Thursday, April 15, 2010

Factionalism 101

from The Federalist #10/Madison--

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, 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.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

American educators could do worse than have their Biffs and Bunnies read (and respond to) the concise, rational prose of the Federalist papers (authored by one PUBLIUS, the pseudonym of Hamilton and Madison. That wise man--and abolitionist-- John Jay also contributed). B & B might not agree, could violently disagree (tho' even the hard-minded economic materialist would probably grant Madison had a rather keen insight into the relations of production, in M-speak).

IN brief, Ham. and Mad. offer quite persuasive arguments--not necessary, but cogent--in favor of the federalist or classical republican models over the Lockean or democratic models, states-rights popularly called--tho' Locke's bastard son Jefferson was not unfamiliar with classical republicanism--ie that of ancient greece and rome, not the GOP...capiche?--and once claimed the American Rev. followed from "Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc." The texts of ancient soothsayers--ie the Bible, and the Koran--or the pathology of the everyday (schports, entertainment, bing-fluff) seem quite irrelevant in comparison.

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