Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber has noted that while schools of Marxism always have founders (e.g. Leninism, Maoism, Lacanianism), schools of anarchism "almost invariably emerge from some kind of organizational principle or form of practice", citing anarcho-syndicalism, insurrectionary anarchism and platformism as examples.
William Godwin, in founding philosophical anarchism, developed what many consider the first expression of modern anarchist thought. Godwin was, according to Peter Kropotkin, "the first to formulate the political and economical conceptions of anarchism, even though he did not give that name to the ideas developed in his work." Philosophical anarchism contends that the State lacks moral legitimacy; that there is no individual obligation or duty to obey the State, and conversely, that the State has no right to command individuals, but it does not advocate revolution to eliminate the state. According to The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought, philosophical anarchism "is a component especially of individualist anarchism."
Philosophical anarchists may accept the existence of a minimal state as an unfortunate, and usually temporary, "necessary evil" but argue that citizens do not have a moral obligation to obey the state when its laws conflict with individual autonomy. As conceived by Godwin, it requires individuals to act in accordance with their own judgements and to allow every other individual the same liberty; conceived egoistically as by Max Stirner, it implies that "the unique one" who truly "owns himself" recognizes no duties to others; within the limit of his might, he does what is right for him. Godwin opposed revolutionary action and saw a minimal state as a present "necessary evil that would become increasingly irrelevant and powerless by the gradual spread of knowledge. Godwin advocated extreme individualism, proposing that all cooperation in labor be eliminated. Godwin felt discrimination on any grounds besides ability was intolerable.
Rather than throwing bombs or taking up arms to bring down the state, philosophical anarchists "have worked for a gradual change to free the individual from what they thought were the oppressive laws and social constraints of the modern state and allow all individuals to become self-determining and value-creating. They may oppose the immediate elimination of the state by violent means out of concern that it would be left unsecured against the establishment of a more harmful and oppressive state. This is especially true among those anarchists who consider violence and the state as synonymous, or who consider it counterproductive where public reaction to violence results in increased "law enforcement" efforts.
Mutualism began in 18th century English and French labor movements, then took an anarchist form associated with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in France and others in the US. This influenced individualist anarchists in the United States such as Benjamin Tucker and William B. Greene. Josiah Warren proposed similar ideas in 1833 after participating in a failed Owenite experiment. In the 1840s and 1850s, Charles A. Dana, and William B. Greene introduced Proudhon's works to the US. Greene adapted Proudhon's mutualism to American conditions and introduced it to Benjamin R. Tucker.
Mutualist anarchism is concerned with reciprocity, free association, voluntary contract, federation, and credit and currency reform. Many mutualists believe a market without government intervention drives prices down to labor-costs, eliminating profit, rent, and interest according to the labor theory of value. Firms would be forced to compete over workers just as workers compete over firms, raising wages. Some see mutualism as between individualist and collectivist anarchism; in What Is Property?, Proudhon develops a concept of "liberty", equivalent to "anarchy", which is the dialectical "synthesis of communism and property. Greene, influenced by Pierre Leroux, sought mutualism in the synthesis of three philosophies communism, capitalism and socialism. Later individualist anarchists used the term mutualism but retained little emphasis on synthesis, while social anarchists such as the authors of An Anarchist FAQ claim mutualism as a subset of their philosophical tradition.
In the mid 19th century in the US, Henry David Thoreau foresaw "the inevitability of self-government accompanied by atrophy of the State", arguing the state's only power was what individuals cede to it, but offered no practical program for social change.
A "less radical form of individualist anarchism was advocated by the "Boston anarchists," who were individualists supporting private property and a free market. For them, liberty and property should be protected by private contractors funded in a free market, not by the state. Like Marxists and social anarchists, they believed that state monopoly capitalism (identified as a state-sponsored monopoly) didn't fully reward labor. But unlike social anarchists, individualists endorsed exchange of labor for wages. The nineteenth century individualists argued state imposed economic regulation put the means of production in few hands, and that by having a free-market private ownership would be dispersed. Individualists like Tucker wanted more self-employment, but didn't want to prevent people from "carrying on business for themselves or from assuming relations between themselves as employer and employee if they prefer.
