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Word Count: 2,048
Anarchism as a political ideology did not emerge until Pierre-Joseph Proudhon 1809-1865 declared himself an anarchist in his book What is Property in 1840 Before this the term anarchy deriving from Greek and literally meaning without rule had negative connotations and was often applied to political opponents as a derogatory term with the meaning advocating chaos for example the Diggers of the English Civil War and the Enrageacutes of the French Revolution were referred to as anarchist by their opponents These pejorative connotations are still around today In conventional usage it conjures up visions of chaos confusion and disorder and is frequently equated with the actions of urban guerrillas plane hijackers even common criminals The aim of this essay is to assess such criticisms of anarchism and to show that we should not as is usual dismiss it as puerile and absurd or dismiss its ideal of pure liberty as at best utopian at worst a dangerous chimera But as this essay will show we should instead see it as a set of coherent political ideas that we should take seriously as a political ideology with influence in the past and relevance to modern political issues Although there are different strands of anarchism all directly oppose political authority and advocate the abolition of the state and its governing institutions believing it to be unnecessary to social political and economic life and oppressive and limiting to human freedom and equality For anarchists the root of all evil was government whether by the state church party or individuals At the door of government they laid the multiple illsholding it responsible for all inequality and injustice Instead anarchists propose a stateless society or a state of nature in which free individuals manage their own affairs by voluntary agreement without compulsion or coercion and where a more natural and spontaneous social order will develop Anarchist supporters all follow the same views on certain principles
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