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The anarchy symbol. Fun fact: the circle is actually a Capital "O" and together the symbol stands for the slogan "Anarchy is Order"
It's not anarchy, it's
Icon Anarchism.svg
Smash the state
Domestic terrorists?
I'm not a fascist, I like...
Actually fascism is cool

Anarchism is a political philosophy that aims to create a society without involuntary or coercive political, economic, or social hierarchies to maximize individual liberty and social equality.[1][2]

Anarchism was historically associated very strongly with the labor union movement, with many anarchists seeing organized labor as an ideal tool for overthrowing the twin evils of the state and capitalism. However, the "success" of the Russian Revolution, the failure or unabashed brutalityWikipedia of several attempted anarchist revolutions (most notably in Ukraine[3] and Catalonia),[note 1] and the general backlash and heavy suppression following a number of high profile assassinations devastated their support amongst the general public.


Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first self-labelled anarchist.

In 1793, William Godwin published An Inquiry into Political Justice, in which he presents his view of a free society based on equality and justice, alongside a critique of the government. Although he never used the term "anarchism," Godwin is considered the first anarchist and the forebear of utilitarianism.[4] It would not be until Pierre Joseph-Proudhon published What is Property? in 1840 that the term "anarchist" was adopted as a self-description.[5] In 1844, Max Stirner published The Ego and His Own, giving birth to individualist anarchism.[6]

By the mid-19th century, a series of events shook anarchism. First, in 1857, the French communist Joseph Déjacque coined the term "libertarianism,"[7][note 2] whose use became widespread in the late 1880s due to the anti-anarchist laws in the French Third Republic.[8] This laid the foundations for anarchist thought.

The second event was the Paris Commune.Wikipedia During the Franco-Prussian War, the city of Paris was left to fend for itself. So it did, by revolting against the French Third Republic. The upper classes had managed to flee the city, and the French National Guard and the commoners seized the workshops they were already running, where they formed a primitive social democracy of sorts. How successful they would've been is an unanswered question; the French Army showed up to retake control. The Republic cracked down on the rebels hard, culminating in "The Bloody Week" where around 10,000 Frenchmen were killed, and tens of thousands more imprisoned and/or exiled. The story of the Communards has had deep long-term philosophical effects on the nascent Marxist movement, in terms of the methods of revolution.[9]

Even if deserved, violence breeds more violence. The Communard fiasco arguably led to the third huge event, or rather, a period of events; the Propaganda of the deedWikipedia era. Anarchists began to bomb and assassinate world leaders, for the purpose of "inspiring" others to join the anarchist cause. In terms of assassination, they were surprisingly successful; quite a few heads of state were killed. In terms of achieving their actual long-term goals of an anarchist revolution, less so. The bombings and murders caused the general public to reject anarchism out of hand, and for governments of the world to become extremely hostile to anarchist groups.

Simultaneously, the anarchists and Marxists began to split further and further apart, the first great split in the radical left,[note 3] with the collapse of the International Workingmen's Association in 1876.[10]

From the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, the most successful anarchist ideology was anarcho-syndicalism.Wikipedia Anarcho-syndicalist organizations like the Industrial Workers of the World and Confederación Nacional del TrabajoWikipedia were founded and gained a surprising amount of membership in a relatively short amount of time and even rebounded from the First Red Scare.Wikipedia[11] However, from the late 1920s to the late 1930s, the anarcho-syndicalist movement would suffer from splits and suppression, finally collapsing into irrelevancy by the end of the Second World War.[12]

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the anarchist movement was weakened but would suffer a temporary revival in the New Left. The rise of the New Right and the appropriation of anarchism by right-wingers, however, was the most notable event of anarchist history in the second half of the 20th century.[13]


Nestor Makhno with leaders of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine.

There have been several attempts at establishing an anarchist society. Most of them ultimately did not survive, but anarchists argue that these movements were crushed by fascists (CataloniaWikipedia and, arguably, KoreaWikipedia) and Soviet communists (Ukraine,Wikipedia Kronstadt,Wikipedia and TambovWikipedia) rather than being inherently unworkable. Marxists retort that anarchism's emphasis on the "free individual" makes fledgling anarchist societies too vulnerable, as they lack the discipline to unite effectively in the face of opposition, and if they were to be conquered and absorbed anyway, Marxists might as well be the ones doing the conquering.

Other lay explanations for failed anarchist revolutions include an alleged "inherent lack of organization," but this is somewhat lacking in both historical and theoretical merit. Anarchist literature such as Emma Goldman's essay "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For" makes the case for anarchism on the grounds that it represents order in contrast with the chaos of capitalism and the warring nation state,[14] while Michael Bakunin's famous boot-maker analogy offers a well-known (in anarchist circles) defense of qualified expertise:[15]

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me.

Though this quote does not necessarily help clarify the anarchist position as much as it appears to. Ultimately, all political philosophies believe that only legitimate authority should be respected; the pressing question, then, is not 'should we respect illegitimate authority', but rather 'what makes an authority legitimate?'. Anarchists saying they oppose "illegitimate heirarchies" or "unqualified expertise" and are fine with "legitimate heirarchies" aren't really saying much more than "we don't respect things that don't deserve respect", which is a bit of a tautology.

Anarchists, at least in theory, support an organized society; Emma Goldman even went as far as to argue that Capitalism isn't organized enough. Historically, as short-lived as most anarchist societies are, they have tended to exist for a period of time that would be impossible to maintain without at least some level of organization and have in the past been able to field military forces of a reasonable size organized with delegated 'officers' for a chain of command.[16] Honorary mention of course goes to the Iron Column,Wikipedia a less successful anarchist militia consisting of recently freed convicts — a terrible plan that turned out exactly as you might think it would.

Overview and tactics[edit]

Proponents of Anarchism don't have a consensus on tactics or what is an acceptable means to the end, though there are some common trends. Some of these are relatively non-violent such as "Direct Action", which include obstructive sit-ins, labor strikes, workplace occupations, street blockades and hacktivism, along with more violent approaches such as sabotage, vandalism, and destruction of property. The last one, destruction of property, is a bit of an issue amongst anarchists; Anarchism doesn't really have a strong concept of or respect for private property rights,[17] and so many anarchists themselves see property damage as a minor issue, whereas almost everyone else does view property damage as a serious issue, which can result in a lot of bad press coverage and hostility towards anarchists.[18] Property damage is considered a violent crime in some jurisdictions.[19][20][21] These are known as diversity of tactics,Wikipedia based on the premise that reliance on any one tactic is an unnecessary constraint and that an anarchist movement should be able and willing to use whatever tactics are most appropriate for its situation.

Violence and terrorism[edit]

Washington Times coverage of the 1919 spree of anarchist bombings in the United States.
It is true that the State is not a window, but neither is it just an abstract concept. Breaking windows is not a revolutionary act and neither is any other act if taken out of context and presented as an abstraction, ignoring the intentions and strategy of those who break the windows. The State or Capital or colonialism cannot be attacked as abstractions. They can only be attacked in their material forms, their social relations and their institutions.
—Oshipeya, No action is sufficient in itself[22]

In theory, anarchists oppose all forms of coercion, including violence. But for those anarchists who believed the ends justify the means, well, let's just say the anarchists of prior centuries were no pushovers. Compared to today, there were far more arguments about the role violence should play in revolutionary actions,[23][24] particularly considering that any instances of violence does give the mass media the ability to smear any movement as more violent than it actually is.[25]

Terrorism was once a very well known tactic during the propaganda of the deedWikipedia era, often involving the targeting of the ruling classes themselves and making a big show of it.[26] The Grandmother of all anarchists, Emma Goldman, endorsed such violence, being involved in assassination attempts and praising actual murderers. But the more anarchist bombings and assassinations occurred, the more the State clamped down upon Anarchist organizations, such as the execution and exile of the French communardsWikipedia and violent strike-breaking in the United States, which led to more violence from anarchist movements, which led to more state suppression, which led to... well, you can fill in the rest.[27] The circle of violence is like that.

