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CAT 2020 Reading Comprehension Solution 04


Direction for Reading Comprehension: The pass ages given here are followed by some questions that have four answer choices; read the passage carefully and pick the option whose answer best aligns with the passage

The word ‘anarchy’ comes from the Greek anarkhia, meaning contrary to authority or without a ruler, and was used in a derogatory sense until 1840, when it was adopted by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to describe his political and social ideology. Proudhon argued that organization without government was both possible and desirable. In the evolution of political ideas, anarchism can be seen as an ultimate projection of both liberalism and socialism, and the differing strands of anarchist thought can be related to their emphasis on one or the other of these.

Historically, anarchism arose not only as an explanation of the gulf between the rich and the poor in any community, and of the reason why the poor have been obliged to fight for their share of a common inheritance, but as a radical answer to the question ‘What went wrong?’ that followed the ultimate outcome of the French Revolution. It had ended not only with a reign of terror and the emergence of a newly rich ruling caste, but with a new adored emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, strutting through his conquered territories.

The anarchists and their precursors were unique on the political Left in affirming that workers and peasants, grasping the chance that arose to bring an end to centuries of exploitation and tyranny, were inevitably betrayed by the new class of politicians, whose first priority was to re-establish a centralized state power. After every revolutionary uprising, usually won at a heavy cost for ordinary populations, the new rulers had no hesitation in applying violence and terror, a secret police, and a professional army to maintain their control.

For anarchists the state itself is the enemy, and they have applied the same interpretation to the outcome of every revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries. This is not merely because every state keeps a watchful and sometimes punitive eye on its dissidents, but because every state protects the privileges of the powerful.

The mainstream of anarchist propaganda for more than a century has been anarchistcommunism, which argues that property in land, natural resources, and the means of production should be held in mutual control by local communities, federating for innumerable joint purposes with other communes. It differs from state socialism in opposing the concept of any central authority. Some anarchists prefer to distinguish between anarchist-communism and collectivist anarchism in order to stress the obviously desirable freedom of an individual or family to possess the resources needed for living, while not implying the right to own the resources needed by others. . . .

There are, unsurprisingly, several traditions of individualist anarchism, one of them deriving from the ‘conscious egoism’ of the German writer Max Stirner (1806–56), and another from a remarkable series of 19th-century American figures who argued that in protecting our own autonomy and associating with others for common advantages, we are promoting the good of all. These thinkers differed from free-market liberals in their absolute mistrust of American capitalism, and in their emphasis on mutualism.

Question: 1

The author believes that the new ruling class of politicians betrayed the principles of the French Revolution, but does not specify in what way. In the context of the passage, which statement below is the likeliest explanation of that betrayal?

  1. The new ruling class was constituted mainly of anarchists who were against the destructive impact of the Revolution on the market.
  2. The anarchists did not want a new ruling class, but were not politically strong enough to stop them.
  3. The new ruling class struck a deal with the old ruling class to share power between them.
  4. The new ruling class rode to power on the strength of the workers’ revolutionary anger, but then turned to oppress that very class.
Option: 4

This is an application question. We have to pick from the choices the one that explains how the new ruling class might have betrayed the principles of the French Revolution. We have to first understand what, as per the passage, were the principles of the French Revolution. Here we have to understand that the workers and peasants were the oppressed class, and it is they who made the revolution possible. Betrayal means to against someone. 1 cannot be the right choice because the new ruling class was against the destructive impact of the revolution on the market, but not against the workers and peasants. Both in 2 and 3 there is no sign of betrayal. Only in 4 can we see the evidence of betrayal where the new ruling class rode to power on the strength of workers’ revolutionary anger, but then turned to oppress that very class. 4 is the best choice.

Question: 2

Which one of the following best expresses the similarity between American individualist anarchists and free-market liberals as well as the difference between the former and the latter?

  1. Both reject the regulatory power of the state; but the former favour a people’s state, while the latter favour state intervention in markets.
  2. Both prioritise individual autonomy; but the former also emphasise mutual dependence, while the latter do not do so.
  3. Both are sophisticated arguments for capitalism; but the former argue for a morally upright capitalism, while the latter argue that the market is the only morality.
  4. Both are founded on the moral principles of altruism; but the latter conceive of the market as a force too mystical for the former to comprehend.
Option: 2

The clue to the right answer can be seen in the last paragraph where the author says “there are several traditions of was 19th century American figures who argued that in protecting our own autonomy and associating with others, we are promoting the good of all. These thinkers differed from free-market liberals in their absolute mistrust of American capitalism, and in their emphasis of mutualism.” Thus there was a difference between free market liberals and the American anarchists. This difference was with respect to mutualism and capitalism. The anarchists favoured mutualism but mistrusted capitalism. Option 2 brings out this difference correctly. The others just go out because none of them talk about mutualism, which the American anarchists favoured, but the liberals did not.

Question: 3

The author makes all of the following arguments in the passage, EXCEPT:

  1. The failure of the French Revolution was because of its betrayal by the new class of politicians who emerged from it.
  2. The popular perception of anarchism as espousing lawlessness and violence comes from a mainstream mistrust of collectivism.
  3. Individualist anarchism is actually constituted of many streams, all of which focus on the autonomy of the individual.
  4. For anarchists, the state is the enemy because all states apply violence and terror to maintain their control.
Option: 2

Here we have to eliminate the choice that features in the passage as the author’s argument, and choose as our right answer the one that does not. 1 is true as per the passage and can be verified from the second paragraph of the passage. The first sentence of the last para is evidence for choice 3. From the first sentence of the fourth paragraph, we can derive choice 4. Thus we have evidence for all choices except 2.  In fact, we can directly mark 2 without verifying the others because anarchists are in favour of autonomy and mutualism. So anarchists will never mistrust collectivism. The evidence for this can be found in the last paragraph. Thus 2 is not the argument presented by the author in the passage.

Question: 4

According to the passage, what is the one idea that is common to all forms of anarchism?

  1. There is no idea common to all forms of anarchism; that is why it is anarchic.
  2. They all derive from the work of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.
  3. They are all opposed to the centralisation of power in the state.
  4. They all focus on the primacy of the power of the individual.
Option: 3

The passage clearly says in the first para and the fourth paragraph that state itself is the enemy. Thus 3 is the right choice, unarguably. The others are easy to eliminate.

Question: 5

Of the following sets of concepts, identify the set that is conceptually closest to the concerns of the passage.

  1. Revolution, State, Strike, Egoism.
  2. Revolution, State, Protection, Liberals.
  3. Anarchism, State, Individual, Freedom.
  4. Anarchism, Betrayal, Power, State.
Option: 3

This too is a very simple question because we have to pick the concepts that are there in the passage. Both 1 and 2 go out because they don’t have in them the most important concept: anarchism. Out of 3 and 4, we must pick 3 because the last part of the passage discussed Freedom and individual autonomy. You can refer to the last two paragraphs. Also in option 4 power and state are the same things, there is no need to keep them as two separate things.

CAT 2020 RC passage with solution

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