It has always been a general notion that language can be a powerful tool for persuasion and manipulation. In a singular perspective, one could use certain language cues and tools to change the tide of a conversation or argument. Charm, for instance, is an element of language that can effectively dominate the will of a particular person or group. Before I took this course, however, I was under the impression that language tools for persuasion is only effective in a personal level, that a person can willfully stretch his or her domination insofar as to control the person in front of him/her or a number of people. But after some insights from certain topics, it would appear that language can go further than that, and this is basis for my argument.
My argument is that language, if used correctly, is capable of dominating and even winning the hearts of a mass mentality not just from a personal, face – to – face level, but through various cues and signs that can easily change their perspective on things. Even the tiniest bit of information, if used correctly, can spark a major furor for the people. One particular example that uses this effectively is, of course, propaganda.
Propaganda, simply put, is a tool of persuasion often employed by politicians to control the masses. Its fundamental power lies in its manipulation of information, the politician’s level of charm and persuasion, and finally, the use of various medium to spread it (ie. Television, Posters, Radio, etc.). The amount of power that propaganda has is staggering. As Donna Cross puts it, “For good or evil, propaganda pervades our daily lives, helping to shape our attitudes on a thousand subjects. Propaganda probably determines the brand of toothpaste you use, the movies you see, the candidates you elect when you go to the polls. Propaganda works by tricking us, by momentarily distracting the eye while the rabbit pops out from beneath the cloth.” (Cross, 2009, pg. 1)
How does language dominate by propaganda? The answer basically depends on how one uses it, not on the various possibilities it has. With propaganda, one could scare people into submission by either deviate their attention into the greater danger to them, or by presenting to them that the danger is nearer than they think. It then bashes the people into rooting for the particular politician by saying that he is the only person that can save them from such danger. Or the politician in question can lessen the mistrust of the people for him by effectively saying that he is one of them, and using language he could prove that and win the hearts of the masses.
Does the power of propaganda end there? It stretches far even to places where one could not virtually go in an instant. Though media, one could bombard a person with countless information that could effectively render the person helpless, scared, and easily transform him or her into a willing pawn or supporter. It could also effectively deviate dissent of people from the politician should he be under scrutiny, and instead have the people see him as a lesser evil. This technique is often used in election campaigns where one candidate can effectively deviate attention from himself to his political competitor by having the media scrutinize his opponent’s record.
Some would call it an organized manipulation of the truth through shock, awe and candy (Cline, 2010). I call it effective brainwashing.
Cline, A. (2010). Propaganda and Persuasion. Retrieved May 7, 2010, from About.com: http://atheism.about.com/od/criticalthinking/a/propaganda.htm
Cross, D. W. (2009). Propaganda: How not to be bamboozled. In P. Eschholz, & A. Rosa, Language Awareness 9th edition.
Rufo, A. (2010, April 12). ABS-CBNNews.com. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from How Villar built business empire with deceit, corruption: ex-lawyer: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/04/12/10/how-villar-built-business-empire-deceit-corruption-ex-lawyer