From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anarchism is a political philosophy and movement that rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. It radically calls for the abolition of the state which it holds to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful.

The timeline of anarchism stretches back to prehistory when people lived in anarchistic societies long before the establishment of formal states, kingdoms or empires. With the rise of organised hierarchical bodies, skepticism towards authority also rose, but it was not until the 19th century a self-conscious political movement was formed. During the latest half of 19th and the first decades of 20th century, the anarchist movement flourished in most parts of the world and had a significant role in worker's struggles for emancipation. Various branches of anarchism were espoused during those times. Anarchists took part in several revolutions, most notably in the Spanish Civil War, where they were crushed by the fascist forces in 1939, marking the end of the classical era of anarchism. In the last decades of the 20th century and into the 21st century, the anarchist movement has been resurgent once more.

Anarchism employs various tactics in order to meet its ideal ends; these can be broadly separated in revolutionary and evolutionary tactics. There is significant overlap between the two legs which are merely descriptive. Revolutionary tactics aim to bring down authority and state, and have taken a violent turn in the past. Evolutionary tactics aim to prefigure what an anarchist society would be like. Anarchist thought, criticism and praxis has played a part in diverse fields of human society.

Criticism of anarchism mainly focuses on it being internally inconsistent, violent and utopian.

Etymology, terminology and definition

The etymological origin of anarchism is from the Ancient Greek anarkhia, meaning "without a ruler", composed of the prefix an- (i.e. "without") and the word arkhos (i.e. "leader" or "ruler"). The suffix -ism denotes the ideological current that favours anarchy.[1] Anarchism appears in English from 1642[2] as anarchisme and anarchy from 1539.[3] Various factions within the French Revolution labelled their opponents as anarchists, although few such accused shared many views with later anarchists. Many revolutionaries of the 19th century such as William Godwin (1756–1836) and Wilhelm Weitling (1808–1871) would contribute to the anarchist doctrines of the next generation, but they did not use anarchist or anarchism in describing themselves or their beliefs.[4]

The first political philosopher to call himself an anarchist (French: anarchiste) was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865), marking the formal birth of anarchism in the mid-19th century. Since the 1890s and beginning in France,[5] libertarianism has often been used as a synonym for anarchism[6] and its use as a synonym is still common outside the United States.[7] On the other hand, some use libertarianism to refer to individualistic free-market philosophy only, referring to free-market anarchism as libertarian anarchism.[8]

While opposition to the state is central to anarchist thought, defining anarchism is not an easy task as there is a lot of talk among scholars and anarchists on the matter and various currents perceive anarchism slightly differently.[9] Hence, it might be true to say that anarchism is a cluster of political philosophies opposing authority and hierarchical organization (including the state, capitalism, nationalism and all associated institutions) in the conduct of all human relations in favour of a society based on voluntary association, on freedom and on decentralisation, but this definition has the same shortcomings as the definition based on etymology (which is simply a negation of a ruler), or based on anti-statism (anarchism is much more than that) or even the anti-authoritarian (which is an a posteriori conclusion).[10] Nonetheless, major elements of the definition of anarchism include the following:[11]

  1. The will for a non-coercive society.
  2. The rejection of the state apparatus.
  3. The belief that human nature allows humans to exist in or progress toward such a non-coercive society.
  4. A suggestion on how to act to pursue the ideal of anarchy.


Pre-modern era

Zeno of Citium (c. 334 – c. 262 BC), whose Republic inspired Peter Kropotkin[12]

During the prehistoric era of mankind, an established authority did not exist. It was after the creation of towns and cities that institutions of authority were established and anarchistic ideas espoused as a reaction.[13] Most notable precursors to anarchism in the ancient world were in China and Greece. In China, philosophical anarchism (i.e. the discussion on the legitimacy of the state) was delineated by Taoist philosophers Zhuangzi and Lao Tzu.[14] Likewise, anarchic attitudes were articulated by tragedians and philosophers in Greece. Aeschylus and Sophocles used the myth of Antigone to illustrate the conflict between rules set by the state and personal autonomy. Socrates questioned Athenian authorities constantly and insisted to the right of individual freedom of consciousness. Cynics dismissed human law (nomos) and associated authorities while trying to live according to nature (physis). Stoics were supportive of a society based on unofficial and friendly relations among its citizens without the presence of a state.[15]

During the Middle Ages, there was no anarchistic activity except some ascetic religious movements in the Islamic world or in Christian Europe. This kind of tradition later gave birth to religious anarchism. In Persia, Mazdak called for an egalitarian society and the abolition of monarchy, only to be soon executed by the king.[16] In Basra, religious sects preached against the state. In Europe, various sects developed anti-state and libertarian tendencies. Libertarian ideas further emerged during the Renaissance with the spread of reasoning and humanism through Europe. Novelists fictionalised ideal societies that were based not on coercion but voluntarism. The Enlightenment further pushed towards anarchism with the optimism for social progress.[17]

