In “Federalist #10”, Madison describes the dangerous effects that factions can have on Republican government and on its people. Madison defines a faction as a group of citizens who unite under a shared cause, and work against other groups in order to achieve their means. Their means of achieving their goals may achieve adverse effects upon the rights of other citizens. Put in more modern terms, a faction could be reasonably compared to a special-interest group. The sort of faction that most endangers the liberty inherent in United States society are factions that contain a majority of the whole.
In asserting that citizens must surrender to the general will, Rousseau places far too much emphasis on the will of the political community. This emphasis on the will of the whole comes at the detriment of minority group interests. Moreover, the possibility that forcing citizens to be free actually promotes freedom is undermined by the concept’s propensity for oppression. Though forcing citizens to be free can be a means of maintaining order in a political community, it also entails significant dangerous implications.
Madison says people have ambition and interest which are personal motives. These motives must not rule over to those who administer each department. In a representative democracy it is not only important to guard against the oppression of rulers, it is equally important to guard against the injustice which may be inflicted by certain citizens or groups. He ardently advocated for political power for the minority, which could not happen under a direct democracy. Direct democracy favors the majority and can lead to mob rule.
The various critiques of democratic theories and practices question the purpose and progress of political systems in carrying out promises for its citizens. Realists, such as Max Weber, argue that politics is exploitative because of its ability to perform both evil and good acts. Therefore, to study and endure political life is to know of the dangerous consequences it presents. Norberto Bobbio, a noted neorealist thinker, posits that democracy is represented as a struggle among groups and individuals for power and democracy. Bobbio offers the observation that politics is contradictory and paradoxical, since it often includes unavoidable broken promises.
He states, "…The public good is often disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties…" Madison made the point that the dangers of factions can only be limited by controlling its effects. He recognized that in order to abolish political parties from the government completely, liberty would have to be abolished or limited as well. For this reason, the government had to accept political parties, but it did not have to incorporate them into being a major part of the government. He says that the inclination to form factions is inherent, however the parties effectiveness can be regulated. If the party is not majority than it can be controlled by majority vote.
Madison wrote "The public good is disregarded in the conflict of rival factions citizens 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." However, the framers believed that interest groups thrived because of freedom, the same privilege that Americans utilize to express their views. Madison saw direct democracy as a danger to individual rights and advocated a representative democracy to protect individual liberty, and the general public from the effects of such inequality in society. Madison says "A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischief's of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."
There are two viewpoints on the impact of interest groups. One side views them as factions that are serving their own purpose with disregard to society or community as a whole. On the other side, interest groups serve as a necessary device in democracy and work for the public interest. James Madison viewed interest groups as evil factions; special interest groups that only cared about their own agenda and not the common good. Madison wanted both liberty and order and believed political factions were inevitable and the government needed to control their effects.
First of all it ensures public accountability. This gives the people a degree of protection against governments becoming too strong. Liberals believe in limited government, and democracy provides this system, as the government is accountable to the people. Although most liberals would agree that government is essential in order to defend the rights of the people, it can also be seen as a threat to individual liberty, so people need some form of protection against it. According to John Stuart Mill, ‘the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others’.
In modern history, individual freedom and social equality are seen as two forces in continuous tension. If a government wants to guarantee one of them, it has to suppress the other. These two forces have been represented in politics by two big ideologies: liberalism and communism. Individual freedom is the core of liberalism, while social equality is the core of communism; and these forces seem incompatible. However, in my opinion, individual freedom and social equality are equally important, and a government should not promote one of them and suppress the other.
Madison furthers, the members of each branch should not be too dependent on the members of the other two branches in the determination of their salaries. The best security against a gradual concentration of power in any one branch is to provide constitutional safeguards that would make such concentration difficult. The constitutional rights of all must check one man's personal interests and ambitions. We may not like to admit that men abuse power, but the very need for government itself proves they do, "if men were angels, no government would be necessary." Unfortunately, all men are imperfect, the rulers and the ruled.