth.

Naturally, the Tonyban defended their right to power by appealing to the age-old Absurdistan practice of extreme violence. But what did this amount to in reality? Even when the people were given the opportunity to assert themselves, they were no longer capable. The Tonyban remained in power because of the people's war-weary inertia. And so they maintained their cack-handed grip on events. Would Absurdistan join the new unified currency of the region or not? Some said the smacko would mean prosperity for all, that a single price for heroin throughout the countries of Oceania would mean a general rise in oblivion. But others decried the smacko, saying it would be Absurdistan's ruination. One thing was agreed on by all, that this once proud nation was willing itself into decline.

Then the Tonyban went too far. It allowed the foreign investors to unleash their corporate terror on the world in an unrestrained fashion. Who can say whether the suicide merchandisers acted directly under the orders of Bin Murdoch et al, or if they were simply following their own insane drive to uphold the word of the Profit? But whatever the truth, the results have been devastating. If we thought things were bad under the Tonyban, how much worse are they now that all of Absurdistan has been plunged into a murderous consensus?

Ever since the dreaded dumb bombs and conscience cutters began to fall, a sinister level of agreement has paralysed the political life of this formerly healthy and divided land. True, the Tonyban itself has been cornered and beaten back, but what does this really mean? In truth, the dumb bombs have done their work, surgically removing what little sense of humility, honesty or probity remained in the minds of either rulers or ruled. And the conscience cutters have wreaked their dreadful, indiscriminate damage, vaporising the atmosphere of debate so all that remains is the stark black and white of a landscape where every trace of doubt - whether individual or collective - has been irradiated.

And all of this in the holy month of Gorgeitdown, when the people pay through their noses to Gates. The holy month of Gorgeitdown, when from dawn to dusk the consumers enter the temples of commerce to kneel down before the jingling tills. The holy month of Gorgeitdown, when there is no duty more incumbent upon all than the need for unrestrained spending so that the FT index might rise.

Some Ben & Jerrymiahs say we have brought this upon ourselves. That if we hadn't listened to the Tonyban in the first place we wouldn't now be feeling so very bad. But I say fie on these false profits! These useless old believers, with their obsolete religion of peace, love and understanding. When did any of these things serve to switch on a 32-inch, flat-screen television for our Gates? Do not these heretics and blasphemers understand that ours is but a tiny, embattled nation surrounded by a whole world of enemies? Do they not see that, without the wrath of Gates, we are as naught. And not just one naught - but several noughts. Without our Gates, we honestly cannot know where our next bottle of balsamic vinegar is coming from, so that we may anoint our salad of lamb's lettuce, fennel, radicchio and rocket. For yea! If you are not truly doolally about herbs, now, in the holy month of Gorgeitdown, 2001, it is time that you quit Absurdistan for ever.

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