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Historical origins of anarchism

The Development of Anarchism before the nineteenth century

Rejection of coercive authority can be traced as far back as Ancient China[?], where Taoism is declared by some to have been the oldest example of anarchist doctrine [1] (http://www.tao.ca/thinking/texts/taoanarch). In the West, a similar tendency can be traced to the philosophers of Ancient Greece, such as Zeno, the founder of the Stoic philosophy, and Aristippus, who said that the wise should not give up their liberty to the state [2] (http://www.blackcrayon.com/page.jsp/library/britt1910). Later movements -- such as the Free Spirit in the Middle Ages, the Anabaptists, The Diggers and The Levellers -- have also expounded ideas that have been interpreted as anarchist.

It can also be conjectured that in past times, many people were anarchists but did not have the opportunity to get such ideas openly published, and that many people did have anarchist fancies but did not dare take them seriously. See for instance how La Boétie[?], in his essay against tyranny, doesn't dare deny legitimacy to the reigning monarchy of his time.

The first author to have published a treaty explicitly advocating the absence of government (without using the name anarchism) seems to be William Godwin, in 1793.



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