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Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political and social philosophythat rejects hierarchies as unjust and advocates their replacement with self-managed, self-governed societies based on voluntary, cooperative institutions. These institutions are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as distinct institutions based on non-hierarchical or free associations. Anarchism's central disagreement with other ideologies is that it holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful.
Anarchism is usually placed on the far-left of the political spectrum,and much of its economics and legal philosophy reflect anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism, or participatory economics. As anarchism does not offer a fixed body of doctrine from a single particular worldview, many anarchist types and traditions exist and varieties of anarchy diverge widely. Anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. Strains of anarchism have often been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism, or similar dual classifications.
The etymological origin of the word anarchism is from the ancient Greek word anarkhia, meaning "without a ruler", composed of the prefix a- (i.e. "without") and the word arkhos (i.e. "leader" or "ruler"). The suffix -ism denotes the ideological current that favours anarchy.The word anarchism appears in English from 1642 as anarchisme and the word anarchy from 1539. Various factions within the French Revolution labelled their opponents as anarchists, although few such accused shared many views with later anarchists. Many revolutionaries of the 19th century such as William Godwin (1756–1836) and Wilhelm Weitling (1808–1871) would contribute to the anarchist doctrines of the next generation, but they did not use the word anarchist or anarchism in describing themselves or their beliefs.
The first political philosopher to call himself an anarchist (French : anarchiste) was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865), marking the formal birth of anarchism in the mid-19th century. Since the 1890s and beginning in France, the term libertarianism has often been used as a synonym for anarchism and its use as a synonym is still common outside the United States. On the other hand, some use libertarianism to refer to individualistic free-market philosophy only, referring to free-market anarchism as libertarian anarchism.
While opposition to the state is central to anarchist thought, defining anarchism is not an easy task as there is a lot of talk among scholars and anarchists on the matter and various currents perceive anarchism slightly differently.Hence, it might be true to say that anarchism is a cluster of political philosophies opposing authority and hierarchical organization (including the state, capitalism, nationalism and all associated institutions) in the conduct of all human relations in favour of a society based on voluntary association, on freedom and on decentralisation, but this definition has the same shortcomings as the definition based on etymology (which is simply a negation of a ruler), or based on anti-statism (anarchism is much more than that) or even the anti-authoritarian (which is an a posteriori conclusion). Nonetheless, major elements of the definition of anarchism include the following:
During the prehistoric era of mankind, an established authority did not exist. It was after the creation of towns and cities that institutions of authority were established and anarchistic ideas espoused as a reaction.Most notable precursors to anarchism in the ancient world were in China and Greece. In China, philosophical anarchism was delineated by Taoist philosophers Zhuangzi and Lao Tzu. Likewise in Greece, anarchic attitudes were articulated by tragedians and philosophers. Aeschylus and Sophocles used the myth of Antigone to illustrate the conflict between rules set by the state and personal autonomy. Socrates questioned Athenian authorities constantly and insisted to the right of individual freedom of consciousness. Cynics dismissed human law (nomos) and associated authorities while trying to live according to nature (physis). Stoics were supportive of a society based on unofficial and friendly relations among its citizens without the presence of a state.
During the Middle Ages, there was no anarchistic activity except some ascetic religious movements in the Islamic world or in Christian Europe. This kind of tradition later gave birth to religious anarchism. In Persia, Mazdak called for an egalitarian society and the abolition of monarchy, only to be soon executed by the king.In Basra, religious sects preached against the state. In Europe, various sects developed anti-state and libertarian tendencies. Libertarian ideas further emerged during the Renaissance with the spread of reasoning and humanism through Europe. Novelists fictionalised ideal societies that were based not on coercion but voluntarism. The Enlightenment further pushed towards anarchism with the optimism for social progress.
During the French Revolution, the partisan groups of Enragés and sans-culottes saw a turning point in the fermentation of anti-state and federalist sentiments.The first anarchist currents developed thoughout the 18th century—William Godwin espoused philosophical anarchism in England, morally delegitimizing the state, Max Stirner's thinking paved the way to individualism, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's theory of mutualism found fertile soil in France. This era of classical anarchism lasted until the end of the Spanish Civil War of 1936 and is considered the golden age of anarchism.
