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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 unjust political, economic or social hierarchies with the the goal of maximising individual liberty and social equality.[1][2]

Anarchism was historically associated very strongly with the labor union movement, as many anarchists saw organized labor as being an ideal tool for the overthrow of the twin evils of the state and capitalism. However, the 'success' of the Russian Revolution, the failure of several attempted anarchist revolutions (most notably in Ukraine[3] and Catalonia)[4] and the active suppression of the anarchist movement throughout much of the 20th century devastated their support among organized labor.


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 along with being the forebear of utilitarianism.[5] It would not be until Pierre Johnson-Proudhon published What is Property? in 1840 that the term anarchist was adopted as a self-description[6] In 1844 Max Stirner published The Ego and His Own giving birth to individualist anarchism.[7]

By the mid 19th century, a series of events shook anarchism. First in 1857 the french communist Jospeh Déjacque coined the term libertarianism[8][note 1] whose use became widespread in the late 1880s due to the anti-anarchist laws in the French Third Republic.[9] The second event was the brutal repression of the short-lived Paris CommuneWikipedia by the French Third Republic which had deep long-term philosophical effects on the nascent marxist movement.[10]

Finally, one of the biggest events was the split between anarchists and marxists, the first great split in the radical left,[note 2] with the collapse of the International Workingmen's Association in 1876.[11]

From the late 19th century to the mid 20th century, the most successful anarchist ideology was anarcho-syndicalismWikipedia. 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 ScareWikipedia.[12] 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.[13]

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the anarchist movement was weakened but would suffer a temporary revival in the New Left. However the rise of the New Right and the appropriation of anarchism by right-wingers was the most notable event of anarchist history in the second half of the 20th century.[14]

Overview and tactics

The anarchist philosophy has a variety of methods to employ. Some of these it shares with the non-violent resistance tendency, which is direct action. Direct action includes obstructive sit-ins, labor strikes, workplace occupations, street blockades and hacktivism, along with sabotage, vandalism and destruction of property. The last one is often picked up by the media to demonize protestors.[15] These are known as diversity of tacticsWikipedia which allows anarchist organizations to not restrict themselves to one specific tactic for all occasions.

The idea of an "anarchist organization" seems contradictory to the egalitarian anarchist worldview. This is not the case. Anarchists believe that human beings can organize themselves along non-hierarchical lines; organization and hierarchy are two different concepts. Anarchists do not advocate the 'lawlessness' and disintegration of society which the term 'anarchy' conjures. Anarchist organizations strive for a maximal degree of direct democracy and the accountability of officers to the rank and file, and they organize to congregate ideas from others and help put forward these ideas.

Anarchist schools of thought

As the goals of anarchism is wide, there are many schools of anarchism that often do not agree with each other on the means of the goal and have cropped up in response to historical events. Modern anarchism, taken influence from post-modernism, Neo-Marxism, and intersectionality, including women and LGBT rights, which they believe the hierarchies disproportionately harm women and LGBT people. Others are more focused on environmentalism such as Green anarchism, that argues that the hierarchical state harms the environment, or even further such as Anarcho-primitivism, which argues that civilization itself is anti-ecological.

In fact, 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{{who}} as a modern version of Synthesis-Anarchism which extends to other models other than the three (Syndicalism, Communism and Individualism) that are embraced by synthesis anarchists. "Anarchists without adjectives" generally focus on de-legitimizing 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 heavily mixed.

Anarchism has always differed from marxism on two points:

  • To anarchists the state and class rule are synonymous and a tool of the enforcement of one class' rule over another. Marxists, particularly those inspired by Lenin, believe that there must exist a transitional state during the revolution until it's finalized and then the state will whither away. This transitional state is called as dictatorship of the proleteriat which is the process in that the proletariat seizes the state and harnesses its power to suppress resistance to the socialist revolution.[16] However libertarian Marxists criticise Leninist for their support for vanguardism, which would result in a one-party state. For libertarian marxists, the dictatorship of the proleteriat exists to expand democracy rather than to implement a minority rule.[17]
  • While marxist schools of thought always had a individual founder (Lennism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, Maoism etc), anarchist school of thought emerged based on organizational principle or form of practise.[18]

Violence and terrorism

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[19]

