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Anarchism is a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which consider the state, as compulsory government, to be unnecessary, harmful, and/or undesirable, and favors the absence of the state that creates an anarchy. While some dictionaries define "anarchy" or "anarchism" as chaos and/or disorder this narrow scope of the term is not how it is used in this article.

Specific anarchists may have additional criteria for what constitutes anarchism, and they often disagree with each other on what these criteria are. According to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, "there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance."

There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive. Different versions of anarchism have been categorized as socialist anarchism and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications. Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology, and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics; however, anarchism has for some time included an economic and legal individualist strain, with that strain supporting an anarchist free-market economy and private property (like old anarcho-individualism and today's anarcho-capitalism).

Others, such as panarchists and anarchists without adjectives, neither advocate nor object to any particular form of organization as long as it is not compulsory. Some anarchist schools of thought differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. The central tendency of anarchism as a social movement have been represented by communist anarchism, with anarcho-individualism being primarily a philosophical/literary phenomenon. Some anarchists fundamentally oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence, while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and terrorism, on the path to anarchy.

The term anarchism derives from the Greek ἀναρχος, anarchos, meaning "without rulers", from the prefix ἀν- (an-, "without") + ἄρχή (archê, "sovereignty, realm, magistracy") + -ισμός (-ismos, from a stem -ιζειν, -izein). There is some ambiguity with the use of the terms "libertarianism" and "libertarian" in writings about anarchism. Since the 1890s from France, the term "libertarianism" has often been used as a synonym for anarchism and was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United States; its use as a synonym is still common outside the U.S.

Accordingly, "libertarian socialism" is sometimes used as a synonym for socialist anarchism, to delineate it from "individualist libertarianism" (individualist anarchism). On the other hand, some use "libertarianism" to refer to individualistic free-market philosophy only, referring to free-market anarchism as "libertarian anarchism."


Some claim anarchist themes can be found in the works of Taoist sages Laozi and Zhuangzi. The latter has been translated, "There has been such a thing as letting mankind alone; there has never been such a thing as governing mankind [with success]," and "A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes a ruler of a Nation." Diogenes of Sinope and the Cynics, and their contemporary Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, also introduced similar topics.

Modern anarchism, however, sprang from the secular or religious thought of the Enlightenment, particularly Jean-Jacques Rousseau's arguments for the moral centrality of freedom. Although by the turn of the 19th century the term "anarchist" had an entirely positive connotation, it first entered the English language in 1642 during the English Civil War as a term of abuse used by Royalists to damn those who were fomenting disorder. By the time of the French Revolution some, such as the Enragés, began to use the term positively, in opposition to Jacobin centralisation of power, seeing "revolutionary government" as oxymoronic.

From this climate William Godwin developed what many consider the first expression of modern anarchist thought. Godwin was, according to Peter Kropotkin, "the first to formulate the political and economical conceptions of anarchism, even though he did not give that name to the ideas developed in his work", while Godwin attached his anarchist ideas to an early Edmund Burke. Instead, Benjamin Tucker credits Josiah Warren, an American who promoted stateless and voluntary communities where all goods and services were private, with being "the first man to expound and formulate the doctrine now known as Anarchism." The first to describe himself as an anarchist was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French philosopher and politician, which led some to call him the founder of modern anarchist theory.

Schools of thought

Anarchist ideas have only occasionally inspired political movements of any size, and "the tradition is mainly one of individual thinkers, but they have produced an important body of theory." Anarchist schools of thought had been generally grouped in two main historical traditions, individualist and collectivist ones, which have some different origins, values and evolution.

The individualist wing of anarchism emphasises negative liberty, i.e. opposition to state or social control over the individual, while those in the collectivist wing emphasise positive liberty to achieve one's potential and argue that humans have needs that society ought to fulfill, "recognizing equality of entitlement". In chronological and theorical sense there are classical -those created throughout the 19th century- and post-classical anarchist schools -those created since the mid-20th century and after.

Individualist anarchism

Individualist anarchism comprises several traditions which hold that "individual conscience and the pursuit of self-interest should not be constrained by any collective body or public authority." Individualist anarchism is supportive of property being held privately, unlike the socialist/collectivist/communitarian wing which advocates common ownership. Individualist anarchism has been espoused by individuals such as Max Stirner,Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Godwin, Henry David Thoreau,Johnson, Ellwood. The Goodly Word: The Puritan Influence in America Literature, Clements Publishing, 2005, p. 138.

Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, edited by Edwin Robert Anderson Seligman, Alvin Saunders Johnson, 1937, p. 12. Josiah Warren, Albert Jay Nock and Murray Rothbard.

Philosophical anarchism

Philosophical anarchism is a component especially of individualist anarchism which contends that the State lacks moral legitimacy but does not advocate revolution to eliminate it. Though philosophical anarchism does not necessarily imply any action or desire for the elimination of the State, philosophical anarchists do not believe that they have an obligation or duty to obey the State, or, conversely, that the State has a right to command. Philosophical anarchists may accept the existence of a minimal state as unfortunate, and usually temporary, "necessary evil" but argue that citizens do not have a moral obligation to obey the state when its laws conflict with individual autonomy.

Philosophical anarchists of historical note include William Godwin, Max Stirner, Herbert Spencer, Benjamin Tucker, and Henry David Thoreau. Contemporary philosophical anarchists include Robert Paul Wolff. According to scholar Allan Antliff, Benjamin Tucker coined the term "philosophical anarchism," to distinguish peaceful evolutionary anarchism from revolutionary variants.

As conceived by William Godwin, it requires individuals to act in accordance with their own judgments and to allow every other individual the same liberty; conceived egoistically as by Max Stirner, it implies that 'the unique one' who truly 'owns himself' recognizes no duties to others; within the limit of his might, he does what is right for him.

William Godwin's rationalism

In 1793, William Godwin, who has often been cited as the first anarchist, wrote Political Justice, which some consider to be the first expression of anarchism. Godwin, a philosophical anarchist, from a rationalist and utilitarian basis opposed revolutionary action and saw a minimal state as a present "necessary evil" that would become increasingly irrelevant and powerless by the gradual spread of knowledge.

Godwin advocated extreme individualism, proposing that all cooperation in labor be eliminated on the premise that this would be most conducive with the general good. Godwin was a utilitarian who believed that all individuals are not of equal value, with some of us "of more worth and importance" than others depending on our utility in bringing about social good. Therefore he does not believe in equal rights, but the person's life that should be favored that is most conducive to the general good.

Godwin opposed government because he saw it as infringing on the individual's right to "private judgement" to determine which actions most maximize utility, but also makes a critique of all authority over the individual's judgement. This aspect of Godwin's philosophy, stripped of utilitarian motivations, was developed into a more extreme form later by Stirner.


The most extreme form of individualist anarchism, called "egoism," was expounded by one of the earliest and best-known proponents of individualist anarchism, Max Stirner. Stirner's The Ego and Its Own, published in 1844, is a founding text of the philosophy. According to Stirner's conception, the only limitation on the rights of the individual is their power to obtain what they desire, without regard for God, state, or moral rules.

To Stirner, rights were spooks in the mind, and he held that society does not exist but "the individuals are its reality" he supported a concept of property held by force of might rather than moral right. By "property" he is not referring only to things but to other people as well. Stirner advocated self-assertion and foresaw "associations of egoists" where respect for ruthlessness drew people together. Even murder is permissible "if it is right for me."

Stirner saw the state as illegitimate but did not see individuals as having a duty to eliminate it nor does he recommend that they try to eliminate it; rather, he advocates that they disregard the state when it conflicts with their autonomous choices and go along with it when doing so is conducive to their interests. However, while he thought there was no duty to eliminate the state, he did think that it would eventually collapse as a result of the spread of egoism.

"Egoism" has inspired many interpretations of Stirner's philosophy. It was re-discovered and promoted by German philosophical anarchist and LGBT activist John Henry Mackay. Individualist anarchism inspired by Stirner attracted a small following of European bohemian artists and intellectuals. Stirner's philosophy has been seen as a precedent of existentialism with other thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, or even Sören Kierkegaard.

Russian anarchists like Lev Chernyi were also attracted by Stirner's ideas, as well as were a few lone wolves who found self-expression in crime and violence. They rejected organizing, believing that only unorganized individuals were safe from coercion and domination, and that this kept them true to the ideals of anarchism. This type of individualist anarchism inspired noted anarcho-feminist Emma Goldman. Though Stirner's egoism is individualist, it has also influenced some anarcho-communists. "For Ourselves Council for Generalized Self-Management" discusses Stirner and speaks of a "communist egoism," which is said to be a "synthesis of individualism and collectivism," and says that "greed in its fullest sense is the only possible basis of communist society.

