The state has a monopoly on violence. However, abusive repression harms government credibility and alienates public support in the long run. A more subtle and effective way to exercise power is to surveil the population and to prevent open manifestations of discontent.
This article analyzes the case of the German Democratic Republic’s (DDR) Ministry for State Security (MfS), also known as the Stasi. The thesis is that an effective surveillance regime makes the use of open violence less urgent because the population is nudged to discipline itself.