Modern era

During the French Revolution, the partisan groups of Enragés and sans-culottes saw a turning point in the fermentation of anti-state and federalist sentiments.[18] The first anarchist currents developed throughout the 18th century—William Godwin espoused philosophical anarchism in England, morally delegitimizing the state, Max Stirner's thinking paved the way to individualism, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's theory of mutualism found fertile soil in France.[19] This era of classical anarchism lasted until the end of the Spanish Civil War of 1936 and is considered the golden age of anarchism.[19]

Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin opposed the Marxist aim of dictatorship of the proletariat and allied himself with the federalists in the First International before his expulsion by the Marxists

Drawing from mutualism, Mikhail Bakunin founded collectivist anarchism and entered the International Workingmen's Association, a class worker union later known as the First International that formed in 1864 to unite diverse revolutionary currents. The International became a significant political force, and Karl Marx a leading figure and a member of its General Council. Bakunin's faction, the Jura Federation and Proudhon's followers, the mutualists, opposed Marxist state socialism, advocating political abstentionism and small property holdings.[20] After bitter disputes the Bakuninists were expelled from the International by the Marxists at the 1872 Hague Congress.[21] Bakunin famously predicted that if revolutionaries gained power by Marxist's terms, they would end up the new tyrants of workers. After being expelled, anarchists formed the St. Imier International. Under the influence of Peter Kropotkin, a Russian philosopher and scientist, anarcho-communism overlapped with collectivism.[22] Anarcho-communists, who drew inspiration from the 1871 Paris Commune, advocated for free federation and distribution of goods according to one's needs.[23]

At the turning of the century, anarchism had spread all over the world.[24] In China, small groups of students imported the humanistic pro-science version of anarcho-communism.[25] Tokyo was a hotspot for rebellious youth from countries of the far east, pouring into the Japanese capital to study.[26] In Latin America, São Paulo was a stronghold for anarcho-syndicalism where it became the most prominent left-wing ideology.[27] During this time, a minority of anarchists adopted tactics of revolutionary political violence. This strategy became known as propaganda of the deed.[28] The dismemberment of the French socialist movement into many groups and the execution and exile of many Communards to penal colonies following the suppression of the Paris Commune favoured individualist political expression and acts.[29] Even though many anarchists distanced themselves from these terrorist acts, infamy came upon the movement.[28] Illegalism was another strategy which some anarchists adopted these same years.[30]

Anarchists enthusiastically participated in the Russian Revolution—despite concerns—in opposition to the Whites. However, they met harsh suppression after the Bolshevik government was stabilized. Several anarchists from Petrograd and Moscow fled to Ukraine,[31] notably leading to the Kronstadt rebellion and Nestor Makhno's struggle in the Free Territory. With the anarchists being crushed in Russia, two new antithetical currents emerged, namely platformism and synthesis anarchism. The former sought to create a coherent group that would push for the revolution while the latter were against anything that would resemble a political party. Seeing the victories of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution and the resulting Russian Civil War, many workers and activists turned to communist parties which grew at the expense of anarchism and other socialist movements. In France and the United States, members of major syndicalist movements, the General Confederation of Labour and Industrial Workers of the World, left their organisations and joined the Communist International.[32]

In the Spanish Civil War, anarchists and syndicalists (CNT and FAI) once again allied themselves with various currents of leftists. A long tradition of Spanish anarchism led to anarchists playing a pivotal role in the war. In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land.[33] The Soviet Union provided some limited assistance at the beginning of the war, but the result was a bitter fight among communists and anarchists at a series of events named May Days as Joseph Stalin tried to seize control of the Republicans.[34]

Post-war era

Rojava is supporting efforts for workers to form cooperatives, such as this sewing cooperative

At the end of World War II, the anarchist movement was severely weakened.[35] However, the 1960s witnessed a revival of anarchism likely caused by a perceived failure of Marxism–Leninism and tensions built by the Cold War.[36] During this time, anarchism took root in other movements critical to both the state and capitalism such as the anti-nuclear, environmental and pacifist movements, the New Left, and the counterculture of the 1960s.[37] Anarchism became associated with punk subculture as exemplified by bands such as Crass and the Sex Pistols,[38] and the established feminist tendencies of anarcha-feminism returned with vigour during the second wave of feminism.[39]

Around the turn of the 21st century, anarchism grew in popularity and influence within anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movements.[40] Anarchists became known for their involvement in protests against the World Trade Organization, Group of Eight and World Economic Forum. During the protests, ad hoc leaderless anonymous cadres known as black blocs engaged in rioting, property destruction and violent confrontations with the police. Other organisational tactics pioneered in this time include security culture, affinity groups and the use of decentralised technologies such as the internet. A significant event of this period was the confrontations at the WTO conference in Seattle in 1999.[40] Anarchist ideas have been influential in the development of the Zapatistas in Mexico and the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, more commonly known as Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria.[41]


