History has depicted child spies as a critical component of the surveillance state, the Big Brother system. Despite the incredible emotional connections between children and their parents, the last century’s lethal socialist and communist dictatorships have successfully dismantled this instinct, turning boys and girls into servants of the government. Be it by indoctrination or a reward-based system, tyrannical figures and their big government entities instilled in kids’ minds that they must stay alert to the dispositions of their parents, no matter how benign. From the Red Guards in Mao’s China to the Stasi in East Germany, spy kids have played an integral role in sustaining iniquitous empires. And now countries that should know better are tapping into the autarchic forces of odious governments of the past.
Spy Kids: The UK Edition
Could a juvenile wing of the Thought Police be established in Great Britain? While lawmakers are deliberating the use of spy kids as a tool in the war on crime and terrorism, it would be only a matter of time before the state turned sons and daughters into informants against their families for questioning the wisdom of the prime minister or the brilliance of the local bobby.
New legislation has been proposed in the U.K. that enables children to be exploited by 20 state agencies as spies against their parents. When the House of Commons returns to session in the coming days, lawmakers will be debating the Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS) bill that produces child agents who would be utilized to identify and prevent crime or terrorism, protect public health, and even collect taxes. The legislation states that child spies would be employed only in “exceptional circumstances,” which is a subjective term that can be defined as anything by the government.
There is ostensibly a bipartisan push by Conservatives and Labor to reject the proposal. Tory MP David Davis revealed that everyone he has spoken to about the bill has been “horrified” by the concept. His parliamentary colleague, Iain Duncan Smith, averred that this policy will inevitably lead to “complications.” Labor MP Stella Creasy urged the government to “rethink their plans.”
Make Orwell Fiction Again?
The world maintains a tragic history of recruiting pubescent boys and girls for government purposes, most notably in oppressive communist regimes. These instances of tossing children’s innocence down the memory hole have served as inspirations for iconic literature, including George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, writing that kids were the extension of Big Brother as they “were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations.”
In East Germany, the Ministry of State Security – or the Stasi – recruited adolescents to betray their family, friends, and acquaintances. It was estimated that the Stasi had approximately 10,000 informants under 18, representing roughly 6% of the state’s agents. As part of the indoctrination efforts of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), children were taught that serving the Stasi was critical to advancing the cause and the concepts of communism and socialism. Authorities sought out specific types of kids: insecure, vulnerable, troubled, psychologically disturbed, and weak. Put simply, the ideal candidate was a misfit who had low self-esteem.
But that was not all. The Stasi kidnapped thousands of sons and daughters and faked their deaths to transform them into the state’s children, molding these youths into agents to carry out missions at home and abroad.
Joseph Stalin had initiated the Soviet Union youth movement, a perverted version of the Scouts that referred to teenagers as “pioneers.” The efforts involved training members in informing against the government’s enemies and brainwashing them into thinking betraying family members was virtuous. For thousands of children, it was either be a Stalinist spy or work 12 hours a day in the gulags.
In the 1960s, when Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution, the government education system taught children to be spies, encouraging them to be on the lookout for anyone who might dissent against Maoism. Kids were instructed that “class enemies” – be they parents or teachers — were lurking behind every corner and that they must be promptly reported. Fifty years later, not a lot has changed as the Communist Party’s Chinese Society of Education has produced videos urging children to snitch on moms and dads.
The Age of Innocence Expunged
Civilized society has tended to believe that these types of transgressions occurred only in Third World countries where warlords would kidnap children and deploy them as soldiers. But combing through history books has revealed a terrible open secret that everyone wishes to forget: Nations that have advanced in the fields of art, culture, science, and math have also been the hosts for cruel and unusual punishment. Unfortunately, children have not been immune to this tragic stain that has permanently soiled the reputation of countries worldwide. No reparations could ever compensate for the loss of one of the most valuable resources known to mankind: a child’s innocence.
Read more from Andrew Moran.