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Anarchism is often defined as a political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful. However, others argue that while anti-statism is central, it is inadequate to define anarchism. Therefore they argue, alternatively, that anarchism entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including, but not only, the state system. Proponents of anarchism, known as "anarchists", advocate stateless societies based on non- hierarchical free associations.

As a subtle and anti-dogmatic philosophy, anarchism draws on many currents of thought and strategy. Anarchism does not offer a fixed body of doctrine from a single particular world view, instead fluxing and flowing as a philosophy. There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive. Anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. Strains of anarchism have often been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications. Anarchism is often considered a radical left-wing ideology, and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism or participatory economics.

Anarchism as a mass social movement has regularly endured fluctuations in popularity. The central tendency of anarchism as a social movement has been represented by anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon which nevertheless did have an impact on the bigger currents and individualists have also participated in large anarchist organizations. Many anarchists oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence ( anarcho-pacifism), while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and propaganda of the deed, on the path to an anarchist society.

Etymology and terminology

The term anarchism derives from the ancient Greek ἄναρχος, anarchos, meaning "without rulers", from the prefix ἀν- (an-, "without") + ἀρχός (arkhos, "leader", from ἀρχή arkhē, "authority, sovereignty, realm, magistracy") + -ισμός (-ismos, from the suffix -ιζειν, -izein "-izing"). "Anarchists" was the term adopted by Maximilien de Robespierre to attack those on the left whom he had used for his own ends during the French Revolution but was determined to get rid of, though among these "anarchists" there were few who exhibited the social revolt characteristics of later anarchists. There would be many revolutionaries of the early nineteenth century who contributed to the anarchist doctrines of the next generation, such as William Godwin and Wilhelm Weitling, but they did not use the word "anarchist" or "anarchism" in describing themselves or their beliefs. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was the first political philosopher to call himself an anarchist, making the formal birth of anarchism the mid-nineteenth century. Since the 1890s from France, the term "libertarianism" has often been used as a synonym for anarchism and was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United States; its use as a synonym is still common outside the United States. On the other hand, some use "libertarianism" to refer to individualistic free-market philosophy only, referring to free-market anarchism as "libertarian anarchism".



The Book of Judges in the bible describes several times a period of rule without a king:

And in those days there is no king in Israel. Every man, what is straight in his eyes, will do. (Judges)

In some of the stories this is shown to be a bad thing, leading to attacks by the tribes' enemies, but in the latter half of the book, the stories are in sync with the book of Samuel, who, when requested by the people to choose a king, explains all the misfortunes of monarchy, and reminds the people that it is against the word of God. There are hints at this in the Torah.

William Godwin, "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".

The earliest anarchist themes can be found in the 6th century BC, among the works of Taoist philosopher Laozi, and in later centuries by Zhuangzi and Bao Jingyan. Zhuangzi's philosophy has been described by various sources as anarchist. Zhuangzi wrote, "A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes a ruler of a Nation." Diogenes of Sinope and the Cynics, their contemporary Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, also introduced similar topics. Jesus is sometimes considered the first anarchist in the Christian anarchist tradition. Georges Lechartier wrote that "The true founder of anarchy was Jesus Christ and ... the first anarchist society was that of the apostles." Such a distinction reverberates subversive religious conceptions like the aforementioned seemingly anarchistic Taoist teachings and that of other anti-authoritarian religious traditions creating a complex relationship regarding the question as to whether or not anarchism and religion are compatible. This is exemplified when the glorification of the state is viewed as a form of sinful idolatry.

The French renaissance political philosopher Étienne de La Boétie has been said to write an important anarchist precedent in his most famous work the Discourse on Voluntary Servitude. The radical Protestant Christian Gerrard Winstanley and his group the Diggers are cited by various authors as proposing anarchist social measures in the 17th century in England. The term "anarchist" first entered the English language in 1642, during the English Civil War, as a term of abuse, used by Royalists against their Roundhead opponents. By the time of the French Revolution some, such as the Enragés, began to use the term positively, in opposition to Jacobin centralisation of power, seeing "revolutionary government" as oxymoronic. By the turn of the 19th century, the English word "anarchism" had lost its initial negative connotation.

Modern anarchism sprang from the secular or religious thought of the Enlightenment, particularly Jean-Jacques Rousseau's arguments for the moral centrality of freedom. There were a variety of anarchist currents during the French Revolution, with some revolutionaries using the term "anarchiste" in a positive light as early as September 1793. The enragés opposed revolutionary government as a contradiction in terms. Denouncing the Jacobin dictatorship, Jean Varlet wrote in 1794 that "government and revolution are incompatible, unless the people wishes to set its constituted authorities in permanent insurrection against itself." During the French Revolution, Sylvain Maréchal, in his Manifesto of the Equals (1796), demanded "the communal enjoyment of the fruits of the earth" and looked forward to the disappearance of "the revolting distinction of rich and poor, of great and small, of masters and valets, of governors and governed." From this climate William Godwin 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", while Godwin attached his anarchist ideas to an early Edmund Burke. Benjamin Tucker instead credits Josiah Warren, an American who promoted stateless and voluntary communities where all goods and services were private, with being "the first man to expound and formulate the doctrine now known as Anarchism." The first to describe himself as an anarchist was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French philosopher and politician, which led some to call him the founder of modern anarchist theory.

The anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque was the first person to describe himself as " libertarian". Unlike Proudhon, he argued that, "it is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature." In 1844 in Germany the post-hegelian philosopher Max Stirner published the book The Ego and Its Own which will later be considered an influential early text of individualist anarchism. Anarchists active in the 1848 Revolution in France, included Anselme Bellegarrigue, Ernest Coeurderoy, Joseph Déjacque and Pierre Joseph Proudhon.

