“How are you treated today, as a former Stasi man?’ I ask. I would like to find out why he is disguised as a westerner.
‘The foe has made a propaganda war against us, a slander and smear campaign. And therefore I don’t often reveal myself to people. But in Potsdam people come up and say’—he puts on a small sorry voice—‘“You were right. Capitalism is even worse than you told us it would be. In the GDR you could go out alone at night as a woman! You could leave your apartment door open!”’
You didn’t need to, I think, they could see inside anyway.
‘This capitalism is, above all, exploitation! It is unfair. It’s brutal. The rich get richer and the masses get steadily poorer. And capitalism makes war! German imperialism in particular! Each industrialist is a criminal at war with the other, each business at war with the next!’ He takes a sip of coffee and holds his hand up to stop me asking any more questions.
‘Capitalism plunders the planet too—this hole in the ozone layer, the exploitation of the forests, pollution—we must get rid of this social system! Otherwise the human race will not last the next fifty years!’
There is an art, a deeply political art, of taking circumstances as they arise and attributing them to your side or the opposition, in a constant tallying of reality towards ends of which it is innocent. And it becomes clear as he speaks that socialism, as an article of faith, can continue to exist in minds and hearts regardless of the miseries of history. This man is disguised as a westerner, the better to fit unnoticed into the world he finds himself in, but the more he talks the clearer it becomes that he is undercover, waiting for the Second Coming of socialism.
Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, New York, 2002, p. 86