What Is Anarchism?
Anarchism is a philosophy that argues against statism and a political order based on authority or hierarchy. It opposes the use of power to secure the privileges of a few, restrict individual freedom and deny the rich diversity of social life. While anarchism shares with socialism a critique of capitalism and the desire to replace repressive economic structures with common ownership of the means of production and distribution according to need, it stresses the importance of eliminating authoritarian relationships wherever they arise. It also promotes the need for parity of means and ends in the social change process. This includes direct action and efforts to bring into being, in the present, environments that experiment with new communal forms and promote greater popular participation, equality of condition, freedom, and social justice.
Anarchists maintain a belief in the capacity of people to base their economic, social, and political lives upon cooperation and federation, and to function without the imposition of structures of domination. While individualist anarchists stress the overarching importance of personal autonomy, social anarchists seek to demonstrate the importance of basing personal freedom and creative development on social responsibility, a strong collective foundation, and supportive social environments.
The roots of these ideas trace back to several nineteenth-century activists and theorists, including some prominent geographers. Many of their ideas were revived within the pages of Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography in the 1970s, a time when a growing number of geographers demanded greater relevance and attention to social inequality from their discipline. The actual term ‘anarchist geography’ likely emerged during this time.