Taoism, which developed in Ancient China, has been embraced by some anarchists as a source of anarchistic attitudes. Similarly, in the West, anarchistic tendencies can be traced to the philosophers of Ancient Greece, such as Zeno, the founder of the Stoic philosophy, and Aristippus, who said that the wise should not give up their liberty to the state. Later movements – such as the Free Spirit in the Middle Ages, the Anabaptists, the Diggers and the Levellers — have also expounded ideas that have been interpreted as anarchist.
The usage of the words "anarchia" and "anarchos", both meaning "without ruler", can be traced back to Homer's Iliad and Herodotus's Histories. The first known political usage of the word anarchy appears in the play Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus, dated at 467 BC. There, Antigone openly refuses to abide by the rulers' decree to leave her brother Polyneices' body unburied, as punishment for his participation in the attack on Thebes, saying that "even if no one else is willing to share in burying him I will bury him alone and risk the peril of burying my own brother. Nor am I ashamed to act in defiant opposition to the rulers of the city (ekhous apiston tênd anarkhian polei)".
Ancient Greece also saw the first Western instance of anarchism as a philosophical ideal. The Cynics Diogenes of Sinope and Crates of Thebes are both supposed to have advocated anarchistic forms of society, although little remains of their writings. Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, who was much influenced by the Cynics, described his vision of a utopian society around 300 BC. Zeno's Republic advocates a form of anarchism in which there are no need for state structures. Zeno was, according to Kropotkin, "[t]he best exponent of Anarchist philosophy in ancient Greece". As summarized by Kropotkin, Zeno "repudiated the omnipotence of the state, its intervention and regimentation, and proclaimed the sovereignty of the moral law of the individual". Within Greek philosophy, Zeno's vision of a free community without government is opposed to the state-Utopia of Plato's Republic. Zeno argued that although the necessary instinct of self-preservation leads humans to egotism, nature has supplied a corrective to it by providing man with another instinct – sociability. Like many modern anarchists, he believed that if people follow their instincts, they will have no need of law courts or police, no temples and no public worship, and use no money (free gifts taking the place of the exchanges). Zeno's beliefs have only reached us as fragmentary quotations.
Anarchism is usually considered to be a radical left-wing ideology, and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics; however, anarchism has always included an individualist strain, including those who support capitalism (for example anarcho-capitalists, agorists, and other free-market anarchists) or similar market-oriented economic structures; for example, mutualists. Others, such as panarchists and anarchists without adjectives, neither advocate nor object to any particular form of organization as long as it is not compulsory. Some anarchist schools of thought differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. However, the central tendency of anarchism is represented by communist anarchism, with anarcho-individualism being a philosophical/literary anarchist phenomenon rather than a social movement. Some anarchists fundamentally oppose all forms of coercion, while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and terrorism, on the path to anarchy.
Peter Kropotkin wrote that it was William Godwin, in "his Enquiry concerning Political Justice (2 vols., 1793), who was the first to formulate the political and economical conceptions of anarchism, even though he did not give that name to the ideas developed in his remarkable work." Godwin advocated the abolition of government through a gradual process of reform and enlightenment and is therefore regarded as one of the founders of "philosophical anarchism."
There were a variety of anarchist currents during the French Revolution, with some revolutionaries using the term "anarchiste" in a positive light as early as September 1793. The Enragés opposed revolutionary government as a contradiction in terms. Denouncing the Jacobin dictatorship, Jean Varlet wrote in 1794 that "government and revolution are incompatible, unless the people wishes to set its constituted authorities in permanent insurrection against itself." In his "Manifesto of the Equals," Sylvain Marechal looked forward to the disappearance, once and for all, of "the revolting distinction between rich and poor, of great and small, of masters and valets, of governors and governed."
