The United Stasi of America – championing a new level of efficiency


‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks’. – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12.

‘After the Wall fell the German media called East Germany “the most perfected surveillance state of all time”. At the end, the Stasi had 97,000 employees – more than enough to oversee a country of seventeen million people. But it also had over 173,000 informers among the population. In Hitler’s Third Reich it is estimated that there was one Gestapo agent for every 2,000 citizens, and in Stalin’s USSR there was one KGB agent for every 5,830 people. In the GDR, there was one Stasi officer or informant for every sixty-three people. If part-time informers [many of whom were ‘pastors’] are included, some estimates have the ratio as high as one informer for every 6.5 citizens’. – Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, p. 57.

Having recently finished reading Funder’s wonderful book, it has been near impossible to not observe some very disturbing parallels with what is unfolding about PRISM. Today, we face a situation where something towards 39% of the world’s population (or something in the order of 2.5 billion people) – which is the number of the world’s internet users – can be spied on by a single person/agency. Just as terrifying is the fact that he who has informed ‘the people’ about this situation is labeled a ‘traitor’, though to what exactly is not too clear.

The shareholders will, no doubt, rejoice at news of such unprecedented levels of efficiency and technological sophistication, and in the assurances that their ‘interests’ are being maintained at all costs. Most important, though, is that Edward Snowden’s girlfriend is doing ok. Ah, all’s well with the world Empire!

Tonight, I will go to bed with Václav Havel and Dietrich Bonhoeffer; they help me at such times. And in the morning, I will (God willing) awake into a world that belongs to One upon whose word I will meditate, and to whom I shall direct my gaze and the burdens of the world and of things closer to my own soul. Ah, He is risen. All is indeed well with the world! Optimism? No. An opiate? No one who has ever really prayed has ever thought so, and I trust them. Patience and hope? Yes. And so joy.

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