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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Catagories of Political Action

By: Michael Richards

Political action can be separated into two categories, consent and conflict. Consent is when an actor permits or accepts the actions of another actor. Conflict is when two actors have differing ends which interfere with each others' ends and use means to resolve this dilemma. Consent and conflict can also be categorized praxeologicaly in terms of action and inaction. Inaction is also considered a praxeological act as long as that act is a means to fulfill an end. All-in-all there are four categories of political action: consent with action (positive consent), consent without action (negative consent), conflict with action (positive conflict) and conflict without action (negative conflict).

No matter how one tries to describe human interaction they must inevitably attempt to describe such action along the lines of these four categories. Trade, an economic term, is a form of action whereby two consenting individuals trade with one another because they value the other person's good more than their own in a form of positive consent. However, if one person tries to take the item and the other resists, then they are engaging in positive conflict. If a passer-by sees either the transaction or theft and does nothing to stop it, he is engaged in act negative consent . Business people who compete with one another but choose not to interact with one another are said to be in negative conflict as they are not taking any direct act against the other.

Of course each of the categories will need to be treated in greater detail. Each of these actions explain the various ways in which laws and rules are drafted. The purpose of this article is to act as an introduction for the reader to introduce this theory of political action. It is hoped that this work will build upon theories presented by Austrian and pre-Austrian thinkers with particular attention to building up from the theories of Estienne de la Boeties'\, Discourses on Voluntary Servitude.

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Catagories of Political Action by Michael Richards is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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  1. I'm not sure of the benefit of dividing action into positive and negative, representing action and inaction respectively, since, as you say, even inaction is a form of action. At least, I don't see any benefit in terms of praxeology. This distinction seems more suited to ethical analysis.

  2. I just got a audio book about "discourses" it's pretty interesting.

    I would argue that the trade between two actors is not based on one valuing another person's goods over their own. Would it not be safe to say that the goods of each are of equal value to each other? I value my labor a great deal. If you want to trade me for it I would want equal value.

  3. First, I would like to thank you both for commenting on my page :D

    @David The purpose of dividing action into positive and negative has to do with politics, being the science of rule making (which is mentioned in more detail in a previous article). See just saying conflict and consent would mean that I would be equating cooperation with indifference; and competition between businesses with war and taxation. The importance with this distinction in categorization is that it allows for me to explain how rules and customary law develop in these separate cases.

    After all, people who are competing in the business world have very different rules than those who compete with an army. Further, cooperation is very different than indifference. Rules are developed from these four ways of doing things. In the end I would have to make these distinctions from the start of explaining how they work in law and interaction. After having several conversations with Dante, Luke, and others at Mises U, I further determined that making such distinctions in action and inaction as it relates to conflict and consent is very crucial in the field of politics (especially when talking anarcho-capitalists and small government liberals).

    Also the end of the article did say there is need for greater detail and I hope that when I go into greater detail that it becomes more clearer why I separated them into 4 catagories rather than just two. :D Feel free to comment again when you get the chance.

    @ Marty: The only reason people exchange for anything is because they value that thing more than what they are exchanging for. For example, if you exchange a dollar for a soda, then you value the soda more than the dollar. Also if you decide to keep the dollar, its because you value the dollar more than the soda. It is impossible to value two things equally in an exchange because the two possibilities only leave the actor valuing one thing or the other. see? Thanks again for the comment hope to see more comments in the future. :D