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The recurring theme of equality in the United States has flared

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The recurring theme of equality in the United States has flared  [#permalink]

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The recurring theme of equality in the United States has flared into a fervent moral issue at crucial stages: the Revolutionary and Jacksonian periods, the Civil War, the populist and progressive eras, the New Deal, and the 1960s and 1980s. The legitimacy of American society is challenged by some set of people unhappy with the degree of equality. New claims are laid, new understandings are reached, and new policies for political or economic equality are instituted. Yet the equality issueendures outside these moments of fervour. Ideologies in favour of
extending equality are arrayed against others that would limit its scope; advocates of social justice confront defenders of liberty.

In the moments of egalitarian ascendancy, libertarians are on the defensive. In the moments of retrenchment, egalitarians cling to previous gains. And in either period the enemy is likely to be the "special interests" that have too much power. In egalitarian times, these are the moneyed interests. In times of retrenchment, these are labour or big government and its beneficiaries.

The moments of creedal passion, in Samuel Huntington‘s words, have usually been outbursts of egalitarianism. In part, the passion springs from the self-interest of those who would benefit from a more equal distribution of goods or political influence. But the passion also springs from ideology and values, including deep religious justifications for equality.

The passion accompanying the discovery or rediscovery that ideals do not match reality is particularly intense when the ideal is as deeply felt as is equality. Yet there can be passion on the non-egalitarian side as well. The self-interested passion to protect an established position may be
even more powerful than the passion to redress inequality, though its expression may be more muted.

Devotion to inequality may also be based on ideals, such as liberty, individualism, and the free market, which are no less ancient and venerable. Like the ideals of equality, these alternative ideals serve as yardsticks for measuring whether society has moved away from its true principles.

Yet the spirit of reform during Reconstruction dissipated in the face of spent political struggles, sluggish social institutions, and outright mendacity. Society‘s entrepreneurial energy was channelled into economic activity, and the courts failed to endorse many of the reformers‘ grandest visions. The egalitarian thrust of the Populists around the turn of the century inspired an anti-egalitarian counterthrust over the next two decades.

Americans do not have an ideology that assigns clear priority to one value over any other. At every historical juncture where equality was an issue, its proponents failed to do all that they had set out to do. Swings in the equality of social conditions are restrained not just by institutional obstacles but by fundamental conflicts of values that are a traditional element of American politics. Faith in the individualistic work ethic and belief in the legitimacy of unequal wealth retard progression to the
egalitarian left. As for conservatism, the indelible tenet of political equality firmly restrains the right and confirms a commitment to the disadvantaged. In seeking equal opportunity over equal result, Americans forego a ceiling, not a floor.

1. Suppose there is a government plan to raise taxes to pay for more social programs for the disadvantaged. If the information that the author presents in the passage about libertarians is correct, how would libertarians be expected to react this plan?

A. They would support the plan because they think that the government should help the disadvantaged.

B. They would condemn the plan because they do not think that the government should use its power to redistribute wealth.

C. They would neither support nor condemn the plan because it does not address political values.

D. They would call on the government to let private welfare agencies look after the disadvantaged.

E. The would partly support and partly condemn the plan

2. The existence of which of the following would most strongly challenge the author‘s view about the American public‘s ideology?

A. A study that demonstrates that Americans have always favoured equality above all other political values

B. A book that asserts that Americans have always believed in the economic principle of unequal wealth

C. An article that suggests that Americans are willing to support the taxation of the rich in order to assist the poor

D. A lecture that shows that Americans have grown increasingly tolerant of minority political views since the turn of the century

E. a report stating that Americans value capitalism over everything else

3. According to the passage, none of the following statements are true EXCEPT:

A. the political upheaval of the Civil War increased the popularity of progressive ideals among the American public.

B. eras of egalitarian reform in American history have been followed by eras of retrenchment.

C. those who endorse non-egalitarian ideals have generally been less committed to their position than those who endorse egalitarian ideals.

