A week ago in lecture we discussed factions and why James Madison hates them, but before we did that we had an interesting discussion about what his definition of a faction was and which groups of people would fall under that category. In case you weren’t there or just weren’t paying attention, Madison defined a faction as a group of people that come together with some sort of common interest that goes against the interest of society OR that is against a right or rights of others within society. We had a pretty interesting discussion about whether or not race fell into that category and I want to explore that deeper.
As I said before, Madison said a faction consists of a group of people with a common goal. A race is a group of people bonded together by the color of their skin and (usually) a common culture. There is no disputing that. The controversy came while discussing the second part of the definition and how it could apply to race. I was very vocal in class in advocating for race being considered a faction. I believe that all races have goals that they want to attain. All races of people collectively want to better themselves within American society. Even if you are not a member of an organization that fights for equal rights for a specific race and you are just living your life as a person that happens to be whatever race you are, you are still a member of a faction. You are still receiving the benefits that come from being within that race and you are also receiving the detriments. Those benefits and detriments are the common interest or passion that makes race a faction.
Some people were arguing that just because a person identifies with a race that they don’t necessarily have to fight or advocate for furthering their race and thus s/he isn’t automatically a member of a racial faction. I agree 100% with that claim however Madison never says that a faction is a group of people that fights for something. Instead he says that it is a group that is brought together by a common interest or passion. That common interest or passion is their race and the recognition of the benefits and inequalities that it entails. I think nowadays it is impossible to not recognize the disparities between races (and yes contrary to what some may want to believe, they DO exist) or the benefits that one may receive from being a member of a specific race. That’s why I believe that race should certainly be classified as a type of faction.
We also discussed the implications of races being considered factions and some people thought that it implied that there would be constant fights or RACE WARSSS! between them. I STRONGLY disagree with this. As I said, according to Madison, being a faction does not require action, but rather a common interest. I’m not saying that all of the races are at odds, but merely that they recognize that there are differences in the form of benefits and detriments and that they are trying to maximize the benefits while minimizing the detriments. This COULD bring about a race war, but I believe given our governmental system and the strides that we’ve made in equality, there would never be one.
Just for S’s and G’s…