Heroes of the Revolution

Johnny Ball

Mathematical awareness is crucial to the politicisation of the population at large. To understand something of logic, of statistics, of analytical thought is to be protected in some measure from the lies of the State. To be a mathematician, just as to be a revolutionary, one must be both idealist and cynic.

If there is one man to whom we can point and say `This man has done more for the mathematical awareness of the masses than any other.', then that man is Johnny Ball.

Our state broadcasting service no longer sees fit to show us Johnny Ball. Instead, once a week, we are whipped up to a frenzy of probabilistic stupidity. The National Lottery is the ultimate in Capitalism. At least Business redistributes wealth from the many to the few on the basis of a talent which is called by some `enterprise', by others `avarice'. The National Lottery redistributes wealth from the many to the few at random.

If you think we have no need for Johnny Ball in the sophisticated nineties, Think Again!

Tom Baker

More so than any other hero in popular drama, Tom Baker's Doctor Who was Lenin in Space. His `long history of violence and economic subversion' left the oppressors of the masses quaking in their boots. A `simple palace revolution' was all in a day's work.

Many are the lessons taught us by Doctor Who: never to mistake flippancy for glibness; never to condemn without first understanding; never to forget either that individuals need society nor that a society needs its individuals; never to accept tyranny, be it by mind, by muscle or by money; never to abandon hope.

Further, not only in its content is Doctor Who a potent weapon for revolution, but also in its form. Brecht himself would have rejoiced to see how Doctor Who actively discourages the suspension of disbelief and goads the passive mind to thought. The preposterous Police Box, the ludicrous costumes, the dubious effects, the show's evident self-awareness all conspire to yield an epic quality, a fairy tale executed roughly in polystyrene week by week. There is no tide of emotion to sweep away the heart. Not a sniff of a profound catharsis, and why should there be? This is no idle romance. Instead, we have a drama which is as radical and subversive as it is entertaining, and as rude and provocative as its principal character.

The revolutionary genius of Doctor Who is the work of many people, but the hero, the icon, the bronze statue in the town square, nay, the face carved into the side of the mountain---it can only be Tom Baker.

George Orwell

Dagmar Krause

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