D. special interests have always had too much political power within the American government.

E. very soon a third group of people is likely to emerge which will be opposed to both egalitarians and libertarians


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Re: The recurring theme of equality in the United States has flared  [#permalink]

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Re: The recurring theme of equality in the United States has flared  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Nov 2018, 22:01
i got the 3rd question wrong. could anyone pl. explain..thanks in advance
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The recurring theme of equality in the United States has flared  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Nov 2018, 10:08
SnigdhaM wrote:
i got the 3rd question wrong. could anyone pl. explain..thanks in advance


Hi, I am not an expert but let me try to explain,

3. According to the passage, none of the following statements are true EXCEPT:

A. the political upheaval of the Civil War increased the popularity of progressive ideals among the American public.
Major historical periods have had their share of social issues to be upheaveld but the passage,(para 1 specifically) does not put emphasis on how only civil war was responsible for popularising the ideals.

B. eras of egalitarian reform in American history have been followed by eras of retrenchment.

the author writes between egalitarian reform and retrenchment in contrast to each other along with the behaviour of various stakeholders so it is safer to imply that one followed the other.Also BEST OPTION through Process of Elimination

C. those who endorse non-egalitarian ideals have generally been less committed to their position than those who endorse egalitarian ideals.
the issue of commitment is not quite discussed, although the capabilities and success rate are discussed when the author mentions that the preparators were not able to do what they indented to do,but this is not the same as lacking the commitment among them.

D. special interests have always had too much political power within the American government.
this point is a strong contender for the correct answer but careful, the passage mentions enemy to be the special interest which is important during the two phases ie during the egali… and reterencment….,but special intrests do not always exist as suggested by the point. so it is wrong.

E. very soon a third group of people is likely to emerge which will be opposed to both egalitarians and libertarians
this point seems to vague and this is not mentioned anywhere in the passage,so we can consider this to be out of scope.
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Re: The recurring theme of equality in the United States has flared  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Nov 2018, 10:49

Topic and Scope

- The author describes the conflict between values of equality and other values in American society.

Mapping the Passage


¶1 describes historical examples of America‘s push for equality.
¶2 describes the historical conflict between equality and libertarianism.
¶3 and 4 argue that passions from ideology spring partially from self-interest and partially from ideology (Huntington).
¶5 points out that alternative ideals also incite passion.
¶6 argues that pushes toward equality provoke backlashes.
¶7 argues that Americans hold multiple competing ideologies that check one another.
Strategy Points:
Difficult passages can often be made easier by keeping an eye out for contrasts. A single principal contrast will often be the organizing force behind the passage.
Questions will usually reward you for understanding the contrast even if much of the rest of the passage is confusing.
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The recurring theme of equality in the United States has flared  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Nov 2018, 10:50
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Official Answers and Explanations


1) Why does the author talk about libertarians? To describe an ideal that tends to conflict with equality, the principle behind the action in the question. Libertarians would probably therefore attack the plan precisely because it was promoting equality. (B) says the same.
(A): Opposite. Libertarians as the author describes them think just the opposite.
(B): The correct answer
(C): Opposite. The author clearly thinks that libertarians would have an opinion on an action that runs counter to their principles.
(D): Distortion. Though they‘d support private enterprise, they wouldn‘t support private enterprise promoting an ideal contrary to their own.
(E): There would be no element of ‗support‘, as described above.

2) The author talks about the American public‘s ideology throughout the passage, but most thoroughly in the last paragraph. When hitting the answer choices, start with the most likely paragraph and work from there. In this case, (A) rewards you immediately for the prediction: The point of the last paragraph is that America is bound by several more-or-less equal ideals, a view that (A) would certainly challenge.
(A): The correct answer
(B): Opposite. The author mentions this in ¶6.
(C): Opposite. This is also suggested in ¶6 by the ―commitment to the disadvantaged.‖
(D): Out of Scope. Increased tolerance of minority views would have no effect on the author‘s argument about balanced American ideologies.
(E): Opposite. This would strengthen the author‘s views.

3) First keep track of all the negatives in the question! You're actually looking for the one true statement. Choice (B) summarizes the point of ¶6 that pushes towards equality lead to backlashes.
(A): Opposite. The author would argue that fervour for equality during the Civil War would lead to a backlash against it rather than an increase in support for it.
(B): The correct answer
(C): Opposite. The point of ¶4 is that passion can exist equally on both sides of the debate.
(D): Out of Scope. The author mentions special interests in ¶2 but doesn‘t argue that they always have too much power. In fact, they seem to fluctuate in power and identity depending on the dominating ideal of the time.
(E): Out of scope. This cannot be inferred from the passage.
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