Individualist anarchism in the United States

Individualist anarchism in the United States is strongly influenced by Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The first American anarchist publication was The Peaceful Revolutionist, edited by Josiah Warren, whose earliest experiments and writings predate Pierre Proudhon

Individualist forms of anarchism have appeared most often in the United Statesmarker among such figures as Henry David Thoreau, Josiah Warren, Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Ezra Heywood, Stephen Pearl Andrews, and Murray Rothbard.

Individualist anarchism in Europe

European individualist anarchism proceeded from the roots laid by William Godwin, Pierre Joseph Proudhon and Max Stirner. Proudhon was an early pioneer of anarchism as well as of the important individualist anarchist current of mutualism. Stirner became a central figure of individualist anarchism through the publication of his seminal work The Ego and Its Own which is considered to be "a founding text in the tradition of individualist anarchism.". Another early figure was Anselme Bellegarrigue . Individualist anarchism expanded and diversified through Europe, incorporating influences from North American individualist anarchism.

European individualist anarchists include Albert Libertad, Bellegarrigue, Émile Armand, Miguel Gimenez Igualada, Lev Chernyi, John Henry Mackay, Han Ryner, Renzo Novatore, and currently Michel Onfray. Important currents within it include free love, anarcho-naturism and illegalism


Mutualism began in 18th century English and French labor movements before taking an anarchist form associated with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in France and others in the United States. Proudhon proposed spontaneous order, whereby organization emerges without central authority, a "positive anarchy" where order arises when everybody does “what he wishes and only what he wishes" and where "business transactions alone produce the social order."

Like Godwin, Proudhon opposed violent revolutionary action. He saw anarchy as "a form of government or constitution in which public and private consciousness, formed through the development of science and law, is alone sufficient to maintain order and guarantee all liberties. In it, as a consequence, the institutions of the police, preventive and repressive methods, officialdom, taxation, etc., are reduced to a minimum. In it, more especially, the forms of monarchy and intensive centralization disappear, to be replaced by federal institutions and a pattern of life based on the commune."

By "commune", Proudhon meant local self-government or according to literal translation, "municipality", rather than a communist arrangement. Proudhon's famous declaration that "Property is Theft!," along with his less famous declaration that "Property is Liberty," inspired different anarchist economic models throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Proudhon's ideas were introduced by Charles A. Dana, to individualist anarchists in the United States including Benjamin Tucker and William Batchelder Greene. Mutualist anarchism is concerned with reciprocity, free association, voluntary contract, federation, and credit and currency reform. According to Greene, in the mutualist system each worker would receive "just and exact pay for his work; services equivalent in cost being exchangeable for services equivalent in cost, without profit or discount." Mutualism has been retrospectively characterized as ideologically situated between individualist and collectivist forms of anarchism.Avrich, Paul. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America, Princeton University Press 1996 ISBN 0-69-04494-5, p.6

Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, Blackwell Publishing 1991 ISBN 0-631-17944-5, p. 11. Proudhon first characterized his goal as a "third form of society, the synthesis of communism and property."

Social anarchism

Socialist anarchism is the biggest section of anarchism. It is often used to identify communitarian forms of anarchism that emphasize cooperation and mutual aid. It includes anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism, platformism and anarcho-syndicalism. More recently developments includes the anarchist factions from social ecology, inclusive democracy and participatory economics.

Collectivist anarchism

Collectivist anarchism, also referred to as revolutionary socialism or a form of such, is a revolutionary form of anarchism, commonly associated with Mikhail Bakunin and Johann Most. It is a specific tendency, not to be confused with the broad category sometimes called collectivist or communitarian anarchism. Unlike mutualists, collectivist anarchists oppose all private ownership of the means of production, instead advocating that ownership be collectivized.

This was to be achieved through violent revolution, first starting with a small cohesive group through acts of violence, or "propaganda by the deed," which would inspire the workers as a whole to revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production. However, collectivization was not to be extended to the distribution of income, as workers would be paid according to time worked, rather than receiving goods being distributed "according to need" as in anarcho-communism. This position was criticised by later anarcho-communists as effectively "uphold[ing] the wages system".

