Language and Power

Xavier Andraca Vilar To what extent can we say that language is a tool for power? How do you think that men in the past arrived to power? This is a really good question involving not also the brightness of these people, but also the way they could easily convince people to vote for them or to follow them. From the early ages of human history with the first tribes, to the actual campaign for a Presidency all around the world, men and woman have used their abilities as good speakers to convince people to join their cause but is language a tool for power?

Let me remind you of something I have said before in my previous essay: The only aim of language is to convince people to do something in particular, for example: When we were kids we used to ask our mother to have a lollipop because we wanted it, and so we needed to use language to convince her why it was a good idea to buy that lollipop. This exact example happens every day at politics, why on earth then politicians are constantly making political advertisement every time there is a really important decision to make for the country?

Language has convinced a lot of people to do a certain thing such as to follow a leader or for a national cause because in order for that movement or that person to achieve their objectives, they need the support of the people and the best way of doing that is by language because now we have many things that helps them to promote their cause, for example: * Television * Internet * Radio * Any paper advertisement * Etc.

During the age of Napoleon, Napoleon needed to convince his people that his idea of unification of Europe was the best option they could ever wanted but in order to achieve he needed an army in which he could relay his ideas and complete his objectives of international unification. Then he controlled every French newspaper of that era so every Frenchman or in another country, when people read it, they could realize of the intelligence of his plan and that it was the best for all.

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The bad part of this is that by controlling the media, it also brings bad consequences to every state. For example: Nowadays, countries where some internet webpages are intentionally blocked by the government are now facing a turbulent era because the people has realized that their government is corrupt and that they have been hidden the truth from it’s habitants and this could result in a national conflict or revolution. One of the best example everybody can think of is about a German guy with a little moustache, yes, we are talking about Adolf Hitler.

After the first world war, Germany was forced to sign a treaty were they were blamed for having started the war in Europe and that they had to pay million of German Marks (The money of Germany in that time) to the allies and the rest of the countries in Europe to reconstruct what they had destroyed. Obviously German people thought this was a humiliation of Germany and its people but although people tried to stop the treaty for being paid, they couldn’t do anything about it because they where not in a very good social and political moment.

So it was until the year 1932 when Germany started to see the light again when a little political group called: “The Nazis” started to gain the favour of the people and by that time, Hitler was beginning to make his name very well known for the speeches he gave to the society so in the general elections, Hitler completed his first objective: Gain the political seat of the supreme chancellor.

When he arrived to this position, he started to convince people that the right way for progress was getting raid of the communism, liberalism, and Jews and he did it with his public speeches and even though he used secret police and the army to arrest people that were against him, the majority of the population followed what he dictated and they followed him and his ideals until his death in 1945.

Language may be also used to make people fear of you and the government you represent such is the case of George Orwell’s novel 1984 or one more recent case is the terrorist attack to New York eleven years ago or also any totalitarian state in the world such as the now extinct regime of Gadafi in Libya, In order to make your people do what you want in a certain country you must ensure that the ways of knowledge are closed to your population so that you can have control over them and also you need to have control in what you say to the people.

For example: In the case of the terrorist attacks in New York 11 years ago, the United States said that they were going to take revenge over the Taliban’s for this and they blamed the Government of Sadam Hussein of helping the terrorist for these attacks so they declared war on Iraq with the slogan: “We are defending liberty”.

But the truth in all these is that as we know, the United States has always been enriched by every war it has had in the last century starting by World War 1, so in this particular situation they saw a perfect opportunity to use Iraq’s oil natural reservoirs for their own benefit but it was very important for the public opinion not to know it. After saying all these, I can conclude that language is indeed a tool to have power in politics, not only because the influence it has in people to do things, also because it’s a very important factor of our society and it will continue to be for the years to come.

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