Anarchism, a term derived from Greek, meaning ‘no rule’, has long been associated pejoratively with disorder and chaos. Yet it is also a serious and in some ways attractive political ideology that suggests that states, governments, and all forms of coercive authority are neither necessary, nor desirable. Anarchist thinkers, such as William Godwin ( 1756–1833), Pierre Joseph Proudhon ( 1809–65), Michael Bakunin ( 1814–76), Peter Kropotkin ( 1842–1921) and Emma Goldman ( 1869–1940), argued that states were inevitably oppressive and limited freedom. Humans were not naturally aggressive and competitive, but social and co-operative, and would realize their true nature and full potential through voluntary association and mutual aid in stateless societies. Most anarchists were also opposed to other authority, such as the established church. Indeed anticlericalism has been a strong feature of anarchism in Spain, Italy, France and Russia.
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