Drawing from mutualism, Mikhail Bakunin founded collectivist anarchism and entered the International Workingmen's Association, a class worker union later known as the First International that formed in 1864 to unite diverse revolutionary currents. The International became a significant political force, and Karl Marx a leading figure and a member of its General Council. Bakunin's faction, the Jura Federation and Proudhon's followers, the mutualists, opposed Marxist state socialism, advocating political abstentionism and small property holdings.After bitter disputes the Bakuninists were expelled from the International by the Marxists at the 1872 Hague Congress. Bakunin famously predicted that if revolutionaries gained power by Marxist's terms, they would end up the new tyrants of workers. After being expelled, anarchists formed the St. Imier International. Under the influence of Peter Kropotkin, a Russian philosopher and scientist, anarcho-communism overlapped with collectivism. Anarcho-communists, who drew inspiration from the 1871 Paris Commune, advocated for free federation and distribution of goods according to one needs.
At the turning of the century, anarchism had spread all over the world.In China, small groups of students imported the humanistic pro-science version of anarcho-communism. Tokyo was a hotspot for rebellious youth from countries of the far east, pouring into the Japanese capital to study. In Latin America, São Paulo was a stronghold for anarcho-syndicalism where it became the most prominent left-wing ideology. During this time, a minority of anarchists adopted tactics of revolutionary political violence. This strategy became known as propaganda of the deed. The dismemberment of the French socialist movement into many groups and the execution and exile of many Communards to penal colonies following the suppression of the Paris Commune favoured individualist political expression and acts. Even though many anarchists distanced themselves from these terrorist acts, infamy came upon the movement. Illegalism was another strategy which some anarchists adopted these same years.
Anarchists enthusiastically participated in the Russian Revolution—despite concerns—in opposition to the Whites. However, they met harsh suppression after the Bolshevik government was stabilized. Several anarchists from Petrograd and Moscow fled to Ukraine,notably leading to the Kronstadt rebellion and Nestor Makhno's struggle in the Free Territory. With the anarchists being crushed in Russia, two new antithetical currents emerged, namely platformism and synthesis anarchism. The former sought to create a coherent group that would push for the revolution while the latter were against anything that would resemble a political party. Seeing the victories of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution and the resulting Russian Civil War, many workers and activists turned to communist parties which grew at the expense of anarchism and other socialist movements. In France and the United States, members of major syndicalist movements, the General Confederation of Labour and Industrial Workers of the World, left their organisations and joined the Communist International.
In the Spanish Civil War, anarchists and syndicalists (CNT and FAI) once again allied themselves with various currents of leftists. A long tradition of Spanish anarchism led to anarchists playing a pivotal role in the war. In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land.The Soviet Union provided some limited assistance at the beginning of the war, but the result was a bitter fight among communists and anarchists at a series of events named May Days as Joseph Stalin tried to seize control of the Republicans.
At the end of World War II, the anarchist movement was severely weakened.However, the 1960s witnessed a revival of anarchism likely caused by a perceived failure of Marxism–Leninism and tensions built by the Cold War. During this time, anarchism took root in other movements critical to both the state and capitalism such as the anti-nuclear, environmental and pacifist movements, the New Left, and the counterculture of the 1960s. Anarchism became associated with punk subculture as exemplified by bands such as Crass and the Sex Pistols, and the established feminist tendencies of anarcha-feminism returned with vigour during the second wave of feminism.
Around the turn of the 21st century, anarchism grew in popularity and influence within anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movements.Anarchists became known for their involvement in protests against the World Trade Organization, Group of Eight and World Economic Forum. During the protests, ad hoc leaderless anonymous cadres known as black blocs engaged in rioting, property destruction and violent confrontations with the police. Other organisational tactics pioneered in this time include security culture, affinity groups and the use of decentralised technologies such as the internet. A significant event of this period was the confrontations at the WTO conference in Seattle in 1999. Anarchist ideas have been influential in the development of the Zapatistas in Mexico, and the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, more commonly known as Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria.
Anarchist schools of thought have been generally grouped in two main historical traditions, social anarchism and individualist anarchism, owing to their different origins, values and evolution.The individualist current emphasises negative liberty, in opposing restraints upon the free individual, while the social current emphasises positive liberty, in aiming to achieve the free potential of society through equality and social ownership. In a chronological sense, anarchism can be segmented by the classical currents of the late 19th century, and the post-classical currents developed thereafter.
