“Special Interests”


America’s Founding Fathers denounced “factions” (what we refer to today as “special interests”) because these groups consist of “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority 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.” Madison then went on to point out what he considered egregious forms of factionalism, starting with “[a] rage for paper money”.

Source: The Federalist No. 10 (James Madison).

“Special Interests”: What the Founding Fathers referred to as “Factions”

Factions are special interest groups that want to manipulate the system of government for their peculiar benefit. James Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 10 talks about this in some detail. One of the things Madison writes is that he recognizes this as a serious problem. All legislatures tend to be corrupted by factionalism (i.e., special interest groups) getting legislation passed for their particular benefit, not the general welfare. And Madison suggests that one way to break the control of the power of factions is to have such a large republic that there are so many factions that no one of them or small group of them can gain power. What Madison forgot was that all the factions might agree among themselves to divide the loot. In other words they might be smart enough to realize that they  shouldn’t fight among themselves and they can make a deal, as long as they are looting us. At that point we will get the system that we now have.

In The Federalist No. 10, James Madison pointed out that,

[a]mong the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserve to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. * * * The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished, as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. * * *

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority 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.”

Madison then went on to point out what he considered egregious forms of factionalism, starting with “[a] rage for paper money”. This passage seems to have been penned for the Federal Reserve System and “the financial community” of which it is the cornerstone. For no one can possibly deny that this edifice of financial chicanery serves one very narrow set of very special, very selfish interest groups, largely at the expense of everyone else in society. Neither is it deniable that, together with its satellites and clients, the Federal Reserve System holds the entire country hostage to “the financial community’s” negligence, incompetence, venality, corruption, and even criminality. For, if the System is not exonerated and “bailed out” repetitively from the consequences of its managers’ and clients’ own blunders and sordid excesses—as it has been, serially and under conditions of increasing severity and cost, since 1933—its managers and clients threaten, either implicitly or even volubly as they did before the TARP “bail out” in 2008, to take down the entire national economy, and with it this country as a whole, bringing about untold political and social dislocations, disturbances, distress, and destruction. This is the essence of malignant factionalism.

The electoral process is flawed. How?

Between elections we have no direct way of acting in this system—“Write your Congressman”. What happened to the first 700 billion dollar (subsequently billions more) bailout in 2008? Congressman were reporting that the responses from the people, their constituents, against this bailout were the largest they had ever seen with respect to any legislation. One Congressman said he only had two kinds of statements coming to him, “No” and “Hell No”. Rough statistics said 85-90% of the statements made by people to their representatives were negative in one way or another. What then happened? 700 billion went to 850 billion and Congress passed the bailout. Nancy Pelosi (D) said that she was proud of having “stood up to her constituents” because she “knew better”. We know what the banks did : They came in and said, “If you don’t give us this bailout, there’s going to be chaos, the banking system will collapse, there will be no money, there will be no credit, people will be living in tent cities and we’ll have marshall law, etc., etc.”  This is the threat they always use. We gave them this power, they abuse the power. But because the whole economy is supported by this corrupt structure, they can then demand more power. And they’ve been doing it systematically all the way from the First Bank of the United States until now. Ironically, what were the political consequences of the 2008 TARP bailout? The people’s “representatives” passed the bailout, then stood for election and were all of the incumbents thrown out? Were all of the people who voted for that bailout in violation of the will of the people thrown out? No. Most of them were re-elected. So the electoral process has clearly broke down.

Madison in Federalist No. 46 talks about the Militia Structure as a means of political influence.

Madison wrote another paper in the Federalist series, No. 46, in which he talks about, among other things, the Militia Structure. And he focuses mostly on the concept that if the general population of the United States is armed, the threat of a standing army under the control of some rogue government official would be unlikely. And the Militia Structure would also perform the job of “political police” to influence honest elections.

Government cannot spend, or even contemplate spending what it is impotent to “create”. When the Constitution adopted the “dollar” as the monetary unit of the United States, it removed any power from Congress to redefine what States must use as “money” in all governmental fiscal transactions, or for Congress to whimsically redefine what it thinks a constitutional “dollar” ought be. The Constitution makes clear the monetary duty and disability that “No State shall…make anything but gold and silver Coin a Tender of Payment of Debts…”(footnote 1). The Constitution also recognizes the disability that “No State shall…emit Bills of Credit”, (footnote 2)—a term of art for paper money—whether redeemable in some other commodity or not.

John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist who fathered our present economic system, confesses (or boasts) in his book “The Economic Consequences of the Peace”, 1920: “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”


1.) U.S. Const. art. I, § 10, cl.1.

2.) Id.