Individualists disagreed on various issues. Lysander Spooner supported intellectual property rights and permitted absentee land ownership. Steven T. Byington also opposed Benjamin Tucker's occupancy and use requirements. While all supported private property and free markets (causing some to consider them pro-capitalist), some, like Tucker, called themselves socialist. (At the time, "the term socialism was a broad concept," with Tucker understanding "socialism" to refer to many ideas aimed to solve "the labor problem" by radically changing the economy.) They also called themselves anti-capitalist, defining "capitalism" as state-maintained monopolization of capital. A major cleft occurred later in the 19th century when Tucker, and some others, abandoned natural rights and converted to an "egoism" modeled upon Stirnerism, claiming the only right naturally existing is the "right of might" and that other rights only come into existence if people decide to limit their might over each other. They did not have a problem that "one man employ another" or that "he direct him," in his labor but demanded that "all natural opportunities requisite to the production of wealth be accessible to all on equal terms and that monopolies arising from special privileges created by law be abolished.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, individualist anarchism in America was declining "the heyday of individualist anarchism had passed", in the words of Paul Avrich.
It was later revived with modifications by Murray Rothbard and the anarcho-capitalists in the mid-twentieth century, forming part of the broader movement known as libertarianism. Rothbard said "individualist anarchists could easily incorporate" Austrian economics, discard their monetary theories, which he argued were flawed, and "reconsider the nature and justification of the economic categories of interest, rent and profit. Today, most who call themselves individualist anarchists follow Rothbard's economics.
Collectivist anarchism is a revolutionary form of anarchism most commonly associated with Mikhail Bakunin, Johann Most and the anti-authoritarian section of the First International (1864–1876). Unlike mutualists, collectivist anarchists oppose all private ownership of the means of production, instead advocating that ownership be collectivized. This was to be initiated by small cohesive elite group through acts of violence, or "propaganda by the deed," which would inspire the workers to revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production. Workers would be compensated for their work on the basis of the amount of time they contributed to production, rather than goods being distributed "according to need" as in anarcho-communism. Although the collectivist anarchists advocated compensation for labor, some held out the possibility of a post-revolutionary transition to a communist system of distribution according to need. Collective anarchism arose contemporaneously with Marxism but opposed the Marxist dictatorship of the proletariat, despite Marxism striving for a collectivist stateless society.
Some collectivist anarchists do not oppose the use of currency. Some support workers being paid based on the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to purchase commodities in a communal market. This contrasts with anarcho-communism where wages would be abolished, and where individuals would take freely from a storehouse of goods "to each according to his need." Many modern-day collectivist anarchists hold their form of anarchism as a permanent society rather than a carryover to anarcho-communism or a gift economy. Some collectivist anarchists such as proponents of participatory economics believe in remuneration and a form of credit but do not believe in money or markets.
Although Collectivist anarchism shares many similarities with Anarchist communism there are also many key differences between them. For example collectivist anarchists believe that the economy and most or all property should be collectively owned by society while anarchist communists by contrast believe that the concept of ownership should be rejected by society and replaced with the concept of usage. Also Collectivist anarchists often favor using a form of currency to compensate workers according to the amount of time spent contributing to society and production while Anarcho-communists believe that currency and wages should be abolished all together and goods should be distributed "to each according to his or her need".
Anarchist communists propose that a society composed of a number of self-governing communes with collective use of the means of production, with direct democracy as the political organizational form, and related to other communes through federation would be the freest form of social organisation. However, some anarchist communists oppose the majoritarian nature of direct democracy, feeling that it can impede individual liberty and favor consensus democracy. Joseph Déjacque was an early anarchist communist and the first person to describe himself as "libertarian". Other important anarchist communists include Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and Errico Malatesta.
In anarchist communism, individuals would not receive direct compensation for labour (through sharing of profits or payment), but would instead have free access to the resources and surplus of the commune. Kropotkin, on the basis of his biological research and experimentation, believed that humans and human society are more inclined towards efforts for mutual benefit than toward competition and strife. Kropotkin believed that private property was one of the causes of oppression and exploitation and called for its abolition, but he only opposed ownership, not possession.
