Anarchism differs from other ideologies on the left such as socialism, specifically in terms of how the social transformation from capitalism - which in Marxism theory is the last stage of class society - to a communistic society will actually occur.
Proponents of the anarchist doctrine look to the immediate abolition of the state as essential towards the transformation from class society to anarchist society, in which only then can true human liberation and democracy flourish. This often comes in the form of abstention from mainstream political engagement altogether. This usually leads to the rejection of electoralism or parliamentarianism as a means of achieving change. Most anarchists seek to create an immediate version of what human society is supposed to look like in the future. This often comes in the form of non-hierarchical organizations, communes, affinity groups, and so on. Socialists on the other hand see the existence of a revolutionary workers party as indispensible towards building a new society. Socialists also favor parliamentarianism as a tool towards heightening the consciousness of the worker.
There are different versions to the anarchist doctrine such as anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-libertarianism, anarcho-communism, etc.
Anarchism as an ideology is said to have gone back to as far as the early 18th century with thinkers such as William Godwin. Other following theorists such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Emma Goldman and most recently Murray Bookchin have all added a substantial amount of knowledge to the anarchist tradition.
There are hardly any mass anarchist organizations in the US currently, although there has been a recent revival in anarchist ideas, predominantly among student activists. Groups such as Students For A Democratic Society, and the recent creation of the NYMAA (New York Metro Anarchist Alliance) are all signs of a new wave of anarchist activity to come.
Anarchism in times of dormancy, can become confined to its lifestyle variations. Vegans, vegetarians, consumer boycotters, and individuals comprising the animal liberation and anti-globalization movements tend to look to anarchist ideas as a way to shape society.
Throughout history, the anarchist doctrine has always been a idea espoused by people who were generally outside of the realms of mass industrial production such as doctors, lawyers, craftsmen, artisans, etc. These days, anarchism has seen its revival in the punk rock movement, which contains mostly white middle class surburban teens and young adults. It has never really deterred from that particular socio-economic level, at least not in the advanced capitalist countries.
Anarchism regards any form of heirachical authority system as undesirable and aims to promote a co-operative system of organisation.
Anarchism regards wages, interest and rent as harmful; prefering instead that workers own their own labour.
Many political thinkers see a totaly anarchic system as unworkable, however moderate anarchists do exist in the same way that moderates of other political ideologies (such as conservatism, socialism and capitalism) exist.
Anarchism should not be confused with the pure free-market systems sometimes proposed by, so called, anarcho-capitalists.
2) Anarchism is a philisophical conjecture that the natural state of human-beings is one of social interaction and co-operation as equals.
2) In a society organised by Anarchism no-one should force anyone else to do something.
2. The desire to therefore create a "Utopia" based on free human cooperation in which all members of the "Utopia" are equal without laws, class, prejudice, militarism or hierarchy or the need there of.
3. Recognizing that a autonomous community is the embodiment of this "Utopia" based on emperical examples which have manifested through out the course of history.
Those who are uneducated about the history of Anarchism will tell you that it will never work. In all actuallity it does work to varying degrees. Burning Man, the E.Z.L.N, the Spanish Revolution, the Paris commune and African tribes are just some of the many examples to name a few.
There are many forms of Anarchism. Ranging from but not limited to, Anarcho-Primitism to Anarcho-Feminism to Anarcho-Communism or to my owm personal choice, Anarcho-Syndicalism.
Some key Anarchist thinkers include but once again are not limited to Emma Goldman, Peter Kropotkin, John Zerzan, Pierre Proudhon and Rudolf Rocker.
On a personal note, I would ask everyone reading this to set aside they're prejudices and actually read up on the subject if it so intruges them.
Anarchism has been given a bad name by its associations with wanton violence, punk music, and so on. However, none of these are inherently tied to anarchism (some anarchists have even been pacifists). Nonetheless, the image of the anarchist as a wantonly anti-social rebel has been exploited by many clothing lines and punk bands attempting to cash in on the image.
Anarchism is often confused with ochlocracy, nihilism, objectivism and other forms of laissez faire capitalism, and Nietzscheanism. However, it should be noted that anarchism is, with few exceptions, socialist and consistantly anti-capitalist. While some anarchists do come off as rather nihilistic, the idea itself is not necessarily part of anarchism. Obviously, as well, Nietzscheanism and anarchism have little in common since Nietzsche was a stauch supporter of hierarchy and a defender of slavery.
Common symbols of anarchism include the circle A and the black flag. Well-known anarchists include Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Peter Kropotkin.