Modern history abounds with violence fueled by apocalyptic myths, not always explicitly religious in nature. The aim of the Jacobin terror in revolutionary France was the creation of a modern state. If the violent suppression of the peasant revolt in the Vendée is included, the casualties ran into the hundreds of thousands. The myths that possessed these anarchists in their campaigns of assassination were secular myths of social transformation. Lenin avowedly followed the Jacobin example when he used the Cheka to create a modern state in Russia. One of the factors that distinguished Nazism and fascism from conventional tyrannies was the belief that a new society could be fashioned by the systematic use of terror. Violent jihadism has more in common with these modern totalitarian movements than is commonly supposed.
The paragraph given states that throughout modern history, several examples can be seen of violence fueled by apocalyptic myths, which are not blatantly religious in nature. Rather, what bolstered the violence was the myth of “social transformation” and creation of a “new society” or “modern state”. Be it the Jacobin terror in revolutionary France, or the use of the Cheka by Lenin in Russia or Nazism and fascism, terror has been justified on the promise of a new, transformed society. The paragraph concludes that violent jihadism has a lot in common with these modern totalitarian movements. Now let us take a look at the options to see which one sums up the paragraph best: Option A- Violent jihadism is justified on the secular myth of social transformation, rather than idea of religious apocalypse. The paragraph we have argues that violent jihadism has a lot in common with the totalitarian movements in history which were powered by the promise of social transformation. But the paragraph does not say that violent jihadism is not based on the idea of religious apocalypse. Also, this option does not sum up the paragraph we have. So this is definitely ruled out. Option B- The myth of social transformation has underpinned many totalitarian movements in modern history, and violent jihadism too exploits this. This, clearly, is the main idea of the paragraph. Many totalitarian movements in modern history have been fueled by the myth of social transformation. Violent jihadism also draws on this idea. Option B summarizes the paragraph well. Option C- Although it is believed that violence is fueled by religion, the reality is that it is unleashed on the premise of the creation of a modern state. This option categorially rules out the idea that violence is fueled by religion. It claims that it is only unleashed on the premise of the creation of a modern state. This is not what the paragraph given states. It states that violence is fueled by apocalyptic myths which are “not always” explicitly religious. So we rule this option out. Option D- Modern history illustrates that it is a myth that societies can be transformed by the systematic use of terror. This option says that societies cannot be transformed by the systematic use of terror and that modern history confirms this. Clearly, this is not what the paragraph conveys and so this is not the right option to sum up the paragraph. Correct Answer: Choice (b)
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