The Federalist Papers were published by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay in New York during 1787 and 1788. They were published to sway opinion in New York into ratifying the new American constitution. One of the most influential of the Federalist Papers is No.10 which was written by James Madison. It discusses the role of faction, liberty and the process of government to control the excesses of faction.
Federalist Paper No.10
Ron Chernow, who authored the most recent biography of Alexander Hamilton, believes that Federalist Paper No.10
is the most influential of the eighty-five Federalist Papers published between 1787 and 1788 in New York. Although all were written under the pen-name "Publius", the predominant author of the Federalist Papers was Alexander Hamilton who wrote fifty-seven of them. James Madison wrote twenty-one and John Jay five. Additionally three were collaborated on by Hamilton and Madison. Federalist Paper No.10 was written by James Madison.
James Madison was one of the most influential of the American founding fathers. The son of a plantation owner from Orange County, Virginia he studied at Princeton and became involved in local Virginian politics before being involved in the Continental Congress. Madison later represented Virginia at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and had a leading role in the drafting of the Constitution of the United States.
After the constitution was ratified, Madison became a leader in the Congress, drafting legislation that created the Executive Cabinet positions and later drafting the legislation that would lead to the Bill of Rights. Madison became the Secretary of State during the Thomas Jefferson presidency before being voted as President in 1808. Madison's terms presided over the war of 1812 with Britain.
Madison's devotion to the principles of a republic and liberty was uncompromising and despite the pressures of the war he refused to enact legislation or measures that would compromise this. Unlike later presidents such as Abraham Lincoln of George W. Bush who both suspended habeous corpus
in times of pressure on government. Madison believed that adherence to the principles of a republic gave America an advantage over Britain and compromising that through government oppression would make the US no better than a monarchy. He was proved correct as the US was able to thwart British attentions on the US.
Central to the tenth paper in the Federalist series is faction
. The argument Madison makes is that faction and liberty are inseparable. Instead of focusing on trying to eliminate the causes for faction, the choice of government can control the effects of faction. Madison makes the argument that the means to control the causes of faction is to stamp on dissenting opinions, and remove liberty. In other words oppress until all the polity is of the same opinion. This is totalitarianism. Madison dismisses this as being against the nature of man;
As long as the reason of man continues to be fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed
Faction is a normal part of liberty, and wrapped in the fallibility of humankind. John Stuart Mills makes similar arguments as to why freedom of expression should never be curtailed. An individual can never be sure that they are not suppressing a truthful opinion as humanity's reasoning abilities are not perfect. Madison uses a similar argument to Mills as to why liberty cannot be abolished in a functioning government;
Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a 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.
From this Madison concludes that liberty and faction are essential in any healthy government system. What isn't healthy is the violence of faction
. Madison argues that controlling the effects of violent faction can be achieved through the Republican model of government.
Any individual needs to be concerned about government using the apparatus of the nation-state for the purposes of coercion. Madison was also concerned with this issue, he saw the violence of faction being when a group of individuals created a faction with a common interest that was adverse to individual rights, the rights of minorities and against the common good. Madison's view of common good is similar to the Aristotlean notion of virtue
being necessary in the ruling elite.
Madison also shares Aristotle's disdain for the workability of a democracy. Aristotle wrote that a democracy fails as the individual is too distracted with the day to day trivialities like working and eating to have an understanding of the public good. Aristotle believes that only an idle class have the time and hence virtue to devote themselves to the public good and the glory of the nation-state.
Madison writes that humankind naturally falls into animosity and this clouds the ability of individuals in a democracy to be aware of the common good and articulate legislation for that purpose.
So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities that where no substantial occasion presents itself the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their infriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.
Another flaw that Madison identifies in a democracy is that it allows individuals to be their own judge in their own interests. This assumes that an individuals self-interest will blind an individual to the public or common good. A notion that individuals are not capable of public good without the coercion of the nation-state. Madison writes;
No man is allowed to be a judge in his own case, because his interest would certainly bias his judgement, and not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time.