Anarchist communist and collectivist ideas were not mutually exclusive; although the collectivist anarchists advocated compensation for labor, some held out the possibility of a post-revolutionary transition to a communist system of distribution according to need. Collectivist anarchism arose contemporaneously with Marxism but opposed the Marxist dictatorship of the proletariat, despite the stated Marxist goal of a collectivist stateless society.

Anarchist communism

Anarchist communists propose that the freest form of social organisation would be a society composed of self-governing communes with collective use of the means of production, organized by direct democracy, and related to other communes through federation. However, some anarchist communists oppose the majoritarian nature of direct democracy, feeling that it can impede individual liberty and favor consensus democracy.

In anarchist communism, as money would be abolished, individuals would not receive direct compensation for labour (through sharing of profits or payment) but would have free access to the resources and surplus of the commune. According to anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin and later Murray Bookchin, the members of such a society would spontaneously perform all necessary labour because they would recognize the benefits of communal enterprise and mutual aid.

Kropotkin believed that private property was one of the causes of oppression and exploitation and called for its abolition, advocating instead common ownership. Kropotkin said that "houses, fields, and factories will no longer be private property, and that they will belong to the commune or the nation and money, wages, and trade would be abolished." Kropotkin's work Mutual Aid criticized social Darwinism, arguing that cooperation is more natural than competition. Conquest of Bread was essentially a handbook on the organization of a society after the social revolution.

In response to those criticizing Kropotkin for supporting expropriation of homes and means of production from those who did not wish to take part in anarcho-communism, he replied that if someone did not want to join the commune they would be left alone as long as they are a "peasant who is in possession of just the amount of land he can cultivate," or "a family inhabiting a house which affords them just enough space... considered necessary for that number of people" or an artisan "working with their own tools or handloom." arguing that "[t]he landlord owes his riches to the poverty of the peasants, and the wealth of the capitalist comes from the same source."

The status of anarchist communism within anarchism is disputed, because most individualist anarchists consider communitarianism incompatible with political freedom. However, anarcho-communism does not always have a communitarian philosophy, Some forms of anarchist communism are egoist, and are very influenced by radical individualist philosophy, believing that anarcho-communism does not require a communitarian nature at all. Anarchist communist Emma Goldman blended the philosophies of both Max Stirner and Kropotkin in her own.

Platformism is an anarchist communist tendency in the tradition of Nestor Makhno, who argued for the "vital need of an organization which, having attracted most of the participants in the anarchist movement, would establish a common tactical and political line for anarchism and thereby serve as a guide for the whole movement."


In the early 20th century, anarcho-syndicalism arose as a distinct school of thought within anarchism. With greater focus on the labour movement than previous forms of anarchism, syndicalism posits radical trade unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society, democratically self-managed by the workers.

Anarcho-syndicalists seek to abolish the wage system and private ownership of the means of production, which they believe lead to class divisions. Important principles include workers' solidarity, direct action (such as general strikes and workplace recuperations), and workers' self-management. This is compatible with other branches of anarchism, and anarcho-syndicalists often subscribe to anarchist communist or collectivist anarchist economic systems.

Its advocates propose labour organization as a means to create the foundations of a trade union centered anarchist society within the current system and bring about social revolution. An early leading anarcho-syndicalist thinker was Rudolf Rocker, whose 1938 pamphlet Anarchosyndicalism outlined a view of the movement's origin, aims and importance to the future of labour.

Although more often associated with labor struggles of the early 20th century (particularly in France and Spain), many syndicalist organizations are active today, united across national borders by membership in the International Workers Association, including the Central Organisation of the Workers of Sweden (SAC) in Swedenmarker, the Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI) in Italymarker, the CNT and the CGT in Spain, the Workers' Solidarity Movement (WSM) of Ireland, and the Industrial Workers of the World in the United States.

Anarchism without adjectives

"Anarchism without adjectives", in the words of historian George Richard Esenwein, "referred to an unhyphenated form of anarchism, that is, a doctrine without any qualifying labels such as communist, collectivist, mutualist, or individualist. For others,…[it] was simply understood as an attitude that tolerated the coexistence of different anarchist schools."

"Anarchism without adjectives" emphasizes harmony among various anarchist factions and attempts to unite them around their shared anti-authoritarian beliefs.The position was first adopted in 1889 by Fernando Tarrida del Mármol as a call for toleration, after being troubled by the "bitter debates" among the different anarchist movements. Voltairine de Cleyre, Errico Malatesta, and Fred Woodworth are noteworthy exponents of the view.

