What does Re-Education (Through Labour) mean?

Rise Against: Re-Education (Through Labour) Meaning

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Album cover for Re-Education (Through Labour) album cover

Song Released: 2008

Re-Education (Through Labour) Lyrics

To the sound of a heartbeat pounding away
To the rhythm of the awful rusted machines
We toss and turn but don't sleep
Each breath we take makes us thieves
Like causes without rebels
Just talk but promise nothing else

We crawl on our knees...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jan 26th 2011 !⃝

    The Phrase 're-education through labour' is a system of administrative detentions in the China, used to detain persons for minor crimes (petty theft, prostitution, and trafficking illegal drugs, as well as religious or political dissidents. These sentences are given by police, rather than through the judicial system, and dettainees may be held for up to 4 years. during this time they are made to do hard labour.

    In the first verse, the words "to the sound of a heartbeat pounding away" and then "to the rythem of the awful rusted machines" suggest that the peoples lives (their heartbeat) and their work (rusted machines) are now one. It is then followed up with "to the rythem of a time bomb ticking away" which suggests that the injust treatment of prisoners is likely to cause revolution.

    The words "we toss and turn but don't sleep, each breath we take makes us theives" and "just talk but promise nothing else" refers to western society, seeing the inhumane treatment of people in China, and talking about how bad it is, but not actually doing to prevent it.

    "we crawl, on our knees for you" shows that the prisoners are enslaved by the government. "under a sky no longer blue" represents the industrial smog which lingers above China's major cities. "reap what we are due" is another reference to revolution.

    The references to insects suggests the prisoners are inferior to the government, but if they revolt, they will have to power to overthrow the system. ("we crawl all over you")

    "a judges sky no longer blue" refers to the sentences being given by police, rather than a judicial system.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 15th 2011 !⃝

    It is indeed about china but I think it's not only about china but about the people around the world

    the sentence "we crawl on our knees for you" means that we, the citizens do so much for the government and one day there will be a revolution and then "we crawl all over you"

    so the government is everywhere the same they misuse the citizens

    ps I knows that my english isn't perfect but I just wanna let you now my opinion.

  3. anonymous
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    Jan 4th 2013 !⃝

    This song is certainly about the income inequality of the United States. It's about how we the people work for pennies compared to the CEO's who make more in one week than they pay us in years. It's about how hard we work for the scraps they give us. It's about how trickle down economics hasn't worked at all. It's about getting up and taking a stand. It's time to say you won't get one more drop of sweat.

  4. anonymous
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    Jul 6th 2012 !⃝

    to me this song isn't just about a specific region or people, it's about how as a whole the lower and middle class are abused by the upper class and government. when we are what holds the whole system up and we will rise up to reorder the balance

  5. anonymous
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    Feb 29th 2012 !⃝

    I'd just like to add on here that this could relate to the Cultural Revolution in China. Had to read a some book about it in my english class, and it got me thinking about this song. There were these things called 'black families' who were pretty much people looked down on because they followed old ways of thinking. 'Cause of that, they had to go work in fields because they thought that through hard work they would learn their lesson and be 'cleansed'.

  6. anonymous
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    Jan 4th 2012 !⃝

    Re-Education (Through Labour) may be about being a slave, or slave-esque person(s), who overthrow a corrupt regime to bring about a new future.

  7. anonymous
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    Jun 30th 2011 !⃝

    I think the song is about sweat-shops for companies in Asia (google it if you don't know), such as Nike where workers are paid, and get fed close to nothing. The phrase "... We sew seams to see us through..." backs up my statement.

    I don't know. This is my first interpretation

  8. anonymous
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    Jun 10th 2011 !⃝

    This is not at all about the punishment system in China. I base this off of the uncut music video. The way I look at it the detonating of the buildings is symbolic for all the chaos in the world. Don't judge me, this is just how I look at it.

    P.s. The un-cut re-education through labor link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RYBDTnS7dg

  9. Civil
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    May 2nd 2011 !⃝

    I think it about people who do nothing but work for people who they don't know and and who care about them. If work were so great the rich would keep it for themselves.

  10. anonymous
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    Apr 25th 2011 !⃝

    first song i listen to from rise against, and i think that it means that if you are being hurt in any way from the goverment, you should fight back, like argu against them. dont use bombs ok people. see music video to know what i mean

  11. anonymous
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    Apr 5th 2011 !⃝

    I think it means that he is standing up for people who are hard working and still get treated like ( sorry for the foul language ) like shit by the government.

  12. anonymous
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    Mar 12th 2011 !⃝

    I heard from somewhere it was based on the old textile mills women used to work in in the 1800's and up. Not sure though

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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