The Dilemma of Surveillance: Predicting the Future of the Surveillance State
Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
What is the role of surveillance in modern states and how does it affect stability and security? Policymakers generally believe that increased security through heightened surveillance will increase stability because the more the state is able to see and know about its citizens and adversaries, the better it will be able to prevent challenges to authority. However, in the case of East Germany, Romania, and the Soviet Union, increased surveillance was seemingly unable to forestall regime collapse. In particular, in the Soviet Union and Romania, the problem of preference falsification led to the citizens hiding their true feelings from the regime and state collapse. In the case of East Germany, the extensive surveillance capabilities of the Stasi gave the regime a false sense of security that led to uprising and failure. Because of these three cases of collapse despite extensive security, two questions are raised: first, did these regimes fall because of dilemma of surveillance or were there other reasons that hastened their demise? And second, does knowing more really increase state stability?