Post-classical schools of thought

Anarchism continues to generate many eclectic and syncretic philosophies and movements; since the revival of anarchism in the U.S.marker in the 1960s, a number of new movements and schools have emerged. Anarcho-capitalism developed from radical anti-state libertarianism as a rejuvenated form of individualist anarchism, it draws from ideas like Austrian School, law and economics or public choice, while the burgeoning feminist and environmentalist movements also produced anarchist offshoots.

Post-left anarchy is a tendency which seeks to distance itself from the traditional "Left" and to escape the confines of ideology in general. Post-leftists argue that anarchism has been weakened by its long attachment to contrary "leftist" movements, single issue causes and calls for a synthesis of anarchist thought, and a specifically anti-authoritarian revolutionary movement outside the leftist milieu.

Post-anarchism is a theoretical move towards a synthesis of classical anarchist theory and poststructuralist thought developed by Saul Newman and associated with thinkers such as Todd May, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. It draws from a wide range of ideas including post-modernism, autonomist marxism, post-left anarchy, situationism and postcolonialism.

Another recent form of anarchism critical of formal anarchist movements is insurrectionary anarchism, which advocates informal organization and active resistance to the state; its proponents include Wolfi Landstreicher and Alfredo M. Bonanno.


Anarcho-capitalism is "based on a belief in the freedom to own private property, a rejection of any form of governmental authority or intervention, and the upholding of the competitive free market as the main mechanism for social interaction." Because of the historically anti-capitalist nature of much of anarchist thought, the status of anarcho-capitalism within anarchism is disputed, particularly by communist anarchists. Conversely, anarcho-capitalists sometimes argue that socialist schools of anarchism are themselves logically impossible.

Anarcho-capitalists distinguish between free market capitalism – peaceful voluntary exchange – from state capitalism, which Murray Rothbard defined as a collusive partnership between big business and government that uses coercion to subvert the free market. Whether in its natural rights-based, contractarian, or utilitarian formulations, anarcho-capitalism has a theory of legitimacy that supports private property as long as it was obtained by labor, trade, or gift.

Proponents argue that in an anarcho-capitalist society, voluntary market processes would result in the provision of social institutions such as law enforcement, defence and infrastructure by competing for-profit firms, charities or voluntary associations rather than the state. In Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, law (the non-aggression principle) is enforced by the market but not created by it, while according to David D. Friedman's utilitarian version, the law itself is produced by the market.

Although the term anarcho-capitalism was coined by Rothbard, and its origin is attributed to 1960s United Statesmarker, some historians, including Rothbard, trace the school of thought as far back as the mid-19th century, to market theorists such as Gustave de Molinari. Anarcho-capitalism has drawn influence from pro-market theorists such as Molinari, Frédéric Bastiat, and Robert Nozick, as well as American individualist thinkers such as Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner.

Considered a form of individualist anarchism, it differs from the individualism of the Boston anarchists of the 19th century in its rejection of the labor theory of value (and its normative implications) in favor of the neoclassical or Austrian School marginalist view. Anarcho-capitalist ideas have contributed to the development of agorism, autarchism, voluntaryism, paleolibertarianism, and crypto-anarchism. Institutes related to capitalist anarchism are Center for Libertarian Studies and Ludwig von Mises Institute in US, and Libertarian Alliance in UK.


Anarcha-feminism is a synthesis of radical feminism and anarchism that views patriarchy (male domination over women) as a fundamental manifestation of compulsory government – to which anarchists are opposed. Anarcha-feminism was inspired in the late 19th century by the writings of early feminist anarchists such as Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre, and even Dora Marsden. Anarcha-feminists, like other radical feminists, criticize and advocate the abolition of traditional conceptions of family, education and gender roles.

Many anarcha-feminists are especially critical of marriage. For instance, Emma Goldman has argued that marriage is a purely economic arrangement and that "…[woman] pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life." Anarcha-feminists view patriarchy as a fundamental problem in society and believe that the feminist struggle against sexism and patriarchy is an essential component of the anarchist struggle against the state and capitalism. Susan Brown expressed the sentiment that "as anarchism is a political philosophy that opposes all relationships of power, it is inherently feminist."

There have been several male anarcha-feminists, such as the Anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque who opposed Proudhon's anti-feminist views." Recently, Wendy McElroy has defined a position (she describes it as "ifeminism" or "individualist feminism") that combines feminism with anarcho-capitalism or libertarianism, arguing that a pro-capitalist, anti-state position implies equal rights and empowerment for women. Individualist anarchist feminism has grown from the USmarker-based individualist anarchism movement.

