Madison's argument on the ways to eliminate the negative effects of the faction
How would Rousseau and Burke respond to Madison's arguments in Federalist #10 about the causes and cures for Political faction?
Madison in his essay, Federalist #10, argues about the ways that may be used to eliminate the negative effects of the faction. According to Madison, faction refers to a number of citizens who may form either a majority or a minority of the total population (Madison 1787). This section of the population may have a certain common interest or passion that is contrary to the interests of the other citizens or to the aggregate interests of the whole community. This common interest is observed to have united them against the total population of the state. According to Madison, the most serious sources of the faction is the diversity in the opinion regarding the political life which in turn leads to the dispute over the issues that deal with the preference of one religion or regime over the others. Madison further argues that the idea of faction may hamper the republic in a varied number of ways. The injustice, instability and the confusion introduced by the factions may increase the conditions that may lead to the perishing of the republics. Rousseau contradicts with Madison on this issue. According to Rousseau, the will of a faction is not the expression of the individual will of the residents of the state but the expression of the private interests of a group of individuals. Thus, the laws or the policies that are enacted on such a will are termed to be illegitimate. The Swiss political thinker argues that the general will results from the number of smaller differences over the public good unlike the differences in the wills of the faction that may be larger.
According to Madison, the factions, though at odds with each other, work in unison against the interest of the public and lay infringements upon the rights of the other fellow citizens. The rival factions bring about political instability that concern both the opponents and the supporters of the concerned plan. It is mostly seen that the government is blamed by the general public after being disillusioned by the politicians. The factions are dependent heavily on the difference among the citizens based on the wealth and property that they own. It is basic human nature to fraternize with those who have similarity among themselves in the fields of the property and wealth. The most common source for the origin of the factions is the inequality in the distribution of the property among the residents of the country.
Rousseau's contradiction with Madison on the issue of faction
Madison had, in the essay, referred to the rise of a dreaded faction in the country. The majority faction in this case would include those classes of the society that which do not own the properties while the minority factions would consist of the wealthiest owners of property in the country. The majority faction may gain control over the government and thereby gain the position to implement various measures that would bring about the redistribution of the wealth in the country. These measures may bring about the redistribution in a number of ways that may benefit the majority faction at the cost of the minority faction. Rousseau opines that the division of the labor and the invention of the property represent the advent of the moral inequality. According to the Swiss political thinker, the possession of a certain amount of property sets the path of exploitation and the domination of the poor by the rich members of the society. The initial relationship that exists between the rich and the poor is observed to be very unstable and dangerous and may even lead to the situations of a violence like that of a war. The poor, according to Rousseau is tricked into the creation of a political society in order to avoid a warlike situation (Rousseau 2010).
Madison had argued that the damages caused by the factions might be controlled by two different ways. The removal of the causes that led to the emergence of the faction or the control of the effects that resulted from the factions. Madison then goes on to describe the ways that may be used to aid the removal of the faction. The first method that may be used to remove the factions is by taking steps to the destruction of the liberty. Liberty serves to encourage the formation of factions among the citizens. This measure is impossible to execute as liberty forms one of the basic components that is related to the political lives of the citizens of the concerned country. The second way out that was suggested by Madison was the creation of a society that is homogeneous in nature from the point of interests and opinions. This measure is practically impossible to implement in the practical field. The diversity in the ability of the people is the primary reason behind the success of the concerned person. The government should protect the right of inequality in the ownership of property. Rousseau agrees to the fact stated by Madison that the society should ideally be homogeneous in nature in order to avoid the creation of a majority faction amongst the citizens.
Madison's view on factions and political instability
According to Madison, the stratification on the economic grounds stops the members of the society from having a similar opinion. Thus, Madison concludes that the only way to limit the damages caused by the factions is by controlling the effects that the faction has on the government. Madison further argues that there are two ways to keep the majority factions in control. The prevention of the existence of a similar interest or passion among the majority of the population at a certain period of time. The other way to keep the majority faction in check is to leave the considered faction in a state of inactivity. He opines that a democracy that is small in size may not be able to avoid the problems that arise because the undesirable passions have the chances to spread at a faster rate when the total size of the population is small. Thus, the majority faction may exercise its will on the government if the total population is small enough. According to Madison, the nature of human beings has the latent reasons for faction. He, therefore, opines that the only remedy to this issue is exercising control over the effects of the inherent nature of the human beings. Madison himself argues that the remedy cannot be applied in a democracy but can be implemented in a republic. The democracy, according to Madison, is a system in which all the citizens of the state have the rights to vote for the laws of the land in a direct manner. He describes the republic as a society wherein the citizens elect an elite group of representatives who in turn vote and decide on the laws of the land. Rousseau contradicts Madison on the definition of the republic. He describes a republic as any state that is governed by a certain legislature. The governance by a certain legislature makes governance of the public interest possible and thus helps in the existence of the commonwealth. Madison believes that the voice of the people that is put forward by the representative body is more helpful to the welfare of the community as a whole. He cites that the decisions made by the common people residing in the society may be influenced by their own self-interests. Thus, the decision made by the direct voting of the citizens may not look into the welfare of the community as a whole.
