In an opulent throne room, the Doctor and Romana are being entertained by Zargo and Camilla, two of the Three Who Rule. Plates are loaded with meat. Glasses are filled with dark red wine. The Lords are draped in fine fabrics and smeared in make-up to mask their strangely pallid faces.
“Well, you certainly do very well for yourselves here,” observes the Doctor.
“We struggle to retain some remnants of civilisation,” says Zargo, who evidently considers himself civilised.
“Well, you do better than the peasants,” remarks the Doctor. He and Romana have recently been in a peasant hovel, where the half-starved, over-worked, rag-clad people reacted in terror at their aristocratic confidence.
“The peasants are simple folk,” observes Camilla drily, “Richer fare would only distress them.”
“Quite right,” says the Doctor. (His pronunciation makes it sound more like ‘Quite trite.‘) “Probably give them indigestion,” he continues, “There’s nothing worse than a peasant with indigestion. Makes them quite rebellious. I hear you’ve been having trouble that way.”
“There are always a few ungrateful ones who do not appreciate all that we do for them,” agrees Camilla, without a trace of irony.
“And what do you do for them, apart from saving them from gluttony?” asks Romana, with more than a trace of irony.
The Lords claim to “protect” their people; they are unspecific about how, or from what. It turns out that they protect their people from “the Wasting”. But the Lords – a gang of literal vampires – are the Wasting. They are what sucks all opportunity for progress out of the system, making their world (in Romana’s phrase) “a society that evolves backwards”. All wealth, all that is farmed and harvested, is appropriated by them from the people who farm and harvest it. The lifeblood of society flows upwards to them where they consume it, wear it, sit comfortably upon it. They store the literal blood of the peasants in their giant fuel tanks, like the stolen surplus that it is.
There was nothing progressive about Roman aquaducts (the water went to the fountains of the rich) or pyramids (they were the tombs of kings, stuffed with the wealth they wanted to take with them), or any of the other monuments that ruling classes throughout history have built to themselves. Such rulers have always claimed to be protecting the people they leech off. But every last ruling class in history has been a great vampire, feeding upon a wasting disease of which they are themselves the primary symptom.