Green anarchism

Green anarchism (or eco-anarchism) is a school of thought within anarchism which puts an emphasis on environmental issues. Important contemporary currents are anarcho-primitivism and social ecology. Many advocates of green anarchism and primitivism consider Fredy Perlman as the modern progenitor of their views.

Notable contemporary writers espousing green anarchism include Murray Bookchin, Janet Biehl, Daniel Chodorkoff, anthropologist Brian Morris, and people around Institute for Social Ecology; those critical of technology such as Derrick Jensen, George Draffan, and John Zerzan; and others including Alan Carter, and Stewart Davidson

Social ecologists, considered also a kind of socialist anarchists, often criticize the main currents of anarchism for their focus and debates about politics and economics, instead of a focus on eco-system (human and environmental) like they do. This theory promote libertarian municipalism and green technology. Anarcho-primitivists often criticize mainstream anarchism for supporting civilization and modern technology which they believe are inherently based on domination and exploitation. They instead advocate the process of rewilding or reconnecting with the natural environment. Veganarchism is the political philosophy of veganism (more specifically animal liberation) and green anarchism. This encompasses viewing the state as unnecessary and harmful to both human and animals, whilst practising a vegan diet.

As a social movement

Anarchism as a social movement has regularly endured fluctuations in popularity. Its classical period, which scholars demarcate as from 1860 to 1939, is associated with the working-class movements of the nineteenth century and the Spanish Civil War-era struggles against fascism. Also, anarchists were specially active in the abolition of slavery, and have been active in the labor movement, civil rights, women's liberation, both anti-capitalism and pro-capitalism (with varying definitions of capitalism), the anti-war movement, LGBT rights, both anti-globalization and pro-globalization (with varying definitions of globalization), tax resistance, and other forms of anarchist activism.

The First International

In Europe, harsh reaction followed the revolutions of 1848, wherein ten countries experienced brief or long-term social upheaval as groups carried out nationalist revolutions. After most of these attempts at systematic change ended in failure, conservative elements took advantage of the divided groups of socialists, anarchists, liberals, and nationalists, to prevent further revolt. In 1864 the International Workingmen's Association (sometimes called the "First International") united diverse revolutionary currents including French followers of Proudhon, Blanquists, Philadelphes, English trade unionists, socialists and social democrats.

Due to its links to active workers' movements, the International became a significant organization. Karl Marx became a leading figure in the International and a member of its General Council. Proudhon's followers, the mutualists, opposed Marx's state socialism, advocating political abstentionism and small property holdings.

In 1868, following their unsuccessful participation in the League of Peace and Freedom (LPF), Mikhail Bakunin and his associates joined the First International – which had decided not to get involved with the LPF. They allied themselves with the federalist socialist sections of the International, who advocated the revolutionary overthrow of the state and the collectivization of property.

At first, the collectivists worked with the Marxists to push the First International in a more revolutionary socialist direction. Subsequently, the International became polarized into two camps, with Marx and Bakunin as their respective figureheads. Bakunin characterised Marx's ideas as centralist and predicted that, if a Marxist party came to power, its leaders would simply take the place of the ruling class they had fought against.

In 1872, the conflict climaxed with a final split between the two groups at the Hague Congress, where Bakunin and James Guillaume were expelled from the International and its headquarters were transferred to New York. In response, the federalist sections formed their own International at the St. Imier Congress, adopting a revolutionary anarchist program.Graham, Robert ' Anarchism (Montreal: Black Rose Books 2005) ISBN 1–55164–251–4.

Organized labor

The anti-authoritarian sections of the First International were the precursors of the anarcho-syndicalists, seeking to "replace the privilege and authority of the State" with the "free and spontaneous organization of labor." In 1886, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (FOTLU) of the United States and Canada unanimously set 1 May 1886, as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard.

In response, unions across America prepared a general strike in support of the event. Upon 3 May, in Chicago, a fight broke out when replacement workers attempted to cross the picket line. Police intervention led to the deaths of four men, enraging the workers of the city. The next day, 4 May, anarchists staged a rally at Chicago's Haymarket Square. A bomb was thrown by an unknown party near the conclusion of the rally, killing an officer. In the ensuing panic, police opened fire on the crowd and each other. Seven police officers and at least four workers were killed. Eight anarchists directly and indirectly related to the organizers of the rally were arrested and charged with the murder of the deceased officer. The men became international political celebrities among the labor movement. Four of the men were executed and a fifth committed suicide prior to his own execution.

