Conspiracy Theories and Rhetoric

After spending the semester learning about how manipulative language is/can be got me thinking about conspiracy theories. Is it terribly far-fetched to consider rhetoric’s broad application by big businesses or powerful governments? With all the talk of governments spying on their people, it seems reasonable to assume that governments know quite well how people communicate and what influences them the most. It is in a ruling body’s best interest to understand their people as thoroughly as possible, in order to govern them as effectively as possible. In addition, “maintaining the peace” often involves the withholding of knowledge/information, limiting the chances of the general public being informed of revolutionary discoveries in rhetoric made by government think-tanks. So if a government could subliminally control or influence their people using subtle, calculated rhetoric, would you even know?

Corporations have a lot of power in this country, especially in the realm of persuasive manipulation. We are surrounded by advertisements and products to the point that handmade objects are considered novelties. Businesses, by definition, are intended to make money, and there is no sating a business’s appetite for the stuff. Why would a business NOT try to convince a potential customer to buy their product? Knowing how to covertly manipulate a customer base is of paramount importance to every corporation in the world… A disconcerting reality, considering the influential tools wealthy businesses have at their disposal.

Learning, and learning about rhetoric especially, is the only defense people have against the crazies in power.  

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One thought on “Conspiracy Theories and Rhetoric

  1. I agree that rhetoric likely plays a greater role in government and in marketing than most people realize. What I found most interesting was your assertion of the possibility of government employing rhetoric subtly to “maintain the peace” as you said, or to keep people easy to control and under their influence. The first thing that jumped into my mind was the Roswell/Area 51 incident and then the weather balloon story run the following day, presumably by influence of the government. The government did not want civilians to know the truth, regardless of whether it was aliens or military technology. Admittedly, this is not a subtle example of rhetoric, but the point I think you made is subtle examples are exactly that; they are hard if not impossible to see. On the topic of not-so-subtle examples of using rhetoric to control one’s citizens, I think North Korea is a good example. In North Korea, there are a multitude of posters that admonish Western life and instead praise their own dictators by presenting them as benevolent. Furthermore, 99.99% of North Koreans do not have access to the internet, so they have an extremely myopic and Truman Show-like life-view. In this sense, censorship is a tool of rhetoric, and of oppression.

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