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Socratic Circle Essay

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Factions are products of human nature, but the purpose of government and law are to control these often insatiable desires of self-interest. Detailed within James Madison’s address to the people of New York, “The Federalist No. 10”, are the destructive and counterintuitive ideas of factions to a democracy. Agreeing with that notion, factions are detrimental to the idea of a democracy due to the separation of people and ideas; and the subsequent establishment of tiers of power and status within both political and economic systems.
With the creation of factions, self-interest groups, there is the inevitable creation of both majority and minority groups. The majority and minority within the ideal democracy are to hold equal influence; however, this is not the case. As a result, the common good of the whole is hidden behind interests of majority groups with fixed aims. Therefore, the views of minorities are frequently disregarded, consequently leading to suggested policies/alterations not being put into practice. As suggested and stated by Mr. Magnotti and James Madison, the causes of factions and factions themselves cannot be destroyed, nevertheless, they can and should be controlled. This control would allow for the equal weighting of both the majority and minority groups’ views, preventing the overpowering of majorities, as advocated by Madison in his writing, “the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression.” This idea of oppression represents the destruction of the democratic ideal of equality, due to the unequal distribution of power. In the idealized democracy, groups of people with shared ideals, re...

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... dominance as opposed to group dominance. The perfect balance should be maintained in order to create the ideal democracy; however, factions create an impediment to this goal.
Factions pose a threat to democracy and its associated ideals. This notion is proven through the overpowering of the minority by the majority, in which the opinions of certain groups are silenced, while others amplified. This majority and minority also forge animosity that not only creates competition, but sways the government away from its true purpose. Therefore, since the purpose of government is swayed, leadership becomes an issue. These issues are part of a cluster of other issues that prove factions detrimental to democracy and its principles.

Works Cited

James Madison, "Federalist #10," in The Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter (New York: New American Library, 1961), pp 77-84
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