The passage below is accompanied by four questions. Based on the passage, choose the best answer for each question.

Over the past four centuries liberalism has been so successful that it has driven all its opponents off the battlefield. Now it is disintegrating, destroyed by a mix of hubris and internal contradictions, according to Patrick Deneen, a professor of politics at the University of Notre Dame. . . . Equality of opportunity has produced a new meritocratic aristocracy that has all the aloofness of the old aristocracy with none of its sense of noblesse oblige. Democracy has degenerated into a theatre of the absurd. And technological advances are reducing ever more areas of work into meaningless drudgery. “The gap between liberalism’s claims about itself and the lived reality of the citizenry” is now so wide that “the lie can no longer be accepted,” Mr Deneen writes. What better proof of this than the vision of 1,000 private planes whisking their occupants to Davos to discuss the question of “creating a shared future in a fragmented world”? . . .

Deneen does an impressive job of capturing the current mood of disillusionment, echoing leftwing complaints about rampant commercialism, right-wing complaints about narcissistic and bullying students, and general worries about atomisation and selfishness. But when he concludes that all this adds up to a failure of liberalism, is his argument convincing? . . . He argues that the essence of liberalism lies in freeing individuals from constraints. In fact, liberalism contains a wide range of intellectual traditions which provide different answers to the question of how to trade off the relative claims of rights and responsibilities, individual expression and social ties. . . . liberals experimented with a range of ideas from devolving power from the centre to creating national education systems.

Mr Deneen’s fixation on the essence of liberalism leads to the second big problem of his book: his failure to recognise liberalism’s ability to reform itself and address its internal problems. The late 19th century saw America suffering from many of the problems that are reappearing today, including the creation of a business aristocracy, the rise of vast companies, the corruption of politics and the sense that society was dividing into winners and losers. But a wide variety of reformers, working within the liberal tradition, tackled these problems head on. Theodore Roosevelt took on the trusts. Progressives cleaned up government corruption. University reformers modernised academic syllabuses and built ladders of opportunity. Rather than dying, liberalism reformed itself.

Mr Deneen is right to point out that the record of liberalism in recent years has been dismal. He is also right to assert that the world has much to learn from the premodern notions of liberty as self-mastery and self-denial. The biggest enemy of liberalism is not so much atomisation but old-fashioned greed, as members of the Davos elite pile their plates ever higher with perks and share options. But he is wrong to argue that the only way for people to liberate themselves from the contradictions of liberalism is “liberation from liberalism itself”. The best way to read “Why Liberalism Failed” is not as a funeral oration but as a call to action: up your game, or else.

Question 13

The author of the passage refers to “the Davos elite” to illustrate his views on:


Option C is the correct answer because the mention of "the Davos elite" in the passage serves to illustrate the perceived hypocrisy of wealthy individuals who profess to adhere to liberal values while simultaneously amassing the majority of the wealth. The author points to the contradiction between the elite's participation in events like discussions on creating a shared future and their exclusive access to privileges, symbolized by the use of private planes. This highlights the critique that the liberal rich, represented by the Davos elite, may not align their actions with the egalitarian ideals they claim to support, emphasizing a discrepancy between rhetoric and behavior.

Option A is incorrect because the passage does not explicitly connect the decline in liberal values to the rich benefiting, but rather to internal contradictions and hubris.

Option B is incorrect as the passage does not focus on how the debate around liberalism is captured by the rich; instead, it critiques the actions of the Davos elite.
Option D is incorrect because the passage does not suggest that the rise in liberalism has led to greater interest in shared futures from unlikely social classes; rather, it critiques the behavior of the Davos elite as hypocritical.

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