“Whoever denies authority and fights against it, he is an anarchist, “said Sebastien Faure. It is not easy to make a definition of Anarchism as a theory and a method. But definitions that are agreed upon are usually prejudiced. These definitions commonly use anarchism as violence and vandalism. Actually anarchism contains various theories including violence. There are also non-violent anarchism examples. As there are collective and individual anarchism. There are also anarchism that have violence or not.

Mainly it must be stressed that anarchism is against any authority. Anarchism defends statelessness. Thus, it is against hierarchy. The main goal of the ideology is to provide absolute equality and freedom. For this reason, statelessness and being no authority are necessary to achieve this goal. Contrary to that it is impossible to create absolute equality and freedom. Despite there are so many anarchism types, they are all agreed upon voluntariness.

After the decline of the church domination in medieval ages during the seventeenth century, new political and social movement raised. In addition to socialism, liberalism, fascism, democracy movements and nationalism, anarchism have seen as a utopian attitude, a resistance and a demolition of what have been built. This article, unlike its common definitions as an ideology and a movement, will stress its principles and values, mention about its representatives and make evaluations about its idea.


      What Is Or Isn’t Anarchism?

The word ‘anarchism’ originates from the Greek word ‘anarchos’. Anarchos means to have no ruler. However, even though anarchism is defined as the lack of a ruler, this isn’t universally accepted. This is because anarchism is against definitions as a whole. This conflict is one of the key concepts that help describe anarchism. According to J. S. Shapiro, out of all the radical movements of the 19th century, the one that truly displays the spirit of opposition is anarchism. Resistance in anarchism is to be against all types and forms of authority.

Anarchism sides against all oppression, every discipline, every state and every government. It advocates the abolishment of a governing entity no matter what. Anarchism states that people can live in a just and non-conflicting manner without the presence of a high authority; because governments hurt the people. This is why a governing system is bad. And so freedom means that one human being never submits to another.

Anarchism is a reaction against breaking of human being from its state of nature. Power corrupts people. The lust for authority and property limits liberty. In this context, anarchism wants people to act not upon the the laws imposed from above, but upon their own consciences. People can only ever be content in rulerless environment where labor and product are shared amongst all.


             Individualist Anarchism

Anarchism main goal is to provide the freedom of the individual. Individualist anarchism advocates the annihilation of all ruling pressure on one’s life; anarchism has parallels with liberalism in this regard. The difference is that liberalism tries to sustain the government in order to ensure the individuals entrepreneurship. To anarchists, the best rulership is no rulership. According to individualist anarchists, government is the essence of oppression and injustice. The laws that the government are there for the benefit of the rich and the upper class. This is why laws aren’t needed. Anarchism aims to glorify humans. If the oppressive system is no more, the people would find a way to get along.

According to individualist anarchism, a community would get organized better if they are left alone. Free individuals in independent communes get together completely voluntarily. Anarchy is order. Individualist anarchists try to achieve their goals in peaceful manners. They resist passively. The most important representatives of individualist anarchism are David Thoreau and Max Stirner.

In his most important work ‘The Ego and His Own’, Max Stirner talks about how the individual should be freed of the shackles of the tyranny of the general public. He produced a doctrine that reject anything that is absolute and any institution, and relies solely on the individuals self. Stirner rejects all laws of nature and any idea of a collaborative human race and defends extreme individuality. Stirners ideals are egoist in this regard. He is against collectivity. George Woodcock states that uniqueness even overshadows the most important goal of anarchism, liberty, in Stirners ideals.

The enemy of Stirners individualist anarchism is also government. For a government to exist, no one can have their own free will. The idea of a government cannot be without co-existing with the idea of slaves and their masters; because government aims to be the master of all it includes. Stirner really emphasizes on the idea of free will and government being nemeses, and that the two can never co-exist in peace. This is the reason why there will always be conflict between an egoist and government, despotic or democratic.


              Anarchist Philosophers

              Proudhon Pierre-Joseph

Proudhon is the first person who defined himself explicitly as an anarchist; and he played an important role in that anarchism geared up as a mass movement. Proudhon is regarded as a social individual. For Stirner, the individual is everything, and the society is the enemy of the individual. Accor-ding to Proudhon, the individual is the starting point and ultimate goal of our efforts. ‘‘What is Property?’’ In his famous work he describes property as theft. According to him,property does not match justice because property abolishes equality and harms justice.

           Michael Bakunin

Bakunin is an important philosopher who plays a role in the development of modern anarchist activism and ideas. He emphasized the importance of collectivism, mass rebellion and revolution as tools for creating a free, classless society. Bakunin influenced many trade union movements, especially Spain, where the most important anarchist social revolution took place in 1936. Bakunin influenced anarchist thinking with more activist personality.

        Peter Kropotkin

For Kropotkin, mutual co-operation is the best means of developing and matured individuals. He regards “the state” as the “absolute evil” and defends the necessity of removing inequality and private prperty from the society.


         Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy is a philosopher associated with “passive anarchism”. He rejects violence. Tolstoy, who takes the rejection of violence to the rejection of the state, doesn’t call himself an anarchist. Because from his point of view, anarchism is a teaching that tries to change society through violence. At the heart of Tolstoy’s doctrine there is the rejection of the state, but the rejection of property is also important. Both of them need to be abolished so that people can live freely and without any domination in the real kingdom of God, on Earth. Tolstoy’s art is based on naturalism. In his novels the universal brotherhood and the emphasis on naturalism refer to anarchist nuevalis. Tolstoy’s ideas have given a unique theme to anarchism.



When the state is presented as a source of all the unhappiness of mankind, anarchists have taken it to the belief that the source of this unhappiness should be destroyed. Anarchism needed a positive, constructive, creative programme. For some, this led to a violent understanding of anarchism; meanwhile in others it gave rise to a non-violent understanding.

Anarchists have held human honor and individuality in the foreground. They sometimes defined themselves as revolutionaries and sometimes rebellious. However, it must be expressed clearly that anarchism is more prominent as a movement than a theory. Today, anarchism is becoming popular again in the changing world conditions due to globalization. In this context, although direct violence is identified as “vandalism” and confusion, it actually contains various thoughts in essence.

Anarchism opposes materialism in the modern society and emphasizes a longing for a natural life. Anarchists imagine a free world based on volunteerism of stateless people. For this reason, statelessness can be interpreted as a utopia. Despite everything, an ideology continues to exist as an action in which anarchism is intermingled with ideas ranging from Proudhon to Kropotkin, Stirner to Tolstoy, and Bakunin to Gandhi.

Abdulkadir AKSÖZ


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Political Science Indian Subcontinent Studies [email protected]

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