Abstraction strips away the meanings and humanity from human beings.
Nazi Germany disliked Jews, their propaganda slowly convinced the German people that Jews were inferior evil “things”. I stress “things” because that is what abstraction does, an attempt to strip away anything meaningful from a human being leaving a hollow shell. For the Nazis by stripping away the humanity of a Jew they can focus in on a few qualities that reflected their goals to portray a Jew as an inferior less than human beast. The next stage was simple, exterminate the Jews. Nobody was going to object to the cruel treatment of the Jews, because all they saw was the abstracted “things” the Nazis displayed.
Often in a dispute both parties use abstraction to demean the other, by portraying the other as less than human, or inferior to the other. Abstraction is a standard weapon people use against others they are disputing with.
Once a human being has been abstracted to a basic set of qualities, they are stripped of the meaning and dignity of a human being, then they are treated in that manner, often cruelly.
With mass globalisation, technology and capitalism the individual becomes abstracted down to being a “consumer”, a number, a statistic. Experts and administrators place human beings into categories, with labels and neat generic descriptions. No longer is Alex Jones the customer of XXX Bank, now he is a consumer, in category Y under label Z, and thus let’s try to sell him Q. Nobody wants to know about the individual needs of Alex Jones, they instead want Alex Jones to follow their generic plan for those in category Y and label Z, and how dare him to think otherwise. If Alex Jones complains he is not following the system like all the other consumers, he is trouble, get rid of him.
John has autism and Jill is gifted, they are individuals in a certain school. Schools now abstract students into a generic student, and run generic education courses, that work well for generic theories in the minds of experts and administrators, but fails to satisfy the needs of John and Jill. Both John and Jill fail to follow the system, they are punished, medicated, persecuted to fit in, and if not then expelled. Both John and Jill fail in the education system, and this sets the tone of their lives in a generic world of abstracted “things”.
Elderly people in nursing homes are human beings, but the system is built around profit, and the elderly are reduced to generic cattle. Often elderly, especially those with dementia, are seen in abstracted ways, as “things”. The result of this abstraction? Read for yourself.