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Rhetoric, Persuasion and Propaganda: rome, love, definitions, variety

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Plato was probably the first to describe a theory of rhetoric. He was concerned with the nature of
truth and how man's quest for truth can be either foiled or enhanced through the power of rhetoric
and persuasion. To warn of this danger, he wrote a series of dialogues, three of which, the Gorgias,
the Phaedrus, and the Menexenus, were concerned with the principles of rhetoric. These dialogues
took the form of conversations between Socrates, the philosopher seeker of truth, and a sophist, who
is concerned with the appearance of truth rather than the reality. The Sophists were itinerant teachers
who gave lectures and wrote books on persuasion. These books contained 'commonplaces,' i.e. general
arguments and techniques that could be adapted for a variety of persuasive purposes. (Griswold, 2012, in:

The Sophists were known for their dangerous views of the role of persuasion, hence the negative
connotation of the word sophistry as meaning 'trickery or fallacious argument'. In the Gorgias dialogue
Socrates makes an eloquent and most didactic differentiation between 'teaching' which provides the
listeners with skill necessary to do things and 'persuasion' which leads people simply to do the things
the orator desires.

Aristotle, originally Plato's pupil in the 'Platonic Academy' of Athens, later became a teacher on his own
merits creating his 'Peripatetic School'. In Aristotle's view the function of rhetoric was not synonymous
to, and was not exhausted by, simply succeeding to persuade, but should rather be aiming towards the
discovery of the means of coming as near to such a success as the circumstances of each particular case
would allow. In his Rhetoric, (from the Greek word 'ρητορική' possessed by a 'ρήτωρ' that is a speaker (in
the 'ρητορική τέχνη' the 'art of speaking') Aristotle, perhaps counteracting Plato's somewhat pejorative
treatment of 'rhetoric' in the Gorgias, wrote that persuasion is based on three specific and distinct
elements. These three elements are: ethos, the personal character of the speaker; pathos, appealing to
the audience's emotions and values; and logos, referring to the convincing evidence and the reasoning
process (Rapp, 2010, in: (http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2010/entries/aristotle-rhetoric/)

Ethos, (from the Greek word 'ήθος' meaning character), pathos (from the Greek word 'πάθος' meaning
suffering) and logos (from the Greek word 'λόγος' meaning logic) constitute for Aristotle an 'equilateral
triangle' where each one of the three terms, as is the case with the length of each side of this type of a
triangle, has the same strength as the other two.

In their book bearing the title 'Writing Arguments' Ramage and Bean, (1998) have noted that:

"Logos (Greek for 'word') refers to the internal consistency of the message – the clarity of the claim,
the logic of its reasons, and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence. The impact of logos on an
audience is sometimes called the argument's logical appeal. Ethos (Greek for 'character') refers to
the trustworthiness or credibility of the writer or speaker. Ethos is often conveyed through tone and
style of the message and through the way the writer or speaker refers to differing views. It can also be
affected by the writer's reputation as it exists independently from the message--his or her expertise in
the field, his or her previous record or integrity, and so forth. The impact of ethos is often called the
argument's 'ethical appeal' or the 'appeal from credibility.' Pathos (Greek for 'suffering' or 'experience')
is often associated with emotional appeal. But a better equivalent might be 'appeal to the audience's
sympathies and imagination.' An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally
but to identify with the writer's point of view, to feel what the writer feels. In this sense, pathos evokes
a meaning implicit in the verb 'to suffer' to feel pain imaginatively…. Perhaps the most common way
of conveying a pathetic appeal is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic
into something palpable and present. The values, beliefs, and understandings of the writer are implicit
in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the reader. Pathos thus refers to both the emotional and the
imaginative impact of the message on an audience, the power with which the writer's message moves
the audience to decision or action." (pp. 81–82)

For Aristotle the three elements for successful orators, as mentioned above, constitute an equilateral
triangle and each of the three is as important as the other two. Indeed, a balance of the three is important.
Too much of one is likely to produce an argument that readers will either find unconvincing or that
will cause them to stop reading. Therefore, in Aristotelian terms in order to persuade an audience the
spokesperson must be credible, someone the audience can trust and look up to, and he must be able to
speak directly to the audience's feelings or values in a positive way in order to have an emotional impact.
The Sophists believed that persuasion was needed to discover important facts where Aristotle believed
knowledge could be gained only by logic and reason.


