Article IV. The Pall of Faction

“Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”  — Publius

Today, we citizens of the United States find ourselves deprived of effective governance due to a plague of partisanship that, much as a cancer growing from the fertile parchment of our Constitution, places the life of our nation in grave danger.  In the autumn of 1787, James Madison, writing as Publius, penned the famous Federalist Number 10 in which he made clear the “dangerous vice” of faction, and argued how well the draft U.S. Constitution provided “a proper cure for it.”  While he was correct about the danger, he was woefully mistaken that the Constitution provided a cure.

Madison and the founders were well educated in the lessons of history that mankind’s tendency to fall into factions (such as tribes, cliques, cults, clubs, companies, unions, political parties and other special interest groups) formed the roots of decay of popular governments.  They sought to incorporate means in the Constitution to protect against such concerns.  Yet, the last two centuries have done little to prove they succeeded.  History has shown Madison’s confidence that the Constitution incorporated provisions to remedy the insidious evil of faction to be little more than wishful thinking.  Had the Constitution provided a cure for such a nation-threatening ailment, we would not be enduring such maladies of special-interest partisanship run-amok, today, as we are.

In Federalist 10, Madison acknowledges rightly that faction cannot simply be eradicated, since it is “sewn into the nature of man.”  He adds that to seek to eradicate faction requires either “destroying the liberty which is essential to its [liberty’s] existence,” and thus produce a remedy “worse than the disease;” or “giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, the same interests,” and thus deprive the “diversity in the faculties of men…the protection [of which] is the first object of government.”

The importance of this last clause cannot be overstated.  It points out that the primary purpose of government is not to be confused with defending the nation’s well-being militarily and economically.  Nor is it to be confused with providing social security or health care.  Rather, the first object of government is the protection of the diversity  of the faculties — the inherent mental aptitude and physical ability — of our fellow citizens (men and women of all ethnic backgrounds)!  In other words, the first object of government is to protect the entire citizenry from faction, i.e., the partisan interests of a privileged few.

Holy crap, this is brilliant.  But how can it be done?

Stay tuned.

— iGregor


[Note:  Comments are invited at the conclusion of Article X.]

Published in: on October 27, 2010 at 12:30  Comments Off on Article IV. The Pall of Faction