Anarchy is a society being freely constituted without authorities or a governing body. It may also refer to a society or group of people that entirely rejects a set hierarchy. Anarchy was first used in English in 1539, meaning "an absence of government". Pierre-Joseph Proudhon adopted anarchy and anarchist in his 1840 treatise What Is Property? to refer to anarchism, a new political philosophy and social movement that advocates stateless societies based on free and voluntary associations. Anarchists seek a system based on the abolition of all coercive hierarchy, in particular the state, and many advocate for the creation of a system of direct democracy and worker cooperatives.
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In practical terms, anarchy can refer to the curtailment or abolition of traditional forms of government and institutions. It can also designate a nation or any inhabited place that has no system of government or central rule. Anarchy is primarily advocated by individual anarchists who propose replacing government with voluntary institutions. These institutions or free associations are generally modeled on nature since they can represent concepts such as community and economic self-reliance, interdependence, or individualism. Although anarchy is often negatively used as a synonym of chaos or societal collapse, this is not the meaning that anarchists attribute to anarchy, a society without hierarchies. Proudhon wrote that anarchy is "Not the Daughter But the Mother of Order."