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Anarchism – Lesson Summary

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Anarchism is a substantial body of political philosophy, a substantial ideology in its own right. In sharp contrast to both Marx and liberals, Anarchists take a very different position. Anarchists express far greater suspicion about all forms of the State and about other forms of authority, both political and religious.

Noam Chomsky is perhaps the most famous anarchist thinker today, and he has spent many decades detailing abuses of power by the United States Government and its allies. What this indicates is that anarchism retains a profound suspicion of established power of all kinds.

Anarchist thinkers have influenced political movements in India, China, Japan, Korea and parts of Africa, particularly during the struggles for liberation from colonial domination.

Anarchist movements have almost never held significant political office. Anarchist arguments for the reform of the state and the economy seemed to figure only rarely in general political life, but their thinking has yet had much greater influence than it is often recognized as having.
Anarchist thought falls into two broad types, collectivist anarchism and individualist anarchism. The greatest difference between the two is in their respective approaches to economics or political economy.
Collectivist anarchism relies on a view of human beings as social beings who recognize their common humanity, and have no need of government. According to anarchists, governments always replace freedom with oppression and they make it impossible. Anarchism resists the very idea of imposed authority of any kind

According to collectivist anarchists, free and voluntary organization is the best defense against the self-aggrandizing tendency of the State and the corresponding imperatives in capitalism.

Individualist anarchism is founded on the idea that the individual is sovereign. Its most extreme expression is found in the work of the German philosopher Max Stirner, a 19th century philosopher who thinks that the individual is free to act as just as they choose, irrespective of laws, social institutions, or conventions.

Education is an area of life where anarchist thinking had had an immense impact. Anarchist philosophers have always taken education extremely seriously. Proudhon saw education for work as a matter of pride, because work was something to be proud of.

Anarchist thinkers were attracted by syndicalism, even though syndicalism involved what have been called crude theories of class. They rejected conventional politics because they thought it was corrupt and pointless

There have been more explicitly economically-focused forms of anarchism, one of which is anarcho-capitalism, which saw something of a revival in the last three decades of the 20th century.

Anarchists also reject capitalism, as coercive libertarians see capitalism as the guarantee of individual freedom and that is a significant difference between anarchists and libertarians.

Anarchists are for the most part very cautious about capitalism precisely because of its inherent tendencies to monopoly, to requiring that the whole world follow the same system, otherwise it collapses itself, and so on.

For libertarians the market, the unrestrained market, is the guarantee of individual freedom and that is a significance difference between anarchists and libertarians.