May and Wisse (2001, pp. 3–12) translating into English Cicero's work 'On the ideal orator' and Fantham
(2007, pp. 78–101) analyzing the historical era in which Cicero's work was written present his suggestions
for the training of an orator, showing that the Romans continued the Greek rhetorical tradition in
the courts of law, the Senate, and during funeral orations. Cicero, one of the most famous statesmanphilosophers
of his era established what he called the official oratoris, the duties of the orator: to charm
or to influence the audience by establishing the credibility of the orator, to teach by presenting a message
with sound arguments, and to move by appealing to the audience's emotions. Cicero was convinced that
a statesman-philosopher should speak on all topics persuasively and should be thoroughly knowledgeable
in literature, philosophy, law, and logic.

From Rome with…'love'

Within the purview and realm of human communication, the term 'propaganda' seems to have deviated
grossly from it's initial purpose and meaning and has gathered vast amounts of adverse meanings and
connotations arousing negative reactions in the public. Following the brief presentation above of the
concepts of rhetoric and the process of persuasion, the concept of propaganda will be presented, from its
inception to current practices, so that the reader may get a better understanding of its usage, techniques,
meanings, ramifications and applications.

The title given to this subsection of chapter 8 is a deliberate and liberal 'plagiarism' of the well known
Ian Fleming novel and the film based on it and the implicit irony is not pejorative or malicious but well
intended in carrying through the initial motivation and attitudes of the creators of the term 'propaganda'.
Rhetoric, which as presented above, was developed and taught in ancient Athens as a means of persuasion
found a less noble antagonist in the practice of sophists who, as demagogues, attempted to manipulate
their audiences addressing themselves more to their emotions and less to their logical thinking and critical
faculties. Aristotle, Plato and Isocrates developed specific manuals for the art of persuasion and rhetoric
insisting on the use of solid arguments addressing the logical and critical faculties of the audiences and
avoiding the exploitation of their emotions.

In 1622 the Vatican established the 'Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide' a Congregation with the
mandate to introduce the Catholic faith in the New World and to counteract the rising Protestant

The practice of propaganda as a technique of persuasion has lead to the widespread current perceptions
viewing propaganda as synonym to lies, deception, manipulation, deceit and brain washing to mention
but just a few of the negative connotations that are attached to the term. In other words, as it has turned
out, propaganda has been, perhaps unfortunately but nonetheless clearly, associated with unfair, unethical
and harmful tactics in communication.

Not one but a multitude of definitions

From its introduction by the Roman Catholic Church and through the last few centuries, and especially
the 20th century and the two World Wars, propaganda as a concept and persuasion technique has been
studied by sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, journalists and communication specialists. The
ensuing result has been that there is no commonly and widely accepted definition of propaganda, but
instead we are faced with a series of definitions some differentiating propaganda and persuasion and
some placing propaganda within the purview of persuasion, if not outright rendering them synonymous.

Jowett and O'Donnell (2012) in the 5th edition of their well known text have given the following definition
'Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct
behaviour to achieve a response that fur thers the desired intent of the propagandist.' (p. 7)

Pratkanis and Turner (1996) defined the function of propaganda as 'attempts to move a recipient to a
predetermined point of view by using simple images and slogans that truncate thought by playing on
prejudices and emotions.' (p. 190). They separated propaganda from persuasion according to the type
of deliberation used to design messages. Persuasion, they said in the same book, is based on 'debate,
discussion, and careful consideration of options to discover 'better solutions for complex problems,
whereas 'propaganda results in the manipulation of the mob by the elite.' (p. 191)

Carey (1997) regarding propaganda in the corporate world, has seen it as:

'Communications where the form and content is selected with the single-minded purpose of bringing some
target audience to adopt attitudes and beliefs chosen in advance by the sponsors of the communications'
(p. 2–1).

As Noam Chomsky, in his introduction to Carey's collection of essays states, Carey believed that:

'The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the
growth of democracy, the growth of corpo rate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a
means of protect ing corporate power against democracy.' (p. ix).

Additionally, Carey has written that:

'commercial advertising and public relations are the forms of propaganda activity com mon to a
democracy…It is arguable that the success of business propa ganda in persuading us, for so long, that
we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant propaganda achievements of the twentieth
century.' (pp. 1–4, 2–1).

