With several studies suggesting lock downs were ineffective or could have even made things worse, news the Italian government recruited 60,000 snitches to help enforce its lock down rules is interesting.
The government is recruiting unemployed citizens, especially those who receive social security or unemployment income, as an extension of its uniformed security services during the second phase of the coronavirus lockdown, Italian media reported.
The plainclothes informants have received instructions to watch for abuses of state-mandated safety norms and to report on violators. The new measure is meant to prevent citizens from being tempted to slack off in compliance with government norms just because no uniformed police are present, since anyone could be an informant.
Most people don’t have to be told to call the police if they see someone seriously breaking the law or if they witness a car accident. They don’t need a snitch line. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to become an “official” snitch because that is clearly a step beyond.
But snitches have been used by totalitarian governments around the world to control its citizens and maintain a climate of intimidation. The East German secret police, the Stasi, had an estimated 189,000 informers or snitches before the communist regime fell in 1989. It’s estimated one in a hundred East Germans were spying on fellow citizens to keep them in line.
In his book, Postwar: A history of Europe since 1945, author Tony Jude said the Nazi Gestapo in France bragged that every morning its mail box was full of letters of French citizens squealing on neighbours because of their anti-Nazi views.
And Communist China is paying rewards of up to $1,500US for people to spy on friends and family to find out if they are Christians and attending an underground church.
One of the four signs that conservative commentator Dennis Prager said suggested a government may be moving towards a police state is its use of snitches.
I don’t know if this says more about the government or the state of our society.