Anarchist schools of thought have been generally grouped in two main historical traditions, social anarchism and individualist anarchism, owing to their different origins, values and evolution.[42] The individualist current emphasises negative liberty in opposing restraints upon the free individual, while the social current emphasises positive liberty in aiming to achieve the free potential of society through equality and social ownership.[43] In a chronological sense, anarchism can be segmented by the classical currents of the late 19th century, and the post-classical currents (such as anarcha-feminism, green anarchism and post-anarchism) developed thereafter.[44]

Beyond the specific factions of anarchist movements which constitute the political anarchism lies philosophical anarchism, which holds that the state lacks moral legitimacy, without necessarily accepting the imperative of revolution to eliminate it.[45] A component especially of individualist anarchism,[46] philosophical anarchism may tolerate the existence of a minimal state, but argues that citizens have no moral obligation to obey government when it conflicts with individual autonomy.[47] Anarchism pays much attention to moral arguments since ethics have a central role in anarchist's philosophy.[48]

One reaction against sectarianism within the anarchist milieu was anarchism without adjectives, a call for toleration and unity among anarchists first adopted by Fernando Tarrida del Mármol in 1889 in response to the bitter debates of anarchist theory at the time.[49] Despite separation, the various anarchist schools of thought are not seen as distinct entities, but as tendencies that intermingle.[50]

Anarchism is usually placed on the far-left of the political spectrum.[51] Much of its economics and legal philosophy reflect anti-authoritarian, anti-statist and libertarian interpretations of radical left-wing and socialist politics[52] of collectivism, communism, individualism, mutualism and syndicalism, among other libertarian socialist economic theories.[53] As anarchism does not offer a fixed body of doctrine from a single particular worldview,[54] many anarchist types and traditions exist and varieties of anarchy diverge widely.[55]


Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the primary proponent of anarcho-mutualism, who influenced many future individualist anarchist and social anarchist thinkers[56]

Inceptive currents among classical anarchist currents were mutualism and individualism. They were followed by the major currents of social anarchism (collectivist, communist and syndicalist). They differ on organizational and economic aspects of their ideal society.[57]

Mutualism is an 18th-century economic theory that was developed into anarchist theory by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Its aims include reciprocity, free association, voluntary contract, federation, and credit and currency reform that would be regulated by a bank of the people.[58] Mutualism has been retrospectively characterised as ideologically situated between individualist and collectivist forms of anarchism.[59] Proudhon first characterised his goal as a "third form of society, the synthesis of communism and property".[60]

Collectivist anarchism, also known as anarchist collectivism or anarcho-collectivism,[61] is a revolutionary socialist form of anarchism commonly associated with Mikhail Bakunin.[62] Collectivist anarchists advocate collective ownership of the means of production, theorised to be achieved through violent revolution,[63] and that workers be paid according to time worked, rather than goods being distributed according to need as in communism. Collectivist anarchism arose alongside Marxism, but rejected the dictatorship of the proletariat despite the stated Marxist goal of a collectivist stateless society.[64] Anarcho-communism, also known as anarchist-communism, communist anarchism and libertarian communism, is a theory of anarchism that advocates a communist society with common ownership of the means of production,[65] direct democracy, and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need".[66] Anarcho-communism developed from radical socialist currents after the French Revolution,[67] but it was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International.[68] It was later expanded upon in the theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin.[69]

Anarcho-syndicalism, also referred to as revolutionary syndicalism, is a branch of anarchism that views labour syndicates as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society democratically self-managed by workers. The basic principles of anarcho-syndicalism are workers' solidarity, direct action and workers' self-management.[70]

Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasise the individual and their will over any kinds of external determinants.[71] Early influences on individualist forms of anarchism include William Godwin, Max Stirner and Henry David Thoreau. Through many countries, individualist anarchism attracted a small yet diverse following of Bohemian artists and intellectuals[72] as well as young anarchist outlaws in what became known as illegalism and individual reclamation.[73]

Post-classical and contemporary

Lawrence Jarach (left) and John Zerzan (right), two prominent contemporary anarchist authors, with Zerzan being a prominent voice within anarcho-primitivism and Jarach a noted advocate of post-left anarchy

Anarchist principles undergird contemporary radical social movements of the left. Interest in the anarchist movement developed alongside momentum in the anti-globalization movement,[74] whose leading activist networks were anarchist in orientation.[75] As the movement shaped 21st century radicalism, wider embrace of anarchist principles signaled a revival of interest.[75] Contemporary news coverage which emphasizes black bloc demonstrations has reinforced anarchism's historical association with chaos and violence, although its publicity has also led more scholars to engage with the anarchist movement.[74] Anarchism has continued to generate many philosophies and movements—at times eclectic, drawing upon various sources, and syncretic, combining disparate concepts to create new philosophical approaches.[76] The anti-capitalist tradition of classical anarchism has remained prominent within contemporary currents.[77]