Someone wise once said, "If you come at the King, you best not miss", and anarchists didn't always miss. Infamous killings include:

  • The assassination of Tsar Alexander II of RussiaWikipedia in March 13, 1881 by the revolutionary group Narodnaya Volya;Wikipedia
  • The assassination of Empress Elizabeth of Austria by Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni in 1898. Interestingly, Lucheni stabbed her in the heart, but she survived for about a half hour afterwards since her corset and the weapon itself stopped the bleeding.[28]
  • The Assassination of William McKinley,Wikipedia the 25th president of the United States, on September 6, 1901, allowing his more progressive VP Theodore Roosevelt to become president;
  • The failed assassination of Leopold II of BelgiumWikipedia by Gennaro Rubino in November 15, 1902;
  • The assassination of the Spanish Prime Minister in August of 1897, and then a few years later the attempted regicide of King Alfonso XIIIWikipedia on May 31st, 1906, which resulted in 24 bystanders dead and over 100 more injured;
  • The 1919 United States anarchist bombingsWikipedia which led to the First Red Scare;
  • The Lisbon RegicideWikipedia on February 1, 1908, and the Haymarket massacreWikipedia on May 4, 1886, are often included, but whether the perpetrators were anarchists is unclear.
  • Many, many more. One can find a number of parallels to what typically comes to mind when people talk about terrorism.[29] In fact, at least one historian has argued that modern terrorism, as political violence towards civilians rather than mayor government figures, began with the 1894 anarchist bombing of the Café Terminus by Émile Henry.Wikipedia[30]:5

This... didn't have the desired effect. Murdering a few world leaders neither brought about the collapse of the hierarchy to be replaced with an egalitarian paradise, nor did it endear anarchism to the masses. For example, Auguste Vaillant'sWikipedia attack sparked sympathy for anarchism among the French working class, but it was largely because they could emphasize with Vaillant's unbelievably miserable life, seeing him as a good man forced into evil by poverty. They were otherwise uninterested in anarchist political theory.[30]:145-146 The French press also turned against anarchist intellectuals and academics and blamed them for the outburst of radical anarchist violence in France. And because history likes to rhyme, one author decided to blame a controversial book, Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, calling it a "manual for assassination."[30]:139[note 4]

By 1887, various important figures in the anarchist movement rejected this tactic.[31][note 5] However, the high profile nature of the attacks attracted various "lone wolfs" and other attention seekers, which led to more attacks regardless of what the more intellectually-oriented anarchists wanted.[32] Harsh penalties for anarchists also meant that extremists saw them as a chance for martyrdom rather than as an deterrent.[30]:209 As one would expect after the successful assassination of several heads of state, many of whom were actually popular with the majority of people, the various governments of the world cracked down on the anarchist movement, hard. The various governments of the world had broad public support for what was in effect the 19th-century version of the PATRIOT ACT, i.e., repression of free speech and the monitoring of illicit activities such as the Lois scélératesWikipedia ("villainous laws") in the French Third Republic, or the criminal syndicalismWikipedia laws in the US.

Pacifism and non-violence[edit]

As violence is a form of coercion, or perhaps having learned from the failure of the "Propaganda of the Deed" era in terms of gaining public support or achieving an anarchist society, most anarchist groups have ostensibly renounced violence. However, since many anarchists often view private property as illegitimate, they may not see property damage as a problem,[33] so what anarchists and non-anarchists consider to be "pacifism" are not necessarily the same thing.

Regardless, "Pacifism" does not equal "Passive". Many Anarchist groups are based on the principle of direct action,Wikipedia in which political activists leverage their power (economic, political, and even social privilege) to reach certain goals. Elections are not considered to be direct action per se, except as a way to discredit electoral politics as political parties betray their constituents in pursuit of ill-thought policies.[34] Examples of direct action includes striking (labor strikes, rent strike, student strike, prison strike, etc.), squatting, sit-ins, and demonstrations. They tend to favor community organizing and spurn participating in elections and political parties.[35] Dual power,Wikipedia on the other hand, seeks to build institutions to confront and eventually replace capitalism, including people's assemblies, cooperatives, credit unions, labor unions, and others. Libertarian socialists favor dual power as a way of building up participatory democracy and challenging both capitalism and the state.[36][37]

Mutual aid[edit]

The other common tactic amongst anarchist groups is mutual aid,Wikipedia which is based on voluntary and reciprocal exchange of resources and services, an idea that is appealing to anarchists.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, citizens and a few anarchists founded the Common Ground CollectiveWikipedia and the Common Ground Health Clinic,Wikipedia[38] with the aid of various other humanitarian organizations such as Veterans for Peace, to make up for the abysmal lack of government response. It received a lot of volunteer aid from young whites, something that was noticed by the media at the time.[39]

The loose federation of collectives called Food Not BombsWikipedia is another notable mutual aid group which is a sharing franchise based on freely sharing food with others. The group has been particularly involved in controversies relating to municipal bans on homeless feeding.[40] In Orlando, Florida, volunteers were arrested but the charges were later dropped.[41] In 2012, FNB provided relief in Long Island after the Superstorm Sandy,[42] and in November 2014, members were arrested for violating the feeding ban in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[43] resulting in a media circus.[44]

In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria,[45] and the government was once again beyond useless,[46] with Trump's antics being lambasted[47] and the territory being decimated by austerity policies.[48] In response, an anarchist group called Mutual Aid Disaster Relief send a team to Puerto Rico[49] to help build a solar-based electric grid,[50] which the local authorities have tried to undermine[51] in favor of natural gas.

Anarchist schools of thought[edit]

Anarchism has always differed from Marxism on three points:

  • To anarchists, the state and class rule are synonymous and a tool of the enforcement of one class's rule over another, and seek the immediate abolition of the state. Marxists, particularly those inspired by Lenin, believe that there must exist a transitional state during the revolution until the latter is finalized and then the state will wither away. This transitional state is called the dictatorship of the proletariat, the process in which the proletariat seizes the state and harnesses its power to suppress resistance to the socialist revolution.[52] However, libertarian Marxists criticise Leninists for their support of vanguardism, which would result in a one-party state. For libertarian Marxists, the dictatorship of the proletariat exists to expand democracy rather than to implement a minority rule.[53]
  • While it's true that both communists and anarchists seek the immediate abolition of the state, Marxists believe in a centralized production even after the state is abolished. Anarchists, on the other hand, prefer a completely different type of relations of production; their ideal consists of tiny communes that reminds of Medieval Europe according to some Marxist authors, such as Nikolai Burkharin.[54][note 6]
  • While Marxist schools of thought often have a individual founder (Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc.), anarchist schools of thought emerged based on organizational principles or forms of practise.[55]

Much like Metal and Punk music, it can seem that there's more sub-sub-genres of Anarchism than actual groups, which makes a certain kind of sense considering how many of those bands claim to be Anarchist. Also much like Metal, the actual demarcation between some of the sub-sub-genres are often completely arbitrary. More importantly, many "different schools" are actually just "groups of different people with different goals that they believe can be achieved through anarchy".

Classical anarchism[edit]

Classical anarchism emerged out of the traditions of secular Enlightenment thought, drawing on the political and moral philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and its heavy focus on notions of freedom, justice, equality and a utopian vision of the "general will" expressed through the sovereignty of people’s assemblies under direct rather than representative democracy. It inspired the anarcho-communism spread by Nestor Makhno's Black Army in Ukraine after the Russian Revolution, and later the anarchist revolutions in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. The results were not pretty.Wikipedia Both of which were ultimately crushed by state socialists/fascists,[56] and it's unclear whether that was or was not an improvement.

Individualist anarchism[edit]

Individualist anarchism is a sub-sect of anarchism that emphasises the individual and their free will over any dominant groups including the state, religion, society, traditions and ideology.


Mutualism was the anarchist school of thought starting with Pierre-Joseph ProudhonWikipedia, the first to call himself "anarchist" (though earlier thinkers had ideas much like his). In 1840, he wrote the book What is Property?, a critique of property-rights ideas that contains the famous declaration "Property is Theft." However, he also stated that property is freedom, rationalizing it by distinguishing two kinds of property: property earned by labor, which he stated was justified and essential to liberty, and property earned by coercion, which he stated was unjustified and would lead not to liberty but to tyranny. By his definition, the State is inherently coercive, ergo illegitimate. Proudhon advocated mutual banks or a Bank of the People (similar to a credit union) for wage workers and independent craftsmen (in his time being driven out by mass production) to fund themselves. His mutualism supported what he called the "anti-capitalist free market", one with cooperative businesses competing and trading, while having a different conception of property based on the labor theory of value, namely possession, or active occupancy and use, instead. This definition of property led him to mark the state as illegitimate, along with income earned through loans, investments, and rent.[57] Even though it is based on the same theory of value as communism, it stands alone in the field with its stance on private property. As mutualist Clarence Swartz said:

One of the tests of any reform movement with regard to personal liberty is this: Will the movement prohibit or abolish private property? If it does, it is an enemy of liberty. For one of the most important criteria of freedom is the right to private property in the products of one's labor. State Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists and Communist-Anarchists deny private property.

