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Anarchism signifies the condition of being without rule. It has been equated with chaos.

Theoretically anarchism can be traced back to millenarian sects of the Middle Ages, it gained prominence as nineteenth-century ideology and movement and anarchists came to the forefront with Marx's encounters with Max Stirner, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Mikhail Bakunin. Anarchism and communism were not clearly distinguished as varieties of socialism until the period after the Second International. From this time onwards, Marxists equated anarchism with extreme individualism, with opposition to any form of organization or authority, and with taking the state as primary in understanding exploitation and domination.

In the twentieth century, anarchism provided the underpinnings of larger movements and rebellions for instance, revolutionary syndicalism the trade unions emerging as revolutionary weapons and models of a future social order in countries such as France, Spain, and Italy; and the collectivization of land and factories during the spanish Civil War. Political activist Noam Chomsky is probably the best-known contemporary representative of this strand of anarchist thought.

Between 1914 and 1938, anarchism as an ideology and a movement went into serious decline.

However, it was widely viewed in the counter-cultural opposition of the 1960s and 1970s. Post structuralism has strong anarchist resonances underscoring difference against Marxian theory and politics, decentralist, and attentive to the micro-operations of power. Finally, the anti-globalization movement is sometimes said to represent a ''new anarchism,'' opposing neoliberal capitalism and statism, decentralist and localist in its aims, and characterized by openness and by ''horizontal'' organizational tendencies.

Carter, A. (1971) The Political Theory of Anarchism. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.
Woodcock, G. (ed.) (1977) The Anarchist Reader. Harvester Press, Brighton.