Various anarchist groups, tendencies and schools of thought exist today, making it difficult to describe contemporary anarchist movement.[78] While theorists and activists have established "relatively stable constellations of anarchist principles", there is no consensus on which principles are core. As a result, commentators describe multiple "anarchisms" (rather than a singular "anarchism") in which common principles are shared between schools of anarchism while each group prioritizes those principles differently. For example, gender equality can be a common principle but ranks as a higher priority to anarcha-feminists than anarchist communists.[79] Anarchists are generally committed against coercive authority in the following forms, namely "all centralized and hierarchical forms of government (e.g., monarchy, representative democracy, state socialism, etc.), economic class systems (e.g., capitalism, Bolshevism, feudalism, slavery, etc.), autocratic religions (e.g., fundamentalist Islam, Roman Catholicism, etc.), patriarchy, heterosexism, white supremacy, and imperialism".[80] However, anarchist schools disagree on the methods by which these forms should be opposed.[81]


Anarchists' tactics take various forms but in general serve two major goals—first, to oppose the Establishment; and second, to promote anarchist ethics and reflect an anarchist vision of society, illustrating the unity of means and ends.[82] A broad categorization can be made between aims to destroy oppressive states and institutions by revolutionary means, and aims to change society through evolutionary means.[83] Evolutionary tactics reject violence and take a gradual approach to anarchist aims, though there is significant overlap between the two.[84]

Anarchist tactics have shifted during the course of the last century. Anarchists during the early 20th century focused more on strikes and militancy, while contemporary anarchists use a broader array of approaches.[85]

Classical era tactics

The relationship between anarchism and violence is a controversial subject among anarchists. Pictured is Leon Czolgosz assassinating U.S. President William McKinley.

During the classical era, anarchists had a militant tendency. Not only did they confront state armed forces (as in Spain and Ukraine) but some of them also employed terrorism as propaganda of the deed. Assassination attempts were carried out against heads of state, some of which were successful. Anarchists also took part in revolutions.[86] Anarchist perspectives towards violence have always been perplexing and controversial.[87] On one hand, anarcho-pacifists point out the unity of means and ends.[88] On the other hand, other anarchist groups advocate direct action, a tactic which can include acts of sabotage or even acts of terrorism. This attitude was quite prominent a century ago; seeing the state as a tyrant, some anarchists believed that they had every right to oppose its oppression by any means possible.[89] Emma Goldman and Errico Malatesta, who were proponents of limited use of violence, argued that violence is merely a reaction to state violence as a necessary evil.[90]

Anarchists took an active role in strikes, although they tended to be antipathetic to formal syndicalism, seeing it as reformist. They saw it as a part of the movement which sought to overthrow the state and capitalism.[91] Anarchists also reinforced their propaganda within the arts, some of whom practiced nudism. They also built communities which were based on friendship. They were also involved in the press.[92]

Revolutionary tactics

In the current era, Italian anarchist Alfredo Bonanno, a proponent of insurrectionary anarchism, has reinstated the debate on violence by rejecting the nonviolence tactic adopted since the late 19th century by Kropotkin and other prominent anarchists afterwards. Both Bonanno and the French group The Invisible Committee advocate for small, informal affiliation groups, where each member is responsible for their own actions but works together to bring down oppression utilizing sabotage and other violent means against state, capitalism and other enemies. Members of The Invisible Committee were arrested in 2008 on various charges, terrorism included.[93]

Overall, today's anarchists are much less violent and militant than their ideological ancestors. They mostly engage in confronting the police during demonstrations and riots, especially in countries like Canada, Mexico or Greece. Μilitant black bloc protest groups are known for clashing with the police.[94] However, anarchists not only clash with state operators; they also engage in the struggle against fascists and racists, taking antifa action and mobilizing to prevent hate rallies from happening.[95]

Evolutionary tactics

Anarchists commonly employ direct action. This can take the form of disrupting and protesting against unjust hierarchy, or the form of self-managing their lives through the creation of counterinstitutions such as communes and non-hierarchical collectives.[83] Often decision-making is handled in an anti-authoritarian way, with everyone having equal say in each decision, an approach known as horizontalism.[96] Contemporary-era anarchists have been engaging with various grass root movements that are not explicitly anarchist but are more or less based on horizontalism, respecting personal autonomy and participating in mass activism such as strikes and demonstrations. The newly coined term "small-a anarchism", in contrast with "big-A anarchism" of the classical era, signals their tendency not to base their thoughts and actions on classical-era anarchism or to refer to Kropotkin or Proudhon to justify their opinions. They would rather base their thought and praxis on their own experience, which they will later theorize.[97]

The decision-making process of small affinity anarchist groups play a significant tactical role.[98] Anarchists have employed various methods in order to build a rough consensus among members of their group, without the need of a leader or a leading group. One way is for an individual from the group to play the role of facilitator to help achieve a consensus without taking part in the discussion themselves or promoting a specific point. Minorities usually accept rough consensus, except when they feel the proposal contradicts anarchist goals, values or ethics. Anarchists usually form small groups (5–20 individuals) to enhance autonomy and friendships among their members. These kind of groups more often than not interconnect with each other, forming larger networks. Anarchists still support and participate in strikes, especially wildcat strikes; these are leaderless strikes not organised centrally by a syndicate.[99]