Madison uses this argument toward the notion that a democracy is flawed as it allows individuals to be judges in their own case. This supports the Aristotlean view that an understanding of common good and hence virtue
is exclusive to the idle and ruling classes. This is a repugnant meme. If taxpayers had greater control over where their tax contributions were going, it would over-whelmingly be to common good programs such as public transport, medical research and far, far less on farming subsidies or the industrial-military complex.
The founding fathers were the propertied elite of the colonies in the America at the time. Those that weren't propertied were in professions or private practice in industries such as law. For many of the southern founding fathers, the definition of property extended to humans as well. Washington took seven slaves with him to New York when he became president. Both Jefferson and Madison did not dissolve their slave properties after ratification of the constitution, nor when they were president. Madison in Federalist Paper No.10 writes that property and its unequal distribution is the most constant source of faction. He is undoubtedly correct, that the new federal government kept in place the practice of allowing one human to own another is testament to this.
Madison argues from the opposing points of view of creditors and debtors. Legislators are subject to the advocacy of their constituents, and if this advocacy is biased by a faction, then there is no justice in the legislation, as the larger party or faction will drown out the smaller factions. With the recent changes in the US system of advocacy being dominated by lobbyists and money, the public good has been ignored by legislators in areas such as intellectual property. Legislators have created new forms of property and property crimes in an ever expanding definition of what can be owned by corporate interests.
The Federalist Paper No.10 argues that a republic is capable of controlling the effects of faction, more so than a democracy. The reason put forward is that a system of representation is more capable of protecting the rights of individuals and minorities, as well as being better able to balance the needs of the public good. Madison notes that representatives are more divorced from the issues being raised by factions and consequently better able to create just legislation that is compatible with rights and the public good.
Madison does not explore the issue that representatives concentrate the access to the power and coercive nature of legislation. In essence they are a point of failure for a system that ignores the needs of the electorate and public good. Recently in the United States the system has been skewed by the abnormal power of lobbyist groups who have been exceedingly successful in having representatives further their causes. Lobby groups such as the RIAA and MPAA have successfully had representatives expand what can be called property, the ownership of this artificial form of property and the property crimes stemming from it.
In the essay Madison argues that a danger of a representative system is in having too few representatives as the passions or corruptions of an individual representative can skew the system. From this Madison argues that the republican system scales better and works more effectively the larger the republic is.
The environment that Madison wrote this in needed to explain how the new constitution and republican form of federal government would have greater stability than the previous continental congress. The paper also needed to explain how the system would protect against the competing factions drowning out the rights of minorities and the public good. It also needed to explain how it would halt mob rule. All issues that had posed problems in the self-government of the colonies previous, during and after the revolution of 1776.
Madison sees faction as an unavoidable in a polity of maximum liberty, and consequently seeks to minimize the violence of faction through the system; in other words controlling the effects of faction. Representative government is the process by which Madison seeks to temper this.
More Federalist Papers Articles Short Essay on Federalist Paper No.57Is The Electoral College Fair?Multiple Magistrates in an Executive CouncilThree US Presidents on PartisanshipThe Federal Character of the Electoral College
James Madison in Federalist No.10 and John Stuart Mill in On Liberty mirror thoughts.
James Madison on
the necessity of liberty
and the fallibility of human opinion;
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.
Emphasis mine. A
similar thought by John Stuart Mill nearly seventy years later
First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.
Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.
Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.
I believe that modern Australian Republicanism flows through the philosophies of James Madison and Charles Harpur. I consider Madison not only the best US President, but the most principled.
Madison and Harpur
During the war of 1812 news was constantly bad, Washington DC was sacked, the treasury coffers were empty as New England would not finance the war against Britain, he faced a recalcitrant Napoleon in France, a divided Congress at home and a deceitful War Secretary in his cabinet. He also faced a near-fatal illness that left him bed-ridden in the summer of 1813.
After the White House was set ablaze by General Ross's British troops, the American Navy Secretary Jones wrote;
he [Madison] finds difficulty in accommodating to the crisis some of those political axioms which he has so long indulged, because they have their foundation in virtue, but which from the vicious nature of the times and the absolute necessity of the case require some relaxation.
