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The etymological roots of anarchism in the Greek α´ναρχι´α (combining the negative prefix αν- and α´ρχη´, “authority,” “rule”) indicates that anarchism should not be equated with chaos but signals an absence of governmentality. Anarchy is best defined as a political system relying on nonhierarchical forms of voluntary association of free individuals in self-organizing, cooperative societal formations. Anarchism opposes authoritarian power systems, social hierarchy, and institutionalized religion, while espousing beliefs in individual privacy. The logic of anarchism as an ideal is based on the philosophy of the individual of the Enlightenment: Independence of thought, outer and inner freedom, and self-determination are preconditions to anarchism. This entry reviews the origins and evolution of the term anarchy and how it is framed in religious and political philosophies, and ...

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