Anarchists have gone online to spread their message. As in the past, newspapers and journals are used; however, because of distributional and other difficulties, anarchists have found it easier to create websites, hosting electronic libraries and other portals.[100] Anarchists were also involved in developing various software that are available for free. The way these hacktivists work to develop and distribute resembles the anarchist ideals, especially when it comes to preserving user's privacy from state surveillance.[101]

Anarchists organize themselves to squat and reclaim public spaces. During important events such as protests and when spaces are being occupied, they are often called Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ), spaces where surrealism, poetry and art are blended to display the anarchist ideal.[102] As seen by anarchists, squatting is a way to regain urban space that capitalist market, serving pragmatical needs and is also seen an exemplary direct action.[103] Acquiring space enables anarchists to experiment with their ideas and build social bonds.[104] Adding up these tactics and having in mind that not all anarchists share the same attitudes towards them, along with various forms of protesting at highly symbolic events, make up a carnivalesque atmosphere that is part of contemporary anarchism vividity.[105]

Key issues

As anarchism is a philosophy that embodies many diverse attitudes, tendencies and schools of thought and disagreement over questions of values, ideology and tactics is common, its diversity has led to widely different use of identical terms among different anarchist traditions which has led to many definitional concerns in anarchist theory. For instance, the compatibility of capitalism,[106] nationalism and religion with anarchism is widely disputed. Similarly, anarchism enjoys complex relationships with ideologies such as Marxism, communism, collectivism and trade unionism. Anarchists may be motivated by humanism, divine authority, enlightened self-interest, veganism, or any number of alternative ethical doctrines. Phenomena such as civilisation, technology (e.g. within anarcho-primitivism) and the democratic process may be sharply criticised within some anarchist tendencies and simultaneously lauded in others.[107]

Gender, sexuality and free love

French individualist anarchist Émile Armand propounded the virtues of free love in the Parisian anarchist milieu of the early 20th century

Gender and sexuality carry along them dynamics of hierarchy; anarchism is obliged to address, analyse and oppose the suppression of one's autonomy because of the dynamics that gender roles traditionally impose.[108]

A historical current that arose and flourished during 1890 and 1920 within anarchism was free love and in a way it still survives as tendency supporting polyamory and queer anarchism.[109] Free love advocates were against marriage which saw as a way of men imposing authority over women because of marriage laws giving the upper hand to males. The notion of free love though was much broader, it was a critique to the whole established order that limited women from sexual freedom and pleasure.[110] This movement became close to reality as there have been various household that hosted many comrades sharing a common bed.[111] Free love had roots both in Europe and the United States. Some anarchists soon found out that free love wasn't without adverse effects as jealously arose.[112] Anarchist feminists were advocates of free love, against marriage, pro-choice (utilizing a contemporary term) and had a likewise agenda. Anarchist and non-anarchist feminists differed on suffrage, but still they were supportive of each other.[113]

During the second half of the 20th century, anarchism intermingled with the second wave of anarchism, radicalizing some currents of the feminist movement-and got influenced as well. By the latest decades of the 20th century, anarchist and feminists were advocating for rights and autonomy of women, gays, queers and other marginalized groups with some feminist thinkers suggesting the fusion of the two currents.[114] With the third wave of anarchism, sexual identity and compulsory heterosexuality were put under the anarchist's microscope and yielded a post-structuralist critique of sexual normality.[115] However, some anarchists distanced themselves from this line of thinking, suggesting it is leaning towards individualism and therefore dropping the cause of social liberation.[116]

Anarchism and education

Anarchist vs. statist perspectives on education
Ruth Kinna (2019)[117]
Anarchist education State education
Concept Education as self-mastery Education as service
Management Community based State run
Methods Practice-based learning Vocational training
Aims Being a critical member of society Being a productive member of society

Anarchist's interest to education stretches back to the first steps of classical anarchism. Anarchists see proper education that sets the foundations of the future autonomy of the individual and society, as an act of mutual aid.[118] Anarchists writers such as Willian Godwin and Max Stirner attacked both state orchestrated public education and elitist education as they saw it as another way for the ruling class to replicate their privileges.[119]

In 1901, Catalan anarchist and free thinker Francisco Ferrer established the modern in Barcelona in defiance of an educational system controlled by the Catholic Church.[120] Ferrer's approach was secular, rejecting both the state and church involvement in the educational process and gave pupils plenty of autonomy (i.e. on setting the curriculum). Ferrer was aiming to educate the working class. The school closed after constant harassment by the state and Ferrer was later on arrested. Ferrer's ideas generally formed the inspiration for a series of modern schools around the world.[121] Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy had also established a school, it 's major principle was "for education to be effective it had to be free", as Tolstoy himself explained.[122] In a similar token, A. S. Neill founding what became Summerhill School in 1921, also declaring being free from coercion.[123] All anarchist schools were based mostly on a moral value, namely respecting children's right to develop freely without manipulations. However, they faced the dilemma of whether they should guide youngsters towards political and class struggles. Most anarchist educators of early 20th century did not take a neutral stance; the specific question kept troubling anarchist the decades to come.[124] Some decades later, anarchist authors such Colin Ward, Hearbert Read and Paul Goodman intensified and expanded anarchist's critique to state education, even the need for schooling as a pedagogical method, suggesting a system that would focus on children's creativity rather than turning them into career-hunters.[125]