First International and the Paris Commune

Collectivist anarchist Mikhail Bakunin opposed the Marxist aim of dictatorship of the proletariat in favour of universal rebellion, and allied himself with the federalists in the First International before his expulsion by the Marxists.

In Europe, harsh reaction followed the revolutions of 1848, during which ten countries had experienced brief or long-term social upheaval as groups carried out nationalist uprisings. After most of these attempts at systematic change ended in failure, conservative elements took advantage of the divided groups of socialists, anarchists, liberals, and nationalists, to prevent further revolt. In 1864 the International Workingmen's Association (sometimes called the "First International") united diverse revolutionary currents including French followers of Proudhon, Blanquists, Philadelphes, English trade unionists, socialists and social democrats.

Due to its links to active workers' movements, the International became a significant organization. Karl Marx became a leading figure in the International and a member of its General Council. Proudhon's followers, the mutualists, opposed Marx's state socialism, advocating political abstentionism and small property holdings.

In 1868, following their unsuccessful participation in the League of Peace and Freedom (LPF), Russian revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin and his collectivist anarchist associates joined the First International (which had decided not to get involved with the LPF). They allied themselves with the federalist socialist sections of the International, who advocated the revolutionary overthrow of the state and the collectivization of property.

At first, the collectivists worked with the Marxists to push the First International in a more revolutionary socialist direction. Subsequently, the International became polarised into two camps, with Marx and Bakunin as their respective figureheads. Bakunin characterised Marx's ideas as centralist and predicted that, if a Marxist party came to power, its leaders would simply take the place of the ruling class they had fought against.

Anarchist historian George Woodcock reports that "The annual Congress of the International had not taken place in 1870 owing to the outbreak of the Paris Commune, and in 1871 the General Council called only a special conference in London. One delegate was able to attend from Spain and none from Italy, while a technical excuse - that they had split away from the Fédération Romande - was used to avoid inviting Bakunin's Swiss supporters. Thus only a tiny minority of anarchists was present, and the General Council's resolutions passed almost unanimously. Most of them were clearly directed against Bakunin and his followers." In 1872, the conflict climaxed with a final split between the two groups at the Hague Congress, where Bakunin and James Guillaume were expelled from the International and its headquarters were transferred to New York. In response, the federalist sections formed their own International at the St. Imier Congress, adopting a revolutionary anarchist program.

The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from 18 March (more formally, from 28 March) to 28 May 1871. The Commune was the result of an uprising in Paris after France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War. Anarchists participated actively in the establishment of the Paris Commune. They included

Louise Michel, the Reclus brothers, and Eugene Varlin (the latter murdered in the repression afterwards). As for the reforms initiated by the Commune, such as the re-opening of workplaces as co-operatives, anarchists can see their ideas of associated labour beginning to be realised ... Moreover, the Commune's ideas on federation obviously reflected the influence of Proudhon on French radical ideas. Indeed, the Commune's vision of a communal France based on a federation of delegates bound by imperative mandates issued by their electors and subject to recall at any moment echoes Bakunin's and Proudhon's ideas (Proudhon, like Bakunin, had argued in favour of the "implementation of the binding mandate" in 1848 ... and for federation of communes). Thus both economically and politically the Paris Commune was heavily influenced by anarchist ideas.

George Woodcock manifests that

a notable contribution to the activities of the Commune and particularly to the organization of public services was made by members of various anarchist factions, including the mutualists Courbet, Longuet, and Vermorel, the libertarian collectivists Varlin, Malon, and Lefrangais, and the bakuninists Elie and Elisée Reclus and Louise Michel.

Organized labor

The anti-authoritarian sections of the First International were the precursors of the anarcho-syndicalists, seeking to "replace the privilege and authority of the State" with the "free and spontaneous organization of labor." In 1886, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (FOTLU) of the United States and Canada unanimously set 1 May 1886, as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard.

A sympathetic engraving by Walter Crane of the executed "Anarchists of Chicago" after the Haymarket affair. The Haymarket affair is generally considered the most significant event for the origin of international May Day observances

In response, unions across the United States prepared a general strike in support of the event. On 3 May, in Chicago, a fight broke out when strikebreakers attempted to cross the picket line, and two workers died when police opened fire upon the crowd. The next day, 4 May, anarchists staged a rally at Chicago's Haymarket Square. A bomb was thrown by an unknown party near the conclusion of the rally, killing an officer. In the ensuing panic, police opened fire on the crowd and each other. Seven police officers and at least four workers were killed. Eight anarchists directly and indirectly related to the organisers of the rally were arrested and charged with the murder of the deceased officer. The men became international political celebrities among the labour movement. Four of the men were executed and a fifth committed suicide prior to his own execution. The incident became known as the Haymarket affair, and was a setback for the labour movement and the struggle for the eight-hour day. In 1890 a second attempt, this time international in scope, to organise for the eight-hour day was made. The event also had the secondary purpose of memorializing workers killed as a result of the Haymarket affair. Although it had initially been conceived as a once-off event, by the following year the celebration of International Workers' Day on May Day had become firmly established as an international worker's holiday.

In 1907, the International Anarchist Congress of Amsterdam gathered delegates from 14 different countries, among which important figures of the anarchist movement, including Errico Malatesta, Pierre Monatte, Luigi Fabbri, Benoît Broutchoux, Emma Goldman, Rudolf Rocker, and Christiaan Cornelissen. Various themes were treated during the Congress, in particular concerning the organisation of the anarchist movement, popular education issues, the general strike or antimilitarism. A central debate concerned the relation between anarchism and syndicalism (or trade unionism). Malatesta and Monatte were in particular disagreement themselves on this issue, as the latter thought that syndicalism was revolutionary and would create the conditions of a social revolution, while Malatesta did not consider syndicalism by itself sufficient. He thought that the trade-union movement was reformist and even conservative, citing as essentially bourgeois and anti-worker the phenomenon of professional union officials. Malatesta warned that the syndicalists aims were in perpetuating syndicalism itself, whereas anarchists must always have anarchy as their end and consequently refrain from committing to any particular method of achieving it.