Mutualism effectively ceased to exist as an organized movement in the early 20th century but has recently been revived as sort of a middle position bridging the gap between anarcho-socialist tendencies on the left and the market anarchism of the libertarian movement, with Kevin Carson as its best-known modern theorist. Many mutualists support the idea of "possession," that one ceases to own land if one is not actively using it or residing upon it, thereby skirting around the inevitable issues surrounding private property.[58]

The Mondragon corporation is a co-operative in Spain with over 80,000 employees (2012) that presents some idea of how workers can manage their workplaces successfully and competitively in a capitalist economy. Another example is the John Lewis chain of department stores in the UK, which had 84,700 employees in 2013. Neither of these two examples had much to do with anarchism, however, as they are hierarchical cooperatives with substantial pay differentials and managers having the power to hire and fire underlings.

Market anarchism[edit]

Also referred as Free market anticapitalism,[59] market anarchism is a school of anarchism that wish to create a truly "free market" without capitalism and the state, with an economy controlled by worker co-operatives and self-employed workers competing in a functional market economy. It's inspired by Pierre Joseph-Proudhon's ideas of mutualism, which espoused a free market controlled by cooperative businesses competing for trade and with a definition of property based on occupancy and use.[60] A modern branch called left-wing market anarchism has also risen based on the homestead principleWikipedia in recent years.[61]

Egoist anarchism[edit]

Also known as anarcho-egoism, egoist anarchism is inspired by the ideas of Max Stirner, who argued for a rejection of all things which limit the individual. He rejected not only the usual anarchist bêtes noires (hierarchies, the state, capitalism, organized religion, nationalism, etc.), but also conventional morality and values and all "higher ideals" (such as obligations), seeing them as abstractions which people willingly surrendered their power to and consequently acted to uphold the legitimacy of the ruling order. It was supplanted by social anarchism, but a translation by socialist Benjamin Tucker[62] made the movement ascendant, and its influence spread to anarcho-communism.[63]

Social anarchism[edit]

Social Anarchism or anarcho-socialism is a broad category that distinguishes itself from individualist anarchism by favoring a communal solution to social problems and favoring a free society that protects individual liberty, contrasting the individualists' emphasis on personal autonomy and the rational nature of human beings. Of the two, social anarchism was the more popular and widespread category of classical anarchism.[64]


Also known as collectivist anarchism, this ideology was begun by the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin.Wikipedia While naming Proudhon as "the father of us all," he felt mutualism was not a step far enough, particularly as capitalism and the state had both expanded in the time since. Bakunin was also opposed to religion, declaring that "the idea of God denies humanity. God being everything, man is nothing," and "if God really existed it would be necessary to abolish him," turning Voltaire's dictum on its head. More generally, he opposed organized religion (one of his most notable works being God and the State (1882)), a position held by many anarchists who view the church as another oppressive hierarchy alongside the state. Bakunin's anarcho-collectivism criticized Marxism as leading to a new ruling class party hierarchy while advocating full collective worker management of production, a doctrine later expanded on by the anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists. The primary difference between anarcho-collectivism and anarcho-communism is that anarcho-collectivism would preserve wage labor as the method of distribution of goods while anarcho-communism would seek to abolish money and have free consumption for all.[65]


Anarcho-syndicalism is an Anarchist tendency of revolutionary syndicalism,Wikipedia which seeks to organize workers in revolutionary trade unions, federated or not, that would overthrow capitalism, eventually establishing a free society run through cooperative confederations called syndicates managing the economy in which profits are distributed amongst the workers.[66] Revolutionary syndicalism is marked by its political neutrality, seeking to unite the working class without being bogged down in inefficient and often disappointing philosophical debates.[67]

Anarcho-syndicalism takes those aims steps further, organizing the working class in explicit revolutionary politics. While syndicalists organize workers in the workplace, anarcho-syndicalists organize communities, rent strikes, and unemployment organizations and seek to abolish the wage system and the state.[68]

Anarcho-syndicalism has some similarities to De Leonism. The main difference is that De Leon rejected anarchism and would have the state re-organized as a "dictatorship of the proletariat" rather than abolished entirely. In terms of absolute numbers, anarcho-syndicalism has historically been the largest and most politically active anarchist tendency, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s,[note 7] during which various anarcho-syndicalist organizations collectively claimed well over ten million active members. Among the different anarchist traditions, anarcho-syndicalism also has a fair bit of academic prestige and, in modern times, is associated with American intellectuals such as Norman Spinrad and Noam Chomsky.

Historical examples of modern anarcho-syndicalism are the CNT and CGT in Spain, CNT in France, and IWW in the USA — still highly active, though numerically diminished compared to their heyday. The anarcho-syndicalist strategy is to form workplace resistance groups amongst employees in workplaces controlled by capitalist firms, not to form cooperatives. However, most anarcho-syndicalists would not be hostile to the cooperative idea, seeing it as a helpful complement, especially for blacklisted workers. During the Spanish Civil War, anarcho-syndicalists established free communes. Production and innovation were reported to have increased fairly dramatically, up to even 50% according to Emma Goldman's memoirs, and were distributed in an egalitarian manner to all. Workers seized control of the factories, peasants the farmland, free schools were set up to teach in new ways, and universal literacy began to be achieved. They were eventually undermined by lack of funding due to the hostile Soviet Union controlling their money supply, attacks by the Stalinist-controlled Spanish Republican government, and finally, the victory of fascist dictator Francisco Franco, supported by many fascists governments in Europe. This was helped by the infighting on the Republican side, plus a lack of support.


Anarcho-communism, also known as libertarian communism or simply ancom, is a strand of communism that seeks to abolish the state along with private property, markets, borders, social hierarchies, money, and the system of wage labor (frequently referred to as wage slavery), implementing instead a system of collective ownership of the means of production, exchange and trade through the use and establishment of voluntary associations; the most common of which being workers communes.[69]

Important figures in the ancom movement were Errico Malatesta of Italy, Nestor Makhno of Ukraine, Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman in the United States, and Pyotr Kropotkin in Russia. Kropotkin is often seen as the leading influence in the ancom movement, outlining his economic views in his famous work The Conquest of Bread (1892) and Fields, Factories and Workshops (1899) and his social views in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902) in which outlined that cooperation was more beneficial than competition.

Anarcho-communism flourished in the Ukrainian Free Territory,Wikipedia in which free communes operated under the protection of Nestor Makhno's Revolutionary Insurrection Army. However, the Free Territory would soon come under attack by the Bolshevik forces, who slandered the Makhnovites as antisemitic and refusing to send food to the urban centers. This included various assassination attempts on Nestor and the ultimate destruction of the Free Territory by the Red Army.[70]

Contemporary anarchism[edit]

Contemporary anarchism refers to the tendencies that developed in the aftermath of the Second World War and during the Cold War to the present day. Contemporary anarchism rose from the ashes in the post-WWII world inspired by the philosophies and social critique of post-modernism, feminism, environmentalism, and the neo-Marxism of the Frankfurt school, all of which have their own critiques of bourgeois society.[71]


Anarcha-feminism (or anarcho-feminism) is not a separate tendency per se, this was partly based on the works of Emma Goldman, herself a dedicated feminist who advocated rights to birth control, abortion, free love, and open relationships along with equality for women in general long before such issues were considered acceptable to discuss, let alone to enact. Goldman argued prominently that voting rights for women by themselves would change nothing, that equality had to come along with a broader social revolution. Anarcha-feminists have followed her reasoning, critiquing sexism as simply another form of hierarchy (patriarchy or matriarchy here) while struggling for the same goals as other anarchists, especially devoted to making sure women have the same rights in anarchist movements and the idea of gender equality receives focus along with the rest. Free love advocacy and women's liberation have a long history within anarchism, going back to individualist anarchists Ezra Heywood and Moses Harman, whose freethought periodicals The Word and Lucifer the Light-Bearer were persecuted by Anthony Comstock under the Comstock Act for their open discussions of birth control and denunciation of marital rape[72]. It continued to be influential through the writings of Emma Goldman and Ben Reitman, who were also prosecuted under the Comstock Act, with Reitman sentenced to prison for advocating birth control.[73]

