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Federalist 10 Essay

1377 words - 6 pages

During the ratification process of the United States Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published a series of anonymous articles in the New York Times. Published under the name Publius, "The Federalist Papers," as they were called, advocated for the ratification of the new Constitution by New York State. Each of the papers, therefore, outlines the benefits of one united nation, as well as the interests of, and supported by, the proposed government. Written by Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10, generally considered one of the most important articles, concerns itself with the problems of and plausible solutions for the formation of factions. Through multiple ...view middle of the document...

In other words, factions are inherent to human nature, and are therefore inevitable given that people are living under a state of liberty. While many sources of faction concern fundamental political issues, much like the modern argument of large or small government by Democrats and Republicans, Madison argues that "the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property" (Madison). As long as people have different talents, different economic statuses, and different amounts of property, people will continue to associate with those who have similar qualities as them. The distinction between those who have and those who do not is one that has always existed throughout human history, and is thus one of the most prolific and unavoidable causes of factions.
While Madison does admit in Federalist No. 10 that factions are ultimately inevitable if people live freely, he does put forth two means of decreasing the dangers and damage of factions. He asserts that one can either do away with all causes of faction, or make strides to contain and control its effects. Likewise, there are two ways in which one can remove the causes of factions: "by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests" (Madison). Madison states that "liberty is to faction what air is to fire" (Madison). That is to say, without liberty there cannot be factions. Thus, if one were to attempt to do away with all causes of factions, all one would have to do is withhold liberty. For the basis of a government, however, this is hardly practical, as liberty is one of the major platforms of the United States Constitution (along with life and the pursuit of happiness.) Further, to encourage a society based on one set of opinions and interests, another option in the destruction of faction, would be impossible, as it is in human nature to be concerned with self-interest and self-preservation. As such, Madison deemed the destruction of the causes of faction impractical.
If one could not destroy the causes of factions, Madison asserted that the only other option was to control their effects. Madison argues that the problems concerning factions are typically those involving majority factions. This is due to the fact that, generally, minority factions, according to the article, do not inherently pose a threat to government. In other words, the federalists feared the plausible tyranny and oppression that could infiltrate government if majority factions are not balanced. To curb the power of majority factions, therefore, the article poses two options: to inhibit "the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time" or "render [the majority] unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression" (Madison). In other words, a government must either prevent the spread of one mindset or interest to a majority or build in measures...

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