Madison's suggestions on controlling the damages caused by factions
Madison justifies that the candidates elected may have a chance of creating a disillusion in the minds of the voters in a republic with a lower number of residents while they may find it difficult to do the same in a republic with a larger population. The Swiss diplomat, Rousseau, states that the republics with a smaller population may find the majorities more frequently than those with a larger population. Thus, this would facilitate the lawmakers to work together towards the achievement of the goals set by the ideas of the majority faction. In a larger republic, however, the rulers and the lawmakers may find it difficult to work together on the issues that are raised by the majority faction in the country. They might find it difficult to work together even with a majority due to the larger number of the members of the country that is spread out over a larger expanse of land.
According to Madison, a republic differs from the democracy in the fact that the governance of the republic is taken care of by the delegates of the state. Thus, a republic may function over a larger area than a democracy. The fact that each member of the representative body is chosen from a large constituency lowers the effectiveness of the corruptions common in the field of electioneering. In the republic government, the members of the government have the opportunity to filter as well as refine the demands that are placed by the resident members of the state. This helps in the prevention of the frivolous claims that hamper the governments that are purely democratic.
The creation of a political society fixes the conditions of domination that existed in the society while the poor live with the belief that a political society is created in order to look into the fact that the security and freedom of the poor is secure in the hands of the government. This form of government may lead to the condition whereby the leader of the state would rule the nation in an unjust manner. This type of rule is also known as despotism. According to the Swiss diplomat, Rousseau, the worst form of the modern society is the one in which the wealth of a person becomes the only way to measure the value of the person. Property, according to Rousseau, is a tool that helps in the construction of the society. He argues that the right to property is an intrinsic and sacred right of the members of the society. Rousseau opines that the breaching of this right cannot be justified in any ways except for the taxation on the property. Property affects the preservation of life. It is thus, considered to be more important than the right to liberty itself. Rousseau points out the ways in which the people from a lower financial background are exploited by the people who belong to the higher financial backgrounds. This leads to the rise of the practice of injustice in the society. Rousseau is observed to support the republic form of government. He believed that the higher the population of a state the higher the chances of electing a better representative for the common masses. He finds that the republics that consist of a larger population have lower chances of being affected by the whims and fancies of the majority factions of the state. The larger expanse of the republic lowers the chances of the state facing problems with the majority rule in the territory.
Burke, unlike Madison, was a believer in the status of the resident members of the state. He believes in the theory of conservatism whereas Rousseau and Madison were stern followers of the concept of inequality among the rich and the poor sections of the society. Burke was a stern believer in the concept of conservatism unlike Rousseau who was a liberalist. Burke opined that the residents of the society should be allowed the right to freedom but they must be educated on the ways to handle the concepts of freedom (Burke 1987). He further argued that the excess of the liberty granted to the members of the society might be the reason of the problems that arise. Burke was a practical thinker who opined that the basic nature of all human being is selfishness. He put forward the argument that the changes should be brought about at a slower pace in the society. According to Burke, the French Revolution gave the rights to the people to elect their own representatives and form the governmental bodies according to their own likes and dislikes. According to Burke, the revolution that took place in the year 1688 was termed to be a deviation from the lawful chronology of succession.
In conclusion, to the above discussion it may be said that both Rousseau and Burke disagreed with the arguments of Madison that have been discussed in the Federalist #10 regarding the causes and cure of political faction. Madison viewed the concept of property as a right to the members who are residing in the society. On the contrary, Rousseau viewed the ownership of the property to be a tool that can be used to for the construction of a society. They both agreed on the fact that the poor section of the society was exploited by the rich members of the society. Thus, the need for the formation of a republic was necessary in order to prevent the breakdown of the society.
Burke, Edmund. "Reflections on the Revolution in France and on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to That Event in a Letter to a Gentleman in Paris, 1790, ed. JGA Pocock." JGA Pocock (Cambridge: Hackett, 1987) 62 (1987).
Madison, James. "The federalist no. 10." November 22, no. 1787 (1787): 1787-88.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The basic political writings. Hackett Publishing, 2010.
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