Some anarcho-syndicalists saw anarchist communism as their objective; for example, the Spanish CNT adopted Isaac Puente's 1932 El comunismo libertario as its manifesto for a post-revolutionary society. Platformism is an anarchist communist tendency in the tradition of Nestor Makhno who argued for the "vital need of an organization which, having attracted most of the participants in the anarchist movement, would establish a common tactical and political line for anarchism and thereby serve as a guide for the whole movement." Some anarcho-communists are strongly influenced by radical individualist and egoist philosophy and believe that anarcho-communism does not require a communitarian nature at all. Forms of libertarian communism such as Situationism are strongly Egoist in nature. Anarcho-communist Emma Goldman was influenced by both Stirner and Kropotkin and blended their philosophies together in her own, as shown in books of hers such as Anarchism And Other Essays.
In the early twentieth century anarcho-syndicalism arose as a distinct school of thought within anarchism. More heavily focused on the labour movement than previous forms of anarchism, syndicalism posits radical trade unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society, democratically self-managed by the workers. Anarcho-syndicalists seek to abolish the wage system and private ownership of the means of production, which they believe lead to class divisions. Important principles of syndicalism include workers' solidarity, direct action (such as general strikes and workplace recuperations), and workers' self-management.
Anarcho-syndicalism and other branches of anarchism are not mutually exclusive: anarcho-syndicalists often subscribe to communist or collectivist anarchism. Its advocates propose labour organization as a means to create the foundations of a non-hierarchical anarchist society within the current system and bring about social revolution. According to An Anarchist FAQ, anarcho-syndicalist economic systems often take the form of either a collectivist anarchist economic system or a anarcho-communist economic system.
Rudolf Rocker is considered a leading anarcho-syndicalist theorist. He outlined a view of the origins of the movement, what it sought, and why it was important to the future of labour in his 1938 pamphlet Anarchosyndicalism. Although more frequently associated with labor struggles of the early twentieth century (particularly in France and Spain), many syndicalist organizations are active today, including the SAC in Sweden, the USI in Italy, and the CNT in Spain. A number of these organizations are united across national borders by membership in the International Workers Association.
Anarchism generates many eclectic and syncretic philosophies and movements. Since the revival of anarchism in the mid 20th century, a number of new movements and schools have appeared. Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber has posited a rupture between generations of anarchism, with those "who often still have not shaken the sectarian habits of the last century" contrasted with the younger activists who are "much more informed, among other elements, by indigenous, feminist, ecological and cultural-critical ideas", and who by the turn of the 21st century formed "by far the majority" of anarchists.
Anarcho-pacifism is a form of anarchism that emerged shortly before World War II, emphasizing the complete rejection of violence in any form for any purpose. Although commonly associated with religious forms of anarchism, such as Christian anarchism or Buddhist anarchism, irreligious or anti-religious strains of anarcho-pacifism were present in the anarcho-punk scene of the 1970s, spearheaded by Crass. Historical advocates of pacifist anarchism include the Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy, Jean-Paul Sartre and Mohandas Gandhi who considered violence to be the root of societies problems and the state as the manifestation of violence. It was an influential force in the nuclear disarmament movements that followed World War II.
Anarcho-capitalism (also referred to as private property anarchism or a type of free-market anarchism) is a political philosophy (whose status within anarchism is disputed) which has its most significant following in the United States. It is "based on a belief in the freedom to own private property, a rejection of any form of governmental authority or intervention, and the upholding of the competitive free market as the main mechanism for social interaction. Anarcho-capitalists, like earlier American anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker, would like for all services, including law enforcement and security, to be performed by multiple private providers all competing for business, rather than by a monopolist state agency funded by taxation. Anarcho-capitalism's leading proponents include Murray Rothbard, David D. Friedman, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and Walter Block. It has been influenced by pro-market libertarians such as Gustave de Molinari, Frederic Bastiat, and Robert Nozick.
Although anarcho-capitalism was also influenced by Tucker and Spooner, it rejects their labor theory of value in favor of the neo-classical marginalist view. Thus, many anarcho-capitalists, like neoclassical economists do not believe that prices in a free market are, or would be, proportional to labor (nor that "usury" or "exploitation" necessarily occurs where they are disproportionate). Anarcho-capitalists such as Rothbard, believe that different prices of goods and services in a market, whether completely free or not, are ultimately the result of goods and services having different marginal utilities rather than the fact they contain differing amounts of labor - and that there is nothing unjust about this. Anarcho-capitalists also disagree with Tucker that interest would disappear with unregulated banking and money issuance. Rothbard believed that people in general do not wish to lend their money to others without compensation, so there is no reason why this would change where banking is unregulated (nor does he agree that unregulated banking would increase the supply of money). Rothbard defined free-market capitalism as "peaceful voluntary exchange", in contrast to "state capitalism" which he defined as a collusive partnership between business and government that uses coercion to subvert the free market.