The Spanish Workers Federation in 1881 was the first major anarcho-syndicalist movement; anarchist trade union federations were of special importance in Spain. The most successful was the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (National Confederation of Labour: CNT), founded in 1910. Before the 1940s, the CNT was the major force in Spanish working class politics, attracting 1.58 million members at one point and playing a major role in the Spanish Civil War. The CNT was affiliated with the International Workers Association, a federation of anarcho-syndicalist trade unions founded in 1922, with delegates representing two million workers from 15 countries in Europe and Latin America. In Latin America in particular "The anarchists quickly became active in organizing craft and industrial workers throughout South and Central America, and until the early 1920s most of the trade unions in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Argentina were anarcho-syndicalist in general outlook; the prestige of the Spanish C.N.T. as a revolutionary organization was undoubtedly to a great extent responsible for this situation. The largest and most militant of these organizations was the Federación Obrera Regional Argentina ... it grew quickly to a membership of nearly a quarter of a million, which dwarfed the rival socialdemocratic unions."

Propaganda of the deed and illegalism

Italian-American anarchist Luigi Galleani. His followers, known as Galleanists, carried out a series of bombings and assassination attempts from 1914 to 1932 in what they saw as attacks on 'tyrants' and 'enemies of the people'

Some anarchists, such as Johann Most, advocated publicizing violent acts of retaliation against counter-revolutionaries because "we preach not only action in and for itself, but also action as propaganda." By the 1880s, people inside and outside the anarchist movement began to use the slogan, "propaganda of the deed" to refer to individual bombings, regicides, and tyrannicides. From 1905 onwards, the Russian counterparts of these anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists become partisans of economic terrorism and illegal ' expropriations'." Illegalism as a practice emerged and within it "The acts of the anarchist bombers and assassins (" propaganda by the deed") and the anarchist burglars (" individual reappropriation") expressed their desperation and their personal, violent rejection of an intolerable society. Moreover, they were clearly meant to be exemplary invitations to revolt.". France's Bonnot Gang was the most famous group to embrace illegalism.

However, as soon as 1887, important figures in the anarchist movement distanced themselves from such individual acts. Peter Kropotkin thus wrote that year in Le Révolté that "a structure based on centuries of history cannot be destroyed with a few kilos of dynamite". A variety of anarchists advocated the abandonment of these sorts of tactics in favour of collective revolutionary action, for example through the trade union movement. The anarcho-syndicalist, Fernand Pelloutier, argued in 1895 for renewed anarchist involvement in the labor movement on the basis that anarchism could do very well without "the individual dynamiter."

State repression (including the infamous 1894 French lois scélérates) of the anarchist and labor movements following the few successful bombings and assassinations may have contributed to the abandonment of these kinds of tactics, although reciprocally state repression, in the first place, may have played a role in these isolated acts. The dismemberment of the French socialist movement, into many groups and, following the suppression of the 1871 Paris Commune, the execution and exile of many communards to penal colonies, favored individualist political expression and acts.

Numerous heads of state were assassinated between 1881 and 1914 by members of the anarchist movement. For example, U.S. President McKinley's assassin Leon Czolgosz claimed to have been influenced by anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman. Bombings were associated in the media with anarchists because international terrorism arose during this time period with the widespread distribution of dynamite. This image remains to this day.

Propaganda of the deed was abandoned by the vast majority of the anarchist movement after World War I (1914–1918) and the 1917 October Revolution.

Russian Revolution and other uprisings of the 1910s

Nestor Makhno with members of the anarchist Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine

Anarchists participated alongside the Bolsheviks in both February and October revolutions, and were initially enthusiastic about the Bolshevik revolution. However, following a political falling out with the Bolsheviks by the anarchists and other left-wing opposition, the conflict culminated in the 1921 Kronstadt rebellion, which the new government repressed. Anarchists in central Russia were either imprisoned, driven underground or joined the victorious Bolsheviks; the anarchists from Petrograd and Moscow fled to the Ukraine. There, in the Free Territory, they fought in the civil war against the Whites (a grouping of monarchists and other opponents of the October Revolution) and then the Bolsheviks as part of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine led by Nestor Makhno, who established an anarchist society in the region for a number of months.

Expelled American anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were amongst those agitating in response to Bolshevik policy and the suppression of the Kronstadt uprising, before they left Russia. Both wrote accounts of their experiences in Russia, criticizing the amount of control the Bolsheviks exercised. For them, Bakunin's predictions about the consequences of Marxist rule that the rulers of the new "socialist" Marxist state would become a new elite had proved all too true.

The victory of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution and the resulting Russian Civil War did serious damage to anarchist movements internationally. Many workers and activists saw Bolshevik success as setting an example; Communist parties grew at the expense of anarchism and other socialist movements. In France and the United States, for example, members of the major syndicalist movements of the CGT and IWW left the organizations and joined the Communist International.

The revolutionary wave of 1917–23 saw the active participation of anarchists in varying degrees of protagonism. In the German uprising known as the German Revolution of 1918–1919 which established the Bavarian Soviet Republic the anarchists Gustav Landauer, Silvio Gesell and Erich Mühsam had important leadership positions within the revolutionary councilist structures. In the Italian events known as the biennio rosso the anarcho-syndicalist trade union Unione Sindacale Italiana "grew to 800,000 members and the influence of the Italian Anarchist Union (20,000 members plus Umanita Nova, its daily paper) grew accordingly ... Anarchists were the first to suggest occupying workplaces. In the Mexican Revolution the Mexican Liberal Party was established and during the early 1910s it lead a series of military offensives leading to the conquest and occupation of certain towns and districts in Baja California with the leadership of anarcho-communist Ricardo Flores Magón.