Queer anarchism[edit]

Like above, not a seperate tendency but a school of thought that believes queer liberation can only occur through a social revolution. There are many early writers that advocated socialism and LGBT rights, such as Oscar Wilde[74], who published in 1891 his most political work The Soul of Man Under Socialism[75]; individualist anarchist Adolf Brand, who published the first gay magazine Der EigeneWikipedia from the late 19th century to the rise of Nazi Germany; and the bisexual anarchist Daniel Guérin.[76]

Today, queer anarchist support for Bash Back!,Wikipedia an anarchist network opposing assimilationism within the LGBT movement and police brutality.[77][78]

Green anarchism[edit]

Green anarchists believe an ecological society living in harmony with the earth is incompatible with either capitalism or the state. They often look to Kropotkin's communal ideas as a potential model for an ecological society while also absorbing other influences ranging from individualist anarchism to anarcho-syndicalism to distributism. Most green anarchism divides between those following Murray Bookchin's Kropotkin-influenced writings and those who tend more toward Edward Abbey's less well-defined (and probably more libertarian and individualist anarchist) preference for direct action over theory. This is sometimes portrayed as a divide between the "garden" or "urban village" model of environmentalism (Bookchin) and the "wilderness" model (Abbey).[79]

The most influential thinker in Green Anarchism was Henry David Thoreau, although the man himself is better described as a minarchist or libertarian than an actual anarchist.[80] He popularized the phrase "That government is best which governs least". Thoreau famously gave up on the hustle and bustle of modern living for a year of quiet solitude at Walden Pond where he could collect his thoughts, advocated for a life of austerity, and his work on civil disobedience would later influence Gandhi and Dr MLK Jr. At the same time, he was a misanthropic asshole who hated being around others,[81] which should have been obvious when you think about it.


Anarcho-primitivists go even further than green anarchists, viewing civilization itself, from modern labor-saving technologies to language, as an anti-ecological, hierarchical institution. They advocate the complete abolition of industry, capitalism, and even agriculture, returning to a hunter-gatherer mode of life which they argue is more leisurely, free, and in tune with nature. They believe wilderness and wildlife have a right to exist for their own sake, and therefore, endorse such a lifestyle that they see as least destructive. John Zerzan is probably the most prominent thinker of the primitivist tendency, although Bob Black also contributes greatly. The methods of how to achieve this primitive back-to-nature society are contentious. The British anarcho-primitivist magazine Green Anarchist once praised Unabomber Ted Kaczynski (arguably close to anarcho-primitivism in his views, although his manifesto was rooted far less in environmental concerns and he himself viewed anarcho-primitivism with scorn) and the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan who released Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway. Needless to say, most green anarchists and those of other tendencies reject anarcho-primitivism. As a result, primitivism seems to have become somewhat estranged from the anarchism movement as well (although not to the extent that they are rejected by other anarchists entirely).

A common counterargument is that 7 billion people would have to die to make this dream a reality; the simple fact is that even if we all went vegetarian, without modern farming practices and all of the industries that it relies upon such as mining, smelting, manufacturing, power generation, transportation, etc, all of which require huge groups of people with various specializations working together, we simply could not grow enough food for everyone. Today Britain has 60 million people, many of them obese, yet when Britain had a more primitive, medieval system, there were only 2 million, often-starving peasants. However, anarcho-primitivists' concerns about agriculture are not entirely without reason, with Desert's critiques of how permaculture is unsustainable[82] now being reality with scientists warning that the UK's farmland has only 100 harvests left in it in 2014[83] and others giving warning of 30-40 years [84] before the soil becomes difficult if not impossible to grow crops on. However, this comes from only one peer-reviewed study that has had no calculation, prediction, or hard evidence to support that this is the case as well.[85]

As a response, some AnPrims have gone full collapsitarians, admitting the likely death and starvation of billions of people as something unavoidable (Olduvai hypothesis), or even a necessary step to achieve their primitive utopia. Curiously, it's someone else that'll be the ones to die, never them, even though it's the wealthy and most well-connected who are the last to suffer during any crisis. But even if an apocalypse occurs, there's no reason to believe that everyone will even desire to live in a primitive society. Should any one group become technologically advanced again, with higher populations and industrial output, well, we already know what happens when low-tech societies make contact with a more technologically advanced society.

More to the point, Paleolithic living standards were in fact much worse than current ones in developed societies, not better, assuming of course you enjoy easier access to food, living longer, having access to a toilet, not dying of sepsis the next time you get a moderate infection, and your baby actually having a more-than-likely chance of reaching adulthood.

Insurrectionary anarchism[edit]

Insurrectionary anarchism is a recent innovation and seems to be influenced by postmodern philosophy, nihilism, guerrilla warfare tactics, and anarcho-primitivism with some Kropotkin and Stirner thrown in. It is a murky area that is difficult to understand for those not already steeped in postmodernism. Insurrectionary anarchists tend to define themselves in contrast to organizational anarchists such as anarcho-syndicalists. Any form of organization at all is suspect (conveniently ignoring the fact that Homo sapiens are social and tribal by nature), probably at least proto-statist if not explicitly so, and deserving of deconstruction through the lens of postmodernism. In practice, this means that a permanent revolution and never-ending guerrilla insurrection, in the form of ever-shifting affinity groups that never coalesce into anything permanent, is needed. As to what society could ever hope to accomplish under such a system, is anybody's guess.

Some notable insurrectionary anarchist literatures include The Coming Insurrection and Armed Joy; modern organizations include the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, the now-repressed Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth, and many informal groups throughout Greece and other countries.

Post-left anarchism[edit]

Post-left anarchism, while preserving many characteristics of left-anarchism (such as opposition to hierarchies and oppression), abandons the moralistic critiques that left-anarchism employs. Post-left anarchism is often influenced by either anarcho-primitivists such as Zerzan or at times accelerationism through thinkers like Mark Fisher or Nick Land, as well as Deleuze. Post-Leftists often share the anti-civilization viewpoints that anarcho-primitivists hold. Post-left anarchists reject grand narratives that are often used by Marxists (such as dialectical materialism) but retains many critiques that Marxists made, especially the more unorthodox Marxists like the Situationists.

Post-Leftists vary widely ideologically as they reject rigid ideologies in favor of a "self-theory." For example, many self-identified Post-Left Anarchists are similar to anarcho-communists, whereas others may be almost indistinguishable from anarcho-primitivists.

It’s neither a political program nor an ideology. It’s not meant in any way to constitute some sort of faction or sect within the more general anarchist milieu. It’s in no way an opening to the political right; the right and left have always had much more in common with each other than either has in common with anarchism. And it’s certainly not intended as a new commodity in the already crowded marketplace of pseudo-radical ideas. It is simply intended as a restatement of the most fundamental and important anarchist positions within the context of a disintegrating international political left.[86]


Anarcho-transhumanism is a recent branch of anarchism that reads too much scifi takes traditional and modern anarchism, typically drawing from anarcho-syndicalism,Wikipedia left-libertarianism,Wikipedia or libertarian socialism and combines it with transhumanism and post-humanism.Wikipedia Some anarcho-transhumanists might also follow technogaianismWikipedia as well. The general idea is that human beings, as we are, created and continue to create governments, so viable anarchism might have to wait until we're better than we are now. At some point, we would be able to uplift ourselves into some form of "post-" society, though its particulars vary, e.g. on whether we become cybernetically enhanced ubermensch or we upload our minds into a universe of infinities. In a hypothetical cybernetic future, skills could be downloaded instantly, and there wouldn't be any need for a stratified economy based on ability; there'd be no difference in training requirements or limitations on "doctor" and "fry cook", so neither would be naturally higher than the other. In the brain-uploading route in particular, where the limitations are even fewer, it might be even less natural for a hierarchy of any sort to form. Of course, this is to date mostly all relegated to the theoretical.