The indulgence Jones speaks of, is the checks and balances, the republican principles that were the corner stone of American strength. Madison believed that if he compromised the principles of the American Republic, he made the nation, the states and the people weaker by giving in to power and executive avarice.
Ralph Ketchum wrote;
It was of course impossible for him [Madison] to be a Caesar or a Cromwell, but it was also against his nature and deeply held principles to become even a William Pitt or a Hamilton.
John Howard, George W. Bush and Tony Blair cannot hold a candle to James Madison either. Madison's faith in the strength of his people was well founded. America survived the war of 1812 and British coercion on their nationhood. The republican principles were to become the basis for twentieth century American power.
The Australian Republicanism of Charles Harpur
carries a healthy strand of Madison. Harpur wrote;
Let civilized men be but placed for a few generations beyond the direct action of courtly and aristocratical influences, and the idea of Equality becomes fundamental in their sense of political and social obligation. They are republicans, in short, and mostly democrats also, before they can render a definite reason, it may be, for the faith that is in them. And this results, I repeat it, from a moral and social progress purely natural to civilized men, though quickened by peculiar circumstances.
To Harpur republicanism represents the highest form of social organization at any one time. It is the path to human transcendence - the faith that is in them
- and the deadweight of an inferior political system is one that enforces immoral, unethical and avaristic behaviour on the people. Donald Horne's Lucky Country
claimed that Australia had prospered despite bad government management. Harpur was arguing the same with political systems. If Australians have liberty, morals, ethics and a strong civic egalitarianism it is despite, rather than because of, the current political system.
James Madison was not only a wartime President, but one of the few to oversee a victory and a declaration
of war become a peace treaty. Madison understood the difference between a state of exception, and permanent war. If anyone has insight on the dangers of permanent war and the position of President, it is James Madison;
Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.
In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honours and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.
The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both.
No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it.
In war, the public treasuries are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them.
In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle.
The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honourable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.
This newly claimed War on Terror has placed us in a permanent war that is without end. We are witnessing the onward march of Executive power in both the Australian and British parliamentary systems, as well as the American Presidential system. The Madisonian Republic is devolving to something that is other than a Republic and something that is becoming hostile to liberty or criticism. In Australia the Harpurian Republic is as far off as ever.
The idea of Republican virtue has from its beginning been aimed against the notion that the ruler, or indeed anyone, stands above the law. Such exception is the basis for tyranny and makes impossible the realisation of freedom, equality and democracy.
I would add prosperity to this list too.
The rule of law is a constant theme on South Sea Republic. For this reason an Australian Republican, as should any Republican, rejects that a state of exception exists when a nation is at peace, at war, or under external pressure of any kind. The rule of law is more precious than the ability of a government to act outside of the law.
The best example of not giving into despotic passions is James Madison in the war of 1812
. Despite great pressured to do so, he would not relent his principles or the nations Republican virtue. He was firmly of the belief that doing so would make America and its people weaker. It was only through the embrace of Republican virtue that the American people were stronger than the invading British. History proved him correct.
Western governments faced with the problem of terrorism have quickly cast aside their virtue and plunged headlong into a permanent state of exception
. As Giorgio Agamben argues, it has become a governing paradigm
, rather than a temporary anomaly as the story of Cincinnatus tells us.
Gary Sauer-Thompson calls this method of governing
the national security state
as this embrace of security which can jump outside the rule of law allows for externally and internally focused exceptions of law. Government exceptionalism becomes all pervading. Agamben writes;
... the state of exception is not defined as a fullness of powers as pleromatic state of law, as in the dictatorial model, but as a kenomatic state, an emptiness and standstill of the law.
James Madison was able to reject this vice when he was President of the United States and facing war against the biggest super-power of the time. He was true to his Republican principles. The fall into governing in a state of exception as has happened in Australia and other Western democracies is a perversion.
It is anti-republican and anti-democratic.
