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Rebellion, the downfall of dehumanization..

What are people? Who are they? And more importantly, how easily can you strip them of
themselves? Dehumanization might make people numb to the world around them, but it also
makes these conscious-starved people hold the people and things that they hold near to them
even closer, therefore igniting the spark of rebellion. Night by Elie Wiesel is a powerful example
of such dehumanization. Following the main character's journey through dehumanization,
holding what is near to him, and then finally, rebellion. There are many more real-life examples
of dehumanization both in the past and the present, of such treatment and rebellion taking place.
From North Koreas Labor camps, where prisoners cant think of themselves as human, to the
Native Americans, who kept their traditions through years of oppression, to the slaves of the 18th
century who never let their spirits be worn down by oppressive rule.
First, the process of dehumanizing an entire group of people will only work if done very
thoroughly, from the inside out. Our minds numb with indifference. Here or elsewhere what did
it matter? Die today, tomorrow or later (98). Like this quote implies, the Nazis took away the
identities of the prisoners, forcing them to build new lives for themselves, if at all possible. A
very few of the Jewish prisoners survived the Holocaust, whereas this would not have happened
if they had been dehumanized from birth, from the inside out. Another example of this thorough
dehumanization exists in North Korea, where there are people that are born and raised in these
camps due to the leaders Juche philosophy, or three generations of punishment, to strike
fear into the hearts of this citizens. These people dont even think of themselves as people. There
is no way you can survive in the concentration camps if you do. These people are dehumanized
from the inside out, sometimes even lacking the ability to look forward to anything at all, even to
eat. In conclusion, dehumanization will only succeed in suppressing rebellion if the people are
started early and brainwashed from the inside out.
Second, starting such a process later or doing it only partially will give people the idea
to hold what is near to them even closer, because that is what gives them a feeling of
humanness. This quote from Night symbolizes this concept: My fathers presence was the
only thing that stopped me. I had no right to let myself die. (86) Ellie is rebelling in a way by
having a family, his father, and holding onto it. Ellie tries as hard as he possibly can in order to
keep his father alive, because not only is his father the only family he has left, but he is also one
of the only ways that Ellie can rebel without being noticed. Similarly, this such rebellion has
happened many times in the past, but the slaves are perhaps the more famous example. The
slaves of America had many ways of rebelling, for example: stealing food, breaking tools,
sabotaging their owners property. Perhaps one of the most significant forms of rebellion that the
slaves had families. Having family embeds a feeling of humanity in the hearts, souls, and minds
of the people. The slaves also had close-knit communities, which instilled in them an even
stronger sense of belonging and humanity. Humanity mean rebellion and rebellion means failure
of the system. It is crucial to start early and dehumanize thoroughly.
Finally, family and relationships are by far not the most important pieces of identity you
must remove from a person or a group of people. The most important aspect of identity is
culture. This is demonstrated in Night as the character Juliek still keeps his German culture and
roots even though he is dying. He was playing a fragment of a Beethoven Concerto... Before an
audience of the dead and the dying (95). Juliek was playing German music by a German
composer even though he was dehumanized to the point that he didnt even care that he was
dying. Likewise, the dehumanization process of the Native Americans, namely those in South
America. The European settlers tried and failed to eradicate the Native American culture from
the region. Their technique was to work the Natives until they lost all desire to live. This only
made the desire to rebel even stronger, the harder people are oppressed, the more they will hold
on to. Eventually, the Natives succeeded in keeping many aspects of their culture alive, and they
also would have succeeded in driving out the Europeans, if it was not for disease. This shows
that dying people specially will rebel, for the living that will come after them. Moreover, this
such failure goes to show us that culture is by far the most important aspect of a human being,
only intelligent, self-aware organisms are able to organize a social structure and culture. And
intelligent, self aware organisms are the exact opposite of the goal of dehumanization.
In conclusion, dehumanization is an oppression strategy that is either impossible to very
difficult to properly preform. Perhaps the greatest threat to successfully dehumanizing an entire
population is the very real situation of rebellion. People will rebel, especially when they are
dying. People will rebel for those that will come after them, for those that they hold close, for
those that they have left. One must wonder, what would be the proper course of action when a
rebellion takes place? There is none, all there is left to do is to accept the simple fact that the
system has failed. Yet perhaps the greatest question of all lies at the very beginning. How can
you strip people of their will to rebel?


Works Cited:
Weisel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang 2011. Print.