While not many anarchists schools survived to the current era, major tenets of anarchists schools, such as respect for child autonomy and freedom, relying on reasoning rather than indoctrination, have spread in mainstream educational institutions portraying themselves as democratic.[126]

Anarchism and the state

Objection to the state and its institutions is sine qua non of anarchism.[127] Anarchists consider the state as a tool of domination and it is illegitimate regardless of political tendencies. Instead of people being able to control the aspects of their life, major decisions are taken by a small elite. Authority ultimately rests solely on power regardless if it is open or transparent as it still has the ability to coerce people. Another anarchist argument against states is that some people constituting a government, even the most altruistic among officials, will unavoidably seek to gain more power, leading to corruption. Anarchists consider the argument that the state is the collective will of people as a fairy tale since the ruling class is distinct from the rest of the society.[128]

Anarchism and art

Les chataigniers a Osny by anarchist painter Camille Pissarro. 19th century neo-impressionist movement had an ecological aesthetic and offered an example of anarchist's perception on the road towards socialism.[129] In this specific painting, note how the blending of aestetic and social harmony is prefiguring an ideal anarchistic agrarian community.[130]

The connection between anarchism and art was quite profound during the classical era of anarchism, especially among artistic currents that were developing during that era, such as futurists, surrealists, and others,[131] while in literature anarchism was mostly associated with New Apocalypse and New Romanticism movements.[132] Anarchists such as Leo Tolstoy and Herbert Read argued that the border between the artist and the non-artist, what separates art from a daily act, is a construct produced by the alienation caused by capitalism, and it prevents humans from living a joyful life.[133] Other anarchists advocated for or used art as a means to achieve anarchist ends.[134] Three overlapping properties made art useful to anarchists: It could depict a critique of existing society and hierarchies; it could serve as a prefigurative tool to reflect the anarchist ideal society, and also it could turn into a means of direct action, in protests for example. As it appeals to both emotion and reason, art could appeal to the "whole human" and have a powerful effect.[135]


Philosophy lecturer Andrew G. Fiala has listed the five main arguments against anarchism. Firstly, he notes that anarchism is related to violence and destruction, not only in the pragmatic world (i.e. at protests) but in the world of ethics as well. Second argument is that it is impossible for a society to function without a state or something alike a state, acting to protect citizens from criminality. Fiala takes Leviathan from Thomas Hobbes and the night-watchman state from philosopher Robert Nozick as examples. Thirdly, anarchism is evaluated as unfeasible or utopian since the state can not be defeated practically; this line of arguments most often calls for political action within the system to reform it. The fourth argument is that anarchism is self-contradictory since while it advocates for no-one to archiei, if accepted by the many, then anarchism will turn into the ruling political theory. In this line of criticism also comes the self contradiction that anarchist calls for collective action while anarchism endorses the autonomy of the individual and hence no collective action can be taken. Lastly, Fiala mentions a critique towards philosophical anarchism, of being ineffective (all talk and thoughts) and in the meantime capitalism and bourgeois class remains strong.[136]

Philosophical anarchism has met the criticism of members of academia, following the release of pro-anarchist books such as A. John Simmons' Moral Principles and Political Obligations (1979).[137] Law professor William A. Edmundson authored an essay on which he argues against three major philosophical anarchists principles, which are fallacious. Edmundson claims that while there is indeed not a duty to obey to a normal state, that does not necessarily mean that anarchism is the inevitable conclusion and the state is still morally legitimate.[138]