Some anarchists consider themselves "anarchists without adjectives", not desiring to follow any one tendency but claiming to welcome all ideas. "Anarchism without adjectives" was founded as a response to the sectarian infighting among other schools of anarchist thought and began with the premise that all anarchist tendencies are equally valid. AWA is seen by some as a modern version of synthesis anarchism which extends to models other than the three (Syndicalism, Communism, and Individualism) that are embraced by standard synthesis anarchists. "Anarchists without adjectives" generally focus on delegitimizing the state rather than on one particular conception of an anarchist society, believing that all else will naturally follow and a world without government will likely be a combination of several forms of anarchist society rather than a single one.

Not-Anarchist schools of thought[edit]

The following schools of thought identify as Anarchistic, but as you will see, it would be more accurate to say that they simply want to replace the existing system of government with one of their own (bonkers) design than that they oppose the concept of government itself.

National anarchism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: National anarchism

In short, National anarchists are a bunch of neo-Nazis who don't think there should be a government there to keep them from committing hate crimes. National anarchism seeks the establishment of 'National Autonomous Zones' which would be "racially pure", "traditional" in terms of gender relations, "pre"-capitalist (a term which would actually entail Feudalism to anyone who knows what they're talking about, which is especially dumb here since opposing Feudalism is normally one of the few things nazis and commies can agree on), and ecologically sustainable. Unlike most other anarchists, including the Anarcho-Primitivists they steal from, national anarchists do not oppose hierarchy. Instead, they seek a hierarchy that arises "naturally" rather than the current hierarchies of modern society, i.e., Racialism, with themselves obviously at the top. National anarchists share some common ground with pan-archists as they argue that 'if you don't like it, you can just leave', join an existing society based on other values, or even start your own. For the most part, national anarchists are despised by other anarchists, provided they have even heard of them; national anarchism is fringe even compared to anarcho-capitalism. They have a habit of showing up uninvited to anarchist book fairs, getting run off by angry Antifascist Action affinity groups, and whining on the Internet about it.


…is not really worth mentioning, but we do anyway. The literature behind this idea is basically one crappy pamphlet[87] that was created as an undergraduate Poly-Sci thesis by a dude who had the nerve to list the fact that he cites his sources as one of his work's selling points.

The first two thirds or it are actually just a misogynistic rant of all things, and it's only when you get to the last third that he seems to remember what title he gave the book. But even then he never actually succeeds at reconciling anarchism with Fascism, instead flopping back and forth between National Anarchism; a nebulous, anti-bureaucratic, decentralized version of Fascism; and the sort of generic misogynistic reactionism you might hear from an octogenarian that won't let go of "the good ol' days".

As one can probably guess, other books by the author include such classics as När Migration Blir Konflikt ("When Immigrants Become Conflict")[88] and another book extolling the virtues of the alt-right, Att Förstå Alternativhögern.[89] So far, this is the fringe of the fringe, and hopefully it remains so.

The term "Anarcho-fascism" is sometimes also used interchangeably with National Anarchism.


See the main article on this topic: Anarcho-capitalism

Anarcho-Capitalism is what would emerge if a bunch of greedy monopoly men, mad that a government can keep them from exploiting their workforce, got together to discuss politics (though oddly enough, it turns out that most AnCaps are actually just shmucks who think they could become monopoly men under this system). Over the centuries, mass protests and the that whole "voting" fad resulted in workplace safety[90] and environmental regulation.[91] While almost everyone agrees that there should be some basic protections and there's debate as to what those protections should entail, AnCaps think any regulation on these topics is government overreach, and oppose the mere possibility of a government being able to mandate rules such as "don't dump toxic waste in our water supply". Of course, they believe that without any of these protections, it would be them and not someone else at the top.[note 8] Having already arrived at the conclusion but wanting a veneer of philosophical justification, they arrived at Anarcho-Capitalism. The idea is that absolutely no services would be provided by a public entity of any sort, not even the military or law enforcement. Instead, all such services, including the court system, would be provided by private contractors. You might know these organizations with such unpleasant terms as "mercenaries" or "the Mafia",[note 9] but AnCaps prefer the more palatable term "private defense agency".

In the best case scenario, this would devolve into a plutocracy quite quickly, with the winner of all disputes being "who can pay the mercenary the most", and it wouldn't be long before legal disputes quickly become a farce such as "this poor person has been illegally living for decades on the land I decided I wanted yesterday, and I can pay more". More realistically, with absolutely no central government, the mercenaries would quickly realize that if they have the guns and the rich people have the money, there's not much reason the mercenaries can't have both the guns and the money. This isn't merely a snide dismissal or some hypothetical; this literally happened in post-Soviet Russia.

Simply removing central government doesn't make a society anarchist; a town run by a priesthood instead of a king, for example, is a "theocracy", not anarchism. Though far from universal, many anarchists view the current Wealth-Hierarchy as inherently oppressive, and most anarchists view lassaiz-faire capitalism to be incompatible with anarchism. Handing over every government system over to the wealthy is anathema to just about everyone, not just anarchists, and nobody other than AnCaps view AnCaps as actually being anarchist. As such, AnCaps have accomplished something truly remarkable; proving anarchists can agree on something.

The term "anarcho-capitalist" is slowly being appropriated by the far-right, following in the ideas of thinkers like Hans-Hermann Hoppe (who thought having a king is compatible with anarchism, the "king" being someone who contractually owns all land in a given area). The far-right demographic within the anarcho-capitalist diaspora apply Hoppe's theories on anarcho-capitalism supported by complex webs of contractual agreements to propose all-White ethnostates free of "degenerate" behaviour (very pro-freedom).

As stated prior, most of the proponents of this school of thought dream of becoming rich and think that anarcho-capitalism would make it easier. But here's the catch: removing the public sector does not change the fact that a given company can only have one CEO (if we were all CEOs, then there'd be no employees), so your chances of becoming one of the top dogs would still be negligible, by simple dint of the sheer abundance of competition. Moreover, the skills necessary to become a CEO in an AnCap world are almost certain to be similar to the skills needed to become one today; if you're at the bottom today, with little way up, you're not going to have an easier time moving up in an AnCap world.[note 10] In fact, the replacement of the current legal system with an AnCap "free market" legal system would, if anything, only make it more difficult to unseat an existing CEO.

The large-scale problem[edit]

Perhaps the biggest issue facing Anarchism is, well, implementation on the large scale.[92] For almost all of human history, humans lived in small tribes of 100-200 other people, and when the tribe grew larger, the tribe would split into two related or allied tribes and the size of the group would be back down to around 100 individuals again. While these tribes did vary in terms of culture and decision-making, the tribes were typically more egalitarian than the larger settlements that would replace them.[93][note 11] With the rise of agriculture 10-12,000 years ago, small settlements of several hundred to a thousand people began to form. Paradoxically, the first farmers were typically much weaker and less healthy than the hunter-gatherers who had come before,[97] and it's actually still a divisive topic amongst anthropologists as to why early humans made this change, but once made, it quickly spread. One theory is alcohol,[98] another theory is disease.[99][note 12]

So why didn't our societies stay egalitarian as the tribe gave way to the city, why do we treat strangers far differently than we would treat family members or close friends? Why aren't we all just one big super-tribe without the need for a hierarchy of some form to keep everyone in line? Because humans are neither ants nor bees,Wikipedia[citation NOT needed] and the average human mind can only maintain so many personal relationships. Within this group, everyone is mentally/emotionally capable of being a closely bonded friend or relative of everyone else, and there's little issue with equitably sharing or working together for the overall benefit of the tribe. This is known in academia as "Dunbar's Number", estimated to be about 150,[100] or on the intertubes as "The Monkeysphere".[101] The exact number is hard to pin down,[102][103] but that it exists proves that humans simply can't form a closely-knit social group the size of a small town, let alone one the size of a nation or the whole globe.

Outside our own small social groups, other people cease to be "friend" and simply become "other person". Ultimately, the formation of factions, rivalries, and other "cliques" is unavoidable, which then leads to conflict and animosity between these sub-groups. Humans needed a way to resolve disputes, establish some measure of "justice" and "fairness", maintain a semblance of peace, organize protection, and allow people to get back to dealing with that whole "not starving to death" thing.