The meaning of the word security has changed in the last decade or so. Where once it meant stability in defence from the Hobbesian nature of international relations; it has been turned inward to focus on domestic security. So much so that recent op-eds in the Washington Post have made the claim that a city that is not secure - is a failed one. Where once war was deemed an emergency period, with terrorism, Governments have claimed a permanent domestic emergency. This is at odds with Australian Republicanism.
John Locke is one of the most influential writers of Liberalism. His writings directly influenced the founding of the first post-enlightenment Government in the Unites States of America. At the James Madison's
, one of the most prominent displays is a glass encased copy of Locke's
Two Treatises of Government
Arbitrary Government and Tyranny
Locke's second book contains sections on
... whenever legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves in a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and left to the common refuge, which god has provided for all men, against force and violence.
The keyword in that paragraph is
. The point of liberal democracy is law and order. Once government acts in an arbitrary manner toward those under its jurisdiction then it has broken the bounds of the constitution which describes the limits of executive and legislative authority.
Tyranny does not need to be absolute to be destructive; it only needs to be insidious to pollute the polity, society and economy. Recent legislation from the Australian government has placed into law the ability for Ministers in the Executive Cabinet to act in an arbitrary manner.
An example is
the Migration Act
Minister not under duty to consider whether to exercise power
(4) The Minister does not have a duty to consider whether to exercise the power under subsection (2), whether he or she is requested to do so by any person, or in any other circumstances.
Minister to exercise power personally
(5) The power under subsection (2) may only be exercised by the Minister personally.
When that prerogative is exercised we cease to become a nation of laws, and instead become a nation of men. Arbitrary government inevitably leads to tyranny and kleptocracy, the two
most destructive forms of social organisation
If The Constitution Is Breached
Locke writes that if the government succumbs to the negative passions of arbitrary government then resistance is permissible;
by this breach of trust they [legislators] forfeit the power, the people have put into their hands, for quite contrary ends, and it devolves the people, who have a right to ensure their original liberty, and, by the establishment of a new legislative, provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society.
In that paragraph he advocates establishing a new legislature as the old one which has fallen into arbitrary government has lost their authority by their actions.
national security state
is an alignment of the executive, legislative and judicial that can act outside of the constitution and normal legal processes when the government believes an emergency exists that threatens the complete political and social order.
Giorgio Agamben has called this
; when an individual is reduced to bare life, without legal or civil rights. The Tampa Affair is an Australian example of the national security state and homo sacer combining to produce an inferior and arbitrary outcome.
Refugees were pitched to the electorate as not only an emergency, but also a security issue. The media images conferred with this political portrayal of the event by a five hundred million dollar Australian Navy frigate pulling refugees out of the water.
The threat to Australia's sovereignty by this small number of refugees was so high that we paid large sums to neighbouring nations and islands to keep them outside of Australia. As part of the
in 2002 we payed 48 million to Nauru and 29 million to the PNG.
The refugee issue also led to the Migration Act Amendment which was quoted above in the article describing arbitrary powers being conferred on the minister overseeing immigration.
Australian Republicanism and homo sacer
Australian Republicanism is predicated on legal equity amongst all individuals under the jurisdiction of the government. It does not discriminate between citizens and non-citizens, or minorities and majorities. If you are an individual under the jurisdiction of the government your legal and civil rights are not only secure, but uniform amongst all individuals.
This philosophy can be seen in
Avocadia's Australian Bill of Rights
I have the right to all rights expressed herein if I am an individual who is a citizen of Australia, if I am an individual within the jurisdiction of Australia, or if I am an individual held by, or in the charge of any individual, group or organisation that is a citizen of Australia, incorporated within Australia, trades within Australia, or is commanded by the Australian government.
While liberalism defines rights as natural and a component of being human - which they are - they can still suffer under the coercive and corrosive power that government wields with its monopoly on power. Republicanism seeks to formalise the legal and civil rights in not only the constitution but the political framework of government. This is the Madisonian and Harpurian republic at work.
Under Australian Republicanism a failed government is one that;
does not dictate the rights of all individuals from arbitrary government in the constitution.
