A group of people within a society who share a common belief or interest not shared by the rest of society. Factions were perceived as a danger to republican government, a concern addressed in the Federalist Papers and particularly Federalist 10.
Direct democracy (or pure democracy) is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives.
"Federalist No. 10" continues the discussion of the question broached in Hamilton's "Federalist No. 9. " Hamilton there addressed the destructive role of faction in breaking apart the republic. The question Madison answers, then, is how to eliminate the negative effects of factions. He defines a faction as "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority 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. " He identifies the most serious source of faction to be the diversity of opinion in political life, which leads to dispute over fundamental issues such as what regime or religion should be preferred.
He saw direct democracy as a danger to individual rights and advocated a representative democracy in order to protect what he viewed as individual liberty from majority rule, or from the effects of such inequality within society.
Like the Anti-Federalists who opposed him, Madison was substantially influenced by the work of Montesquieu, though Madison and Montesquieu disagreed on the question addressed in this essay. He also relied heavily on the philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment, especially David Hume, whose influence is most clear in Madison's discussion of the types of faction and in his argument for an extended republic.
Madison first assessed that there are two ways to limit the damage caused by faction: either remove the causes of faction or control its effects. The first, destroying liberty, would work because "liberty is to faction what air is to fire," but it is impossible to perform because liberty is essential to political life. After all, Americans fought for it during the American Revolution. The other option, creating a society homogeneous in opinions and interests, is impracticable. The diversity of the people's ability is what makes them succeed more or less, and inequality of property is a right that the government should protect. Madison particularly emphasizes that economic stratification prevents everyone from sharing the same opinion. Madison concludes that the damage caused by faction can be limited only by controlling its effects.
Madison argues that the only problem comes from majority factions, because the principle of popular sovereignty should prevent minority factions from gaining power. He offers two ways to check majority factions: prevent the "existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time" or render a majority faction unable to act. Madison concludes that a small democracy cannot avoid the dangers of majority faction because small size means that undesirable passions can very easily spread to a majority of the people, which can then enact its will through the democratic government without difficulty.
He then makes an argument in favor of a large republic against a small republic. In a large republic, where the number of voters and candidates is greater, the probability to elect competent representatives is broader because the voters have more options. In a small republic, it would also be easier for the candidates to fool the voters, but more difficult in a large one. The last argument Madison makes in favor of a large republic is that because in a small republic there will be a lower variety of interests and parties, a majority will more frequently be found. The number of participants of that majority will be lower, and since they live in a more limited territory, it would be easier for them to agree and work together for the accomplishment of their ideas. But in a large republic, the variety of interests will be greater, making it harder to find a majority, and even if one was established, it would be harder for them to work together because of the large number of people and the fact that they are diffused throughout a wider territory.
A republic, Madison writes, is different from a democracy because its government is placed in the hands of delegates, and as a result of this it can be extended over a larger area, the idea being that in a large republic there will be more "fit characters" to choose from for each delegate. Also, the fact that each representative is chosen from a larger constituency should make the "vicious arts," a reference to rhetoric, of electioneering, less effective. For instance, in a large republic, a corrupt delegate would need to bribe many more people in order to win an election than in a small republic. Also, in a republic, the delegates both filter and refine the many demands of the people, preventing frivolous claims from impeding the business of government as they might in a purely democratic government.