Political

The Federalist Papers

The historical consensus is that the Federalist faction eventually triumphed over the Anti-federalist faction primarily because of the intellectual advantage that developed as a result of these publications.
Federalist Paper 10 was written by James Madison and it specifically addresses the issue of the power and inherent danger of factional interests. The overriding argument between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists rested upon the fear of too much power in the hands of a centralized government. To counter these legitimate concerns, Madison’s contribution to the Federalist Papers turned out to be one of the most important. Madison’s argument rested upon the proposition that one of the finest achievements of the Constitution was that it offered a method of controlling the dangers of factions. Madison defined factions as "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community" (Ball 41). These factions are created by differences of opinion and interests and Madison regarded them as inevitability. The hidden danger of the inevitability of factions is that even when no single faction becomes too powerful, the political infighting can often lead to an obstruction of the interests of the larger public and they have the potential for disenfranchising entire groups and infringing upon the rights of the less powerful.
Madison’s contention that factions are an inevitable part of a society revealed the soft underbelly of even a representative democratic state. Those who have wealth to protect will tend to gravitate toward others with the same economic interests. Factions can be created around any shared interest or goal, but the primary issue behind the rise of factions will always be power and wealth and the distribution of each. Madison contended well before Karl Marx that property owners are in constant conflict with those who do not. The extrapolation from this assertion is that heart of factionalism in the United States arises as a result of the divergence between the haves and the have-nots. Since property is bound to be divided unequally, and since property means different things to different people, even the interests of those who own property may differ. Madison declares in Federalist 10 that it is in the interest of the government to offer protection of the interests of property owners, while at the same time regulate the inevitable conflicts that arise between property owners and those without.
Madison argues that controlling a faction can only be accomplished by eliminating the cause of the conflict or taming its effects. To eliminate the cause of conflict would require the surrender of certain liberties and rights and Madison considered this to be a cure that would do more harm than the disease. The only other way to eliminate the causes of conflict would be to somehow ensure a system in which such things as opinions and interests were shared. Obviously, that would be impossible. The only choice left is to control the effects of the conflict that creates factions and Madison proposed the Constitution as the finest mechanism by which such control could be enacted.
Pure democracy was deemed to not be the answer as Madison and the

Back To Top