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Doctor Who: Future World Problems Are All About Class Conflict

Doctor Who stories set in the future tend to be about class conflict, the evils of capitalism & fascism - part of British Sci-Fi tradition.

Doctor Who is a show about time travel, so of course, it goes to the future, or rather, it imagines futures. Time travel shows have two modes of story: going to the past or going to the future. Well, duh, you must be saying, but it's a really about what they say with those stories. The latest Doctor Who compilation video is about the show's depictions of the future, and it's interesting what the stories reveal. It's about Class Conflict, which makes it a uniquely British perspective.

Doctor Who: Future Worlds are all about Class Conflict
Still from "Doctor Who", BBC

The latest themed Doctor Who video compilation runs 45 minutes to feature the series' trips to the future. It even features clips for two stories in the classic show, namely the Fifth Doctor's (Peter Davison) big Cybermen story and the Fourth Doctor's (Tom Baker) "The Ark in Space," both featuring dystopian futures, the former of petty human factions too distracted by the Cybermen threat till it's too late, and the former featuring a far future where the remnants of humanity are put in cryogenic stasis on a ship in space until it finds a new planet for them to live on.

Doctor Who for the Revolution!

In Doctor Who, the futures presented are always dystopian. That's because if there were any real utopias, there would be no conflict or drama. What makes the future in the show particularly British is the satirical intent and social commentary in them, coupled with sometimes a whimsical sense of humour but always with that British awareness of the class system. Thus, a future where people have to live in cars in an endless traffic jam is the direct result of Capitalism. Tourists in the far future pay to watch the final moments of the Earth as it's consumed by the sun.  A future clinic that provides cures for all diseases gets them from the bodies of genetically engineered perpetual diseased people as an indictment of Big Pharma. In the show's most muddled moment, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) defends an AI controlling a future stand-in for Amazon against a working-class terrorist trying to smash the system despite the AI murdering an innocent woman to try to warn him off. The Ood are a species enslaved by greedy humans who get their just desserts. Living clone matter is exploited by greedy human corporations to replicate workers. A space mining company that keeps dead workers active through their spacesuits. A space whale is enslaved by a future British Empire to ensure the survival of the empire. A future devasted by industrial pollution where humans mutate into ravenous monsters… the list goes on and on.

In Doctor Who, Class and Capitalism are the evilest villains next to fascism in all of Space and Time. The Daleks and the Cybermen are always on hand to stand for genocidal fascism. Greedy industrialists are always there to represent the greed and callousness of Capitalism. The leftist science fiction leanings of Doctor Who are exactly from the same school as what's in the 2000AD weekly anthology comic.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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