Anarcho-capitalism has a theory of legitimacy that supports private property as long as it was obtained by labor, trade, or gift. Anarcho-capitalists support the liberty of individuals to be self-employed or to contract to be employees of others, whichever they prefer. David Friedman has expressed preference for a society where "almost everyone is self-employed. There is more than one version of anarcho-capitalism. For instance, unlike Rothbard's version where law (the non-aggression principle) is enforced by the market but not created by it, there is what has been called the Chicago School version, as theorized by David D. Friedman, where the law itself is produced by the market. Most anarcho-capitalists believe that in the absence of the institutionalized aggression carried on by the state, non-coercive capitalism would naturally and inevitably develop through market processes, and thus other forms of aggression would be diminished. Rothbard articulated this sentiment concisely as follows: "capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism.
Some market-oriented anarchist philosophies are considered left-libertarian. Mutualism, initially developed in the 19th century, has reemerged in the 21st century, incorporating modern economic ideas such as marginal utility theory. Kevin A. Carson's book Studies in Mutualist Political Economy was influential in this regard, updating the labor theory of value in response to Austrian economics. Agorism, an anarchist tendency founded by Samuel Edward Konkin III, advocates counter-economics – working in untaxed black or grey markets and boycotting as much as possible the unfree taxed market – with the intended result that private voluntary institutions emerge and out-compete statist ones. Geoanarchism, an anarchist form of Henry George's philosophy, is considered left-libertarian because it assumes land to be initially owned in common, so that when land is privately appropriated the proprietor pays rent to the community. These philosophies share similar concerns and are collectively known as left-libertarianism.
Autarchism is a philosophy subscribed to by Robert LeFevre, who stated “Autarchy is self-rule. It means that each person rules himself, and no other.” Autarchism rejects compulsory government and supports "private capitalism."
Crypto-anarchism is a cyberspatial realization of anarcho-capitalism that expounds the use of strong public-key cryptography to enforce privacy and individual freedom. Crypto-anarchists aim to create cryptographic software that can be used to evade prosecution and harassment by the state while sending and receiving information in computer networks. The use of such software renders the connection between the identity of a certain user or organisation and their pseudonym is almost entirely unprovable unless the user reveals the connection. It is even difficult to say which country's laws would be ignored, as even the location (country) of a given user is unknown. In this sense, the encrypted anonymous networks (known as "cipherspace") are an independent, lawless territory; this does not restrict participants from voluntarily create new laws using smart contracts or online reputation-dependent systems. Cryptoanarchism is a variant of technocapitalism, and is distinct from infoanarchism, an umbrella term for those opposed to intellectual property.
Anarcha-feminism (occasionally called anarcho-feminism) is a form of anarchism that synthesizes radical feminism and anarchism that views patriarchy (male domination over women) as a fundamental manifestation of involuntary hierarchy which anarchists often oppose. Anarcha-feminism was inspired in the late 19th century by the writings of early feminist anarchists such as Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre. Anarcha feminists like other radical feminists criticize and advocate the abolition of traditional conceptions of family, education and gender roles. Anarcha-feminists are especially critical of marriage for instance the feminist anarchist Emma Goldman has argued that marriage is a purely economic arrangement... [woman] pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life.. Anarcha-feminists also often criticize the views of some of the traditional anarchists such as Mikhail Bakunin who have believed that patriarchy is only a minor problem and is dependent only on the existence of the state and capitalism and will disappear soon after such institutions are abolished. Anarcha feminists by contrast view patriarchy as a fundamental problem in society and believe that the feminist struggle against sexism and patriarchy is an essential component of the anarchist struggle against the state and capitalism. As Susan Brown puts it, "as anarchism is a political philosophy that opposes all relationships of power, it is inherently feminist".
Anarcho-primitivism has been cited as a form of anarchism that addresses feminist concerns. Anarcho-primitivists, inspired by the work of anthropologists such as Jared Diamond and Eleanor Leacock - who describe a typically egalitarian relationship between men and women in foraging societies - believe that agriculture not only gave rise to forms of domination such as class distinctions but to patriarchy and sexism as well.
