Portal:Anarchism

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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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The Haymarket affair (also known as the Haymarket riot ) was a disturbance that began at a strike rally in Haymarket Square in Chicago on May 4, 1886. An unknown person threw a bomb at police as they dispersed the public meeting. The bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of eight police officers and an unknown number of civilians. In the internationally publicized legal proceedings that followed, eight anarchists were tried for murder. Four were put to death, and one committed suicide in prison.

The Haymarket affair is generally considered to have been an important influence on the origin of international May Day observances for workers. In popular literature, this event inspired the caricature of "a bomb-throwing anarchist." The causes of the incident are still controversial, although deeply polarized attitudes separating business and working class people in late 19th century Chicago are generally acknowledged as having precipitated the tragedy and its aftermath. The site of the incident was designated as a Chicago Landmark on March 25, 1992. The Haymarket Martyrs' Monument in nearby Forest Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark on February 18, 1997. (read more...)

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Anti-anarchist propaganda
Credit: Memphis Commercial Appeal (Alley), July 5, 1919

A cartoon published in 1919 in the Memphis Commercial Appeal which depicts a monstrous "European Anarchist" seeking to blow up the Statue of Liberty. The caption ironically reads "COME UNTO ME YE OPPREST", a welcoming slogan to immigrants from less free nations. Anti-anarchist sentiment was high during the turn of the century, and was legislated into US law as the Anarchist Exclusion Act in 1901 and again in 1918. Each barred European anarchists from entering the country.

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Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

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