The Power of Language

Essay by Bob JonesHigh School, 12th gradeA+, November 1996

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Paper for a class called "Theory of Knowledge" none

Of all possible human qualities, the one that wields the most power is the ability to use, understand and communicate effectively through language. A proficient use of language allows us to clearly communicate an exact idea from one person to another person or group of people. This precise science of being able to convey exactly what you want equates to the acquisition of power. An important link between language and power is persuasion. The power of persuasion is so strong it allows certain individuals to influence, and therefore, control thousands, even millions, of people and bind them together in search of one common cause.

This tactic of persuasion is also called propaganda. Propaganda is the spreading of information in order to influence public opinion and to manipulate other people's beliefs. The message of propaganda is primarily intended to serve the interests of the messenger, thereby increasing his power.

All propaganda is a systematic effort to persuade. The propagandist gives a one-sided message, accentuating the good points of one side and the bad points of the other position. Propaganda is most widely distributed through public speaking and use of the mass media. The propagandist speaks in an attempt to persuade the audience to believe his way. With the support of the audience, the speaker gains power.

Propaganda as an art of persuasion has been used for thousands of years. In the fifth century BC, when Pericles addressed his fellow Athenians on the merits of their city compared to the tyranny of Sparta, he was making propaganda, even though much of what he was saying was true. Many centuries later, Lenin, the Soviet revolutionary, realized the value of propaganda to indoctrinate educated people. He employed another tactic toward the uneducated, called agitation. This...