(See Avocadia's Bill of Rights)
whose legislative does not stop the executive from acting outside of the constitution.
whose executive does not stop the legislative from acting outside of the constitution.
impedes individuals from stopping the legislative and executive acting outside of the constitution.
In all these areas the Australian and State governments are not constructed to provide for these outcomes.
Charles Harpur believed fully in the virtue of humanity and
for the faith that is in them
. Harpur saw the inequity, kleptocracy and burdens that governments place on the people, banishing them from achieving from their full potential.
For instance in a kleptocracy simply travelling requires paying bribes galore. In an aristocracy there is a tax burden simply to maintain the aristocrats and their non-meritorious social and political structure. Even liberal democracy carries its burdens when implemented inefficiently which we are starting to see with governments acting under an overly-centralised national security state.
The impositions are real and significant.
Australian republicanism believes that political, social, cultural and economic prosperity is achieved at the point of highest interdependence between individuals. That point is maximum liberty.
Australian Republicans seek our political, social and economic structures to align as maximum liberty so individuals can achieve individually or collectively as they choose without harm, imposition or coercion.
The Madisonian view of Republicanism was that the constitutional and representative structure of the Washington System ensured that the rights of the minority were protected from tyranny by the constitution, while the will of the majority would be accepted through the representative nature of the system.
Australian Republicanism is far more dynamic, finding it expression in the maximum republican, democratic and social organisation possible at any moment in time.
Madison did not fear faction, he saw it as a natural outgrowth of liberty, but he did fear the violence of faction. Madison believed that a republican model of representation was better
at controlling the violence of faction than pure democracy
This is the
rule of many by the many
, as opposed to the
rule of all by all
The Australian Republicans have not limited themselves in this manner. The history of Australian Republicanism has been one of both republican and democratic advance.
To Australian Republicans, republicanism is a starting point that finds it full expression in the democratic nature of political institutions.
Quite simply, Australian republicans are democrats too. It is arguable from Australian Republican history that republicanism's greatest achievement has been the advance of Australia democracy, enfranchisement and representation.
We see this philosophy in Charles Harpur's writings. To Harpur, republicanism was an expression of the highest form of obtainable social organisation at any one instance of time.
Republicanism is not static in Harpur's world. Nor can it reach any
end of history
. Republicanism is a perpetual process of constant improvement that represents the highest achievement of liberty, representation and prosperity.
Rather than Madison's republic that was rooted in the social, technological and educational limitations of the 18thC, Harpur's republic carries no absolute limit on who rules who. If society and technology can support it,
all by all
variants of democracy such as crowd wisdom are valid.
The Republic becomes not only an expression of current achievement, but future dreams. The Republic is defined by the optimism, hopes and prosperity of all who simultaneously drive and nurture it while concurrently being driven and nurtured by the Republic.
Hardt and Negri
The arguments of Madison, who thought representation the key to breaking apart any monarchy of power, now seem merely like mystifications; Montesquieu, who advocated radical division of constitutional powers, has been silenced by the unity of the system; and Jeffersonian free expression has been monopolized by corporate media. The political lexicon of modern liberalism is a cold bloodless cadaver.
Liberalism never really even pretended to represent all of society - the poor, women, racial minorities, and the rest of the subordinated majority have always been excluded from power by explicit or implicit constitutional mechanisms.
Today liberalism tends not even to be able adequately to represent the elites. In the era of globalization it is becoming increasingly clear that the historical moment of liberalism has passed.
Is representation purely liberal? It was a democratic advance for its time that connected the increasing equity of social and technological organisation.
On South Sea Republic we are constantly discussing post-representative forms of governance such as
ratification and sortition
. These technologies were not unknown at the time of the American revolution. Juries are an essential part of American Constitutional rights.
Juries are used to ensure that an individual is judged by the peers under the technical guidance of a specialist, ie a Judge. This was deemed the most efficient, and just form of judicial organisation.
There is no reason why modern liberalism cannot adjust those same principles to Executive and Legislative government. A Harpurian Republic reflects the most advanced form of social organisation that capable at the time.