A variety of propaganda types

Szanto (1978) has proposed a differentiation of propaganda as fulfilling an integrative function aiming to
render an audience non-challenging, accepting and thus passive, and as an agitative function which rouses
an audience to certain ends which are used to introduce by demand specific changes. Disinformation
is a part of the propaganda process in which false or untrue information is passed on to an audience,
not by mistake but by intention, aiming to influence it in the way the sender desires. False news stories,
rumours and unsubstantiated allegations are passed as real by Governmental agencies on the international
front as well as within the boundaries of a Nation aiming to weaken adversaries.

White propaganda emanates from an identified or identifiable source conveying a message that is more
or less accurate and which aims at establishing a more positive perception of the message's sender.

Black propaganda covers the process where the source of a message is cleverly concealed or it is credited
to a false authority; it spreads lies, fabrications, and deceptions. Black propaganda is the 'big lie', including
all types of creative deceit. Sociologists, political scientists, psychologists and historians often time
are using as an example of this type Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister, who claimed that
outrageous charges evoke more belief than milder statements that merely twist the truth slightly. The
success or failure of black propaganda is directly related to the audience's readiness and will ingness to
accept the credibility of the source and the content of the message. Black propaganda takes special care
in placing both the sources and messages within a social, cultural, and political framework of the target
audience. If the sender mis understands the audience and therefore designs a message that does not fit,
black propaganda may appear suspicious and will tend to fail.

Gray propaganda lies somewhere between white and black propaganda since the sender, as a source, may
or may not be correctly identified, and the accuracy of the information transmitted is uncertain. Gray
propaganda has been widespread in the past and it continues currently to be even more widespread.
Distorting statistics in Company or National reports, suggesting that a product will achieve results which
it cannot, and politicians who solicit our vote for personal interest are some examples of gray propaganda.

Herman and Chomsky in their book titled 'manufacturing consent' (1988) under the heading of
'propaganda model' describe five editorially distorting filters applied to news reporting in modern
Mass Media:

'(1) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media
firms, (2) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media, (3) the reliance of the media on
information provided by government, business and "experts" funded and approved by these primary
sources and agents of power, (4) "flak" as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) "anticommunism"
as a national religion and control mechanism.' (p. 2)

The dominant mass media are for profit corporations and so the first filter refers to their need to satisfy
investors' demands for profits. The second filter concerns the reality that it is advertisements which
constitute the media financial life-lines and logically advertisers have gained and wield relevant authority.
The readers of this book can easily understand that media outlets cannot survive without the support
of advertisers. As sinister as it may sound it is visible that news media cater to the political prejudices
and economic desires of their advertisers. On the one hand modern day 'penny press' aimed to serve
the working-classes lacking the massive financial resources of competitors stands no chance and, on
the other hand, it is easy to see the continuously progressive attrition in the number of newspapers
published nowadays.

Modern day acquisition and production of news builds up immense costs which for the Mass Media are
subsidized by the large, powerful bureaucracies resulting in the Media subjugation to such bureaucracies.
One can easily surmise that those who provide these subsidies become 'routine' news sources and in this
way gain access to the 'gates'. Non-routine sources are forced to the disadvantaged position of having to
struggle for access, and often time may be ignored by the arbitrary decisions of 'gatekeepers'.

Flak, the fourth filter, is a term coined by Herman and Chomsky to describe negative responses to a media
statement or program (from letters, SMS and twits registering complaints, to lawsuits, or even legislative
actions). Flak, if not controlled, can turn out to be expensive to the Media, either as a loss of advertising
revenue, or as accrued costs of legal defense or defense of the Media outlet's public image. Flak is costly
and therefore any chance of being confronted with it may acts as a deterrent to the reporting of certain
kinds of facts or opinions. The fifth filter, in the original edition of the book in 1988, had been termed
'Anti-Communism' but lately Chomsky argues that since the 'Cold War' (1945–1991) came to an end with
the fall of the 'Wall' that had divided East & West and the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., 'anticommunism'
has been replaced by 'War on Terror' as a major social control mechanism.

Collier and Horowitz, (2004) as editors of a volume given the revealing title 'The Anti-Chomsky Reader'
present a collection of essays authored by various writers who go on to criticize some mildly and some
sharply Chomsky's theses and assertions. The interested readers could take a look at this volume and
draw their own conclusions for Chomsky as a writer considered by some as bold and courageous and
by others as a modern political heretic.