In Paris, the Dielo Truda group of Russian anarchist exiles, which included Nestor Makhno, concluded that anarchists needed to develop new forms of organisation in response to the structures of Bolshevism. Their 1926 manifesto, called the Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft), was supported. Platformist groups active today include the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland and the North Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists of North America. Synthesis anarchism emerged as an organizational alternative to platformism that tries to join anarchists of different tendencies under the principles of anarchism without adjectives. In the 1920s this form found as its main proponents Volin and Sebastien Faure. It is the main principle behind the anarchist federations grouped around the contemporary global International of Anarchist Federations.

Anti-fascist Maquis, who resisted Nazi and Francoist rule in Europe.

Conflicts with European fascist regimes

In the 1920s and 1930s, the rise of fascism in Europe transformed anarchism's conflict with the state. Italy saw the first struggles between anarchists and fascists. Italian anarchists played a key role in the anti-fascist organisation Arditi del Popolo, which was strongest in areas with anarchist traditions, and achieved some success in their activism, such as repelling Blackshirts in the anarchist stronghold of Parma in August 1922. The veteran Italian anarchist, Luigi Fabbri, was one of the first critical theorists of fascism, describing it as "the preventive counter-revolution." In France, where the far right leagues came close to insurrection in the February 1934 riots, anarchists divided over a united front policy.

Anarchists in France and Italy were active in the Resistance during World War II. In Germany the anarchist Erich Mühsam was arrested on charges unknown in the early morning hours of 28 February 1933, within a few hours after the Reichstag fire in Berlin. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, labelled him as one of "those Jewish subversives." Over the next seventeen months, he would be imprisoned in the concentration camps at Sonnenburg, Brandenburg and finally, Oranienburg. On 2 February 1934, Mühsam was transferred to the concentration camp at Oranienburg when finally on the night of 9 July 1934, Mühsam was tortured and murdered by the guards, his battered corpse found hanging in a latrine the next morning.

Spanish Revolution

In Spain, the national anarcho-syndicalist trade union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo initially refused to join a popular front electoral alliance, and abstention by CNT supporters led to a right wing election victory. But in 1936, the CNT changed its policy and anarchist votes helped bring the popular front back to power. Months later, the former ruling class responded with an attempted coup causing the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land. But even before the fascist victory in 1939, the anarchists were losing ground in a bitter struggle with the Stalinists, who controlled the distribution of military aid to the Republican cause from the Soviet Union. The events known as the Spanish Revolution was a workers' social revolution that began during the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and resulted in the widespread implementation of anarchist and more broadly libertarian socialist organizational principles throughout various portions of the country for two to three years, primarily Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia, and parts of the Levante. Much of Spain's economy was put under worker control; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy Communist Party of Spain influence, as the Soviet-allied party actively resisted attempts at collectivization enactment. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivised and run as libertarian communes. Anarchist historian Sam Dolgoff estimated that about eight million people participated directly or at least indirectly in the Spanish Revolution, which he claimed "came closer to realizing the ideal of the free stateless society on a vast scale than any other revolution in history."

Stalinist-led troops suppressed the collectives and persecuted both dissident Marxists and anarchists. The prominent Italian anarchist Camillo Berneri, who volunteered to fight against Franco was killed instead in Spain by gunmen associated with the Spanish Communist Party.

Post-war years

Anarchism sought to reorganize itself after the war. The Mexican Anarchist Federation was established in 1945 after the Anarchist Federation of the Centre united with the Anarchist Federation of the Federal District. In the early 1940s, the Antifascist International Solidarity and the Federation of Anarchist Groups of Cuba merged into the large national organization Asociación Libertaria de Cuba (Cuban Libertarian Association). From 1944 to 1947, the Bulgarian Anarchist Communist Federation reemerged as part of a factory and workplace committee movement, but was repressed by the new Communist regime. In 1945 in France the Fédération Anarchiste was established and the also synthesist Federazione Anarchica Italiana was founded in Italy. Korean anarchists formed the League of Free Social Constructors in September 1945 and in 1946 the Japanese Anarchist Federation was founded. An International Anarchist Congress with delegates from across Europe was held in Paris in May 1948. After World War II, an appeal in the Fraye Arbeter Shtime detailing the plight of German anarchists and called for Americans to support them. By February 1946, the sending of aid parcels to anarchists in Germany was a large-scale operation. The Federation of Libertarian Socialists was founded in Germany in 1947 and Rudolf Rocker wrote for its organ, Die Freie Gesellschaft, which survived until 1953. In 1956 the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation was founded. In 1955 the Anarcho-Communist Federation of Argentina renamed itself as the Argentine Libertarian Federation. The organizational debate between synthesis anarchism and platformism took importance once again especially in the anarchist movements of Italy and France.

Anarchism continued to influence important literary and intellectual personalities of the time, such as Albert Camus, Herbert Read, Paul Goodman, Dwight Macdonald, Allen Ginsberg, George Woodcock, Julian Beck—and the French Surrealist group led by André Breton, which now openly embraced anarchism and collaborated in the Fédération Anarchiste.

Anarcho-pacifism became influential in the Anti-nuclear movement and anti war movements of the time as can be seen in the activism and writings of the English anarchist member of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Alex Comfort or the similar activism of the American catholic anarcho-pacifists Ammon Hennacy and Dorothy Day. Anarcho-pacifism became a "basis for a critique of militarism on both sides of the Cold War." The resurgence of anarchist ideas during this period is well documented in Robert Graham's Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume Two: The Emergence of the New Anarchism (1939–1977).