In 1825 in the United States, Josiah Warren participated in a communitarian experiment headed by Robert Owen called New Harmony, which failed in a few years amidst much internal conflict. In 1827, as New Harmony disintegrated, he returned to Cincinnati. As Kenneth Rexroth wrote, "almost all critics of New Harmony have said that what it lacked was strong leadership, discipline, and commitment – strong government. Warren came to exactly the opposite conclusion." Warren blamed the community's failure on a lack of individual sovereignty. He proceeded to organise experimental anarchist communities at Utopia and Modern Times.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is regarded as the first self-proclaimed anarchist, a label he adopted in his groundbreaking work What is Property?, published in 1840. It is for this reason that some claim Proudhon as the founder of modern anarchist theory. He developed the theory of spontaneous order in society, where organization emerges without a central coordinator imposing its own idea of order against the wills of individuals acting in their own interests; his famous quote on the matter is, "Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order." In What is Property? Proudhon answers with the famous accusation "Property is theft." In this work, he opposed the institution of decreed "property" (propriété), where owners have complete rights to "use and abuse" their property as they wish. He contrasted this with what he called "possession," or limited ownership of resources and goods only while in more or less continuous use. Later, however, Proudhon added that "Property is Liberty," and argued that it was a bulwark against state power. Proudhon's ideas were influential within French working class movements, and his followers were active in the Revolution of 1848 in France as well as the Paris Commune of 1871.
Social anarchism is one of two different broad categories of anarchism, the other category being individualist anarchism. The term social anarchism is often used to identify communitarian forms of anarchism that emphasize cooperation and mutual aid. Social anarchism includes anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism, Libertarian socialism, anarcho-syndicalism, social ecology and sometimes mutualism. Mutualist anarchism is concerned with reciprocity, free association, voluntary contract, federation, and credit and currency reform. According to Greene, in the mutualist system each worker would receive "just and exact pay for his work; services equivalent in cost being exchangeable for services equivalent in cost, without profit or discount."Mutualism has been retrospectively characterized as being ideologically situated between individualist and collectivist forms of anarchism. Proudhon first characterized his goal as a "third form of society, the synthesis of communism and property."
Individualist anarchism comprises several traditions which hold that "individual conscience and the pursuit of self-interest should not be constrained by any collective body or public authority." Individualist anarchism is supportive of property being held privately, unlike the social/socialist/collectivist/communitarian wing which advocates common ownership. Liberals were often labeled "anarchists" by monarchists, even though they did not call for the abolition of hierarchy. Still, they did promote the idea of human equality, individual rights, and the responsibility of the people to judge their governments, which provided a groundwork for the development of anarchist thought. As American political society developed along the liberal model, anarchist thoughts were expressed in the writings of Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience). Like him, some classic liberals who become radicals are considered part of the libertarian socialist tradition. Individualists, taking much from the writings of Max Stirner, among others, demanded the utmost respect for the liberty of the individual.
Later in the 19th century, Anarchist communist theorists like Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin built on the Marxist critique of capitalism and synthesized it with their own critique of the state, emphasizing the importance of a communal perspective to maintain individual liberty in a social context. Mikhail Bakunin saw a need to defend the working class against oppression and overthrow the ruling class as a means to dissolve the state. Collectivist anarchism is a revolutionary form of anarchism, commonly associated with Mikhail Bakunin and Johann Most. It is a specific tendency, not to be confused with the broad category sometimes called collectivist or communitarian anarchism. Unlike mutualists, collectivist anarchists oppose all private ownership of the means of production, instead advocating that ownership be collectivized. This was to be initiated by small cohesive group through acts of violence, or "propaganda by the deed," which would inspire the workers as a whole to revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production.
Anarchist communists propose that the freest form of social organisation would be a society composed of self-governing communes with collective use of the means of production, organized by direct democracy, and related to other communes through federation. However, some anarchist communists oppose the majoritarian nature of direct democracy, feeling that it can impede individual liberty and favor consensus democracy. In anarchist communism, as money would be abolished, individuals would not receive direct compensation for labour (through sharing of profits or payment) but would have free access to the resources and surplus of the commune. According to anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin and later Murray Bookchin, the members of such a society would spontaneously perform all necessary labour because they would recognize the benefits of communal enterprise and mutual aid. Peter Kropotkin's anarchist communism developed from his study of zoology and evolution in which he concluded that co-operation far surpasses competition in its importance to the survival of species. He published these conclusions and his critiques of the then emerging ideas of Social Darwinism in his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902).
Some revolutionaries of this time encouraged acts of violence such as sabotage or even assassination of heads of state to further spark a revolution. However, these actions were regarded by many anarchists as counter-productive or ineffective. In the late 19th century, anarcho-syndicalism developed as the industrialized form of libertarian communism, emphasizing industrial actions, especially the general strike, as the primary strategy to achieve anarchist revolution, and "build the new society in the shell of the old."
