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Anarchy vs Anarchism

Anarchy and anarchism overlap in their implications but are not synonyms because of differing denotations.

Anarchy may denote a state or condition of society where there is no law or imposed order because social evolution has rendered these unnecessary.

  • first the proletarian revolution . . . then the dictatorship of the proletariat; and lastly, the classless society: that is the Marxian order of advance towards communism and anarchy, towards justice, equality and perfect freedom

It may, on the other hand, denote one of complete disorder resulting from the breakdown of normal controls.

  • for our people liberty so often means only license and anarchy

Anarchism denotes a theory that government is an evil because it imposes limitations upon the freedom of the individual.

  • nihilism is a form of anarchism

The same distinctions extend to their respective adjectives anarchic and anarchistic.

  • anarchic disorder
  • anarchic conditions
  • anarchistic influences
  • anarchistic doctrines

Anarchist when used adjectivally is often ambiguous since it is related to both anarchism and anarchy.

  • an anarchist plot to assassinate the prime minister