What Do Anarchists Want?

It’s easier to say what they don’t want.

By Brian Palmer

Carabiniere (Italian Special Police) stand in front of the Swiss Embassy after a parcel bomb exploded on Dec. 23, 2010. Click image to expand.The Swiss Embassy in Rome after a parcel bomb exploded European anarchist groups are getting better organized and more dangerous, reports USA Today on Tuesday, as evidenced by a spate of recent mail bombings in Italy. What, exactly, do anarchists want?

It’s easier to say what they don’t want. Unlike other political movements that define themselves by what they support—like republicanism, fascism, or monarchism—anarchism is defined by what it rejects. Namely, any authority that’s imposed from above. Instead of a formal state with police and laws, anarchists envision a society in which small groups govern themselves by consensus. The functions that we now associate with the government, like mail, defense, and education, would be handled on a cooperative basis. The anarchist paradise would look very much like a set of independently run communes.

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