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File:Anarchy symbol.png
The symbol of Anarchism

Anarchism is a political philosophy advocating the removal of the State and the establishment of a society without government. The term is of Greek origin (coming from the word "αναρχία" (anarchia), meaning "without rulers".) Anarchists oppose the use of prisons. Anarchists tend to oppose any form of government, but can be found expressing support for direct democracy, freedom of speech, de-centralism, individualism and anti-authoritarianism.

Anarchists generally oppose what Noam Chomsky has termed "illegitimate authority": stopping a child from running into a busy street would be an act of legitimate authority. The government and other coercive entities are considered illegitimate.

Traditional anarchism

Traditional anarchism is similar to communism, though unlike communism, traditional anarchists do not favor socialism as a means to their end, as it requires a state. Traditional anarchists advocate the formation of collectives. Traditional anarchism rejects all authority, both of business and of government.

Types of anarchism

Christian anarchism

Leo Tolstoy

Christianity has been influential on some anarchists. Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy is an important figure in this trend. Tolstoy's Christian anarchism was outlined in his book The Kingdom of God is Within You. Like all Christian anarchists, he believed that the only authority is God, therefore government is illegitimate. To support their views, Christian anarchists quote the following passage by Paul:

"There is no authority except that which God has established."


Anarcho syndicalism is the most influential branch of anarchism world wide, partly due to the syndicalists' involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Anarcho-syndicalism emphasizes workers' rights and trade unionism. In a syndicalist society workers would be self-managing, and a union of all workers would take the place of government. Syndicalism is not firmly opposed to the currency or trade of capitalism like most other branches.

Individualist anarchism

Unlike many forms of traditional anarchism, individualist anarchism does not, in a sense, advocate collectivism. Many individualist anarchists argue that both collective and individual freedom can go hand-in-hand. Individualist anarchists differ on the issues of private property and other rights.


Main article: Anarcho-capitalism

Anarcho-capitalism is a form of individualist anarchism that favors private police agencies, security companies, and arbitration as opposed to government. Anarcho-capitalism is the most extreme form of libertarianism.

Traditional anarchists argue that anarcho-capitalists are not true anarchists. This is due to the anarcho-capitalists' support of the authority of business and private property. Traditional anarchists argue that one cannot live without wages under a capitalist system.

Anarcho-capitalists argue that all support of business is voluntary, since one can choose between companies under a capitalist system. Anarcho-capitalists reject collectives, since they focus on the community rather than the individual, which may lead to a loss of individual freedom.

Anarchism in practice

Anarchism ranges through a number of different ideologies and practices. Some anarchists limit themselves to peaceful marches. Most refrain from voting. Others lead an insurrectionist lifestyle, which can include throwing rocks through Starbucks windows, yelling expletives at policemen, hacking into white nationalist or neo-Nazi websites, forming black blocs at national protests, and generally wreaking havoc on the system they are fighting against.

During the Spanish Civil War there occurred in the Republican areas a "Spanish Revolution". It involved the taking over of workplaces by those who worked in them. Industry began to be organized non-hierarchically. The anarchist union the CNT did this with considerable success.

Other uses

In addition to being a philosophy, anarchy can also be a description of a system in which there is no higher governmental authority. The world level of political interaction is considered anarchical, because there is no power over the sovereign states (i.e. there is no world government).

See Also