Madison's beliefs on representation have been overtaken by advances in education, technology, health and enfranchisement. They have also been undercut by political organisation which seeks to increase the alienation and abstraction between representative and voter. Gerry-mandering is one such technique.
recent discussion on appointed or elected Ministers
raised the issue of division of constitutional powers. The consensus was that factionalism has combined to make the government run pay party than by division of powers. Yet, many parliamentary systems, including Australia's, are specifically set up this way.
Australian government has no real recognition of division between executive and legislative responsibilities. Unicameral systems such as Queensland's and the ACT's have even less recognition of that separation.
Queensland's upper house was suicide squadded by Labor members, but the ACT and Northern Territory systems were created when people were more sensitive to separation of powers. Parliamentary systems are specifically set-up to ensure there is as little conflict between Executive and Legislative as possible.
Is that a failing of Liberalism? I think it is rough to throw that in its lap.
As to the corporate media being monopolised to such an extent that it is a statist mouthpiece, this is nothing new, and something that individuals have chafed under, even back in Jefferson's time. Jefferson himself, was an extraordinary muck-raker who would happily co-ordinate attacks on his opponents through the publishing media of the time.
But is the political lexicon of modern liberalism limited to representation, separation of powers and a free mass media?
It can be argued, rightly in my opinion, that sites like South Sea Republic represent modern liberalism as much as any other; and innovations such as sortition, independent constitutional review, abundant media, technology, etc are all part of the common lexicon on this site.
The American Republic had to update the responses in political science and philosophy to eradicate the ills they saw that damaged liberty and democracy. Republicanism is not static, nor is it conservative. It is an expression of the maximal political innovation and achievement of the time.
Today our list of ills is larger than in 1787 or 1901. The lexicon advances to innovations and technologies that can eradicate the attacks on liberty, democracy and justice.
I am currently reading through Harry Ammon's tome on James Monroe
who was the US President after James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. It is interesting to note how the revolution had its effect on the early Republicans where they came to see their form of government as promoting republicanism to the world.
Monroe was younger than Jefferson and Madison. Jefferson started mentoring Monroe in the philosophies of public office when he was young and while Jefferson was Governor of Virginia.
Madison also corresponded with Monroe, but Monroe was more pragmatic and practical than Jefferson and Madison who wrote back and forth on all matter of republican philosophy.
Monroe was ambitious for public office even though he saw the public service as the height of a citizen's duty, especially a planter's.
During the Revolutionary War, Monroe made a strong friendship with the Frenchman Pierre DuPonceau who leant Monroe French books of the enlightenment just as Jefferson was to open his library to Monroe.
Monroe was a young officer, fighting a revolutionary cause and being exposed to enlightenment principles in the same environment. Ammon writes;
... it is evident that Monroe no longer thought of the Revolution in the narrow terms of a family quarrel between George III and his American subjects.
He now viewed the conflict - as the first step in a world-wide struggle to liberate mankind from the baneful effects of despotism.
This sense of commitment to a movement for political freedom with world-wide implications had a profound effect upon Monroe and his contemporaries.
The identification with a force greater than themselves gave a particular stamp to every aspect of their later careers.
In its simplest form it could be called a sense of mission - they felt themselves called upon to achieve something previously unattainable in human experience.
Thus Monroe, for the rest of his life, worked to convert the ideals of the Revolution (expressed only in the most general terms) into a basic reality of American life - a reality which would serve as a model and as an example to the rest of the world.
I have seen this called recently the "American Creed", though I cannot recall where I read that.
When Monroe was the American Ambassador to France just after the French Revolution, he wrote;
Republics should be near each other ... their governments are similar; they both cherish the same principles and rest on the same basis, the equal and unalienable rights of men.
DuPonceau wrote similarly at the same time;
... it is the sweetest fraternity ... that must unite us [America and France] ... this union shall forever be indissoluble, as it will forever be the dread of tyrants, the safeguard of the liberty of the world, and the preserver of all the social and philanthropic virtues.