Violence is one of the many tools of the anarchist movement. However there are arguments, under the theory of diversity of tactics, what role violence plays in revolutionary actions and in the pursuit of resistance to state repression[20][21] and particularly in view of the fact that the capitalist media will demonize any violence that occurs in a protest almost to parody levels.[22]

Violence's role has become an important topic due to recent events, including the Ferguson protestsWikipedia and the fact that many leaders in the unrest were found dead years later under suspicious circumstances.[23] Examples include Darren Seals found dead in a burning car[24] and Edward Crowfard, subject of a famous photograph, being dead in an allegedly self-inflicted gun wound.[25] This also ties up with the political rise of the Alt-Right and Antifa, particularly with the argument of whether or not is ok to punch people with repugnant views.[26][27]

Terrorism is also another tactic favored by some anarchists. Based on the idea of propaganda of the deedWikipedia which is about publicizing violent actions of retaliation against the ruling class.[28] This tactic grew as a backlash against state repression towards the labor and socialist movements, such as the execution and exile of the French communardsWikipedia and the violent strike-breaking in United States.[29] Famous killings done of propaganda of the deed include:

The propaganda of the deed largely backfired. Killing specific powerful men did not brought about the collapse of capitalist society but only served to demonize the anarchist movement. By 1887 various important figures in the anarchist movement rejected this tactic[30] but it also resulted in state repression such as the Lois scélératesWikipedia("villainious laws") in the French Third Republic that banned all anarchist propaganda and the American criminal syndicalismWikipedia laws which were used to crack down "radical" labor unions.

Pacifism and non-violent resistance

While some anarchists have and continue espouse violent and coercive means to achieve the revolution, other rejected these methods. The anarchist attraction to pacifism is clear, as violence is seen as violent and authoritative and contrary to anarchist principles. Pacifism transcends tendencies in the anarchist movement as it was the anarcho-syndicalist Bart de Ligt that gave one of the sharpest criticism of "bourgeois pacifism" in that any attempt to make capitalism pacificistic is doomed to failure due to war profiteering.[31]

Non-violence has been historically one of the favored of anarchist groups, but even non-violent resistance is not necessarily passive. Active non-violent resistance is based on the principle of direct actionWikipedia, favored by the labor movement and the African-American civil rights movement, 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, except as a way to discredit electoral politics as political parties betray their voters in pursuit of ill-thought policies.[32]

Examples of direct action includes striking (labor strikes, rent strike, student strike, prison strike etc), squatting, sit-ins, demonstrations. It favor community organizing and spurns participating in elections and political parties.[33] Dual powerWikipedia, on the other hand, seeks to built 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 challenge both capitalism and the state.[34][35]

Anarchism and law enforcement

Anarchist groups that espouse violence often tend to clash with the police.[36] In fact as anarchists have a seething hatred for the police, they subscribe to the idea of A.C.A.BWikipedia (from skinhead culture) which is based on the idea that there's no such thing as "good cops".

Police officers, however, have to enforce all laws including unjust laws, such as anti-homelessness legislationWikipedia, which in the United States are used to punish people for "choosing to be homeless";[37] racial segregation, home evictions, broken windows theoryWikipedia, profiling (i.e. discrimination) on the basis of sexuality, gender, ethnicity and creed; though they take part in some dirty police tactics such as entrapmentWikipedia. Compounding some racist laws, American law enforcement has been infiltrated by white supremacists[38] and the Republican Party is welcoming white supremacists to join the military as well.[39]

Mutual aid

The other common tactic amongst anarchist groups is mutual aidWikipedia 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 ClinicWikipedia,[40] 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.[41]

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 particularly involved in controversies relating to municipal bans on homeless feeding.[42] In Orlando, Florida, volunteers were arrested but the charges were later dropped.[43] In 2012 FNB provided relief in Long Island after the Superstorm Sandy,[44] and in November 2014 members were arrested for violating the feeding ban in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[45] resulting in a media circus.[46]

In 2017 Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria[47] and once again the government was beyond useless[48] with Trump's antics being lambasted[49] and the territory being decimated by austerity policies.[50] In response an anarchist group called Mutual Aid Disaster Relief send a team to Puerto Rico[51] to help built a solar-based electric grid[52] which the local authorities have tried to undermine[53] in favor of natural gas.

Anti-semitism problem

Mario Huh.png
Editor comment: This section appears to be disjointed from the rest of the article. I don't know what its relevance is and if the antisemitism is prevalent in anarchist circles today? It's poorly implemented if I have to ask this question. Unless this section can provide strong justification for why this is relevant to the anarchism ideology or relevant in modern context, this one will likely be removed.

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",[54] 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. Often perpetrating antisemitism even beyond the cultural background hatred of Jews at the time, blaming the Jews specifically for their role in capitalism.[55]

However in spite of the antisemitism shown by early European anarchists, anarchism was later popular amongst both secular and religious Jewish communities.[56] In the present day, Jewish interest in anarchism has grown due to work of organizations such as the Treyf Podcast,[57][citation needed] Jewdas,Wikipedia and the YIVO group.[58] In Israel, there was the libertarian socialist kibbutz movement.[59]

Anarchist organizations

Editor comment: The article had an older revision showing a list of anarchist organizations. However, it's just a big list with no rhyme or reason that mirrored the egregious list of every subtype of anarchist thought. It was proposed that this could show the anarchist society attempts, which I think will work.

One comment from AMassiveGay I kept in mind.

is all redundant anyhow. it would be best to remove this section. theres already an 'in practice' section, effectively. its the 'Anarchist Organisations' thats ends the article, and thats a list that could probably do with some trimming while going into more detail of some of the more notable examples. the chiapas example could certainly do with a closer look for whats been achieved. its continued existence is a success in itself.

A resource I found, mentioned in the talk page, is a link from Anarchy in Action, which seems to be an pro-anarchist wiki. I'll look into it later.

Zapatista-run Chiapa

Chiapas is Mexico's southern-most state. It is run by the political group, the ZapatistasWikipedia (EZLN), composed of indigenous groups, that are disillusioned from Mexico's ongoing corruption and violence, particularly from the endless casualties from the drug wars. The Zapatistas have tried achieved some form of autonomy in 1996 where the government agreed for the Zapatistas to elect their own leaders to run locally. In 2001, however, the Zapatistas cut ties with government after the deal was revised to exclude independent local rule

Failed organizations

There have been several attempts at establishing an anarchist society. Though most of them ultimately did not survive, Anarchists argue that these movements were crushed by fascists (CataloniaWikipedia and, arguably, KoreaWikipedia) and Soviet communists (UkraineWikipedia, KronstadtWikipedia and TambovWikipedia) and that this is not necessarily to do with the unworkability of anarchism in so much as it is to do with the relative power of their historical enemies. A common criticism levied by more conventional Marxists is that anarchism's emphasis of the 'free individual' makes fledgling anarchist societies easy pickings as they lack the discipline to unite effectively in the face of opposition. This, in the eyes of more authoritarian Marxists, justifies crushing them as their self indulgent tendencies make them a liability to their 'comrades'.

Other layman explanations for failed anarchist revolutions include an alleged 'inherent lack of organisation'. This is somewhat lacking in both historical and theoretical merit though. Anarchist literature such as Emma Goldman's essay 'Anarchism: What It Really Stands For'[60] makes the case for anarchism on the grounds that it represents order in contrast with the chaos of capitalism and the warring nation state. Michael Bakunin's famous boot-maker analogy offers a well-known (in anarchist circles) defence of qualified expertise:

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. [61]

Anarchists, at least in theory, support an organised society; Emma Goldman even went as far as to argue that Capitalism isn't organised 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 organisation and have in the past been able to field military forces of a reasonable size organised with delegated 'officers' for a chain of command. [62] Honorary mention of course goes to the Iron Cross a less successful anarchist militia consisting of recently freed convicts. A terrible plan that turned out exactly as you might think it would.[63]

Not anarchism

There are several schools that proclaim to be anarchism but their ideologies contradict with anarchism by definition, though their adherents are not common. National anarchism, for instance, is a right-wing fringe ideology heavily shares with fascism's ideas though they seek a stateless society by creating a 'National Autonomous Zone' in which without an established state hierarchy, there will be a natural hierarchy that falls into place. This is similar to anarcho-fascism‎‎, which is inherently contradictory, is an otherwise obscure ideology with only notable adherent, Jonas Nilsson.

