Examining Extremism: U.S. Militant Anarchists

Congratulations, my fellow anarchists of all tribes and sects of anarchy! We made the All-Star Team.

By Grace Hwang, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Anarchists in the United States promote an alternative societal structure—one opposed to the existence of the U.S. government. Although anarchy exists as a broader political ideology, this piece will only analyze militant anarchists who promote the use of violence to induce societal change. This analysis provides a general overview of U.S. militant anarchists’ history, ideology, organizational structure, and targets and tactics. It concludes with an assessment that militant anarchists will remain an enduring but relatively low threat to the United States in relation to other extremist movements.


Anarchism formally emerged in Europe during the late nineteenth century as a political ideology that rejected the authority of the state. European anarchists influenced the development of U.S. anarchism, which particularly resonated with the U.S. labor movement. The union of the two movements triggered the 1886 Haymarket Riot, a workers’ strike for an eight-hour workday that ended with a deadly explosion. Although the perpetrator was never caught, police arrested and charged eight anarchists. Anarchism became further integrated with the workers’ movement when on September 6, 1901, U.S. anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinated President William McKinley, whom he believed to be an enemy of the working people and the head of a corrupt government.


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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