DuPonceau was a practising lawyer in Philadelphia and had picked up the American zeal. The French Republic never became what the American Republic promised to be. France's revolution was more social than political.
In Australian Republicanism the closest philosophy to that kind of political destiny comes from Charles Harpur. Vosper had the pen, Deniehy the oration and Dunmore-Lang the shoulder at the grind-stone; but Harpur is the only one that intimated toward a republicanism that would be in a state of perpetual advancement.
One that would kindle and reaffirm the promise in us, and ensure the constant reach for a more perfect, social, moral, ethical and political form of organisation.
The Australian Republican creed starts in Charles Harpur.
in 1821 the United States was shocked to see an outburst of partisanship develop in Congress, partially due to growing political divisions, but also because there was no obvious Presidential successor to James Monroe. This is more curious as the Federalists ceased to exist as a viable opposition during the Madison presidency. Monroe was perturbed by the displays of partisanship and wrote to Madison on the issue.
Thomas Jefferson was a shrewd and calculating political operator who manipulated the media of the day to his political ends while maintaining anonymity.
There was also growing ideological divisions between the Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian view of an American future. This divide manifested itself as the Federalist and Republican parties.
This split led to many famous historical incidents such as Jefferson ending up the Vice President to the Federalist John Adams. The later Presidential tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr, which ultimately fell in Jefferson's behaviour and the duel between Burr and Hamilton which resulted in Hamilton's death.
The successor for Jefferson as President was James Madison who had been the Secretary of State in the Administration. Madison oversaw the war of 1812 which eventually led to the fraying of Federalist support and left the US a one party state at the end of Madison's second term.
Monroe had been Madison's Secretary of State and through the electoral college became President essentially unopposed. In Monroe's first term there appeared the Old Republicans who were heavily states rights oriented and conservative.
They mainly made their effect known on the military budget. Federal government was exceptionally smaller back then, way smaller than the size of government we take for granted today.
For example in modern dollars
the GDP in 1818 was $11.95 billion
. The total budget at the time was $25.5 million in 1818 dollars with nearly 8 million spent on defence. The Old Republicans chopped that defence budget in half.
The other source of partisanship in Monroe's second term was that there was no strong successor to the Presidency. Consequently several members of the Administration and Congress took anti-administration stances to differentiate themselves in the political groups that influenced the electoral college.
Most one-party systems survive on the lack of dissent when passing on the mantle to the next leader. Monroe thought a unified non-party American could still exist. Harry Ammon records;
We have undoubtedly reached a new epoch in our political career, which has been formed by the destruction of the federal party [Federalists] ... by the general peace, and the entire absence of all cause, as to public measures, for great political excitement, and in truth, by the real prosperity of the Union.
In such a state of things it might have been presumed that the movement would have been tranquil, marked by common effort to promote the public good in every line to which the powers of the general government extended.
It is my fixed opinion that this will be the result after some short interval, and that the restless and disturbed state of the Commonwealth, like the rolling of the waves after a storm, tho' worse than the storm itself, will subside, and leave the ship in perfect security.
Surely our government may get on and prosper without the existence of parties. I have always considered their existence as the curse of the country, of which we had sufficient proof, more especially in the late war. Besides, how keep them alive, and in action?
The causes which exist in other countries do not here. We have no distinct orders.
Madison's view of partisanship, or factionalism, is covered
in detail by Federalist No.10
in the Federalist Papers. Madison wrote that the only way to stop factionalism is to stamp out liberty, which he believed was worse than removing factionalism from politics.
Consequently he sees it as a messy, albeit likely, outcome of free government. Madison's take on it is that the political system of government should be structured to stop factionalism becoming a destructive force. For this he proposed a representative system with separation of powers and checks and balances.
Madison replied to Monroe's letter, again recorded by Harry Ammon, with;
There seems to be a propensity in free governments, which will always find or make subjects, on which human opinion and passions may be thrown into conflict. The most, perhaps, that can be counted on, and that will be sufficient is, that the occasions for party contests ... will either be so slight or so transient, as not to threaten any permanent or dangerous consequences to the character and prosperity of the Republic.
