Consider the following comments and develop a piece of writing in response to one or more of them. Your writing will be judged on the quality of your response to the theme, how well you organise and present your point of view, and how effectively you express yourself.
- ‘I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.’ – Martin Luther King
- ‘Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on each can ever turn it into a fact.’ – Honre de Balzac
- ‘There is no method by which men can be both free and equal.’ – Walter Bagehot
- ‘Make all men equal today, and God has so created them that they shall all be unequal tomorrow.’ – Basil Hume
- ‘What makes equality such a difficult business is that we only want it with our superiors.’ – Henry Becque
Suggested Theme: Equality (Section B)
Time limit in the actual exam: 30 mins
Chosen Quote: ‘There is no method by which men can be both free and equal.’ – Walter Bagehot
Can ‘Freedom’ and ‘Equality’ co-exist?
In a democracy, the notion of ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ appears to be interchangeable and can co-exist at first glance. Walter Bagehot, however, argues, ‘There is no method by which men can be both free and equal.’ The proponents of Bagehot’s perspective suggest dichotomy, and in denial of the semblance. The following dialectic argues that freedom and equality can rather be two sides of the same coin.
The proposed dichotomy was a tactic to split the world in two during the Cold War, and characterise certain countries as ‘free – the Capitalist bloc’ and others as ‘unfree – the Socialist bloc’. Bagehot’s view supports the idea that a tremendous amount of social restrictions exist in the countries organised by socialism (or communism) in exchange of obtaining social equality; there is a trade-off between equality and freedom. Will and Ariel Durant, American historian and philosopher, testified in ‘The Lessons of History’, ‘freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.’
The same philosophy can apply in relatively free societies, such as democracy. The disparity in the distribution of economic assets and income creates the stratifications of social status and hierarchy. Similarly, there are inequalities in terms of social influence and political power; the lower the status, the more socially excluded and politically disempowered. In most democracies, citizens still sacrifice personal freedom in some cases for greater equality; paying income taxes to ensure access for all to essentials like schools, roads, and public infrastructure, for example.
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd US President, expressed,’ All men are created equal’. Equality and dignity is the inherent right of every human, and the inequality becomes conspicuous only within the socio-economic sphere when the individual values conflict, or in comparison with others. Similarly, freedom is the natural condition of the individual, and people can make purposive decisions with desirable choices with an absence of coercive constrains by other individuals, groups of people or government. A free political order, which respects natural rights and allows for individual freedom, best nourishes the formation of intentional communities through freely chosen common values. Having a primary emphasis on the individuals does not mean devaluing social corporation; humans are not only distinct individuals but also social beings. Cooperative action promotes possibilities for growth and brings benefits that otherwise would be unattainable in isolation. In a free society, all cooperative social virtues are entered voluntarily and provide mutually beneficial and equal relations among autonomous individuals.
Bagehot’s perspective reveals that freedom and equality cannot co-exist while the exploitation of human beings continues. Dismantling oppressive social power structures and political body requires turning our attention to individualism. The important thing is to be free and equal in our conscious mind!
Feedback from METC Institute:
Engagement with the chosen topic:
The student shows a proficient understanding of their topic and the major themes related to their selected quote. Their thesis statement is clear and is well reflected throughout their work. Occasionally the engagement becomes muddled and lack clarity but it is of an overall good standard.
Knowledge and thought:
There is evidence of the inclusion of good secondary sources, primarily whtin the thesis. The antithesis and synthesis however lack this inclusion and as a result are less impactful.
Structure of the Essay:
The thesis section and antithesis section both have clear supporting evidence. These sections are however slightly unbalanced with the antithesis and synthesis requiring further expansion and clarity.
The student’s writing is mostly clear and free from errors. There is an occasional lapse in academic tone and infrequent issues with syntax and sentence structure.
There is a clear structure here, and the student’s arguments do translate, but some points and examples are not as convincing as they should be. Overall however this is a well formulated and good quality essay.
Ensure that each of your sections is as fully developed as each other. Focus in on your key argument and ensure that they always remain clear and focused.
Feedback from AceGAMSAT:
This essay is an interesting mix. On the one hand you have a very strong perspective. It is in the details of your essay that this promising idea could come to light. Your use of terminology and evidence means the promise of this idea is only partially fulfilled. Try to focus a little more on concise, controlled language. Be very careful in how you use terminology. I will give an example. You refer to a number of terms in your first sentence without establishing enough in the way of how they are meant to be seen and interpreted. The marker will be wondering what exactly do you mean by this? These terms can mean different things in different contexts and it is important that you distinguish which perspective you are examining the issue from. This type of issue pervades many of the examples you give in your essay. Take more time with your plan in future. Also try to come up with a few more major points to your argument.
Also some of points on philosophy seemed under-researched. Only make claims, which can be easily backed up by the evidence that you select. As mentioned this essay definitely has some potential.
Feedback from the Gold Standard GAMSAT:
We have never seen the theme of equality used for Task B, so we will grade this essay ‘as if’ it is a Task A response.
Thought and Content:
Your explanation and analysis on this subject are excellent. We appreciate that you have shown both the benefits and drawbacks of the ideas of both freedom and equality. We also appreciate your conclusion that if we as individuals consider both freedom and equality to be valuable, then this requires the dismantling of oppressive social systems. Of course, this is more eality said than done.
Interestingly, your description of a society in the fourth paragraph sounds very much like a description of communitarian, or classic, anarchy, which holds that small communities are best able to form cooperative relations within their own community as well as with other communities without an overarching governmental structure.
Language and Structure:
In our comments on your other Task B essays, we have pointed out that there are different tasks because the two assess different things. The Task A is where your analytic abilities should shine through, but the Task B is where your qualities of empathy, emotional intelligence, and adaptability should be highlighted.
However, as noted, this topic has been used as a prompt for Task A essays. As a Task A, the structure here works very well. It is clear that you understand both the purpose and requirements for the Task A essay; however, you need to also be able to write a Task B essay. Keep in mind that the grades both for this service and on the GAMSAT are not looking for well-researched, well-cited, and highly knowledgeable essays on the theme of the quotes. They are looking for essays that follow the guidelines and meet the requirements and purpose of each separate task. Even the Task A essay isn’t about specific knowledge as such, it is about the ability to create arguments and to understand the validity of different perspectives on the topic. Of course, you will also usually indicate which argument you think has the most merit. But you do not need to be able to cite chapter and verse on the topics presented.
This is a good argumentative essay. The suggested score is given as a Task A.