Historically, the solution to these problems were many of the very same hierarchical systems that Anarchists seek to eliminate. Rudimentary governments formed independently and evolved over time, cultures changed and adjusted, which created new problems as old problems were dealt with. Some sought to utilize human connection to minimize disputes, such as everyone knowing each other as a "friend of a friend" via their mutual friendship with a deity or local lord (or both in the case of god-kings). For all their faults of varying degrees, theocracy, caste systems, capitalism, socialism, monarchism, and feudalism have all proven themselves capable of the large-scale organization that society requires, with various hierarchical structures and forms of coercion keeping people "productive". Which system produced the "best" result[note 13] is dependent upon both the environment and technology; one of the brutal realities in sociology and philosophy is that there is no single "ultimate" universally superior system of organization or ethics that will always work better than any other possible system in every single situation. For example, feudalism, with its caste of military elite, makes sense in a world where malnutrition is the norm and the tools of war require years of experience to truly be competent, which is why it evolved independently all the way from Europe to Japan. In the modern world, where there's enough food for everyone to reach their full genetic height/strength potential and battles are fought with weapons that can be learned in a matter of days rather than a lifetime, feudalism is an atavism at best, which is why we today tend to eschew it in favor of more egalitarian systems. Democracy makes sense in a world where basic education, reliable information systems, and healthcare are the norms rather than exceptions, but not in a world where reliable news and education are sporadic at best. Even some bigotries which we'd consider anathema today had logical reasons for existing at some point in the past; for example, our modern attitudes towards sexual intercourse come from a world that has technologies such as contraception, paternity testing, and vaccines.[104] In the eras in which we lacked those crucial technologies, the system that produced the best results might very well have been one we'd consider repressive today.[note 14]

So far, anarchism has only proven itself capable in small niche applications.[105] On the scale of nations, successful anarchist "experiments" that demonstrate actual anarchism and the ability to function on a large scale simply do not exist, let alone prove that anarchism is a meaningful improvement over the current, hierarchical systems. Of course, whether this was due to external forces (read: suppression by neighboring states who saw said communities as a threat) or from inherent flaws is always going to be a point of contention. The overwhelming majority of anarchist communitiesWikipedia "collapsed" back into a hierarchal society quite swiftly, and the ones with any significant duration were/are made up of relatively like-minded volunteers living within and depending upon the framework of a larger, non-anarchist society. Most anarchists do admit that experimentation will be necessary to determine what will work best in a post-state world, and while they might attempt to put their ideas into practice on the smaller scale, no successful large-scale experiment has been completed.

The "most anarchist" form of government that has any success record on a larger scale is that of a confederation; individual communities/organizations that are broadly aligned. Nothing requires each community to be anarchist per se, but nothing prevents it either. The Zapatistas in southeastern Mexico are a vague mixture of anarchism, tribalism, socialism, and libertarianism, which conveniently allows the observer to only see exactly what they want to see, making them simultaneously the darlings of left-wingers and the boogeymen of right-wingers who don't actually have to live there. In Rojava (Kurdistan in Syria), similar confederations exist, though again, just how anarchist each local community is in practice varies. Similarly, the KibbutzWikipedia system of Israel were also an example of various anarchist/socialist/communist communities loosely aligned into a confederation, though they've lost a lot of popularity over time. Notably, all of these examples involve communities continuously at war with an outside force; it's unclear if the confederation-type system could survive without a common enemy.

The legal system and law enforcement[edit]

The police[edit]

Anarchist groups that espouse violence have historically clashed with the police (see for example the Haymarket affairWikipedia and Propaganda of the deed).Wikipedia[106] To the surprise of some, the side with better equipment, public and legal support, guns, and the ability to call in an inexhaustible supply of reinforcements via, for example, national guard or military, tend to have a bit of an advantage. Thanks to this bit of natural selection, Anarchist thought has evolved to be less violent since the early days. Regardless, anarchists subscribe to the idea that A.C.A.B,Wikipedia according to which there's no such thing as "good cops" because the police system itself serves to protect the interests of businesses and capital over people, and arguably, law enforcement itself has an unavoidable corrupting effect on the people who are a part of it. By definition, every police officer volunteered to commit violence, regardless of how noble the other reasons for becoming an officer are. Police officers are also required to enforce all laws, even laws most people would consider immoral, such as anti-homelessness legislation.Wikipedia[107][note 15] Historically, this has also included racial segregation and homophobic anti-sodomy laws.

However, those unfair laws were put in place and removed through popular demand; the obvious counter to this criticism is that it's also the job of the police to enforce the laws which protect the poor and vulnerable from abuse (but of course, that is conditional on popular demand, which some would read as deeply problematic). Furthermore, Anarchist societies of all forms will still require someone to enforce whatever rules they create, and it’s difficult to imagine how nearly identical problems with policing will be avoided with whatever alternative anarchists wish to create.

There's valid concern about law enforcement being infiltrated by various shady types such as white supremacists.[108] This is a global phenomenon, and Europe also has problems with far-right nationalists becoming police officers.[109] A job where you commit violence against "degenerates" might appeal to people who want to commit violence against "degenerates", who knew?

Potential alternatives with varying degrees of issues[edit]

However, such people exist no matter what kind of society you will build, which is not something anarchists are necessarily in denial of. This raises a very serious issue in anarchism in building alternatives to policing that don't carry similar or even worse problems. The police today are still made up of people working the job voluntarily, and they are vetted and trained for the job, though how good that process is in practice is up for debate. Non-police who potentially haven't been trained nor vetted are still able to volunteer, such as a neighborhood stalk watch, and one only need glance at the members of those groups to be absolutely terrified of such a system.

One notorious case, which began the start of the BLM movement, was that of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman couldn't even pass the vetting process in Florida of all places,[110] and so he became a leader of the local neighborhood stalk watch instead. While the story is a bit more complicated, the short version is that a Black teenager by the name of Treyvon Martin went to a store late at night to buy iced tea and candy, whereas Zimmerman wanted to play Hero. Zimmerman began following Martin, and Martin managed to run away. What happened next is a matter of dispute, as only two people were present for the whole confrontation and one of them is dead; according to Zimmerman, after he lost track of Martin, Martin returned and attacked him. The altercation ended up on the ground with Martin allegedly on top, whereafter Zimmerman pulled out his gun and fatally shot Martin. Zimmerman was quickly arrested, but Florida being what it is, released him just a few hours later. This became an obvious sore point for the Black community and protests formed, and Florida was pressured into pressing charges and it made it to trial. The jury did not believe there was proof beyond reasonable doubt, and found Zimmerman "Not Guilty". The point of telling this story is that this is not a unique case, as there's an entire subgroup of people who obsess over policing and being the "hero" in spite of not being allowed on the force (usually for very good reasons). In other words, the pathetically low amounts of screening and background checks that are done in a hierarchical society still manage to keep some people out. The problem this presents for anarchism (and anyone else calling for police abolition) is, in the event that the police are replaced with just anyone who volunteers, those volunteers are likely going to be made up of the George Zimmermans of the world.

Of course, this is anticipated by some, and alternatives proposed in favour of police abolition often don't focus on the establishment of neighbor watches but instead expanding the role of social workers, mental healthcare workers, and programs to reduce or eliminate poverty as preventative measures to violent crime.[111] Of course, how effective this would actually be is anyone's guess. None of these proposals, however, are incompatible with anarchism (at least of the communist/collectivist/syndicalist variety). An anarchist could respond to the issue of neighborhood watches by subjecting voluntary militias to direct democratic controls and credential processes to prevent certain actors from becoming militia members with such power; though how this is meaningfully different from the current system where sheriffs and judges can be elected via direct democracy or held to account by democratically elected council members and a mayor is anyone's guess. Furthermore, for some variations of anarchism, this proposal may be seen as unacceptable. It depends how literally one wishes to apply "without rule" under their particular interpretation of anarchism. For some, as long as the power structures are "bottom-up" rather than "top-down", the structure itself is compatible with anarchism; for others, however, no power structure or any sort of system of administration or regulation is acceptable under anarchism (this is especially true for free market individualist types like mutualists and egoists). One can take a pick at what seems more reasonable of a stance.