Beyond the specific factions of anarchist thought is philosophical anarchism which holds that the state lacks moral legitimacy, without accepting the imperative of revolution to eliminate it. A component especially of individualist anarchism,philosophical anarchism may tolerate the existence of a minimal state, but argues that citizens have no moral obligation to obey government when it conflicts with individual autonomy.
One reaction against sectarianism within the anarchist milieu was anarchism without adjectives, a call for toleration and unity among anarchists first adopted by Fernando Tarrida del Mármol in 1889 in response to the bitter debates of anarchist theory at the time.Despite separation, the various anarchist schools of thought are not seen as distinct entities, but as tendencies that intermingle.
Mutualism and individualism were inceptive among classical anarchist currents, followed by the major collectivist, communist and syndicalist currents of social anarchism. Social anarchist theory rejects private property, seeing it separate from personal property as a source of social inequality, and emphasises cooperation and mutual aid.Major currents within classical anarchism include:
Anarchist principles undergird contemporary radical social movements of the left. Interest in the anarchist movement developed alongside momentum in the anti-globalization movement,whose leading activist networks were anarchist in orientation. As the movement shaped 21st century radicalism, wider embrace of anarchist principles signaled a revival of interest. Contemporary news coverage which emphasizes black bloc demonstrations has reinforced anarchism's historical association with chaos and violence, though its publicity has also led more scholars to engage with the anarchist movement. Anarchism has continued to generate many philosophies and movements—at times eclectic, drawing upon various sources, and syncretic, combining disparate concepts to create new philosophical approaches. The anti-capitalist tradition of classical anarchism has remained prominent within contemporary currents.
Various anarchist groups, tendencies, school of thoughts that exist today, make it difficult to describe contemporary anarchist movement.While theorists and activists have established "relatively stable constellations of anarchist principles", there is no consensus on which principles are core. As a result, commentators describe multiple "anarchisms" (rather than a singular "anarchism") in which common principles are shared between schools of anarchism while each group prioritizes those principles differently. For example, gender equality can be a common principle but ranks as a higher priority to anarcha-feminists than anarchist communists. Anarchists are generally committed against coercive authority in the following forms: "all centralized and hierarchical forms of government (e.g., monarchy, representative democracy, state socialism, etc.), economic class systems (e.g., capitalism, Bolshevism, feudalism, slavery, etc.), autocratic religions (e.g., fundamentalist Islam, Roman Catholicism, etc.), patriarchy, heterosexism, white supremacy, and imperialism". Anarchist schools, however, disagree on the methods by which these forms should be opposed.
A broad categorization would be the preference of revolutionary tactics to destroy oppressive states and institutions or aiming to change society through evolutionary means. Revolutionary methods can take violent form as they did in past insurgencies (i.e. in Spain, Mexico and Russia) or during violent protests by militant protestors such as the black bloc, who are generally much less violent than revolutionary movements a century ago. Anarchists also commonly employ direct action which can take the form of disrupting and protesting against unjust hierarchies, or the form of self-managing their lives through the creation of counterinstitutions such as communes and non-hierarchical collectives.Often decision-making is handled in an anti-authoritarian way, with everyone having equal say in each decision, an approach known as horizontalism. Another aspect of anarchist tactics is their aim to strengthen social bonds through common actions. Reclaiming public space by anarchists is another method of creating social spaces and creating squats in order to organise themselves. During important events such as protests and when spaces are being occupied, they are often called temporary autonomous zones.
Anarchist perspectives towards violence have always been perplexed and controversial.On one hand, anarcho-pacifists point out the unity of means and ends. On the other hand, other groups of anarchist are for direct action that can include sabotage or even terrorism. This view was quite prominent a century ago, since some anarchist saw state as a tyrant and hence they had every right to oppose its oppression by any mean possible. Emma Goldman and Errico Malatesta, who were proponents of limited use of violence, were arguing that violence is merely a reaction to state violence as a necessary evil. Peace activist and anarchist April Carter argues that violence is incompatible with anarchism because it is mostly associated with the state and authority as violence is immanent to the state. As the state's capability to exercise violence is colossal nowadays, a rebellion or civil war would probably end in another authoritarian institute.