Contemporary anarchism

The famous okupas squat near Parc Güell, overlooking Barcelona. Squatting was a prominent part of the emergence of renewed anarchist movement from the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. On the roof: "Occupy and Resist"

A surge of popular interest in anarchism occurred in western nations during the 1960s and 1970s. Anarchism was influential in the Counterculture of the 1960s and anarchists actively participated in the late sixties students and workers revolts. In 1968 in Carrara, Italy the International of Anarchist Federations was founded during an international anarchist conference held there in 1968 by the three existing European federations of France (the Fédération Anarchiste), the Federazione Anarchica Italiana of Italy and the Iberian Anarchist Federation as well as the Bulgarian federation in French exile.

In the United Kingdom in the 1970s this was associated with the punk rock movement, as exemplified by bands such as Crass and the Sex Pistols. The housing and employment crisis in most of Western Europe led to the formation of communes and squatter movements like that of Barcelona, Spain. In Denmark, squatters occupied a disused military base and declared the Freetown Christiania, an autonomous haven in central Copenhagen.

Since the revival of anarchism in the mid 20th century, a number of new movements and schools of thought emerged. Although feminist tendencies have always been a part of the anarchist movement in the form of anarcha-feminism, they returned with vigour during the second wave of feminism in the 1960s. The American Civil Rights Movement and the movement against the war in Vietnam also contributed to the revival of North American anarchism. European anarchism of the late 20th century drew much of its strength from the labour movement, and both have incorporated animal rights activism. Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber and anarchist historian Andrej Grubacic have posited a rupture between generations of anarchism, with those "who often still have not shaken the sectarian habits" of the 19th 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.

Around the turn of the 21st century, anarchism grew in popularity and influence as part of the anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-globalisation movements. Anarchists became known for their involvement in protests against the meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Group of Eight, and the World Economic Forum. Some anarchist factions at these protests engaged in rioting, property destruction, and violent confrontations with police. These actions were precipitated by ad hoc, leaderless, anonymous cadres known as black blocs; other organisational tactics pioneered in this time include security culture, affinity groups and the use of decentralised technologies such as the internet. A significant event of this period was the confrontations at WTO conference in Seattle in 1999. According to anarchist scholar Simon Critchley, "contemporary anarchism can be seen as a powerful critique of the pseudo-libertarianism of contemporary neo-liberalism ... One might say that contemporary anarchism is about responsibility, whether sexual, ecological or socio-economic; it flows from an experience of conscience about the manifold ways in which the West ravages the rest; it is an ethical outrage at the yawning inequality, impoverishment and disenfranchisment that is so palpable locally and globally."

International anarchist federations in existence include the International of Anarchist Federations, the International Workers' Association, and International Libertarian Solidarity. The largest organised anarchist movement today is in Spain, in the form of the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) and the CNT. CGT membership was estimated at around 100,000 for 2003. Other active syndicalist movements include in Sweden the Central Organisation of the Workers of Sweden and the Swedish Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation; the CNT-AIT in France; the Union Sindicale Italiana in Italy; in the US Workers Solidarity Alliance and the UK Solidarity Federation. The revolutionary industrial unionist Industrial Workers of the World, claiming 2,000 paying members, and the International Workers Association, an anarcho-syndicalist successor to the First International, also remain active.

Anarchist schools of thought

Portrait of philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865) by Gustave Courbet. Proudhon was the primary proponent of anarchist mutualism, and influenced many later individualist anarchist and social anarchist thinkers.

Anarchist schools of thought had been generally grouped in two main historical traditions, individualist anarchism and social anarchism, which have some different origins, values and evolution. The individualist wing of anarchism emphasises negative liberty, i.e. opposition to state or social control over the individual, while those in the social wing emphasise positive liberty to achieve one's potential and argue that humans have needs that society ought to fulfill, "recognizing equality of entitlement". In a chronological and theoretical sense, there are classical — those created throughout the 19th century — and post-classical anarchist schools — those created since the mid-20th century and after.

Beyond the specific factions of anarchist thought is philosophical anarchism, which embodies the theoretical stance that the state lacks moral legitimacy without accepting the imperative of revolution to eliminate it. A component especially of individualist anarchism philosophical anarchism may accept the existence of a minimal state as 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. One reaction against sectarianism within the anarchist milieu was " anarchism without adjectives", a call for toleration first adopted by Fernando Tarrida del Mármol in 1889 in response to the "bitter debates" of anarchist theory at the time. In abandoning the hyphenated anarchisms (i.e. collectivist-, communist-, mutualist- and individualist-anarchism), it sought to emphasise the anti-authoritarian beliefs common to all anarchist schools of thought.

Classical anarchist schools of thought


Mutualism began in 18th century English and French labour movements before taking an anarchist form associated with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in France and others in the United States. Proudhon proposed spontaneous order, whereby organization emerges without central authority, a "positive anarchy" where order arises when everybody does "what he wishes and only what he wishes" and where "business transactions alone produce the social order." It is important to recognize that Proudhon distinguished between ideal political possibilities and practical governance. For this reason, much in contrast to some of his theoretical statements concerning ultimate spontaneous self-governance, Proudhon was heavily involved in French parliamentary politics and allied himself not with Anarchist but Socialist factions of workers movements and, in addition to advocating state-protected charters for worker-owned cooperatives, promoted certain nationalization schemes during his life of public service.

Mutualist anarchism is concerned with reciprocity, free association, voluntary contract, federation, and credit and currency reform. According to the American mutualist William Batchelder Greene, each worker in the mutualist system would receive "just and exact pay for his work; services equivalent in cost being exchangeable for services equivalent in cost, without profit or discount." Mutualism has been retrospectively characterised as ideologically situated between individualist and collectivist forms of anarchism. Proudhon first characterised his goal as a "third form of society, the synthesis of communism and property."