Through the 20th century, anarchists were actively involved in the labour and feminist movements, and later in the fight against fascism. The influence of this on anarchist thought is apparent, as most of the traditional anarchist philosophies emphasize the economic implications of anarchism or arrive at anarchism from economic arguments. Anarchists played a role in many of the labour movements, uprisings, and revolutions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the Russian Revolution (1917). In the United States, many new immigrants were anarchists; an especially notable group was the large number of Jewish immigrants who had left Russia and Eastern Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These groups were disrupted by the Red Scare of 1919.
One of the earliest and best-known proponents of "egoist" anarchism was Max Stirner, who wrote The Ego and Its Own (1844), a founding text of the philosophy. Stirner's philosophy was an "egoist" form of individualist anarchism according to which the only limitation on the rights of the individual is his power to obtain what he desires, taking no notice of God, state, or moral rules. To Stirner, rights were spooks in the mind, and he held that society does not exist but "the individuals are its reality" – he supported property by force of might rather than moral right. Stirner preached self-assertion and foresaw "associations of egoists" where respect for ruthlessness drew people together. In Russia, individualist anarchism inspired by Stirner combined with an appreciation for Friedrich Nietzsche attracted a small following of bohemian artists and intellectuals such as Lev Chernyi, as well as a few lone wolves who found self-expression in crime and violence. They rejected organizing, believing that only unorganized individuals were safe from coercion and domination, believing this kept them true to the ideals of anarchism. This type of individualist anarchism inspired anarcho-feminist Emma Goldman.
In Europe, in the first quarter of the 20th century, anarchist movements achieved relative, if short-lived, successes and were violently repressed by states. However, in the 1920s and 1930s, the conflict between anarchism and the state was eclipsed by the one among liberal democracy, fascism and communism, which ended with the defeat of fascism in World War II.
In the early 20th century, anarcho-syndicalism arose as a distinct school of thought within anarchism. With greater focus on the labour movement than previous forms of anarchism, syndicalism posits radical trade unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society, democratically self-managed by the workers. Anarcho-syndicalists seek to abolish the wage system and private ownership of the means of production, which they believe lead to class divisions. Important principles include workers' solidarity, direct action (such as general strikes and workplace recuperations), and workers' self-management. This is compatible with other branches of anarchism, and anarcho-syndicalists often subscribe to anarchist communist or collectivist anarchist economic systems. Its advocates propose labour organization as a means to create the foundations of a non-hierarchical anarchist society within the current system and bring about social revolution. An early leading anarcho-syndicalist thinker was Rudolf Rocker, whose 1938 pamphlet Anarchosyndicalism outlined a view of the movement's origin, aims and importance to the future of labour.
Black Flag: Though used earlier, it first became associated with anarchism in the 1880s. The French anarchist paper, Le Drapeau Noir ("The Black Flag"), which existed until 1882, is one of the first published references to use black as an anarchist color. Black International was the name of a London anarchist group founded in July 1881. Louise Michel, participant in the Paris Commune of 1871, flew the black flag on March 9, 1883, during A demonstration of the unemployed in Paris, France. An open air meeting of the unemployed was broken up by the police and around 500 demonstrators, with Michel at the front carrying a black flag and shouting "Bread, work, or lead!" marched off towards the Boulevard Saint-Germain. The crowd pillaged three baker's shops before the police attacked. Michel was arrested and sentenced to six years solitary confinement. Public pressure soon forced the granting of an amnesty.
The black flag soon made its way to America. On November 27, 1884, the black flag was displayed in Chicago at an Anarchist demonstration. According to the English-language newspaper of the Chicago anarchists, it was "the fearful symbol of hunger, misery and death." In the Russian Revolution of 1917, Nestor Makhno's anarchist forces were known collectively as the Black Army. They fought under a black flag with some success until they were crushed by the Red Army (see Black Guards). Emiliano Zapata, a Mexican revolutionary in the 1910s, used a black flag with a skull and crossbones and the Blessed Virgin Mary on it. The flag's slogan was "Tierra y Libertad" ("Land and Liberty"). In 1925, Japanese anarchists formed the Black Youth League, which had branches in the then-colonial Taiwan.
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Anarchists overthrow Russian government: 2192
Anarchists work in invisible city: 1796