See also



  1. ^ Bates 2017, p. 128; Long 2013, p. 217.
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster 2019, "Anarchism".
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary 2005, "Anarchism".
  4. ^ Joll 1964, pp. 27–37.
  5. ^ Nettlau 1996, p. 162.
  6. ^ Guerin 1970, "The Basic Ideas of Anarchism".
  7. ^ Ward 2004, p. 62; Goodway 2006, p. 4; Skirda 2002, p. 183; Fernández 2009, p. 9.
  8. ^ Morris 2002, p. 61.
  9. ^ Long 2013, p. 217.
  10. ^ McLaughlin 2007, pp. 25–29; Long 2013, pp. 217.
  11. ^ McLaughlin 2007, pp. 25–26.
  12. ^ Marshall 1993, p. 70.
  13. ^ Graham 2005, pp. xi–xiv.
  14. ^ Coutinho 2016; Marshall 1993, p. 54.
  15. ^ Marshall 1993, pp. 4, 66–73.
  16. ^ Marshall 1993, p. 86.
  17. ^ Adams 2014, pp. 33–63.
  18. ^ Marshall 1993, p. 4.
  19. ^ a b Marshall 1993, pp. 4–5.
  20. ^ Dodson 2002, p. 312; Thomas 1985, p. 187; Chaliand & Blin 2007, p. 116.
  21. ^ Graham 2019, pp. 334–336; Marshall 1993, p. 24.
  22. ^ Marshall 1993, p. 5.
  23. ^ Graham 2005, p. xii.
  24. ^ Moya 2015, p. 327.
  25. ^ Marshall 1993, pp. 519–521.
  26. ^ Dirlik 1991, p. 133; Ramnath 2019, pp. 681–682.
  27. ^ Levy 2011, p. 23; Laursen 2019, p. 157; Marshall 1993, pp. 504–508.
  28. ^ a b Marshall 1993, pp. 633–636.
  29. ^ Anderson 2004.
  30. ^ Bantman 2019, p. 374.
  31. ^ Avrich 2006, p. 204.
  32. ^ Nomad 1966, p. 88.
  33. ^ Bolloten 1984, p. 1107.
  34. ^ Marshall 1993, pp. xi, 466.
  35. ^ Marshall 1993, p. xi.
  36. ^ Marshall 1993, p. 539.
  37. ^ Marshall 1993, pp. xi, 539.
  38. ^ Marshall 1993, pp. 493–494.
  39. ^ Marshall 1993, pp. 556–557.
  40. ^ a b Rupert 2006, p. 66.
  41. ^ Ramnath 2019, p. 691.
  42. ^ McLean & McMillan 2003, "Anarchism"; Ostergaard 2003, p. 14, "Anarchism".
  43. ^ Harrison & Boyd 2003, p. 251.
  44. ^ Levy & Adams 2019, p. 9.
  45. ^ Egoumenides 2014, p. 2.
  46. ^ Ostergaard 2006, p. 12; Gabardi 1986, pp. 300–302.
  47. ^ Klosko 2005, p. 4.
  48. ^ Franks 2019, p. 549.
  49. ^ Avrich 1996, p. 6.
  50. ^ Marshall 1993, pp. 1–6.
  51. ^ Brooks 1994, p. xi; Kahn 2000; Moynihan 2007.
  52. ^ Guerin 1970, p. 12: "[A]narchism is really a synonym for socialism. The anarchist is primarily a socialist whose aim is to abolish the exploitation of man by man. Anarchism is only one of the streams of socialist thought, that stream whose main components are concern for liberty and haste to abolish the State."
  53. ^ Guerin 1970, p. 35, "Critique of authoritarian socialism": "The anarchists were unanimous in subjecting authoritarian socialism to a barrage of severe criticism. At the time when they made violent and satirical attacks these were not entirely well founded, for those to whom they were addressed were either primitive or "vulgar" communists, whose thought had not yet been fertilized by Marxist humanism, or else, in the case of Marx and Engels themselves, were not as set on authority and state control as the anarchists made out."
  54. ^ Marshall 1993, pp. 14–17.
  55. ^ Sylvan 2007, p. 262.
  56. ^ Wilbur 2019, p. 216-218.
  57. ^ Levy & Adams 2019, p. 2.
  58. ^ Wilbur 2019, pp. 213–218.
  59. ^ Avrich 1996, p. 6; Miller 1991, p. 11.
  60. ^ Pierson 2013, p. 187. The quote is from Proudhon's What is Property? (1840).
  61. ^ Morris 1993, p. 76.
  62. ^ Shannon 2019, p. 101.
  63. ^ Avrich 1996, pp. 3–4.
  64. ^ Heywood 2017, pp. 146–147; Bakunin 1990: "They [the Marxists] maintain that only a dictatorship—their dictatorship, of course—can create the will of the people, while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling masses from the bottom up."
  65. ^ Mayne 1999, p. 131.
  66. ^ Marshall 1993, p. 327; Turcato 2019, pp. 237–323.
  67. ^ Graham 2005.
  68. ^ Pernicone 2009, pp. 111–113.
  69. ^ Turcato 2019, p. 239–244.
  70. ^ van der Walt 2019, p. 249.
  71. ^ Ryley 2019, p. 225.
  72. ^ Marshall 1993, p. 440.
  73. ^ Imrie 1994; Parry 1987, p. 15.
  74. ^ a b Evren 2011, p. 1.
  75. ^ a b Evren 2011, p. 2.
  76. ^ Perlin 1979.
  77. ^ Williams 2018, p. 4.
  78. ^ Franks 2013, pp. 385–386.
  79. ^ Franks 2013, p. 386.
  80. ^ Jun 2009, pp. 507–508.
  81. ^ Jun 2009, p. 507.
  82. ^ Williams 2019, pp. 107–108.
  83. ^ a b Williams 2018, pp. 4–5.
  84. ^ Kinna 2019, p. 125.
  85. ^ Williams 2019, p. 112.
  86. ^ Williams 2019, pp. 112–113.
  87. ^ Carter 1978, p. 320.
  88. ^ Fiala 2017.
