This is an explanation for passage 1 of LSAT preptest 34, the June 2001 LSAT. This passage is about authoritarianism. The author discusses the reasons why a dictator might be forced to introduce reforms due to pressure from civil society.
This section has paragraph summaries and an analysis of the passage, links to the explanations for the questions are below.
- Authoritarian rulers tend to reform only when they see society will force them out of power otherwise.
- Three changes can cause this. The first is changing values that lead to a demand for freedom.
- The second factor is shifting economic interests.
- The third factor is the formation of independent groups that can challenge the dictator.
- If a dictator is successful at making reforms, then often this creates even more pressure for change. Smart authoritarian rulers will eventually make democratic changes.
The passage is a neutral discussion of what causes authoritarian rulers to implement reforms, and what happens when authoritarian rulers do reform. The authoritarian rulers are motivated by preserving their own power.
The author doesn’t say whether he likes or dislikes dictators. But he thinks most of them will face societal changes that force them to make democratic reforms (lines 50-60).
This passage clearly illustrates the difference between positive arguments (“what will happen”) and normative arguments (“what should happen”). This argument is positive; it doesn’t tell us what we should do or hope for.
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