World Wars & the use of Propaganda

The practice of propaganda was altered in the last decades of the 19th century and especially with the onset
of the 20th century aided by the invention of radio which made it possible for messages to be sent across
borders and over long distances without necessitating or needing the sender's or communicator's physical
presence. Ultimately radio developed into the major medium of full-scale international white propa ganda, in
which the source of the message is clear and the audience knows and often eagerly expects to hear different
political viewpoints.

Television viewing as a large scale, mass leisure-time activity in the industrialized world, as well as in
developing countries, is dominating the Media scene but there is no indication of any decline in the
use of radio for propa ganda purposes by interest groups, political parties and Nations. Indeed, it is a
well known 'non-secret' that large sums of money are currently spent on the worldwide dissemination
of information through radio and television Media from a variety of groups and 'opinion centres'
representing a multitude of political ideologies.

Radio played a significant role during the years of the First World War and an even more critical role during
the Second World War and, after its end, during the 'cold war' period. By the beginning of World War II in the
summer of 1939, approximately 25 countries were broadcasting internationally in a variety of foreign languages
beyond their National language. The outbreak of World War II, as had been the case but on a more limited
scale during World War I, once again, brought about an enormous expansion of inter national radio services.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was charged with the role of the major arm of the Allied
propaganda effort. It is now known, and it has been recorded, that by the end of 1940, 23 lan guages
had been added to the BBC repertoire and more than 78 separate news bulletins were being aired and
offered everyday. Understandably, special attention was given to the German and Italian broadcasts in
strategic efforts to propagandize for the Allies in the two European countries comprising the 'Axis' powers.
Governmental representatives and dignitaries of Allied Nations, living in exile in London, were also given
the opportunity to broad cast to their home countries in their own language. By the end of World War II,
the BBC was the largest international broadcaster by far, programming in more than 43 languages. The
BBC managed to earn objectively a reputation for accuracy and so, beyond Allied people and Nations,
it has been recorded that even German and Italian troops were tuning in to 'BBC news' broadcasts to
find out what was really happening on the various War fronts. Interesting reviews of significant 'radio
moments and history' have been highlighted by Donovan (1991).

In the Pacific War theatre, during the Second World War, the United States and its Allies were broadcasting
their own propaganda programs while the Japanese Government's propaganda broadcasts were given
by American and Allied troops the title 'Tokyo Rose'. Tokyo Radio is said to have used a number of
female DJ's for its propaganda broadcasts aimed at breaking the morale of American and Allied Military,
Navy and Air Force personnel stationed or engaged in various locations around the Pacific. Among
the estimated 6 or 10 different female broadcasters was Mrs. Iva Toguri (d'Aquino) who was the only
American citizen (of Japanese ancestry) serving on the staff of Radio Tokyo.

Gunn (1977) who had served as a War correspondent in the Pacific region wrote about the tragic story
of an American citizen of Japanese ancestry, that is, Mrs. Iva Toguri (d'Aquino). The book which is
now available and enlarged in its 2nd edition (2008) by Brent Bateman, expands on the life long drama
of Mrs. Iva Toguri (d'Aquino), who while visiting relatives in Japan was trapped there after the Pearl
Harbour bombing and, at the end of the War was arrested, brought to trial and imprisoned with the
accusation of being the voice of 'Tokyo Rose'. She was finally exonerated and pardoned in 1977 by then
US President Gerald Ford.

The Korean War and "Brainwashing"

In the aftermath of the Korean War, a new concept entered the English vocabulary aiming to describe
a disturbing type of coercion that was soon added to the many lists of synonyms for propaganda. This
word was 'brainwashing', and it appears to have originated with and taken from the Chinese term 'hse
nao' meaning literally 'wash brain." Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-tung had used the term 'ssuhsiang
tou-cheng', or 'thought struggle,' as early as 1929 to denote what is now called 'mind control' or
'thought control.' The term has acquired a very sinister connotation and, in recent years, has been widely
associated with the type of thought control found in various cults groups, although scientific evidence
that 'brainwashing' is a viable psychological concept is conflicting (Singer & Lalich, 1995).