Jefferson also had an opinion on the issue which he wrote about in a letter to Albert Gallatin in 1822;
You are told indeed that there are no longer parties among us, that they are all now amalgamated in peace, the lion and the lamb lie down together in peace. Do not believe a word of it, the same parties exist now as ever did. No longer indeed under the name of Republicans and Federalists. The latter name was extinguished in the Battle of Orleans.
Those who wore it finding monarchism a desperate wish in this country, are rallying to what they deem the next best point, a consolidated government. Although this is not yet avowed (as that of monarchism, you know, never was) it exists decidedly and is the true key to the debates in Congress, wherein you see many, calling themselves Republicans, and preaching the rankest doctrines of the old Federalists.
One of the candidates is presumed to be of this party, the other a Republican of the old school, and a friend to the barrier of state rights, as provided in the constitution against the barriers of consolidation ...
Jefferson's words are more extreme than necessary but he is politically acute enough to pick the partisanship that was prevalent, and like Madison suggested a "propensity of free government".
In Federalist 57
James Madison defends the House of Representatives as a just political structure that is designed to balance merit, common weal and electoral skepticism such that the right representatives can act as specialists, but not so far divorced from public confidence. Madison also discusses the political equality in republican government which promotes political equality, merit and the rule of law.
Madison argues for representative democracy, and a house which faces the electorate with high frequency, as the best means to avoid oligarchy while still attracting legislative specialists. he sees this as the best constitutional design to temper corruption through constantly facing public opinion at the ballot box, yet giving enough separation from the electorate, and a feared mob opinion, that the representative can act in the common weal or public good.
The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.
The elective mode of obtaining rulers is the characteristic policy of republican government. The means relied on in this form of government for preventing their degeneracy are numerous and various. The most effectual one, is such a limitation of the term of appointments as will maintain a proper responsibility to the people.
A constant theme in Madison's republicanism is the elevation of specialists through public trust; but at the same time a deep distrust of power, corruption and special interests. Madison's solution to this is to make the specialists face the ballot and by judged by those that they would represent.
This assumes that the electorate is a vengeful one, permanently on the point of 'throwing the bums out', but this has not proved true in practice. Most electorates are two candidates or in rare cases three-cornered. Until recently, especially in Australia with the establishment of independent electoral commissions, many states suffered from malapportionment.
Madison's representatives that would face either the confidence or wrath of the electorate are intended to be purely of merit. He argues:
Every citizen whose merit may recommend him to the esteem and confidence of his country. No qualification of wealth, of birth, of religious faith, or of civil profession is permitted to fetter the judgement or disappoint the inclination of the people.
This is a republican statement of political equality. During Madison's time, Britain had a hereditary monarch who dominated the executive through accident of birth. Britain had a House of Lords that was predicated on title alone and in the House of Commons there were still rotton boroughs. Madison is stating equivocally that the qualification for public service is merit and public confidence through the ballot.
Madison continues the theme of political equality through the rule of law with:
I will add, as a fifth circumstance in the situation of the House of Representatives, restraining them from oppressive measures, that they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society.
This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interests and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.
In a Madisonian republic law is universal and as relevant to the legislature as it is the people. This is the rule of law, where no individual is above the law, not the executive, nor the legislative. To Madison a republic is the best form of government for stopping tyranny, as any tyrannical law has universal application. A good example of this is speeding tickets, NSW politicians have had to resign over speeding infractions which are arguably one of the most arbitrarily enforced of all laws.
But this is where the loophole in the republic, under its current forms, is. The executive can get around the rule of law by selective enforcement. This gives the impression of the force of law being universal, but in reality, there is no force of law where the executive chooses. This is known as the state of exception and is the biggest threat to republican constitutional order in recent times. Examples of states of exception are Guantanamo Bay and the Nauru refugee centre.
The solution is pretty simple and requires little more than codification of universalism. The system will need to allow for any individual under the jurisdiction of the government to sue the executive, themselves, or through an intermediate such that the judicial can ensure the full constitutional force of law is brought to bear on the individual.
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;