Political Theory

Theory of the Gestapo

Aaron Zack John Jay College of Criminal Justice & Baruch College
In the 20th Century, implementing a utopian- totalitarian ideology required a Gestapo. The decisive bearer of such utopian ideologies was the party, not the state. As the preeminent agent of the totalitarian party, a secret political police surveilled and destroyed networks of resistance, and, through perceived omniscience, reshaped and formed the identity of its subject population. The ultimate target of a Gestapo was not only resistant action, but thought and the mind. Nonetheless, although effective, a mid-20th Century Gestapo was limited by the technology of its day. In contrast, the contemporary migration of thought, organization and action from the physical to the ‘virtual’ world has increased the potential for politically significant surveillance. This paper will contribute towards a theory of the Gestapo, and consider whether a developing utopian ideology and advancing surveillance technologies presage the likely emergence of new Gestapos.