Schein (1957) presented the argument that to convert American prisoners of war to Marxist theory, the
Communists made a careful study of the vulnerability of their victims who were POWs and subjected
them initially to physical stress and then to psychological stress:

'The typical experience of the prisoner of war must be divided into two broad phases. The first phase
lasted anywhere from one to six months beginning with capture, followed by exhaustive marches to
the North of Korea and severe privation in inadequately equipped temporary camps, terminating in
assignment to a permanent prisoner of war camp. The second phase, lasting two or more years, was
marked with chronic pressures to collaborate and to give up existing group loyalties in favour of new
ones. Thus, while physical stresses had been outstanding in the first six months, psychological stresses
were outstanding in this second period. The reactions of the men toward capture were influenced by their
overall attitude toward the Korean situation. Many of them felt inadequately prepared, both physically
and psychologically.' (p. 21)

Schein (1957, pp. 21–30), furthermore, went on to analyze that the captors found additional weaknesses
characterizing their prisoners through a system of informers and created new insecurities by giving the men
no social support for their old values. They manipulated group influences to support Communist values and
exploited their ability to control behavior and all punishments and rewards in the situation of War prison
Camps. The direction of all their efforts, however, was to undermine the prisoners' old values and to supply
them with new ones. Schein has, furthermore, listed several procedures employed by Chinese personnel
as factors that played crucial role in the 'brainwashing' process of American POWs. Among them was the
separation of high ranking officers (leaders) from low ranking personnel, total deprivation from all contact
as well as censorship of letters from outsiders, creation of distrust among prisoners by the suggestion of
existing or suspicion of operating informers, control of rewards and punishments (food, medicines, and
special privileges). The degree of their success has probably been exaggerated in the public's perception of
that 'brainwashing', but for their point of view, they did achieve some genuine gains.

Segal (1957, p. 31–32) analyzed and appraised the phenomenon of 'brainwashing' of American military
personnel returning from Korean POW camps taking a sample of 579 of the 3,323 returning POWs out
of a total of 6656 Army troops taken as Korean prisoners (the rest had perished while in captivity). He
found that about 15% of the POWs had succumbed to the pressures exercised by their captors (and about
12% per cent of them seemed to sympathise with Communist ideology). Furthermore, a few, about 5%,
had resisted all communist efforts to indoctrinate them or to use them for propaganda purposes, while
the vast majority, about 80 per cent, remained 'neutrals'. For those that had succumbed to the tortures
and pressures of their captors the Army suggested court martial and dishonourable discharge, for those
that resisted commendations were suggested while the vast majority of personnel returning from North
Korean POW camps were not dealt with.

In his evaluation of this socio-psychological phenomenon, Dupuy (1965, pp. 467–475) has suggested
that the extensive and expert brainwashing encountered by Korean War prisoners was, in essence,
an entirely new form of coercive propaganda. The Korean POW type of brainwashing caused much
discussion within the U.S. military as well as among academics interested in existing and new propaganda
techniques. This led to both a general belief that the men had not been adequately prepared to withstand
the psychological and physical tortures they would encounter if fallen in enemy hands and a reassessment
of what ideological training they should have received during their so-called 'boot-camp' training period
prior to being shipped to the war 'front'.

Katz (1960) commenting on the 'Brainwashing' issues as they relate to the change of attitudes held by individuals
(in this instance American Army personnel serving as prisoners in Korean POW camps) has noted that:

'Perhaps the two most important lessons of the Korean experience are (1) the importance of central values
in sustaining the ego under conditions of deprivation and threat and (2) the necessity of maintaining
some form of group support in resisting the powerful manipulations of an opponent.' (p. 198)

  1. Communication is a universal phenomenon: system of 4 components
  2. Human Communication: scheme of human communication, defining
  3. Body Language: darwins contribution, intrigue of body language
  4. Mass Media & social media: stone inscription, printing process
  5. The Role of attitudes in human communication: defining attitudes
  6. The birth of a speciality: roots in antiquity, historic glimpse
  7. Publics, Public Opinion and its moulders: historical evolution, term
  8. Rhetoric, Persuasion and Propaganda: rome, love, definitions, variety
  9. Corporate Communication & Responsibility: corporate communication
  10. Press releases, special events and sponsorships: PR specialist
  11. Leaders and Leadership: pantheon of leaders, persons, injustice
  12. Leadership, Power, Authority & Charisma: events, political, financial
  13. Leadership research at the Universities of Iowa, Ohio & Michigan:
  14. Modern theories of leadership in Private and Public Enterprises and Or
  15. Instead of an epilogue: Women leaders remain under a glass ceiling:
  16. References: Bibliography
  17. The Author: Dr Georgios P. Piperopoulos, sociology, psychology