For me, this was the most chilling scene in The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen). Compared with more dramatic scenes in the film, it seems relatively innocuous. That is, until you start to think more about how psychological profiling can be used to control populations and groups.
By 1989, the East German State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst) – commonly known as the Stasi – maintained files on approximately 6,000,000 East German citizens. That’s more than one-third of the population. Incredible. Terrifying.
According to Annie Ring in After the Stasi:
"It is estimated that in the year 1989 alone around 189,000 unofficial informants, or one in eighty-nine East German citizens, were at work supporting the 91,000 officers employed in the Stasi’s formal ranks."
With so many unofficial informants (inoffizielle Mitarbeiter) among the populace, the people must have felt utterly powerless. Some of these informers volunteered to report back on their friends, colleagues, and neighbours. Others were coerced. Anna Funder wrote in Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall that, “If part-time informers are included, some estimates have the ratio as high as one informer for every 6.5 citizens.”
What percentage of people are non-conformist by nature? Economics aside, can a socialist society function with 5% of its citizenry behaving in a non-conformist way? If the answer is no – and that all dissent must be crushed – then would it be right to say that socialism is anti-human beyond tribe sized groups of people?
The walls and barbed wire are always there to keep people from leaving the socialist utopia, not to stop the non-existent hoards from entering. That should tell us something.