The incident became known as the Haymarket affairmarker, and was a setback for the labor movement and the struggle for the eight hour day. In 1890 a second attempt, this time international in scope, to organize for the eight hour day was made. The event also had the secondary purpose of memorializing workers killed as a result of the Haymarket affair. The celebration of International Workers' Day on May Day became an annual event the following year.

In 1907, the International Anarchist Congress of Amsterdam gathered delegates from 14 different countries, among which important figures of the anarchist movement, including Errico Malatesta, Pierre Monatte, Luigi Fabbri, Benoît Broutchoux, Emma Goldman, Rudolf Rocker, Christiaan Cornelissen, etc. Various themes were treated during the Congress, in particular concerning the organisation of the anarchist movement, popular education issues, the general strike or antimilitarism.

A central debate concerned the relation between anarchism and syndicalism (or trade unionism). Malatesta and Monatte in particular opposed themselves on this issue, as the latter thought that syndicalism was revolutionary and would create the conditions of a social revolution, while Malatesta did not consider syndicalism by itself sufficient. Malatesta thought that trade-unions were reformist, and could even be, at times, conservative. Along with Cornelissen, he cited as example US trade-unions, where trade-unions composed of qualified workers sometimes opposed themselves to non-qualified workers in order to defend their relatively privileged position.

The Spanish Workers Federation in 1881 was the first major anarcho-syndicalist movement; anarchist trade union federations were of special importance in Spain. The most successful was the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (National Confederation of Labour: CNT), founded in 1910. Before the 1940s, the CNT was the major force in Spanish working class politics and played a major role in the Spanish Civil War. The CNT was affiliated with the International Workers Association, a federation of anarcho-syndicalist trade unions founded in 1922, with delegates representing two million workers from 15 countries in Europe and Latin America.

The largest organised anarchist movement today is in Spain, in the form of the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) and the CNT. CGT membership was estimated to be around 100,000 for the year 2003. Other active syndicalist movements include the US Workers Solidarity Alliance and the UK Solidarity Federation. The revolutionary industrial unionist Industrial Workers of the World, claiming 2,000 paying members, and the International Workers Association, an anarcho-syndicalist successor to the First International, also remain active.

Free Love

important current within individualist anarchism is Free love. Free love advocates sometimes traced their roots back to Josiah Warren and to experimental communities, viewed sexual freedom as a clear, direct expression of an individual's self-ownership. Free love particularly stressed women's rights since most sexual laws discriminated against women: for example, marriage laws and anti-birth control measures. The most important American free love journal was Lucifer the Lightbearer (1883-1907) edited by Moses Harman and Lois Waisbrooker but also there existed Ezra Heywood and Angela Heywood's The Word (1872-1890, 1892-1893). Also M. E. Lazarus was an important american individualist anarchist who promoted free love. In Europe the main propagandist of free love within individualist anarchism was Emile Armand. He proposed the concept of la camaraderie amoureuse to speak of free love as the possibility of voluntary sexual encounter between consenting adults. He was also a consistent proponent of polyamory.

Russian Revolution

Anarchists participated alongside the Bolsheviks in both February and October revolutions, many anarchists initially supporting the Bolshevik coup. However, the Bolsheviks soon turned against the anarchists and other left-wing opposition, a conflict that culminated in the 1921 Kronstadt rebellion. Anarchists in central Russia were either imprisoned, driven underground or joined the victorious Bolsheviks. In the Ukrainemarker, anarchists fought in the civil war against Whites and then the Bolsheviks as part of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine led by Nestor Makhno, who attempted to establish an anarchist society in the region for a number of months.

Expelled American anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were amongst those agitating in response to Bolshevik policy and the suppression of the Kronstadt uprising, before they left Russia. Both wrote accounts of their experiences in Russia, criticizing the amount of control the Bolsheviks exercised. For them, Bakunin's predictions about the consequences of Marxist rule that the rulers of the new "socialist” Marxist state would become a new elite had proved all too true.