In the current era, Italian anarchist Alfredo Bonanno a proponent of insurrectionary anarchism reinstated the debate on violence by rejecting the nonviolence tactic adopted since the late 19th century by Kropotkin and other prominent anarchists afterwards. Both Bonano and the likewise French group The Invisible Committee are advocating for small, informal affiliation groups, where each member was responsible for his own actions but would work together to bring down oppression utilizing sabotage and other violent means against state, capitalism and other enemies. Members of The Invisible Committee were arrested in 2008 on various charges, terrorism included.
Overall though, today's anarchists are much less violent and militant than their ideological ancestors. Mostly they engage in confronting with the police during demonstrations or in throwing Molotov cocktails, espacially in countries like Canada, Mexico or Greece.
As anarchism is a philosophy that embodies many diverse attitudes, tendencies and schools of thought and disagreement over questions of values, ideology and tactics is common, its diversity has led to widely different use of identical terms among different anarchist traditions which has led to many definitional concerns in anarchist theory. For instance, the compatibility of capitalism,nationalism and religion with anarchism is widely disputed. Similarly, anarchism enjoys complex relationships with ideologies such as Marxism, communism, collectivism and trade unionism. Anarchists may be motivated by humanism, divine authority, enlightened self-interest, veganism, or any number of alternative ethical doctrines. Phenomena such as civilisation, technology (e.g. within anarcho-primitivism) and the democratic process may be sharply criticised within some anarchist tendencies and simultaneously lauded in others. On a tactical level, propaganda of the deed was used by anarchists in the 19th century (e.g. the nihilist movement), with some contemporary anarchists espousing alternative direct action methods such as nonviolence 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.
Intersecting and overlapping between various schools of thought, certain topics of interest and internal disputes have proven perennial within anarchist theory.
An important current within anarchism is free love.In Europe, the main propagandist of free love within individualist anarchism was Émile 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. In Germany, the Stirnerists Adolf Brand and John Henry Mackay were pioneering campaigners for the acceptance of male bisexuality and homosexuality. More recently, the British anarcho-pacifist Alex Comfort gained notoriety during the sexual revolution for writing the bestseller sex manual The Joy of Sex . The issue of free love has a dedicated treatment in the work of French anarcho-hedonist philosopher Michel Onfray in such works as Théorie du corps amoureux. Pour une érotique solaire (2000) and L'invention du plaisir. Fragments cyréaniques (2002).
English anarchist William Godwin considered education an important aspect. He was against state education as he considered those schools as a way of the state to replicate privileges of the ruling class.Godwin thought that education was the way to change the world. In his Political Justice , he criticises state sponsored schooling and advocates for child's protection from coercion. Max Stirner wrote in 1842 a long essay on education called The False Principle of our Education in which Stirner was advocating for child's autonomy.
In 1901, Catalan anarchist and free thinker Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia established modern or progressive schools in Barcelona in defiance of an educational system controlled by the Catholic Church.Ferrer's approach was secular, rejecting both the state and church involvement in the educational process and gave pupils plenty of autonomy (i.e. on setting the curriculum). Ferrer was aiming to educate the working class. The school closed after constant harassment by the state and Ferrer was later on arrested. Ferrer's ideas generally formed the inspiration for a series of modern schools in the United States.
Russian Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy established a school for peasant children on his estate.Tolstoy's educational experiments were short-lived due to harassment by the Tsarist secret police. Tolstoy established a conceptual difference between education and culture. He thought that "[e]ducation is the tendency of one man to make another just like himself. [...] Education is culture under restraint, culture is free. [Education is] when the teaching is forced upon the pupil, and when then instruction is exclusive, that is when only those subjects are taught which the educator regards as necessary". For him, "without compulsion, education was transformed into culture".
A more recent libertarian tradition on education is that of unschooling and the free school in which child-led activity replaces pedagogic approaches. Experiments in Germany led to A. S. Neill founding what became Summerhill School in 1921.Summerhill is often cited as an example of anarchism in practice. However, although Summerhill and other free schools are radically libertarian, they differ in principle from those of Ferrer by not advocating an overtly political class struggle-approach. In addition to organising schools according to libertarian principles, anarchists have also questioned the concept of schooling per se. The term deschooling was popularised by Ivan Illich, who argued that the school as an institution is dysfunctional for self-determined learning and serves the creation of a consumer society instead.
