Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political philosophy that advocates the replacement of government with self-managed, self-governed societies. Anarchy is the state of a society without a governing body or authorities and the resulting confusion and chaos from lack of authority or ruling. Anarchist countries are often called stateless societies.
Anarchism has existed for centuries. Some anthropologists consider prehistoric societies to be anarchists, given that they existed without formal hierarchies. The first traces of formal anarchism can be found in ancient Greece and China, where philosophers questioned the necessity of state and believed individuals should be able to live free from oppression and constraint.
Anarchy typically instills images of fighting in the streets, rioting, looting, and chaos. However, anarchism played a crucial role in movements and revolutions throughout history, including the Spanish Civil War and the workers' movement at the end of the 19th century. Anarchism began spreading with the help of industrialization, modernism, mass migration, and reaction to capitalism. Anarchism was kept low after the Second World War and the second red scare in the US and then re-emerged in the 1960s.
French pioneer socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon published a study of the economic bases of society and argued that laws of society have nothing to do with authority and instead stem from the nature of society itself. Proudhon believed that authority would eventually dissolve, and a natural social order would emerge.
Currently, there are no true anarchist countries. Somalia was the most recent anarchist country, having no government from 1991 to 2006 when the Transitional National Government was established. During this time, territories of Somalia were split and ruled by competing faction leaders, and large areas of the country were administered as autonomous regions. Today, Somalia is a federal parliamentary republic with a President and Prime Minister.
While there are no anarchist countries, there are several active anarchist societies around the world. The following are these anarchist societies in the order of when they were established:
- Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement (1958)
- Federation of Neighborhood Councils- El Alto (1979)
- Marinaleda (1979)
- Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca (1980s)
- Puerto Real (1987)
- Spezzano Albanese (1992)
- Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities (1994)
- [Barcelona's Squatters Movement](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona#Squatter' s_Movement) (2000)
- Barbacha (2001)
- Aabahlali baseMjonodolo (2005)
- Zaachila (2006)
- Exarchia (2008)
- Zone to Defend (2009)
- Cherán (2011)
- Rojava (2014)
The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement is the oldest anarchist movement, started in 1958, that is still present today in 15,000 villages in Sri Lanka. This self-governance movement has a program that starts with an invitation from a village to discuss needs and make a plan of action. The program continues in stages to establish a village council, build schools and clinics, create economic opportunity, starting a bank, and sponsoring public meditations, where thousands of Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims meditate together.
Anarchism is commonly seen as a chaotic, rebellious philosophy supported by those are who all-around anti-government. However, many modern anarchist societies today have used anarchism to overthrow and prevent abusive governments from further controlling and taking advantage of their citizens.