Civil liberty gains[edit]

Another uncomfortable truth that people tend to ignore is that virtually every gain in Civil Liberties was opposed by the general public at the time yet put in place against the "will" of the public. For example, the Supreme Court is pretty much the definition of elitist, hierarchical and everything else non-anarchist, yet it was a 1963 decision that legalized interracial marriage at a time when at least 80% of people opposed such things.[112][113] It was the general public who opposed integration schools in the 1957 Little Rock case, with Federal Government having to use coercion and the threat of state-sanctioned violence to protect the right to equal education. Leaving rights solely up to the whims of the general public does not have a perfect track record when you look at same-sex marriage. Only 3 states had successfully legalized same-sex marriage through the ballot compared to the numerous states that failed or outright banned it,[114] yet again it was a SCOTUS decision in 2015 to legalize it. Just a few short years later, after proving the world didn't immediately end upon its legalization, the overwhelming majority of the US now supports same-sex marriage. This is mostly a problem for anarchists who advocate direct democracy, or lean on the more collectivist side of the spectrum. For individualists who oppose democracy as a form of rule these facts arguably work in their favor.

One could also probably make an anarchist analysis that the opposition to these changes was the result of the incentives created by the existing social hierarchies to begin with (see: Privilege), and when such incentives are removed, people have less to "gain" in opposing things like same-sex or interracial marriage. It is not entirely absurd to suggest that racism is incentivized by systems of white supremacy, but the anarchist analysis arguably is a bit too abstract and too difficult to test as a prediction to how people would behave in the absence of the incentives afforded by social hierarchies or the state. Of course, many anarchists are aware of these issues and advocate for social justice as well as anarchism.

Antisemitism among anarchists[edit]

Among well-known proponents of Anarchism, such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon,Wikipedia antisemitism was an issue. In 1847, in what Proudhon titled "On the Jews",[115] he wrote:

Jews. Write an article against this race that poisons everything by sticking its nose into everything without ever mixing with any other people. Demand its expulsion from France with the exception of those individuals married to French women. Abolish synagogues and not admit them to any employment. Demand its expulsion Finally, pursue the abolition of this religion. It’s not without cause that the Christians called them deicides. The Jew is the enemy of humankind. They must be sent back to Asia or be exterminated. H. Heine, A. Weill, and others are nothing but secret spies ; Rothschild, Crémieux, Marx, Fould, wicked, bilious, envious, bitter, etc. etc. beings who hate us. The Jew must disappear by steel or by fusion or by expulsion. Tolerate the elderly who no longer have children. Work to be done – What the peoples of the Middle Ages hated instinctively I hate upon reflection and irrevocably. The hatred of the Jew like the hatred of the English should be our first article of political faith. Moreover, the abolition of Judaism will come with the abolition of other religions. Begin by not allocating funds to the clergy and leaving this to religious offerings. – And then, a short while later, abolish the religion.

This isn't to say that Anarchists are like Nazis, but they surely are able to perpetuate bigotry as well, having sometimes perpetrated antisemitism even beyond the cultural background hatred of Jews at the time by blaming the Jews specifically for their role in capitalism (it's worth mentioning here that Capitalism was actually very progressive when it was first invented, as prior to that the dominant system was Feudalism).[116]

However, in spite of the antisemitism shown by early European anarchists, anarchism was later popular amongst both secular and religious Jewish communities.[117] Currently, Jewish interest in anarchism has grown due to work of organizations such as the Treyf Podcast,[118] Jewdas,Wikipedia and the YIVO group.[119] In Israel, there was the libertarian socialist kibbutz movement.[120]

More importantly, anarchism is made up of people, and people are often assholes.[citation NOT needed] Theoretically, anarchism is opposed to the hierarchies created by misogyny/andry, racism, homophobia, or any other form of bigotry that has plagued societies since before the existence of society and many anarchists do advocate for social justice as well as anarchism, but there's no concrete reason to believe that these would be completely eliminated in practice; after all, most bigots believe that their bigotry is perfectly logical. Anarchists would of course argue that a classless society with minimal inequalities or hierarchies would be have fewer reasons to develop bigotry, but practically every other contemporary group insists that their ideal system will eliminate bigotry.[note 16]

Anarchist organizations[edit]

A layperson may be forgiven for believing that an "anarchist organization" is a contradiction, but this is not the case. Anarchist organizations ostensibly strive for the maximum amount of direct democracy and accountability of leadership, though how this actually works in practice will vary.

North America[edit]



United States[edit]



South America[edit]


Allegedly anarchist[edit]

  • RojavaWikipedia (or North Syria Federation) is a region of Syria mostly controlled by Kurds and allied fighters. Since Rojava has some vague Anarcho-Communist influences to it, not to mention the Kurds being the "good guys" when compared to ISIS (not that that's a difficult accomplishment), many Anarchist groups have tried to claim the Kurds as one of their own. The reality is that the Kurds' goal is Kurdistan, not anarchism. The region has compulsory military service, a state and local governance structure, good relations/direct military cooperation with other governments, and for all the progress made there still are various patriarchal, Capitalist, or ethno-nationalist structures in the region, things which are antithetical to an Anarchist society.[121] That isn't to say Rojava has just as strict a hierarchal structure as your typical Mid-east dictatorship, but it's a far cry from a true Anarchist experiment.
  • The ZapatistaWikipedia communities operate on a principle of participatory democracy. They are not entirely anarchist, and many communities do run businesses and participate in a market-oriented framework, but they aren't entirely un-anarchist either. Overall their ideology is highly syncretistic, but still libertarian socialist. Unlike traditional representative democracies, the delegates do not make decisions (or they aren't supposed to), but merely act as the liaisons for the mobocracy they represent. Each assembly/mobocracy elects/reports to a municipal council, which in turn will elect delegates for the Juntas of Buen Gobierno or the "Council of Good Government".[note 17] The delegates serve for three years on a rotating basis of a few weeks in an effort to prevent cronyism, and each community has the power to recall any delegates deemed to not "fulfill the duty of the people".[122] Any decisions made by the higher levels of government are then processed back to the community, who deliberate on decisions and have the authority to reject, approve, or modify the decisions in turn. There is a strong emphasis on consensus and so this process of direct democratic procedure can take many hours so everyone as humanly possible can be heard, and a decision is not made until a consensus is reached.

Notably, both the Rojava and Zapatista are currently in a near constant state of war with an external foe; it's unclear if their respective conflicts are actually necessary to prevent petty squabbles from splintering their organizations.

