Catholic Dictionary




The theory that laws are an invasion of the rights of free, intelligent beings; that individuals have the right to unlimited self-expression; and that the self-interest of the individual, if intelligently pursued, will best serve the common good. Its origins are traceable to the French Revolution, and to Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-65). Some anarchists are evolutionary, believing that propaganda and the ballot will gradually eliminate (or make obsolete) most laws. Others are revolutionary, urging the establishment of anarchism by violence. Nihilists are extreme revolutionary anarchists. The basis of anarchism is an unreasoning optimism about the goodness of unrestrained human nature. Anarchism has been more than once condemned by the Catholic Church, e.g., in the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX in 1864. (Etym. Latin anarchia; from Greek anarchos, having no ruler.)