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Federalist # 10
James Madison
Dangers of Faction
Purpose of Government: Control Factions
Advantage of well-constructed Union: “Break and control the violence of
Popular Government: Prone to Faction
Popular government have a tendency toward this “dangerous vice”
States Are Source of the Problem
Though worthy governments American constitutions (in the states) have not
necessarily controlled this problem –the problem of factions.
Example: Massachusetts
Faction: Defined
“A number of citizens…whether…majority or minority of the whole, who
are united and actuated by some common impulse or passion or of
interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and
aggregate interests of the community.”
Sources of Faction
Common Sources of Faction:
Many Sources of Faction, but Property Dominant
But, “the unequal distribution of property” is “the most common and
durable source of faction.”
Sources of Faction:
Man can never been a fair judge of his own interests: “because his own
interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt
his integrity.”
Example: Private Debt
Law concerning private debt: creditors on one side, debtors on the other.
Justice should mediate, but parties are themselves judges, and most
numerous, or “most powerful faction must be expected to prevail.”
And, we cannot depend on virtuous leaders (“enlightened
statesmen”) to “be able to adjust these clashing interests.”
Curing Factions
Two Methods for Curing Factions:
1) Remove its causes
2) Control its effects
Curing Factions
Remove its Cause
Two ways of doing this:
1) Destroy liberty which is essential to the
existence of faction.
2) Give every citizen the same opinion.
Liberty and Faction
Liberty and Faction: Air to Fire
“Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an aliment without which it
instantly expires.”
But, “destroying liberty to prevent faction would be a “remedy worse than
the disease.”
Liberty and Opinion
Enforce a Way of Thinking?
Doing “this is impracticable, and hostile to the fundamental rights of each
individual to a arrive at his own opinion.
Interests, Property, Factions
The fact that man is free, and diverse in abilities results in both different
opinions, interests as well as unequal property ownership.
Solution to Factions
Need to Control Effects, Since you Cannot Limit Cause Faction
Conclusion: “the causes of faction cannot be removed and that relief is only
to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.”
Solution to Factions
Controlling Types of Faction:
Minority Faction:
Republican government: “which enables a majority to defeat its sinister
views by a regular vote.”
Majority Faction:
Are more difficult to manage: “popular government…enables it to sacrifice
to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of
other citizens.”
Majority Factions
How to Control Majority Factions
Two approaches:
1) Prevent the development of the same feeling among the majority
2) Or, “the majority must be rendered, by their number and local
situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of
Majority Faction
Dangers of Democracy
Direct, majority rule has “no cure for the mis-chiefs of faction.” The majority could
rule unrestrained, and democracies invite the development of majoritarian
Unstable Form of Government
As such, “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention, have
ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.”
As a result, they have “been as short in
their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
Majority Faction
How to Render Majority Factions Ineffective: Republic Govt
Republican Government provides “the cure for which we are
1) Delegation represents the rest in government
2) And greater number of citizens the greater the sphere of
Majority Faction
“Refines and enlarges the public views by passing them through a medium of a
chosen body of citizens…”
But, what if a faction tries to elect a designing majority?
Majority Faction
Large Republics:
1) Need to have a sufficient number, but too big a group. Large
republics reduce the odds of unfit characters dominating, while small
republics increase those odds.
2) Representatives will be chosen from a greater number of citizens
and it will thus “be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice
with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried.”
Minority Faction
Unequal Property
- Rep Govt:
Outvote min
…majority or minority of the
whole, who are united and
actuated by some common
impulse or passion or of
interest, adverse to the
rights of other citizens…
Majority Faction
(mob rule?)
Remove Causes? “destroying liberty to prevent
faction would be a remedy worse than the disease.”
- Rep Govt:
- Large