Martin Diamond’s Interpretation of Federalist 10: A Response to Alan Gibson

Jeffrey Leigh Sedgwick. "Martin Diamond's Interpretation of Federalist 10: A Response to Alan Gibson." Polity 25.4 (Summer 1993): 529-36.


In this provocative and insightful essay, Alan Gibson attacks Martin Diamond’s “commercial republic” interpretation of Federalist 10. The significance of his project is revealed in Charles Kesler’s comment, quoted by Gibson, that Diamond’s interpretation has “over the course of the past few decades come to prevail in most sectors of the academy, and has molded several generations of students who have gone on to employ it, as citizens and as scholars, in the making and analysis of American public policy.”

Gibson’s attack includes the following specific points: (1) James Madison is not a commercial republican as Straussians, following Martin Diamond, argue; (2) Martin Diamond misunderstands Madison’s theory of representation, which argues that representatives should be disinterested or impartial guardians of the common good; (3) Diamond’s mistakes are not accidental, but both quite deliberate and politically motivated as part of a larger attempt by political scientists in the 1950s and 1960s to advance a pluralist answer to Marxist critiques of American (bourgeois?) society; and (4) Madison’s political thought should not be interpreted as a species of the “New Science of Politics” formulated by Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke.