Party: the Tyranny of Faction

Political Parties are another form of artificial entity, and, as such, they share in all threats posed by artificial entities.  But political Parties present a special threat to individual rights and liberty worthy of their own, separate post.  In the case of political Parties, the principle threat to liberty is that of faction:

Definition of FACTION

1: a party or group (as within a government) that is often contentious or self-seeking : clique

2: party spirit especially when marked by dissension

Under the Social Contract — as constrained by the terms of Natural law — any division over the terms of the contract among the individuals Party to them actually represents a potential violation of those terms, and thus, a violation of Natural Law.  So, if a group of individuals within a community/society ban together to increase their political strength, in essence, what they are doing is forming another contract between themselves.  While it may not seem apparent at first, this is a violation of the Social Contract.

When people form a political Party, they do so with the expressed understanding that those outside the Party are not privy to it.  Unless you are a Party member, you do not share in whatever benefit that Party is intended to provide its members.  Now, because political Parties are intended to influence a community’s/society’s government, and because the Party has expressly excluded all individuals who are not a member, the Party – actually, every member in it —  has declared itself to be an enemy of the government it means to influence.  Remember, the Social Contract forms the community/society, and sets up the system by which it will govern itself.  This is done by the willing agreement of every individual within that community/society.  But the moment that a part of that community/society sets up a separate contract to pursue their own agenda, they violate the terms of their original Social Contract under which they agreed to work toward the common good of every individual in that community/society – not just those in their Party.  In essence, individuals who form a Party do so to use their combined power to force changes to the Social Contract they first agreed to live by.  That is a attack on the Natural Rights of every individual within that community/society.

There is no way for a political Party to exist within another Social Contract without violating the terms of that contract, and thus, Natural Law.  Human nature being what it is, the moment political Parties are allowed, the individuals within a Party will start to shift their loyalty to their Party and not the community/society to which they had willingly committed themselves by accepting the terms of the Social Contract that made that community/society.  In short, by joining a political Party, an individual essentially “changes sides” and places themselves in a state of war against their original community/society.  What’s more, the leaders of a political Party will naturally seek to solidify and grow their Party’s power, as well as their personal power, which further places the Party’s interest at odds with those of the terms of the Social Contract of the greater community/society.  Should a Party become strong enough, it is possible that a Party leader could actually become the de facto leader of a community/society, even if that Party leader is not actually the elected leader of the community/society.  For example: if we elected a President, but both the House and Senate were controlled by super majorities of the same Party, then whatever that Party leader told those Party members to do could conceivably be made law over the objections of the duly elected President of the nation.  Were this to happen, it would be a clear violation of the original intent of our Constitution, of Natural Law, and thus, a clear threat to the individual rights and liberties of every individual in this country.

If we look at this with an honest understanding of human nature, it should be simple to understand: a person cannot serve two masters.  They can either be loyal to a Party or their nation, but they cannot be loyal to both because – by its nature – the Party has declared itself to have a different agenda than that of the nation.  Our founders understood this, which is why the founding father of this nation specifically warned against allowing political parties.  If you would allow me, I would like to end this post by quoting a lengthy section from President Washington’s farewell address to the nation:

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

— George Washington, September 19, 1796

16 thoughts on “Party: the Tyranny of Faction

  1. Why I’m a non-partisan!

    Playing Devil’s advocate though — doesn’t this mean the whole country should agree to believe one thing and majority rules? To argue against the “established” belief of the country would be advocating for a political party, no?

    For example, if 51% of the country thinks a president with socialist leanings is a good idea, the 47% should remain silent. If they object, aren’t they creation factions?

    1. Aurora,

      So long as the things you describe are done on an individual basis, I see nothing wrong with advocating for change. MLK is a perfect example of this. He did not require any loyalty from his followers: he merely spoke out for right and against wrong and people followed of their own free will. This is the difference between a Party and a movement.

      Another example: who is the “head” of the TEA Party? You shouldn’t be able to answer as there isn’t one. The TEA Party is just a group of like-minded individuals sharing the same concerns who are working together, but have sworn no allegiance to an artificial entity such as a Party.

      Does this answer your question(s)?

        1. Please bring them to my attention when you have them finished. I shall be interested in reading them.

          I dislike Wilson — very much — and am always interested in the take other liberty lovers hold on him.

          1. I haven’t looked at Wilson much since college. Of course, he was a favorite of my professors. The only thing I remember from back then was that when we discussing the League of Nations and my professor was complaining about the American people not listening to Wilson, I thought “Wasn’t he supposed to be listening to them?”

            I was much more moderate than I am now, but Alaskans are die-hard individualists, so that must have been what was flickering through my barely-post-adolescent brain at the time.

            I’ll let you know.

  2. MIlton Friedman had a series of videos, now immotalized on YouTube on the “Tyranny of the Status Quo” which I have shared on my blog. Can you give any comment on this on your site, as you are doing a Tyranny series yourself.
    -Kavon Fiennes

    1. Kavon,

      I am busy with my business this week, but I will get to that next week. I will also try to make time to visit your blog — I promise. Until then, I thank you for visiting my little place on the internet. Even if you were the only one reading my blog, if I were helping you, I’d still do this. I just want to do what little I can to help people understand the principles and ideals of individual rights and liberty. So, yes, I will make an effort to write on the topic you request.

    1. Not to worry. I need to visit to provide mutual support to those who are trying to teach others about liberty. I see it as a duty I have to others. So, if you are in the fight, I need to help in any way I can. 🙂

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