Objection to the state and its institutions is sine qua non of anarchism.Anarchists consider the state as a tool of domination and it is illegitimate regardless of political tendencies. Instead of people being able to control the aspects of their life, major decisions are taken by a small elite. Authority ultimately rests solely on power regardless if it is open or transparent as it still has the ability to coerce people. Another anarchist argument against states is that some people constituting a government, even the most altruistic among officials, will unavoidably seek to gain more power, leading to corruption. Anarchists consider the argument that the state is the collective will of people as a fairy tale since the ruling class is distinct from the rest of the society.
Moral and pragmatic criticism of anarchism includes allegations of utopianism, tacit authoritarianism and vandalism towards feats of civilisation.
Anarchism is evaluated as unfeasible or utopian by its critics, often in general and formal debate. European history professor Carl Landauer argued that social anarchism is unrealistic and that government is a "lesser evil" than a society without "repressive force". He also argued that "ill intentions will cease if repressive force disappears" is an "absurdity".However, An Anarchist FAQ states the following: "Anarchy is not a utopia, [and] anarchists make no such claims about human perfection. [...] Remaining disputes would be solved by reasonable methods, for example, the use of juries, mutual third parties, or community and workplace assemblies". It also states that "some sort of 'court' system would still be necessary to deal with the remaining crimes and to adjudicate disputes between citizens".
In his essay On Authority, Friedrich Engels claimed that radical decentralisation promoted by anarchists would destroy modern industrial civilisation, citing an example of railways and making the following point:
Here too the co-operation of an infinite number of individuals is absolutely necessary, and this co-operation must be practised during precisely fixed hours so that no accidents may happen. Here, too, the first condition of the job is a dominant will that settles all subordinate questions, whether this will is represented by a single delegate or a committee charged with the execution of the resolutions of the majority of persona interested. In either case there is a very pronounced authority. Moreover, what would happen to the first train dispatched if the authority of the railway employees over the Hon. passengers were abolished?
In the end, it is argued that authority in any form is a natural occurrence which should not be abolished.
The anarchist tendency known as platformism has been criticised by Situationists,insurrectionaries, synthesis anarchists and others of preserving tacitly statist, authoritarian or bureaucratic tendencies.
Anarcho-capitalism is a political philosophy and economic theory that advocates the elimination of centralized states in favor of self-ownership, private property and free markets. Anarcho-capitalists hold that in the absence of statute, society tends to contractually self-regulate and civilize through the spontaneous and organic discipline of the free market.
Individualist anarchism is the branch of anarchism that emphasize the individual and their will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions and ideological systems. Although usually contrasted to social anarchism, both individualist and social anarchism have influenced each other. Mutualism, an economy theory particularly influential within individualist anarchism whose pursued liberty has been called the synthesis of communism and property, has been considered sometimes part of individualist anarchism and other times part of social anarchism. Many anarcho-communists regard themselves as radical individualists, seeing anarcho-communism as the best social system for the realization of individual freedom.
Free-market anarchism, or market anarchism, also known as free-market anti-capitalism and free-market socialism, is the branch of anarchism that advocates a free-market economic system based on voluntary interactions without the involvement of the state. A form of individualist anarchism, left-libertarianism and libertarian socialism, it is based on the economic theories of mutualism and individualist anarchism in the United States. Left-wing market anarchism is a modern branch of free-market anarchism that is based on a revival of such free-market anarchist theories. It is mainly associated with left-libertarians such as Kevin Carson and Gary Chartier, who consider themselves anti-capitalists and socialists.
The history of anarchism is as ambiguous as anarchism itself. Scholars find it hard to define or agree on what anarchism means, which makes outlining its history difficult. There is a range of views on anarchism and its history. Some feel anarchism is a distinct, well-defined 19th and 20th century movement while others identify anarchist traits long before first civilisations existed.
The nature of capitalism is a polarizing issue among anarchists, who advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful as well as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Capitalism is generally considered by scholars to be an economic system that includes private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit or income, the accumulation of capital, competitive markets, voluntary exchange and wage labor which has generally been opposed by anarchists historically. Since capitalism is variously defined by sources and there is no general consensus among scholars on the definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category, the designation is applied to a variety of historical cases, varying in time, geography, politics and culture.