Individualist anarchism

Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and their will over any kinds of external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems. Individualist anarchism is not a single philosophy but refers to a group of individualistic philosophies that sometimes are in conflict.

In 1793, William Godwin, who has often been cited as the first anarchist, wrote Political Justice, which some consider the first expression of anarchism. Godwin, a philosophical anarchist, from a rationalist and utilitarian basis 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 individualism, proposing that all cooperation in labour be eliminated on the premise that this would be most conducive with the general good.

19th century philosopher Max Stirner, usually considered a prominent early individualist anarchist (sketch by Friedrich Engels).

An influential form of individualist anarchism, called "egoism," or egoist anarchism, was expounded by one of the earliest and best-known proponents of individualist anarchism, the German Max Stirner. Stirner's The Ego and Its Own, published in 1844, is a founding text of the philosophy. According to Stirner, the only limitation on the rights of the individual is their power to obtain what they desire, without regard for God, state, or morality. To Stirner, rights were spooks in the mind, and he held that society does not exist but "the individuals are its reality". Stirner advocated self-assertion and foresaw unions of egoists, non-systematic associations continually renewed by all parties' support through an act of will, which Stirner proposed as a form of organization in place of the state. Egoist anarchists argue that egoism will foster genuine and spontaneous union between individuals. "Egoism" has inspired many interpretations of Stirner's philosophy. It was re-discovered and promoted by German philosophical anarchist and LGBT activist John Henry Mackay.

Josiah Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist, and the four-page weekly paper he edited during 1833, The Peaceful Revolutionist, was the first anarchist periodical published. For American anarchist historian Eunice Minette Schuster "It is apparent ... that Proudhonian Anarchism was to be found in the United States at least as early as 1848 and that it was not conscious of its affinity to the Individualist Anarchism of Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews ... William B. Greene presented this Proudhonian Mutualism in its purest and most systematic form.". Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) was an important early influence in individualist anarchist thought in the United States and Europe. Thoreau was an American author, poet, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his books Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state. Later Benjamin Tucker fused Stirner's egoism with the economics of Warren and Proudhon in his eclectic influential publication Liberty.

From these early influences individualist anarchism in different countries attracted a small but diverse following of bohemian artists and intellectuals, free love and birth control advocates (see Anarchism and issues related to love and sex), individualist naturists nudists (see anarcho-naturism), freethought and anti-clearical activists as well as young anarchist outlaws in what became known as illegalism and individual reclamation (see European individualist anarchism and individualist anarchism in France). These authors and activists included Oscar Wilde, Emile Armand, Han Ryner, Henri Zisly, Renzo Novatore, Miguel Gimenez Igualada, Adolf Brand and Lev Chernyi among others.

Social anarchism

Social anarchism calls for a system with public ownership of means of production and democratic control of all organizations, without any government authority or coercion. It is the largest school of thought in anarchism. Social anarchism rejects private property, seeing it as a source of social inequality (while retaining respect for personal property), and emphasises cooperation and mutual aid.

Collectivist anarchism

Collectivist anarchism, also referred to as "revolutionary socialism" or a form of such, is a revolutionary form of anarchism, commonly associated with Mikhail Bakunin and Johann Most. Collectivist anarchists oppose all private ownership of the means of production, instead advocating that ownership be collectivised. This was to be achieved through violent revolution, first starting with a small cohesive group through acts of violence, or propaganda by the deed, which would inspire the workers as a whole to revolt and forcibly collectivise the means of production.

However, collectivization was not to be extended to the distribution of income, as workers would be paid according to time worked, rather than receiving goods being distributed "according to need" as in anarcho-communism. This position was criticised by anarchist communists as effectively "uphold[ing] the wages system". Collectivist anarchism arose contemporaneously with Marxism but opposed the Marxist dictatorship of the proletariat, despite the stated Marxist goal of a collectivist stateless society. Anarchist, communist and collectivist ideas are not mutually exclusive; although the collectivist anarchists advocated compensation for labour, some held out the possibility of a post-revolutionary transition to a communist system of distribution according to need.


Anarchist communism (also known as anarcho-communism, libertarian communism and occasionally as free communism) is a theory of anarchism that advocates abolition of the state, markets, money, private property (while retaining respect for personal property), and capitalism in favour of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: " from each according to his ability, to each according to his need".

Russian theorist Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921), who was influential in the development of anarchist communism.

Some forms of anarchist communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are strongly influenced by egoism and radical individualism, believing anarcho-communism is the best social system for the realization of individual freedom. Most anarcho-communists view anarcho-communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society.

Anarcho-communism developed out of radical socialist currents after the French revolution but was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International. The theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin took importance later as it expanded and developed pro-organizationalist and insurrectionary anti-organizationalist sections. To date, the best known examples of an anarchist communist society (i.e., established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon), are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution and the Free Territory during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish Anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War, starting in 1936 anarchist communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia, as well as in the stronghold of Anarchist Catalonia before being crushed by the combined forces of the regime that won the war, Hitler, Mussolini, Spanish Communist Party repression (backed by the USSR) as well as economic and armaments blockades from the capitalist countries and the Spanish Republic itself. During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend—through the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine—anarchist communism in the Free Territory of the Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921.