The victory of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution and the resulting Russian Civil War did serious damage to anarchist movements internationally. Many workers and activists saw Bolshevik success as setting an example; Communist parties grew at the expense of anarchism and other socialist movements. In France and the US, for example, certain members of the major syndicalist movements of the CGT and IWW left the organizations and joined the Communist International.

In Paris, the Dielo Truda group of Russian anarchist exiles, which included Nestor Makhno, concluded that anarchists needed to develop new forms of organisation in response to the structures of Bolshevism. Their 1926 manifesto, called the Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists , was supported. Platformist groups active today include the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland and the North Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists of North America.

Fight against fascism

In the 1920s and 1930s, the rise of fascism in Europe transformed anarchism's conflict with the state. Italy saw the first struggles between anarchists and fascists. Italian anarchists played a key role in the anti-fascist organisation Arditi del Popolo, which was strongest in areas with anarchist traditions and marked up numerous successful victories, including repelling Blackshirts in the anarchist stronghold of Parmamarker in August 1922. In France, where the far right leagues came close to insurrection in the February 1934 riots, anarchists divided over a united front policy.

In Spain, the CNT initially refused to join a popular front electoral alliance, and abstention by CNT supporters led to a right wing election victory. But in 1936, the CNT changed its policy and anarchist votes helped bring the popular front back to power. Months later, the former ruling class responded with an attempted coup causing the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelonamarker and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivized the land.

But even before the fascist victory in 1939, the anarchists were losing ground in a bitter struggle with the Stalinists, who controlled the distribution of military aid to the Republican cause from the Soviet Unionmarker. According to George Orwell and other foreign observers, Stalinist-led troops suppressed the collectives and persecuted both dissident Marxists and anarchists.

Internal issues and debates

Anarchism is a philosophy which embodies many diverse attitudes, tendencies and schools of thought; as such, disagreement over questions of values, ideology and tactics is common. The compatibility of capitalism, nationalism and religion with anarchism is widely disputed. Similarly, anarchism enjoys complex relationships with ideologies such as Marxism, communism and capitalism. Anarchists may be motivated by humanism, divine authority, enlightened self-interest or any number of alternative ethical doctrines.

Phenomena such as civilization, technology (e.g. within anarcho-primitivism and insurrectionary anarchism), and the democratic process may be sharply criticized within some anarchist tendencies and simultaneously lauded in others. Anarchist attitudes towards race, gender and the environment have changed significantly since the modern origin of the philosophy in the 18th century.

On a tactical level, while propaganda of the deed was a tactic used by anarchists in the 19th century (e.g. the Nihilist movement), contemporary anarchists espouse alternative direct action methods such as nonviolence, counter-economics and anti-state cryptography to bring about an anarchist society. About the scope of an anarchist society, some anarchists advocate a global one, while others do so by local ones. The diversity in anarchism has led to widely different use of identical terms among different anarchist traditions, which has led to many definitional concerns in anarchist theory.

See also


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  9. Narveson, Jan (2002). Respecting Persons in Theory and Practice. Chapter 11: Anarchist's Case. "To see this, of course, we must expound the moral outlook underlying anarchism. To do this we must first make an important distinction between two general options in anarchist theory [...] The two are what we may call, respectively, the socialist versus the free-market, or capitalist, versions."
  10. Tormey, Simon, Anti-Capitalism, A Beginner's Guide, Oneworld Publications, 2004, pp. 118-119.
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Further reading

  • Anarchism. A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Robert Graham, editor.
    • Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE to 1939) Black Rose Books, Montréal and London 2005. ISBN 1551642506.
    • Volume Two: The Anarchist Current (1939–2006) Black Rose Books, Montréal 2007. ISBN 9781551643113.
  • Anarchism, George Woodcock (Penguin Books, 1962). .
  • Anarchy: A Graphic Guide, Clifford Harper (Camden Press, 1987): An overview, updating Woodcock's classic, and illustrated throughout by Harper's woodcut-style artwork.
  • The Anarchist Reader, George Woodcock (ed.) (Fontana/Collins 1977; ISBN 0006340113): An anthology of writings from anarchist thinkers and activists including Proudhon, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Malatesta, Bookchin, Goldman, and many others.
  • Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice, Edward Stringham (Transaction Publishers, 2007; ISBN 1412805791): An overview of the major arguments and historical studies about private property anarchism.
  • Anarchy as Order: The History and Future of Civic Humanity, Mohammed Bamyeh (Rowan & Littlefield, 2009).

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