Anarchists have traditionally been skeptical of or vehemently opposed to organized religion. Nevertheless, some anarchists have provided religious interpretations and approaches to anarchism, including the idea that glorification of the state is a form of sinful idolatry.
Left-libertarianism, also known as egalitarian libertarianism, left-wing libertarianism or social libertarianism, is a political philosophy and type of libertarianism that stresses both individual freedom and social equality. As a term, "left-libertarianism" refers to several related yet distinct approaches to political and social theory. In its classical usage, it refers to anti-authoritarian varieties of left-wing politics such as anarchism, especially social anarchism, whose adherents simply called "libertarian". In the United States, it refers to the left-wing of the libertarian movement and the political positions associated with academic philosophers Hillel Steiner, Philippe Van Parijs and Peter Vallentyne that combine self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources. This is done to distinguish libertarian views on the nature of property and capital, usually along left–right or socialist–capitalist lines.
Libertarianism, or libertarism, is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgement. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions. Different categorizations have been used to distinguish various forms of libertarianism. This is done to distinguish libertarian views on the nature of property and capital, usually along left–right or socialist–capitalist lines.
"An Anarchist FAQ" is a FAQ written by an international work group of social anarchists connected through the internet. It documents anarchist theory and ideas and argues in favor of social anarchism. It also explores other debates internal to the anarchist movement and counters common arguments against anarchism. It has been in constant evolution since 1995. While it was started as a critique of anarcho-capitalism, by the time it was officially released it had become a general introduction to anarchism.
Right-libertarianism, also known as libertarian capitalism or right-wing libertarianism, is a political philosophy and type of libertarianism that strongly supports capitalist property rights and defends market distribution of natural resources and private property. Like most forms of libertarianism, it generally tends to support civil liberties, but also natural law, negative rights and a major reversal of the modern welfare state. Right-libertarianism is contrasted with left-libertarianism, a type of libertarianism that combines self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources. In contrast to socialist libertarianism, it tends to support free-market capitalism. Like libertarians of all varieties, right-libertarians refer to themselves simply as "libertarians". This is done to distinguish libertarian views on the nature of property and capital, usually along left–right or socialist–capitalist lines.
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful as well as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism, known as anarchists, advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. While anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, opposition to the state is not its central or sole definition. For instance, anarchism can entail opposing authority or hierarchy in the conduct of all human relations.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to anarchism, generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism, known as anarchists, advocate stateless societies or non-hierarchical voluntary associations.
Anarchy refers to the state of a society being freely constituted without authorities or a governing body. It may also refer to a society or group of people that totally rejects unjustified hierarchy.
Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, although social ownership is the common element shared by its various forms.
Social anarchism is the branch of anarchism that sees individual freedom as interrelated with mutual aid. Social anarchist thought emphasizes community and social equality as complementary to autonomy and personal freedom. It attempts to accomplish this balance through freedom of speech maintained in a decentralized federalism, with freedom of interaction in thought and subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is best defined as "that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry" and that "[f]or every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them", or the slogan "Do not take tools out of people's hands".
Post-left anarchy is a recent current in anarchist thought that promotes a critique of anarchism's relationship to traditional leftism. Some post-leftists seek to escape the confines of ideology in general while also presenting a critique of organizations and morality. Influenced by the work of Max Stirner and by the Situationist International, post-left anarchy is marked by a focus on social insurrection and a diminution of leftist social organisation.
Anti-statism is any approach to social, economic or political philosophy that rejects statism. An anti-statist is one who opposes intervention by the state into personal, social and economic affairs. In anarchism, this is characterized by a complete rejection of all hierarchical rulership.
Classless society refers to a society in which no one is born into a social class. Such distinctions of wealth, income, education, culture, or social network might arise and would only be determined by individual experience and achievement in such a society.
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds ruling classes and the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations.
Anarchism and libertarianism, as broad political ideologies with manifold historical and contemporary meanings, have contested definitions. Their adherents have a pluralistic and overlapping tradition that makes precise definition of the political ideology difficult or impossible, compounded by a lack of common features, differing priorities of subgroups, lack of academic acceptance, and contentious, historical usage.