May day demonstration of Spanish anarcho-syndicalist trade union CNT in Bilbao, Basque Country in 2010

Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism that focuses on the labor movement. Anarcho-syndicalists view labor unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society democratically self-managed by workers. The basic principles of anarcho-syndicalism are: Workers' solidarity, Direct action and Workers' self-management

Anarcho-syndicalists believe that only direct action—that is, action concentrated on directly attaining a goal, as opposed to indirect action, such as electing a representative to a government position—will allow workers to liberate themselves. Moreover, anarcho-syndicalists believe that workers' organizations (the organizations that struggle against the wage system, which, in anarcho-syndicalist theory, will eventually form the basis of a new society) should be self-managing. They should not have bosses or "business agents"; rather, the workers should be able to make all the decisions that affect them themselves. Rudolf Rocker was one of the most popular voices in the anarcho-syndicalist movement. He outlined a view of the origins of the movement, what it sought, and why it was important to the future of labor in his 1938 pamphlet Anarcho-Syndicalism.The International Workers Association is an international anarcho-syndicalist federation of various labor unions from different countries. The Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajo played and still plays a major role in the Spanish labor movement. It was also an important force in the Spanish Civil War.

Post-classical schools of thought

Lawrence Jarach (left) and John Zerzan (right), two prominent contemporary anarchist authors. Zerzan is known as prominent voice within anarcho-primitivism, while Jarach is a noted advocate of post-left anarchy.

Anarchism continues to generate many philosophies and movements, at times eclectic, drawing upon various sources, and syncretic, combining disparate concepts to create new philosophical approaches.

Anarcha-feminism developed as a synthesis of radical feminism and anarchism that views patriarchy (male domination over women) as a fundamental manifestation of compulsory government. It was inspired by the late 19th century 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.

Green anarchism (or eco-anarchism) is a school of thought within anarchism that emphasizes environmental issues, with an important precedent in anarcho-naturism, and whose main contemporary currents are anarcho-primitivism and social ecology.

Anarcho-pacifism is a tendency that rejects violence in the struggle for social change (see non-violence). It developed "mostly in the Netherlands, Britain, and the United States, before and during the Second World War". Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology that combines anarchism and Christianity. Its main proponents included Leo Tolstoy, Dorothy Day, Ammon Hennacy, and Jacques Ellul.

Platformism is a tendency within the wider anarchist movement based on the organisational theories in the tradition of Dielo Truda's Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft). The document was based on the experiences of Russian anarchists in the 1917 October Revolution, which led eventually to the victory of the Bolsheviks over the anarchists and other groups. The Platform attempted to address and explain the anarchist movement's failures during the Russian Revolution.

Synthesis anarchism is a form of anarchist organization that tries to join anarchists of different tendencies under the principles of anarchism without adjectives. In the 1920s, this form found as its main proponents the anarcho-communists Voline and Sébastien Faure. It is the main principle behind the anarchist federations grouped around the contemporary global International of Anarchist Federations.

Post-left anarchy is a recent current in anarchist thought that promotes a critique of anarchism's relationship to traditional Left-wing politics. Some post-leftists seek to escape the confines of ideology in general also presenting a critique of organizations and morality. Influenced by the work of Max Stirner and by the Marxist Situationist International, post-left anarchy is marked by a focus on social insurrection and a rejection of leftist social organisation.

Insurrectionary anarchism is a revolutionary theory, practice, and tendency within the anarchist movement which emphasizes insurrection within anarchist practice. It is critical of formal organizations such as labor unions and federations that are based on a political programme and periodic congresses. Instead, insurrectionary anarchists advocate informal organization and small affinity group based organization. Insurrectionary anarchists put value in attack, permanent class conflict, and a refusal to negotiate or compromise with class enemies.

Post-anarchism is a theoretical move towards a synthesis of classical anarchist theory and poststructuralist thought, drawing from diverse ideas including post-modernism, autonomist marxism, post-left anarchy, situationism, and postcolonialism.

Anarcho-capitalism advocates the elimination of the state in favour of individual sovereignty in a free market. Anarcho-capitalism developed from radical anti-state libertarianism and individualist anarchism, drawing from Austrian School economics, study of law and economics, and public choice theory. There is a strong current within anarchism which does not consider that anarcho-capitalism can be considered a part of the anarchist movement due to the fact that anarchism has historically been an anti-capitalist movement and for definitional reasons which see anarchism incompatible with capitalist forms.

Internal issues and debates

Which forms of violence (if any) are consistent with anarchist values is a controversial subject among anarchists.

Anarchism is a philosophy that embodies many diverse attitudes, tendencies and schools of thought; as such, disagreement over questions of values, ideology and tactics is common. The compatibility of capitalism, nationalism, and religion with anarchism is widely disputed. Similarly, anarchism enjoys complex relationships with ideologies such as Marxism, communism and capitalism. Anarchists may be motivated by humanism, divine authority, enlightened self-interest, veganism or any number of alternative ethical doctrines.

Phenomena such as civilization, technology (e.g. within anarcho-primitivism and insurrectionary anarchism), and the democratic process may be sharply criticized within some anarchist tendencies and simultaneously lauded in others.

On a tactical level, while propaganda of the deed was a tactic used by anarchists in the 19th century (e.g. the Nihilist movement), some contemporary anarchists espouse alternative direct action methods such as nonviolence, counter-economics and anti-state cryptography to bring about an anarchist society. About the scope of an anarchist society, some anarchists advocate a global one, while others do so by local ones. The diversity in anarchism has led to widely different use of identical terms among different anarchist traditions, which has led to many definitional concerns in anarchist theory.

Topics of interest

Intersecting and overlapping between various schools of thought, certain topics of interest and internal disputes have proven perennial within anarchist theory.

Free love

French individualist anarchist Emile Armand (1872–1962), who propounded the virtues of free love in the Parisian anarchist milieu of the early 20th century

An important current within anarchism is free love. Free love advocates sometimes traced their roots back to Josiah Warren and to experimental communities, viewed sexual freedom as a clear, direct expression of an individual's self-ownership. Free love particularly stressed women's rights since most sexual laws discriminated against women: for example, marriage laws and anti-birth control measures. The most important American free love journal was Lucifer the Lightbearer (1883–1907) edited by Moses Harman and Lois Waisbrooker, but also there existed Ezra Heywood and Angela Heywood's The Word (1872–1890, 1892–1893). Free Society (1895–1897 as The Firebrand; 1897–1904 as Free Society) was a major anarchist newspaper in the United States at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The publication advocated free love and women's rights, and critiqued " Comstockery"—censorship of sexual information. Also M. E. Lazarus was an important American individualist anarchist who promoted free love.

