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Anarchism (from Greek ἀν (without) + ἄρχειν (to rule) + ισμός (from stem -ιζειν), "without archons," "without rulers") is often defined as a political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful. Historically, anarchists have argued that while anti-statism is central, it is inadequate to define anarchism. This traditional notion of anarchism entails opposition to all authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system. In particular, it includes opposition church and capital, resulting in the famous anarchist proclamations "Property is theft!" and "No gods, no masters!" Proponents of anarchism, known as "anarchists", advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical free associations.

Anarchism as a mass social movement has regularly endured fluctuations in popularity. The central tendency of anarchism as a social movement has been represented by anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon (which nevertheless did have an impact on the bigger currents, including the participation of individualists in large anarchist organizations). Many anarchists oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence (anarcho-pacifism), while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and propaganda of the deed, on the path to an anarchist society.

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As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks order in anarchy.

Anarchism is a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which consider the state to be unnecessary, harmful, or otherwise undesirable, and favour instead a stateless society or anarchy.<Individual anarchists may have additional criteria for what they conceive to be anarchism, and there is often broad disagreement concerning these broader conceptions. According to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, "there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance."

There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive. Strains of anarchism have been divided into the categories of socialist and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications. Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology, and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics; however, anarchism has always included an individualist strain, with that strain supporting a market economy and private property, or egoism.

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. The central tendency of anarchism as a social movement have been represented by communist anarchism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a philosophical or literary phenomenon. Some anarchists fundamentally oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence, while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and terrorism, on the path to an anarchist society. (read more...)

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Graffito from a 2004 CrimethInc. campaign.
Credit: Mark Strandquist, November 4, 2005.

Stenciled graffito in Washington D.C. bearing the slogan of CrimethInc.'s 2004 Don't Just Vote campaign, which exhorted voters to expand their political advocacy beyond voting to direct action. Image courtesy of the Brian MacKenzie Infoshop.

CrimethInc. argued that "[v]oting for people to represent your interests is the least efficient and effective means of applying political power. The alternative, broadly speaking, is acting directly to represent your interests yourself." This posture is typical of anarchism's historical anti-electoralism.

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Bartolomeo Vanzetti

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