This is a classic work that was originally published in 1900. The author is a German judge, a non-anarchist who engaged in the scholarly exploration of the ideas of the “Big Seven” thinkers of classical anarchism: William Godwin, Max Stirner, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Benjamin Tucker, and Leo Tolstoy. Kropotkin himself endorsed this book as an honest and fair discussion of anarchism. Ideologically, I would consider myself to be a “Big Seven” anarchist, which is really a collection of ideologies situated within a wider historical trajectory, with the addition of some 20th-century ideas, subsequent innovations in anarchist thinking, and borrowings from other philosophies in order to flesh out the gaps.
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism (known as “:anarchists”) advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations.