Etymology:From Greek αναρχια, αν meaning "no, none, negative, without", and αρχια meaning "ruler, leader". Pronounced [æn.'aɹ.xi.a].
Contrary to popular misconception, most Anarchists are not in favor of a chaotic free-for-all or every-man-for-himself way of life. Instead, anarchist ideology is about being against the oppression that both capitalist and government hierarchies inevitably create. The ultimate goal of an anarchist society is the devolution of the functions of government to nil, while at the same time, achieving more freedom for everybody.
Anarchists aim to create a society within which individuals freely work together as equals. We prefer a lack of government, or more specifically, the lack of governmental enforcement of rules or law. Anarchists tend to be have anti-authoritarian sensibilities. Anarchists are often polite, considering the berating of others to be a hallmark of elitism and therefore a controlling system. Instead, they try to treat all individuals with equality.
Because anarchy emerges from many varied cultures and communities, it may be a natural response to society. Anarchists tend to favour small scale communities because they allow people to organise their affairs without interference from distant authority. Likewise collaboration is a popular model for social organisation among anarchists, because it emphasises decentralization, participation and political equality. Concrete examples of this collaboration come in the form of collectives and cooperatives.
Anarchists usually have radical economic philosophy as well as social philosophy. While some anarchists may advocate free trade and others collectivism, these positions can easily be reconciled. Since in anarchy there would be no global rules for how trade was conducted, free trade would occur by default. If groups or collectives wished to enter into agreements with each other, these are only as good as the desire of each group to participate in that system; all regulation is self-imposed and is only as good as the quality of interaction between the involved parties.
However, it must be noted that the anarchist economic philosophy is invariably one of socialism. Writes Noam Chomsky, author and professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, "The consistent anarchist...will be a socialist, but a socialist of a particular sort. He will not only oppose alienated and specialized labor and look forward to the appropriation of capital by the whole body of workers, but he will also insist that this appropriation be direct, not exercised by some élite force acting in the name of the proletariat" (qtd. in Daniel Guérin's "Anarchism," page xv). In layman's terms, all anarchists are socialists, but not all socialists are anarchists, since anarchism demands the absence of the exploitation of man by man, or by any form of state authority.
It is a common misconception that anarchists are chaotic, war-like people. Anarchy is not a synonym for chaos. In reality, anarchists are very kind considerate people. Many are actually anti-war, believing that violence and war are part of the destructive horror of elitism.
Anarchy In Action
The internet is often described as anarchic, because many of the laws regarding the control of information distribution, such as copyright, have become "outdated" or "irrelevant" in the eyes of many computer users. These users then participate hierarchy-free p2p systems such as WASTE.
Many anarchists work in activist movements for social change, even when such movements may not argue for a total upheaval of current authoritarian regimes. Anarchists may see groups working on issues as information freedom, privacy, or anti-censorship to be their natural allies.
Because there are no universal laws codified at the global level international politics exists in a state of perpetual global anarchy, with each nation state making a claim to arbitrary enforcement according to their jurisdiction of laws. Sometimes, to be workable, laws such as copyright expand to be included in most governments' policies in a form of internationalization, sometimes with the use of international treaties. Some anarchists advocate world unity, and a free, international society.
- For anarchy theory please refer to the excellent Anarchist FAQ. Currently the version 11.3 seems to be the most recent. Puzzingly the "official" sites given in the FAQ itself provide only version 9.7.
- Visit Infoshop.org for extensive Anarchy-related information, news, links and a FAQ.
- Anarchopedia - Multilingual Anarchist Wiki
- A-Infos - Anarchist News Service.
- enrager.net for anarchism and anti-authoritarian information, news, history, discussion and listings in Britain
- From the director's democracy to direct democracy - A short handbook for a post-parliamentry project written by the Eurodusnie collective. English, Dutch and Scandinavian version available.
- Acratie.net - A worldwide list of websites of groups, organisations and individuals who (claim to be) anarchists.