Anarchism is a belief in the abolition of all government and the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion. It is a political philosophy and movement that rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. It calls for the abolition of the state which it holds to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful. It is usually described alongside libertarian Marxism as the libertarian wing of the socialist movement and as having a historical association with anti-capitalism and socialism. It has become a synonym for chaos and the breakdown of civil order.
Anarchism as a political philosophy in opposition to the rule of government and the establishment of hierarchies. The history of anarchism goes back to prehistory when some humans lived in anarchistic societies long before the establishment of formal states, realms, or empires. It developed fully in the 20th century, but its roots as an epithet for extremism go back further, at least to the French Revolution. With the rise of organized hierarchical bodies, skepticism toward authority also rose, but it was not until the 19th century that a self-conscious political movement emerged. During the latter half of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th century, the anarchist movement flourished in most parts of the world and had a significant role in workers’ struggles for emancipation. Social anarchists believe that political power and resources should be shared equally by all in a community.
Anarchism has been considered a dead movement of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, but it assumed a renewed and substantial relevance in the late twentieth century. Self-described anarchists have formed fringe groups in tumultuous political times, such as the Russian Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. Various anarchist schools of thought formed during this period. Anarchists have taken part in several revolutions, most notably in the Spanish Civil War, whose end marked the end of the classical era of anarchism. In the last decades of the 20th century and into the 21st century, the anarchist movement has been resurgent once more.
Anarchism employs various tactics in order to meet its ideal ends; these can be broadly separated into revolutionary and evolutionary tactics. Evolutionary tactics aim to prefigure what an anarchist society would be like. Individualist anarchists believe in the freedom of the self and oppose the authority of government. Anarchist thought, criticism, and praxis have played a part in diverse areas of human society. Anarchy is also used colloquially as a term denoting societal breakdown and collapse. Criticism of anarchism mainly focuses on claims of it being internally inconsistent, violent, and utopian.