society without a publicly enforced government or violently enforced political authority

Anarchy (from Greek αναρχια meaning "without a leader") is a word that has more than one meaning. Some of its meanings are:

  1. When there is no leader, or when nobody has power over everyone (used in the anarchist movement).
  2. When there is no political order, and there is confusion (used often in mass media)
  3. When people do not have any reason to work together, or do not have anything that makes them feel like a group.
The symbol of Anarchy

In the first meaning listed, an anarchy might be a made-up or real society based on a group's beliefs about anarchism (see anarcho-communism).

In the second meaning listed, "anarchy" has to do with having no political order. The CIA World factbook Archived 2016-07-01 at the Wayback Machine said that there was only one nation, Somalia, that was in a state of anarchy. In Somalia, the government was no longer in control, and some parts of the country were ruled by mobs and warlords who sometimes fight one another.

When there is no political order, more than one government or political authority might compete for the same food, oil, land, or groups of people. The word "Anarchy" can be used to describe this. However, because there is more than one competing authority, a better word might be polyarchy. The difference between "anarchy" and "polyarchy" is important to someone who thinks that true anarchy would work well. The word for someone who thinks this is "anarchist", and the word for this kind of thinking is "anarchism". Anarchism has been thought about for hundreds of years. The book called "The Politics of Individualism" attempts to teach its readers that anarchism is not always simply an opposition to the government, but a complicated political movement against the domination of few people.[1]

Other uses of the word


Anarchy which follows the death of a ruler and ceases when his successor rises to power, is called interregnum (literally: "in-between rules").

(Another use of the word “Anarchy” is when it is said as “The Anarchy”. This is the name that is sometimes given to the civil war and unsettled government in England when Stephen of England was King.) (See The Anarchy)


  1. The Politics of Individualism. p. 106.