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Diversity of anarchism

As Benjamin Tucker put it, anarchism is the philosophy that "all the affairs of men should be managed by individuals or voluntary associations, and that the state should be abolished."

But there is no central authority to define what is anarchism, so there exist a lot of distinct theories and movements that either claim to be anarchists or are considered to the anarchist. These theories and movements cover the whole political spectrum, from right to left, top to bottom, and whatever axis, so that there can be "anarchists" who have very opposed opinions on about everything but the malevolent character of the State.

However, it is possible to distinguish three main trends in anarchism:

These trends do not classify exactly the whole diversity of anarchist theories, authors and movements. Many popular anarchist authors never formally claimed affiliation to any of the above traditions or to anarchism at all. Some authors are classified by scholars as attached to one of these traditions, others are considered sui generis. Finally, an author like Proudhon, with all his contradictions, can be rightly and historically considered as a founder by both libertarian socialists and individualist anarchists, by appropriate reading of his works.

Individualist Anarchism

Individualist anarchism insists on individual liberty, from the State and from any non-consented authority. See also voluntaryism.

Though individualist anarchists may have personal ideas about how things would work in an anarchist society, and at least about what kind of voluntary organization they would personally parcitipate, what characterizes them is that they deny anyone any legitimacy to compel others into following such practices. Their anarchist stance is thus above the debate of economic regime.

It is sometimes also above the debate of political regime, with many individualist anarchists focusing on ways to live in liberty despite government, rather than on ways to overthrow government. See Henry David Thoreau, Karl Hess[?] or Hakim Bey.

Collectivist Anarchism

Libertarian Socialism and other forms of collectivist anarchism advocate some model organization of society in communities.

What distinguishes them from most individualist anarchists is that generally they support violent action by revolutionary organizations to achieve liberation from the authority of the State. Some also believe in using violence to "free" unwilling individuals, although this stance is not accepted by the majority.

Libertarian socialists follow the socialist ideology, but think that governments cannot possibly establish or manage socialism. They advocate a socialist revolution to get rid of government. Specific branches of libertarian socialism include anarcho-syndicalism (historically very strong in Spain - see spanish anarchism[?]), and anarcho-communism.

Many other anarchist movements share an overwhelming anti-capitalist feeling, and a definite collectivist agenda, though without forcibly adhering to a formal socialist ideology. They include include eco-anarchism and green anarchism, that insist on the respect of nature, anarcha-feminism that sees male domination as the root of evil, and a vast number of ephemeral anarchist groups, as well as some anarchists within the anti-globalization movement.


Anarcho-capitalism is a flavor of anarchism, based on the classical liberal philosophy of Law. Anarcho-capitalists are libertarians who promote individual property rights and free markets for all services, including all those that governments claim as their natural monopoly. They see the definition of property rights as a universal mechanism to solve conflicts.

Anarcho-capitalists share the essential individualist anarchists, and violently reject all forms of compulsory collective model, including libertarian socialism and all forms of collectivist anarchism, that they consider foreign to their understanding of anarchism. On the other hand, while they think that capitalist organizations are legitimate and efficient ways of organizing society, they also welcome communities, cooperatives and collectives as long as they are voluntary.

anarcho-capitalists, though may be or seem less numerous and less organized than left-anarchists, are less subject to "splitting" and spawning a variety of opposite movements. Quite on the contrary, they share the values of non-anarchist classical liberals and readily participate in libertarian organizations, to promote free markets and the reduction of government intervention through peaceful means.

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