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Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was no

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Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was no  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 06 Aug 2018, 22:38
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Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was not very civilized. Human rights were trampled. Class war destroyed entire political systems. There were large-scale violent conflicts and much ethnic cleansing. Given this history, Westerners are in no position to lecture on civil liberties or humane values.

It is also worth noting that the global march toward democracy, which seemed nearly inexorable after the fall of the Berlin Wall, now seems to be reversing. According to Stanford University’s Larry Diamond, several countries that were democracies at the beginning of this century have since shifted to different systems.

Of course, elections alone do not a democracy make. Consider those cases when elections empower a majority ethnic or religious group, which then rides roughshod over minorities – an outcome that has been seen all too often in the Balkans, for example.

Then there are the cases when the election of a leader is treated as if it somehow legitimizes the subsequent emergence of dictatorship. This has been the case in Russia, which, since President Vladimir Putin’s first electoral victory in 2000, has become a Potemkin democracy.

In a real democracy, free and fair elections are complemented more broadly by the rule of law, due process, an independent judiciary, an active civil society, and freedom of the press, worship, assembly, and association. In fact, it is theoretically possible – though unlikely – for political systems to have all these elements without elections at all.

Democracies depend on institutional software, not just hardware. The people who make them work accept a set of norms that often do not have to be codified. The problem comes when the people – or, worse, their leaders – refuse to adhere to democratic norms. That is what is happening today in the United States, as US President Donald Trump challenges some of the foundational rules, norms, and principles of American democracy. While some parts of America’s democratic political system – for example, the judicial check on executive authority – have proved resilient, others are breaking down. But Trump is a consequence of this breakdown, not its cause.

Economic challenges, together with fears about migration, have created similar pressures in Europe, reflected in sizable support for right-wing populist parties in elections in Germany and France in the last year, as well as the rise of “illiberal democracy” in Hungary and Poland.

Countering such assaults on democracy will require political leaders to show courage and vision – as French President Emmanuel Macron has so far – in defending the values that underpin democratic governance. In the European Union, this means that leaders must not turn a blind eye to elected governments’ assault on the institutions that safeguard freedom. After all, the EU not just a customs union; it is a union of shared values. If it fails to act accordingly, it will crumble. In the 1930s, some admired Adolf Hitler’s autobahns and Benito Mussolini’s success in getting the trains to run on time. But it was clearly not worth the cost. The same is true of China today. Yes, the country has become an economic powerhouse in recent decades. But if a system cannot survive basic dissent – from legal challenges to television parodies – can it really be as strong as its leaders claim? And if a crackdown on corruption is carried out by a corrupt dictatorship, can it really be considered legitimate?

Contrast this with India, which may have lost the economic race in the last few years, but has held together since independence, despite vast ethnic, religious, and linguistic differences – without needing to create a Bamboo Gulag. This does not mean that there is no dissent or disagreement. But, no matter how much Indians argue, they are not locking up or “disappearing” dissidents, thanks to the safety valves afforded by their democracy. No society can manage indefinitely without such mechanisms. Even Karl Marx, I think, would not have disagreed.

1. The primary purpose of the passage is to ...

A) point out that even though the economic progress of democratic countries may be slow, democracy protects the fundamental rights of the people.

B) state the importance of safety mechanisms in a democracy to protect dissidents and thereby defend the values that underpin democratic governance.

C) emphasize the current need to preserve liberal democracies as they are the best form of government that can safeguard the natural, civil and political rights of citizens.

D) denounce dictatorships and authoritarianism even though several countries that were democracies at the beginning of this century have since shifted to different systems.


2. The author uses “Potemkin democracy” in the fourth paragraph to imply that

A) democracy in Russia is more a façade, while in reality Russia has become a dictatorship after President Putin’s first electoral victory in 2000.

B) President Vladimir Putin, since his first electoral victory in 2000, governs Russia according to the questionable tenets of democracy laid down by Potemkin.

C) The election of Putin as the President of Russia in 2000 cannot legitimize the subsequent emergence of dictatorship.

D) Russia, in the fundamentals of its constitutional system is not democratic.


3. The author will most likely agree with which of the following statements?

A) China has become an economic powerhouse not because of but despite its political system which does not tolerate dissent.

B) It is doubtful whether political systems other than democracy can be liberal.

C) The safety valves afforded by Indian democracy ensure that there isno dissidence in the country.

D) A crackdown on corruption in China cannot be considered legitimate.


4. The author would most likely disapprove of all of the following hypothetical events EXCEPT:

A)Electoral victory of a populist party which considers social hierarchy and social inequality as inevitable for the normal functioning of the society.

B)Ethnic cleansing of a population deemed to breed terrorists.

C)The judiciary blocking an executive order issued by the elected leader of a country.

D)A labor camp organized by the elected government to re-educate the tribal population.


5. Which of the following statements CANNOT be inferred from the passage with regards to the European Union?

A) It will crumble if its leaders fail to protect institutions that safeguard freedom.

B) It is facing economic and social challenges.

C) It is founded on shared ideals among its member countries.

D) Its leaders have shown courage and vision in defending the values that underpin democratic governance.


6. According to the author, Karl Marx would agree with which of the following statements?

A) A political system that encourages censorship will ultimately lead to the downfall of a society.

B) No society can manage indefinitely without dissent or disagreement.

C) Holding a nation together is more important than winning the economic race.

D) Safety valves afforded by a democracy are superior to those offered by other political systems.


Originally posted by visheshsahni on 03 Aug 2018, 16:06.
Last edited by Bunuel on 06 Aug 2018, 22:38, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was no  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Aug 2018, 17:40
What is the source of the passage? I do not think it is very representative of real GMAT passages.
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Re: Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was no  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Aug 2018, 19:32
visheshsahni

Please format the passage following the rules mentioned in this post. Please always specify the source of the passage !!!

https://gmatclub.com/forum/democracy-an ... 72449.html
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Re: Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was no  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Aug 2018, 01:13
workout wrote:
visheshsahni

Please format the passage following the rules mentioned in this post. Please always specify the source of the passage !!!

https://gmatclub.com/forum/democracy-an ... 72449.html



Hello workout
I have formatted the passage and the source ispractise section of the weekly newsletter of ISB Hyderabad, one of the leading GMAT B schools in India.
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New post 04 Aug 2018, 01:21
urvashis09 wrote:
What is the source of the passage? I do not think it is very representative of real GMAT passages.


Hello urvashis09 , I have just replied above to workout with source. Also, OE have been added in the notes section of every question.
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Re: Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was no  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Aug 2018, 02:04
visheshsahni wrote:


Hello workout
I have formatted the passage and the source ispractise section of the weekly newsletter of ISB Hyderabad, one of the leading GMAT B schools in India.


Hey visheshsahni

Thanks for the update. I have made some more changes to the passage regarding formatting. Please take a look and follow this structure for your further passages.

Thank You.
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Re: Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was no  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Aug 2018, 21:21
Sowmya91 wrote:
Where can i find the OEs?


Please have a look at added notes section along with the timer.

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Re: Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was no &nbs [#permalink] 06 Aug 2018, 21:21
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