Anarcho-capitalism (ancap) is not related to the other anarchist movements more than the abolishing of the state. It is an ideology which primarily advocates a laissez-faire free market free of state interference, replacing the state with voluntary agreements (contracts) between consenting parties. Anarchism, however, traditionally means not simply the abolition of the state but also all hierarchies, which are viewed as inherently oppressive. Since capitalism is hierarchical, few if any leftist-anarchists view anarcho-capitalism as compatible with anarchism.[64] [65]

The term "anarcho-capitalist" is slowly being appropriated by the far-right,[citation needed] following in the ideas of thinkers like Hans-Hermann Hoppe (who figure that having a king is compatible with anarchism, the "king" as 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).

Other links

See also


  1. originally used by anarcho-communists to distinguish anarcho-communism from tendencies like Mutualism
  2. the second great split was the one between the pro-bolshevisk and anti-bolshevisk factions after the Russian Revolution


  1. Craig, Edward, ed (2005). The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. ISBN 978-0-415-32495-3. 
  2. What is Anarchism? FAQ
  3. Revolutionary Ukraine, The Nestor Makhno Archive
  4. The Catalan anarchist revolutionaries were immortalized by George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.
  5. William Godwin in the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  6. Pierre Joseph-Proudhon and anarchism
  7. Max Stirner in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  8. Joseph Dejacque on the human being male and female
  9. The Week Online interviews Noam Chomsky
  10. The Paris Commune, a 140 years later
  11. First International in the Encyclopedia Britannica
  12. They didn't suppress the Wobblies
  13. The collapse of the Wobblies
  14. Demanding the Impossible: A history of Anarchism by Peter Marshall, Chapter 36: The New Right and Anarcho-Capitalism
  15. Hong Kong protests turn violent; Ferguson: calmer scenes after night of violence; Is it OK for protestors to damage property?
  16. Dictatorship of the proletariat by Encyclopedia Britannica
  17. "Democracy and Dictatorship" by Rose Luxemburg
  18. Anarchism by David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic
  20. Anarchism and Violence, 1896 by L S Bevinton
  21. Correspondence about revolutionary strategy, 2009
  22. Reporters flock to burning DC garbage can
  23. Death of six activists tied to Ferguson protests alarm activists
  24. Ferguson protestor, Darren Seals, found dead in a burning car
  25. Edward Crowford found dead in an apparent suicide
  26. Is it Ok to punch a nazi?
  27. What are the ethics of punching a nazi
  28. Action as propaganda by Johann Most
  29. The Day Wall Street Exploded excerpt
  30. "Violence as a Social Factor," (1895) by Errico Malatesta
  31. An Anarchist FAQ
  32. Anarchism: Voting
  33. Why direct action
  34. Dual Power
  35. Waging non-violence
  36. Anarchists clash with police in Greece
  37. Criminalization of homelessness in US cities
  38. 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
  39. GOP-controlled Senate deleted "white nationalist" from plan to screen military recruits
  40. Anarchists providing medical aid in New Orleans
  41. Common Ground volunteers bridge racial divide
  42. Food Not Bombs say they will not let authorities stop them from feeding the homeless
  43. Charges dropped against Orlando Food Not Bombs arrestees
  44. Food Not Bombs provides relief to Long Island
  45. Eight protestors arrested for trying to meet city official over homeless laws
  46. More homeless feeding attack amid national backlash
  47. Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria death toll could exceed 4,000 according to new study
  48. Ten months without power: Puerto Ricans still without electricity
  49. Trump throws paper towels into crowd in Puerto Rico
  50. Naomi Klein on Puerto Rico, austerity and the left
  51. (Solar) Power to the People
  52. Anarchist groups in rural Puerto Rico help reboot the power grid
  53. Officials in Puerto Rico are undermining a rooftop solar movement
  55. Nancy L. Green: Socialist Antisemitism, Defense Of A Bourgeois Jew And Discovery Of The Jewish Proletariat
  56. Jewish participation in the Anarchist movement in the Russian Empire (in Russian)
  57. Treyf Podcast
  58. A YIVO conference finds new audience for Yiddish anarchism
  59. Personal Influences interview with Noam Chomsky
  64. Anarchy 101
  65. Are anarcho-capitalists anarchists?