In New York City's Greenwich Village, bohemian feminists and socialists advocated self-realisation and pleasure for women (and also men) in the here and now. They encouraged playing with sexual roles and sexuality, and the openly bisexual radical Edna St. Vincent Millay and the lesbian anarchist Margaret Anderson were prominent among them. Discussion groups organised by the Villagers were frequented by Emma Goldman, among others. Magnus Hirschfeld noted in 1923 that Goldman "has campaigned boldly and steadfastly for individual rights, and especially for those deprived of their rights. Thus it came about that she was the first and only woman, indeed the first and only American, to take up the defense of homosexual love before the general public." In fact, before Goldman, heterosexual anarchist Robert Reitzel (1849–1898) spoke positively of homosexuality from the beginning of the 1890s in his Detroit-based German language journal Der arme Teufel. In Argentina anarcha-feminist Virginia Bolten published the newspaper called La Voz de la Mujer (English: The Woman's Voice), which was published nine times in Rosario between 8 January 1896 and 1 January 1897, and was revived, briefly, in 1901.

In Europe the main propagandist of free love within individualist anarchism was Emile Armand. He proposed the concept of la camaraderie amoureuse to speak of free love as the possibility of voluntary sexual encounter between consenting adults. He was also a consistent proponent of polyamory. In Germany the stirnerists Adolf Brand and John Henry Mackay were pioneering campaigners for the acceptance of male bisexuality and homosexuality.

More recently, the British anarcho-pacifist Alex Comfort gained notoriety during the sexual revolution for writing the bestseller sex manual The Joy of Sex. The issue of free love has a dedicated treatment in the work of French anarcho- hedonist philosopher Michel Onfray in such works as Théorie du corps amoureux : pour une érotique solaire (2000) and L'invention du plaisir : fragments cyréaniques (2002).

Libertarian education and freethought

Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, Catalan anarchist pedagogue and free-thinker

For English anarchist William Godwin education was "the main means by which change would be achieved." Godwin saw that the main goal of education should be the promotion of happiness. For Godwin education had to have "A respect for the child's autonomy which precluded any form of coercion," "A pedagogy that respected this and sought to build on the child's own motivation and initiatives," and "A concern about the child's capacity to resist an ideology transmitted through the school." In his Political Justice he criticizes state sponsored schooling "on account of its obvious alliance with national government". Early American anarchist Josiah Warren advanced alternative education experiences in the libertarian communities he established. Max Stirner wrote in 1842 a long essay on education called The False Principle of our Education. In it Stirner names his educational principle "personalist," explaining that self-understanding consists in hourly self-creation. Education for him is to create "free men, sovereign characters," by which he means "eternal characters ... who are therefore eternal because they form themselves each moment".

In the United States "freethought was a basically anti-christian, anti-clerical movement, whose purpose was to make the individual politically and spiritually free to decide for himself on religious matters. A number of contributors to Liberty (anarchist publication) were prominent figures in both freethought and anarchism. The individualist anarchist George MacDonald was a co-editor of Freethought and, for a time, The Truth Seeker. E.C. Walker was co-editor of the excellent free-thought / free love journal Lucifer, the Light-Bearer". "Many of the anarchists were ardent freethinkers; reprints from freethought papers such as Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, Freethought and The Truth Seeker appeared in Liberty... The church was viewed as a common ally of the state and as a repressive force in and of itself".

In 1901, Catalan anarchist and free-thinker Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia established "modern" or progressive schools in Barcelona in defiance of an educational system controlled by the Catholic Church. The schools' stated goal was to " educate the working class in a rational, secular and non-coercive setting". Fiercely anti-clerical, Ferrer believed in "freedom in education", education free from the authority of church and state. Murray Bookchin wrote: "This period [1890s] was the heyday of libertarian schools and pedagogical projects in all areas of the country where Anarchists exercised some degree of influence. Perhaps the best-known effort in this field was Francisco Ferrer's Modern School (Escuela Moderna), a project which exercised a considerable influence on Catalan education and on experimental techniques of teaching generally." La Escuela Moderna, and Ferrer's ideas generally, formed the inspiration for a series of Modern Schools in the United States, Cuba, South America and London. The first of these was started in New York City in 1911. It also inspired the Italian newspaper Università popolare, founded in 1901. Russian christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy established a school for peasant children on his estate. Tolstoy's educational experiments were short-lived due to harassment by the Tsarist secret police. Tolstoy established a conceptual difference between education and culture. He thought that "Education is the tendency of one man to make another just like himself ... Education is culture under restraint, culture is free. [Education is] when the teaching is forced upon the pupil, and when then instruction is exclusive, that is when only those subjects are taught which the educator regards as necessary". For him "without compulsion, education was transformed into culture".

A more recent libertarian tradition on education is that of unschooling and the free school in which child-led activity replaces pedagogic approaches. Experiments in Germany led to A. S. Neill founding what became Summerhill School in 1921. Summerhill is often cited as an example of anarchism in practice. However, although Summerhill and other free schools are radically libertarian, they differ in principle from those of Ferrer by not advocating an overtly political class struggle-approach. In addition to organizing schools according to libertarian principles, anarchists have also questioned the concept of schooling per se. The term deschooling was popularized by Ivan Illich, who argued that the school as an institution is dysfunctional for self-determined learning and serves the creation of a consumer society instead.


Criticisms of anarchism include moral criticisms and pragmatic criticisms.

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