Green anarchism is a school of anarchism that emphasizes the protection of the environment. Green anarchists can be broadly divided into two categories. Techno-negative green anarchists, such as John Zerzan and Theodore Kaczynski, see modern civilization and technology (as well as agriculture, in the case of Anarcho-Primitivists) as inherently harmful. Techno-positive green anarchists, such as Murray Bookchin and Alan Carter, see technology as morally neutral or even as beneficial to the development of a green anarchist society. It develops a critique of industrial civilization. In this critique technology and development have alienated people from the natural world. This philosophy develops themes present in the political action of the Luddites and the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although when primitivism emerged it was influenced more directly by the works of theorists such as the Frankfurt School Marxists Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse; anthropologists Marshall Sahlins and Richard Lee; and others such as Lewis Mumford, Jean Baudrillard and Gary Snyder. Many advocates of green anarchism and primitivism consider Fredy Perlman as the modern progenitor of their views.
Some techno-negative green anarchists, identifying themselves as anarcho-primitivists, advocate a complete process of 'rewilding' and a return to nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles while many green anarchists only wish to see an end to industrial society and do not necessarily oppose domestication or agriculture. Still, many green anarchists decide to skirt these issues entirely, focusing not on a post-revolutionary future, but on defense of the earth and social revolution in the present. Today there is disagreement between Primitivists and followers of more traditional forms of anarchism, such as the social ecology of Murray Bookchin and socialist forms of anarchism which advocate class struggle, although many green anarchists do advocate class struggle.
Especifismo emerged out of nearly 50 years of anarchist experiences in South America starting with the Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU), founded in 1956 by anarchists who saw the need for an organization which was specifically anarchist. It has been summarised as:
"The need for specifically anarchist organization built around a unity of ideas and praxis. The use of the specifically anarchist organization to theorize and develop strategic political and organizing work. Active involvement in and building of autonomous and popular social movements, which is described as the process of "social insertion."
Other organisations that hold to Especifismo include Federação Anarquista Gaúcha (FAG), the Federação Anarquista Cabocla (FACA), and the Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro (FARJ) (all in Brazil). Especifismo is considered to have come to broadly similar conclusions to the Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft) leading to the argument that it is properly considered a new form of Platformism
Analytical anarchism, which partly began as a response to analytical Marxism, is a recent development in academia that uses the methods of analytical philosophy to clarify or defend anarchist theory. Analytical anarchists include Robert Paul Wolff, Alan Carter, and Michael Taylor. Wolff argues that we have no obligation to obey the state, while Carter argues that the state cannot be trusted to liberate the people, and Taylor uses game theory to argue that cooperation is possible without the state.
Anarchism without adjectives, in the words of historian George Richard Esenwein, "referred to an unhyphenated form of anarchism, that is, a doctrine without any qualifying labels such as communist, collectivist, mutualist, or individualist. For others, ... [it] was simply understood as an attitude that tolerated the coexistence of different anarchist schools". Anarchism without adjectives emphasizes harmony between various anarchist factions and attempts to unite them around their shared anti-authoritarian beliefs. The expression was coined by Cuban-born Fernando Tarrida del Mármol, who used it in Barcelona in November 1889 as a call for tolerance, after being troubled by the "bitter debates" between the different movements. Rudolf Rocker said that the different types of anarchism presented "only different methods of economy, the practical possibilities of which have yet to be tested, and that the first objective is to secure the personal and social freedom of men no matter upon which economics basis this is to be accomplished.
Voltairine de Cleyre was an anarchist without adjectives who initially identified herself as an individualist anarchist but later espoused a collectivist form of anarchism, while refusing to identify herself with any of the contemporary schools. She commented that "Socialism and Communism both demand a degree of joint effort and administration which would beget more regulation than is wholly consistent with ideal Anarchism; Individualism and Mutualism, resting upon property, involve a development of the private policeman not at all compatible with my notion of freedom" although she stopped short of denouncing these tendencies as un-anarchistic. Errico Malatesta was another proponent of anarchism without adjectives, stating that "[i]t is not right for us, to say the least, to fall into strife over mere hypotheses. Fred Woodworth is a contemporary anarchist without adjectives.