Anarchism: Meaning and Types

Anarchism is a political ideology and movement that is skeptical of all justifications for authority and seeks to abolish the institutions that it believes maintain unnecessarily coercive behaviour and hierarchical structures, typically including, but not exclusively including, governments, nation-states, and capitalism.

According to anarchism, the state should be replaced by stateless societies or other types of autonomous organisations. It is typically referred to as the libertarian wing (libertarian socialism) of the socialist movement, along with communalism and libertarian Marxism, because it has historically been on the far left of the political spectrum.

What is the Meaning of Anarchism?

Anarchism is a way of thinking about politics that challenges authority, rejects tyranny, and opposes the development of bureaucratic enforcement structures. Anarchism is characterised as a radical, left-wing belief that calls for the abolition of government and all government systems that enforce laws in an unfair or unjust manner.

It is frequently used negatively as a shorthand for violent extremism. Anarchism aims to replace institutions that are recognized by the government as being inherently unfair to minorities, such as capitalism or the prison industrial complex, with non-bureaucratic ones where the people make decisions. Anarchism's main strategies are nonviolent political protest and voluntary sharing of material resources among all members of the community.

Types of Anarchism

Anarchism has proven to be a very inconsistent idea, like the majority of political philosophies. Instead, it has evolved and taken on many forms as a result of how various individuals have understood and utilised it in accordance with their personal needs and beliefs.

Anarchist Capitalism

There are surprising variations of anarchism, even if most of them are on the far left of the political spectrum. Anarchist capitalism, sometimes known as laissez-faire capitalism, favours free-market capitalism as the foundation of an open society rather than unrestrained individual freedom. Contrary to the majority of anarchists, anarchist capitalists support private ownership of property, means of production, and wealth as opposed to collective ownership.

They argue that the people could and would receive all necessary services, such as health care, education, road building, and police protection, from private enterprises if they were allowed to operate without interference from the government. Anarchist capitalists in America, for instance, contend that a privately run prison system would be better for the country.

Anarchist Communism

Anarchist communism, often known as anarcho-communism, places a strong emphasis on racial and social equality as well as the abolition of class prejudice brought on by the unequal distribution of wealth. The goal of anarchist communists is to abolish capitalism and replace it with a system of collective ownership of the means of production and distribution of wealth through voluntary organisations like trade unions and trade associations.

Under anarchist communism, there is no such thing as government or private property. Instead, people and groups have the freedom to govern themselves and meet their wants by freely contributing to economic productivity. Under anarchist communism, traditional wage-based work is not necessary because people are free to engage in whatever activities best meet their needs.

Anarchist Socialism

The terms "anarchist socialism" and "anarcho-socialism," which relate to the two main schools of anarchist ideology, social anarchism, and individualist anarchism, respectively, are encompassing and ambiguous. The first combines the core ideas of socialism and anarchism to produce a collectivist society—one in which the interests and objectives of the collective as a whole are prioritised over those of the individual. In a society where each person's wants come before the requirements of the collective, the latter emphasises individual liberty.

Green Anarchism

Green anarchism, which emphasises environmental issues, is sometimes linked to the frequently aggressive acts of activist organisations like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd. Green anarchists expand anarchism's conventional emphasis on human-to-human interactions to include human-to-nonhuman connections. They support various levels of liberation for non-humans as well as the liberation of humans in this way. For instance, some proponents of animal rights contend that non-human species with conscious minds and a sense of self-awareness should be granted the same fundamental rights as people.

Crypto Anarchism

Crypto anarchists are in favour of using digital currencies like Bitcoin to circumvent the regulation, taxation, and control of what they see as governments and financial institutions in order to permanently undermine their authority. The usage of digital currency, according to crypto-anarchists, will alter the nature of large corporations and put a stop to government meddling in economic affairs, much like how the printing press diminished the power of mediaeval guilds and kingdoms.

Famous Anarchists

Following are some of the known anarchists −

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

The first person to openly identify as an anarchist was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French socialist, politician, philosopher, and economist who lived from January 5, 1809, to January 18, 1865. Proudhon, widely regarded as the "founder of anarchism," is best known for his 1840 book What is Property? Alternatively, a study of the relationship between government and rights In this key theory, Proudhon famously responds to the question "What is property?" with the phrase "It is robbery."

A cooperative society in which self-governed people or groups freely shared the commodities and services they produced was envisioned by Proudhon's anarchist theory, which was based on the fundamental idea of mutual help. A non-profit "Bank of the People" allowed these "producers" to obtain financing in order to launch new businesses. Although Proudhon's ideology regarded extensive private property ownership as a kind of theft, it permitted individuals to hold enough property to support their livelihoods and independence. Proudhon grew to believe that "property is liberty" as a defence against governmental control as his anarchist beliefs developed to incorporate components of pure socialism and restricted capitalism.

Emma Goldman

From around 1890 to 1917, anarchist political ideology and activities in the United States were significantly shaped by the activist and writer Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869–May 14, 1940), a Russian-born American. Following the 1886 Chicago Haymarket labour riot, which attracted her to anarchism, Goldman rose to fame as a writer and public speaker, delivering thousands of talks on the employment of extreme anarchist tactics to advance women's rights and social equality in a classless society. As a show of defiance against Henry Clay Frick, an anti-labour financier and businessman, in 1892, Goldman helped her life partner Alexander Berkman attempt to assassinate him. Frick was able to live, but Berkman was given a 22-year prison term.

Mother Earth, a publication devoted to American anarchism, was started by Goldman in 1906. Mother Earth published a piece in 1917 condemning US involvement in World War I and asking American males not to sign up for the draught. The Espionage Act, which was approved by the American Congress on June 15, 1917, imposed severe fines and prison terms of up to 20 years on anybody found guilty of delaying the draught or promoting "disloyalty" to the American government. Goldman's American citizenship was withdrawn after she was found guilty of breaking the Espionage Act, and she was deported to the Soviet Union in 1919.


There is a decision involved in how anarchism is represented. When viewed as a style of political thought and activity, it challenges the fundamental legitimacy of coercive authority, promotes prefigurative politics in which means and ends are aligned and places the burden of proof on those who assert their authority.

This study has demonstrated how libertarian socialism—a social movement that opposes authoritarian oppression by the state and capital—sets itself against early modernist fiction. Libertarian socialism seeks to organise social relationships as "decentralised, voluntary, and cooperative structures."

Frequently Asked Question

Q1. What is the symbol of anarchism?

Ans. Since the 1970s, the emblem of anarchism, which consists of the capital letter A encircled by a circle, has been widely accepted as a representation of the movement.

Q2. Who is the father of Indian anarchism?

Ans. Acharya. Among the first members of the Communist Party of India, Mandayam Parthasarathi Tirumal Acharya (15 April 1887 – 20 March 1954) was an Indian nationalist, communist, and anarchist (Tashkent group).

Q3. Who rules in anarchism?

Ans. Anarchism is the idea that there shouldn't be a government, laws, the police, or any other kind of authority in society. The majority of anarchists in the United States support nonviolent, noncriminal methods of change, and holding such belief is completely lawful.

Updated on: 08-May-2023


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