In Coercion, Douglas Rushkoff explains how easily people are easily coerced. For example, Rushkoff states that people are convinced by car salesman to pay more for a car than they wanted to. In Julius Caesar, Marc Antony asks to speak at the funeral of his dear friend, Julius Caesar, after one of the murderers, Brutus, speaks. Brutus convinces the Romans that Caesar would be a tyrant if he did not murder him, while Antony convinces the Romans that Caesar is not ambitious and there would never be another ruler like Caesar. The art of public speaking is important in the past and present.
Rushkoff explains that they coerce humans to think a certain way on a topic. He also asks, Who are they,and why do we listen to them? He states that each person has a different they, and defines they as those who seem to decide how lives are to be run and control fate and futures. He states that the best manipulation occurs when the exploitation is not detected. He disapproves of coercion because it takes advantage of susceptible human minds. Marc Antony, as well as Brutus, uses the undetected technique of coercion on the Romans.
Brutus speaks first to the Romans and tells them that he and others have murdered Julius Caesar, but it is for the good of the country. Brutus claims that his reasoning behind the mutiny is that he loved Rome more than he loved Caesar. Brutus asks the Romans if they would rather be enslaved with Caesar living, or free with Caesar dead. Brutus kills Caesar because he was too ambitious. Now in Brutuss speech, he has coerced the Romans into believing that the murder of Caesar is just. He asks the Romans whom he has offended by loving Rome more than any other, and he does not receive a response.
In Brutuss short speech, he convinces the people that Caesar was a tyrant and that he does Rome a favor by betraying Caesar. Just as Brutus used passive coercion, Marc Antony also speaks to the Romans with the same technique. Antony gets on the pulpit and starts to speak of the Romans as people just like him, he does not place himself above the Romans, unlike Brutus. Antony begins his speech by agreeing with Brutus, which he had promised Brutus he would do. He states that Caesar was ambitious, and that is a terrible fault.
Antony tells the Romans that Brutus is an honorable man, and he was right to kill Caesar. Now Antony shifts sides in the debate subtly. Antony states that Caesar is offered the crown three times and three times he refuses. Antony asks, is that ambition? He does not want do prove Brutus is a murderer, but he merely states the facts. Antony starts to end his speech by telling the Romans of Caesars will. Antony gets the Romans on his side and against Brutus by using the most deceptive material, money. Caesar leaves seventy-five drachmas and his private arbors and gardens to every man in Rome.
The crowd responds by wanting to burn down the house and kill Brutus and the other conspirators, which Antony wants to happen all along; when he is preparing Caesars body Antony says, Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war (3. 1. 299). This means that the dogs of war do not know how to fight like militia, but merely off instinct. Antony coerces the Romans back to Caesar just as easily as they are taken away from him. I agree with Rushkoff that coercion takes advantage of people. However, I do believe that the use of coercion is essential in todays society, as well as in the past.
If every Roman would have made up there own mind, on that day of Brutus and Antonys speech, there would have been a civil war. Today, majority is what decides is right and wrong. I believe that Brutus and Antony took advantage of the Romans while they were in shock of the murder of their ruler. However, I think Antony uses his coercion ability for a good cause and tries to save what is left of Caesar. While Brutus tries to manipulate the Romans to think that the actions of Caesar are for himself and not Rome. Brutus is a great orator, but he loses this debate to Antony.