  89. ^ Kinna 2019, pp. 116–117.
  90. ^ Carter 1978, pp. 320–325.
  91. ^ Williams 2019, p. 113.
  92. ^ Williams 2019, p. 114.
  93. ^ Kinna 2019, pp. 134–135.
  94. ^ Williams 2019, p. 115.
  95. ^ Williams 2019, p. 117.
  96. ^ Williams 2019, pp. 109–117.
  97. ^ Kinna 2019, pp. 145–149.
  98. ^ Williams 2019, pp. 109, 119.
  99. ^ Williams 2019, p. 119–121.
  100. ^ Williams 2019, pp. 118–119.
  101. ^ Williams 2019, pp. 120–121.
  102. ^ Kinna 2019, p. 139; Mattern 2019, p. 596; Williams 2018, pp. 5–6.
  103. ^ Kinna 2012, p. 250; Williams 2019, p. 119.
  104. ^ Williams 2019, p. 122.
  105. ^ Morland 2004, p. 37–38.
  106. ^ Marshall 1993, p. 565: "In fact, few anarchists would accept the 'anarcho-capitalists' into the anarchist camp since they do not share a concern for economic equality and social justice, Their self-interested, calculating market men would be incapable of practising voluntary co-operation and mutual aid. Anarcho-capitalists, even if they do reject the State, might therefore best be called right-wing libertarians rather than anarchists."; Honderich 1995, p. 31; Meltzer 2000, p. 50: "The philosophy of "anarcho-capitalism" dreamed up by the "libertarian" New Right, has nothing to do with Anarchism as known by the Anarchist movement proper."; Goodway 2006, p. 4: "'Libertarian' and 'libertarianism' are frequently employed by anarchists as synonyms for 'anarchist' and 'anarchism', largely as an attempt to distance themselves from the negative connotations of 'anarchy' and its derivatives. The situation has been vastly complicated in recent decades with the rise of anarcho-capitalism, 'minimal statism' and an extreme right-wing laissez-faire philosophy advocated by such theorists as Murray Rothbard and Robert Nozick and their adoption of the words 'libertarian' and 'libertarianism'. It has therefore now become necessary to distinguish between their right libertarianism and the left libertarianism of the anarchist tradition."; Newman 2010, p. 53: "It is important to distinguish between anarchism and certain strands of right-wing libertarianism which at times go by the same name (for example, Murray Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism)."
  107. ^ De George 2005, pp. 31–32.
  108. ^ Nicholas 2019, p. 603.
  109. ^ Nicholas 2019, p. 611; Jeppesen & Nazar 2012, pp. 175–176.
  110. ^ Jeppesen & Nazar 2012, pp. 175–176.
  111. ^ Jeppesen & Nazar 2012, p. 177.
  112. ^ Jeppesen & Nazar 2012, pp. 175–177.
  113. ^ Kinna2019, pp. 166–167.
  114. ^ Nicholas 2019, pp. 609–611.
  115. ^ Nicholas 2019, pp. 610–611.
  116. ^ Nicholas 2019, pp. 616–617.
  117. ^ Kinna 2019, p. 97.
  118. ^ Kinna 2019, pp. 83–85.
  119. ^ Suissa 2019, pp. 514, 521; Kinna 2019, pp. 83–86; Marshall 1993, p. 222. Max Stirner recorded his thoughts in an essay on education titled "The False Principle of Our Education". William Godwin's thoughts can be found in his Political Justice.
  120. ^ Suissa 2019, pp. 511–512.
  121. ^ Suissa 2019, pp. 511–514.
  122. ^ Suissa 2019, pp. 517–518. For more, see Tolstoy essay's Education and Culture.
  123. ^ Suissa 2019, pp. 518–519.
  124. ^ Suissa 2019, pp. 519-522.
  125. ^ Kinna 2019, pp. 89–96.
  126. ^ Suissa 2019, pp. 523–526. Suissa names three schools as explicitly anarchists schools, namely the Free Skool Santa Cruz in the United States which is part of a wider American-Canadian network of schools; Self-Managed Learning College in Brighton, England; and Paideia School in Spain.
  127. ^ Carter 1971, p. 14; Jun 2019, pp. 29–30.
  128. ^ Jun 2019, pp. 32–38.
  129. ^ Antliff 1998, p. 78.
  130. ^ Antliff 1998, p. 99.
  131. ^ Mattern 2019, p. 592.
  132. ^ Gifford 2019, p. 577.
  133. ^ Mattern 2019, pp. 592-593.
  134. ^ Mattern 2019, p. 593.
  135. ^ Mattern 2019, pp. 593–596.
  136. ^ Fiala 2017, "4. Objections and Replies".
  137. ^ Klosko 1999, p. 536.
  138. ^ Klosko 1999, p. 536; Kristjánsson 2000, p. 896.


Primary sources
  • Bakunin, Mikhail (1990) [1873]. Shatz, Marshall (ed.). Statism and Anarchy. Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought. Translated by Shatz, Marshall. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139168083. ISBN 978-0-521-36182-8. LCCN 89077393. OCLC 20826465.
Secondary sources
Tertiary sources

Further reading

External links

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