Other links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. The Catalan anarchist revolutionaries were immortalized by George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia...who had in turn been reading the book The Spanish Cockpit, another eyewitness account about the massacres going on at the hands of angry mobs
  2. originally used by anarcho-communists to distinguish anarcho-communism from tendencies like Mutualism
  3. The second great split was the one between the pro-Bolshevisk and anti-Bolshevisk factions after the Russian Revolution.
  4. Because obviously a book where a man kills a woman with the blunt end of an axe and then spends the rest of the book wracked with anguish and deeply regretful of what he's done is the perfect book for teaching people how to commit murder.
  5. Though notably not Emma Goldman, who is still influential in anarchist thought today
  6. The risk of diving humanity into tiny communes leading to tribalistic behavior is seldom noted.
  7. Consider Wikipedia's category of prominent anarcho-syndicalists, most of whom were born after the Civil War and died sometime after the Second World War
  8. This is probably the only similarity that AnCap has with actual Anarchism, or indeed every philosophical system in existence; everyone thinks they are the ones that would naturally be in control of their proposed system...
  9. Yes, we're serious. The Mafia got its start as a community defense organization formed in response to the "legitimate" law enforcement being a bunch of corrupt, incompetent thugs.
  10. Or any world for that matter, at least not unless said new world includes an automatic bonus to you for being the correct religion or race. If anything, if you're at the bottom with little way up, it'd be in your own self-interest to favor a system which focuses on improving the plight of the lower classes rather than one that throws them to the wolves.
  11. This is actually the main argument made by Anarcho-Primitivists. There is also little evidence of common inter-group conflict from the Paleolithic[94], although as always there are exceptions to the norm (although the claim that war has deep evolutionary roots is questionable).[95] Of course, just because war may not have been common during the Paleolithic doesn't mean that it was nonexistent.[96]
  12. Basically, the majority of diseases humans have come from animals around 10,000 years ago, the same time we began farming, and even "mild" diseases such as measles were absolutely devastating to the people who had never evolved to survive them. It's entirely possible that once the first farmers began rearing animals as a ready food source, this opened a Pandora's box of disease which could never be sealed; entire villages would be wiped out and the only way to survive was through farming and having enough miserable children that even just a few would survive to adulthood. It's also possible that civilization/agriculture had begun multiple times in the 200,000 years humans have walked the Earth, and only in the latest attempt did enough people survive the initial plagues that civilization became permanent.
  13. Assuming we can agree on what the "best" outcome even is, of course.
  14. Which may be the real reason the Religious Right is often against contraception, abortion, HPV vaccines, etc; if those were to disappear, their system might once again seem reasonable.
  15. There's a rationale for these laws. The begging and petty crime from the homeless chases both locals and tourists away from the local businesses or causes families to relocate to the suburbs, which shuts down the local economy and causes urban blight (of course, anarchists do not find this to be really morally justifiable). The obvious solution would appear to be "put them in homes", but the US in particular has a few unique quirks that prevents this solution from being easily implemented. The US is best thought of as not a single country, but a strong federation of minor "countries" that has a common language and virtually no internal border controls. Denmark has the right to evict jobless or homeless Swedes, but New Jersey can't evict homeless Floridians. So every state faces a prisoner's dilemma where they need to be the most vile to the homeless as legally possible so that the homeless go "somewhere else".
  16. E.g. Libertarian-Capitalists will respond that the Free Market rewards firms who serve the most people and hire the best workers, so a true Free Market would eliminate racism by itself, which of course ignores that a racist public will still reward a racist company. Theocrats will argue how their scripture will eliminate racism because if everyone was religious they would Love Thy Neighbor and all, ignoring the parts of the scripture that actively call for oppression of anyone that doesn't strictly adhere to the scripture or fit the mould. Fascists would argue that racism will cease to exist once the inferior races also cease to exist, which ignores that "race" is rather arbitrary and nothing prevents society from later simply deciding that the people with the wrong shade of blue eyes are the new inferior race.
  17. as opposed to the "bad" government of Mexico


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  2. Anarchism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  3. Revolutionary Ukraine, The Nestor Makhno Archive
  4. William Godwin in the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  5. Pierre Joseph-Proudhon and anarchism
  6. Max Stirner in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  7. Joseph Dejacque on the human being male and female
  8. The Week Online interviews Noam Chomsky
  9. The Paris Commune, a 140 years later
  10. First International in the Encyclopedia Britannica
  11. They didn't suppress the Wobblies
  12. The collapse of the Wobblies
  13. Demanding the Impossible: A history of Anarchism by Peter Marshall, Chapter 36: The New Right and Anarcho-Capitalism
  14. "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For" from Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman (1910) Mother Earth Publishing Association, Third revised edition
  15. Bakunin's bootmaker.
  16. See the Wikipedia article on Durruti Column.
  17. the anarchist case against private property
  18. Hong Kong protests turn violent; Ferguson: calmer scenes after night of violence; Is it OK for protestors to damage property?
  19. 18 U.S. Code § 16 - Crime of violence defined. Legal Information Institute. Cornell Law School.
  21. Violence. Juritravail.
  22. 10 Points on the Black Bloc (2010) by Harsha Walia
  23. Anarchism and Violence, 1896 by L S Bevinton
  24. Correspondence about revolutionary strategy, 2009
  25. Reporters flock to burning DC garbage can
  26. Action as propaganda by Johann Most
  27. The Day Wall Street Exploded excerpt
  28. See the Wikipedia article on Empress Elisabeth of Austria § Assassination.
  29. Anarchism, Terrorism Studies, and Islamism
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Merriman, John (2009) The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siècle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-618-55598-7
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  33. Direct Action by Voltairine de Cleyre
  34. Anarchism: Voting
  35. Why direct action
  36. Dual Power
  37. Waging non-violence
  38. Anarchists providing medical aid in New Orleans
  39. Common Ground volunteers bridge racial divide
  40. Food Not Bombs say they will not let authorities stop them from feeding the homeless
  41. Charges dropped against Orlando Food Not Bombs arrestees
  42. Food Not Bombs provides relief to Long Island
  43. Eight protestors arrested for trying to meet city official over homeless laws
  44. More homeless feeding attack amid national backlash
  45. Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria death toll could exceed 4,000 according to new study
  46. Ten months without power: Puerto Ricans still without electricity
  47. Trump throws paper towels into crowd in Puerto Rico
  48. Naomi Klein on Puerto Rico, austerity and the left
  49. (Solar) Power to the People
  50. Anarchist groups in rural Puerto Rico help reboot the power grid
  51. Officials in Puerto Rico are undermining a rooftop solar movement
  52. Dictatorship of the proletariat by Encyclopedia Britannica
  53. "Democracy and Dictatorship" by Rose Luxemburg
  54. Anarchy and Scientific Communism, by Nikolai Burkharin
  55. Anarchism by David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic
  56. What types of anarchism are there?
  57. "What is Property" from the Marxist Internet Archive
  58. "A look at mutualism" - Mark Stoval
  59. Free market anticapitalism, the unknown ideal
  60. "What Is Property?'" from the Marxist Archives
  61. Markets, Not Capitalism
  62. State Socialism and Anarchism (1886)
  63. Communist society
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  66. Syndicalism - an introduction
  67. Syndicalism - What Is It? , by Gaylord Wilshire, May 1913
  68. Fighting for Ourselves
  69. Anarchist Communism - An Introduction
  70. Nestor Makhno - Timeline of biography archived
  71. Contrasting classical and contemporary anarchism
  72. McElroy, Wendy: XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography, St. Martin's Press, 1997
  73. PBS American Experience, People & Events: Ben Reitman (1879-1942)
  74. The Soul of Man Under...Anarchism
  75. Soul of Man Under Socialism, full transcript
  76. For a dialectic of homosexuality and revolution
  77. Bash Back! makes a point at Gay Pride
  78. Be Gay Do Crimes - An Introduction
  79. Bookchin, Murray and Foreman, Dave: Defending the Earth: A Dialogue Between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman, South End Press, 1991
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  81. from The New Yorker
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  88. När Migration Blir Konflikt: Politisk Gruppdynamik by Jonas Nilsson (2009) Logik. ISBN 9188667952.
  89. Att Förstå Alternativhögern by Jonas Nilsson & Anton Stigermark (2017) Logik. ISBN 9188667308.
  90. Osha, their website
  91. The EPA's website, if you'd like to learn more
  92. The problem of scale in anarchism, Aurora Apolito
  93. Early men and women were equal
  96. Kissel, Marc, and Nam C. Kim. "The emergence of human warfare: Current perspectives." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 168 (2019): 141-163.
  97. How Farming Changed the Human Body Forever, Business Insider
  98. Did thirst for beer spark Civilization? The Independent
  99. Emergence of epidemic diseases: zoonoses and other origins, NIH
  100. Why we can only maintain 150 relationships, BBC
  101. What is the Monkeysphere? Jason Pargin, Cracked. September 30, 2007.
  102. Dunbar's number deconstructed
  103. Dunbar's Debunked
  104. The Pill and the Sexual Revolution, PBS
  105. The pipe dream of anarcho-populism
  106. Anarchists clash with police in Greece
  107. Criminalization of homelessness in US cities
  108. even the FBI thinks police has links to white supremacists; How US law enforcement is failing to police itself; Report connects hundreds of law enforcement officers to online hate groups
  109. Germany to investigate their police force
  110. Zimmerman's interest in police work allowed in trial
  111. Vitale, A. (2018). The end of policing. Verso Books.
  112. Loving v Virgina,
  113. Gallup history of approval of interracial marriage
  114. Factbox: List of states that legalized gay marriage, Reuters June 2013
  116. Nancy L. Green: Socialist Antisemitism, Defense Of A Bourgeois Jew And Discovery Of The Jewish Proletariat
  117. Jewish participation in the Anarchist movement in the Russian Empire (in Russian)
  118. Treyf Podcast
  119. A YIVO conference finds new audience for Yiddish anarchism
  120. Personal Influences interview with Noam Chomsky
  121. The Libertarian Myth of Rojava, Al Jazeera
  122. Zapatistas: Lessons in community self-organization in Mexico from Open