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  • The word Anarchy comes from the Greek word Anarkhos which means “without rule”.

  • It was first used in a negative sense during the French Revolution to discredit the protesters. Anarchism popularly means chaos and disorder.

  • Anarchy is a belief system that rejects governmental authority in favor of self-governing or community consensus that has become a synonym for chaos and the breakdown of civil order.

  • The first time the word was used in a positive sense by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in his text What is Property? in which he declared, “I am an anarchist”.

  • The core value of anarchism is unrestricted personal autonomy

  • The first statement of the Anarchist principle was produced by William Godwin in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice.


  • Anarchists’ central belief is the opposition to the state or any form of government and law.

  • Anarchism as a doctrine is wanting on two accounts: the first is the assumption that Moral assertion is stronger in anarchism than analysis and explanation.

  • The second is that anarchism is a less coherent theory in its own right and more of a midpoint between two other political traditions.

  • However, anarchism is different from both these schools of thought in significant ways, Anarchism central tenants are-

1. Anti-Statism

  • The most important and famous of these beliefs is anti-statism, which is a rejection of all forms of hierarchy in favor of the organization of society based on cooperation and voluntary participation.

  • The state, or government, is an example of a hierarchical system in which those who govern are at the top and exert their power and influence over those governed.

  • Anarchists generally believe that, to some extent, humans are a product of their environment.

  • Therefore, the state's overarching presence produces an environment in which individual actions are influenced and coerced, even in a liberal democracy.

  • Generally, anarchists don't believe in any authority that is 'commanding', 'controlling', and 'corrupting' not just the states but also oppressive structures like racism and sexism.

2. Anti-clericalism

  • It is not just the state that is commanding and controlling; religion can also have those effects.

  • This was the case, particularly during the emergence of anarchist philosophy in Europe.

  • As the state played a central role in policing people's lives, many anarchists rebelled against this norm.

  • Religion itself has been seen as a source of authority in general.

  • The idea of God required complete submission to a higher authority.

  • This submission must be unconditional and unquestioned.

  • Religion does not leave any space for free will or individual autonomy and thus anarchists find themselves at odds with religion.

3. Utopianism

  • Unlike the social contract theorists which believe that man in the state of nature is short nasty and brutish, anarchists believe in the natural goodness, or at least potential goodness, of humankind.

  • From the perspective of anarchists state is not required to create a harmonious social order, it will arise spontaneously and naturally.

  • For collective anarchists, the human capacity for sociable and cooperative behaviors will come naturally and for individualistic anarchists, it is the enlightened human reason which will enable cordiality.

4. Economic Freedom

  • Another of the main beliefs of anarchism is economic freedom, as it enables individuals to organize their economic affairs autonomously.

  • Anarchists oppose all systems that do not allow for complete economic freedom, for example, capitalism and many socialist economic systems.

  • Systems that do not allow for economic freedom are viewed as exploitative and oppressive due to the power dynamics they perpetuate and sustain.

5. Liberty

  • Anarchism seeks to promote true and complete liberty.

  • However, liberty is incompatible with any form of powerful authority, so the anarchist stance on liberty reinforces its rejection of the state.

  • To have true liberty, individuals must have autonomy.

Types of Anarchism

The most significant distinction is between Individualistic Anarchism and Collectivist Anarchism.

1. Individualist Anarchism

  • The two main differences between individualist and collectivist anarchism are that individualist anarchists believe in individualism and egoism.

  • They believe in individualism because they fear that collectivism will lead to a loss of freedom.

  • This leads to subtypes of individualism anarchism like Anarcho capitalism which focuses on economic freedom and radical capitalism.

  • A more extreme form of individualism in anarchism is egoism, which argues that humans only care about themselves.

  • Individualist anarchism also believes in a gradual approach to anarchism, such as organizations like workers' cooperatives slowly taking over the state rather than revolutionary means of overthrowing the state.

2. Collectivist Anarchism

  • Collectivist anarchism emphasizes common ownership and relies on the belief that human nature is generally altruistic and cooperative, so we cannot solve social issues as individuals. Collective anarchists, therefore, oppose capitalism since private property accumulation is seen as re-creating the coercive hierarchies of the state; this can be seen both in mutualism and anarcho-communism.

  • Unlike individualist anarchists, collectivist anarchism thinks revolution is necessary to eliminate hierarchical structures.

  • There are also a few different types of collectivist anarchism, including anarcho-communism, mutualism, and anarcho-syndicalism .

3. Communist Anarchism (or Anarcho-Communism)

  • This school of thought advocates for a free society with numerous self-governing communes that are linked through federation and have direct democracy or democracy based on common consent as to the political organizational structure.

  • The means of production will be used jointly rather than owned collectively.

  • Rather than payment, the commune would have free access to resources and excess.

  • Egalitarianism and the elimination of social hierarchy and class differentiation are central to anarchy Communism.

  • It is unique in that it represents both the eradication of capitalism and the abolition of money.

Roads to Anarchy

  • Anarchists are anti-political in the sense that they are repelled by conventional processes and machinery of politics.

  • They limit their scope to simply writing and experimenting in communal or cooperative politics.

1. Revolutionary Non-violence

  • The 19th century saw a period where anarchist leadership tried to provoke the masses for insurrection and revolt.

  • Michael Bakunin for example led to a conspiratorial brotherhood, the Alliance for Social Democracy in anarchist risings of France and Italy.

  • Anarchist violence has been prominent in two periods particularly: the Late 19th century, reaching its peak in the 1890s and again in the 1970s.

  • Anarchists have employed terrorism or clandestine violence often involving bombing or assassination designed to create an atmosphere of terror or apprehension.

  • For anarchists violence itself is justified as a form of revenge and retribution.

2. Direct Action

  • Short of a revolutionary assault on existing society anarchists have employed tactics of direct action.

  • Direct action may change from passive resistance to terrorism. Anarcho-Syndicalists for example refuse to engage in electoral politics instead exert pressure on employers by boycotting their products, sabotaging machinery, and organizing strike action.

3. Non-Violence

  • Anarchists like Godwin and Proudhon regard violence abhorrent principle.

  • These latter anarchists have often been attracted to the principles of nonviolence and pacifism developed by the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi.

  • The principle of nonviolence has appealed to anarchists for two reasons:

  • First, it reflects a respect for human beings as moral and autonomous creatures. As a political approach, nonviolence has proven appealing.

  • Mahatma Gandhi emancipated India with the use of Satyagrah based on principles of truth and non-violence.


  • Most believe that the first person to write about Anarchism was William Godwin in 1793.

  • The most famous example of anarchism occurred in the Spanish Civil War in which for a period of time Spain was structured in line with anarchist ideals.

  • Within anarchism, all coercive relationships are rejected; instead, societies where voluntary participation and cooperation are favored.

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