Federalist No. 10

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Madison writes that one of the main problems facing them is dealing with factions: groups of citizens who are united by some common interest adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the interests of the community.

He deduces that there are two ways of dealing with factions: prevent them, or control their effects. Similarly, there are two ways to prevent them: take away the liberty that allows them to exist, or make everyone hold the same opinions.

Just as air fuels a flame, you can douse the flame by removing the air, but this has the effect of destroying life as well, and that remedy "is worse than the disease." And as all men are different, have different views, different economic circumstances, they will never hold the same opinions.

So if the causes of faction cannot be removed, the effects must be controlled.

Democracy cannot control faction, if the faction includes a majority, as Democracy allows the majority faction to succeed in its interests. A Republic -- representative democracy -- on the other hand, has hope.

There are two important ways in which a Republic differs from a Democracy: delegation of authority to a small group of citizens elected by the rest, and coverage by this government of a greater number of citizens and larger area than Democracy can reasonably cover.

The effect of factions can be diminished by being funnelled through representatives who, it is hoped, will be generally wise and patriotic, have a love of justice, and be least likely subject to factiousness: "it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves."

Not that this is a sure thing: "On the other hand, the effect may be inverted." Men may be elected who themselves are more factious than the people they represent. However, large republics can help guard against this, too, by simply having more opportunity for a sufficient number of representatives to keep such factiousness in the minority.

True, small republics can simply increase the number of representatives, but those representatives would be chosen by a smaller number of people, thus making it easier for unworthy candidates to reach office.

[Madison notes here that should there be too many people voting for a candidate, he will be unacquainted with all the interests of the people he represents, and if too few, then he will be too attached to those interests. The proposed Constitution deals with this primarily by recognizing that local affairs should be handled locally (*cough*).]

And as the number of people in the legislature can discourage factiousness, so too can an exapnsive geographic area, because factions are usually based in geographic areas. The more area covered, the less likely a faction will have a majority. And even if the factious feelings are felt by a majority, by being spread out they will be less likely to organize.

And not insignificant is the notion that by having a great number of people from a wide area, people will necessarily be skeptical of attempts to convince: "where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary."

[Of course, much of this has changed today. Communication over wide distances is no longer a problem, and this communication has also brought much of us together culturally so that our factions are not bound significantly by geography, not nearly as much as they were, though such distinctions are not diminished entirely, not by a longshot.]

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