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While anarchists have historically largely denied the importance of symbols to political movement, they have embraced certain symbols for their cause, including most prominently the circle-A and the black flag. Since the revival of anarchism at the turn of the 21st-century concurrent with the rise of the anti-globalisation movement, anarchist cultural symbols are widely present. The Circle-A is almost certainly the best-known present-day symbol for anarchy. It is a monogram that consists of the capital letter "A" surrounded by the capital letter "O". The letter "A" is derived from the first letter of "anarchy" or "anarchism" in most European languages and is the same in both Latin and Cyrillic scripts. The "O" stands for order. Together they stand for "Anarchy is Order," the first part of a Proudhon quote. This character can be written as Unicode codepoint U+24B6: Ⓐ. In addition, the "@" sign or "(A)" can be used to quickly represent the circle-A on a computer. The first recorded use of the A in a circle by anarchists was by the Federal Council of Spain of the International Workers Association. This was set up by the freemason, Giuseppe Fanelli in 1868. It predates its adoption by anarchists as it was used as a symbol by freemasons amongst others. According to George Woodcock, this symbol was not used by classical anarchists. In a series of photos of the Spanish Civil War taken by Gerda Taro a small A in a circle is visible chalked on the helmet of a militiaman. There is no notation of the affiliation of the militiaman, but one can presume he is an Anarchist. The first documented use was by a small French group, Jeunesse Libertaire ("Libertarian Youth") in 1964. Circolo Sacco e Vanzetti, youth group from Milan, adopted it in and in 1968 it became popular through out Italy. From there it spread rapidly around the world. As noted above, the circle-A long predates the anarcho-punk movement, which was part of the punk rock movement of the late 1970s. However, the punk movement helped spread the circle-A symbol more widely, and helped raise awareness of it among non-anarchists. This process began with the use of anarchist imagery by the Sex Pistols, though Crass were the first punk band to use the circle-A as well as being the first to espouse serious anarchist views. They had earlier discovered it – then merely an extremely esoteric political emblem – while travelling through France. With time the symbol, and "anarchy" as a vague synonym for rebelliousness, were incorporated into common punk imagery. This led to gradual appearances in mainstream culture over the course of several years, at times far removed from its political origin (described by Situationists as "recuperation"). These appearances typically connected it with anarchy and were intended as sensationalist marketing ploys, playing off of mainstream association of anarchy with chaos. This process mirrored the process of punk subculture coming into the mainstream, which occurred at approximately the same time. Anarchy (from Greek: ἀναρχία anarchía, "without ruler") may refer to any of the following: * "No rulership or enforced authority."  * "Absence of government; a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power; political disorder." * "A social state in which there is no governing person or group of persons, but each individual has absolute liberty (without the implication of disorder)." * "Absence or non-recognition of authority and order in any given sphere. Some anarchist anthropologists, such as David Graeber and Pierre Clastres, consider societies such as those of the Bushmen, Tiv and the Piaroa to be anarchies in the sense that they explicitly reject the idea of centralised political authority. However, others argue that some tribal societies of the past have often been more violent than modern technological societies, on average. Some more recent anthropologists, such as Marshall Sahlins and Richard Borshay Lee, have defied the notion of hunter-gatherer societies as being a source of scarcity and brutalisation; describing them as, in the words of Sahlins, "affluent societies"
Some claim anarchist themes can be found in the works of Taoist sages Laozi and Zhuangzi. The latter has been translated, "There has been such a thing as letting mankind alone; there has never been such a thing as governing mankind [with success]," and "A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes a ruler of a Nation." Diogenes of Sinope and the Cynics, and their contemporary Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, also introduced similar topics.
Modern anarchism, however, sprang from the secular or religious thought of the Enlightenment, particularly Jean-Jacques Rousseau's arguments for the moral centrality of freedom. Although by the turn of the 19th century the term "anarchist" had an entirely positive connotation, it first entered the English language in 1642 during the English Civil War as a term of abuse used by Royalists to damn those who were fomenting disorder. By the time of the French Revolution some, such as the Enragés, began to use the term positively, in opposition to Jacobin centralisation of power, seeing "revolutionary government" as oxymoronic.
From this climate William Godwin developed what many consider the first expression of modern anarchist thought. Godwin was, according to Peter Kropotkin, "the first to formulate the political and economical conceptions of anarchism, even though he did not give that name to the ideas developed in his work", while Godwin attached his anarchist ideas to an early Edmund Burke. Instead, Benjamin Tucker credits Josiah Warren, an American who promoted stateless and voluntary communities where all goods and services were private, with being "the first man to expound and formulate the doctrine now known as Anarchism." The first to describe himself as an anarchist was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French philosopher and politician, which led some to call him the founder of modern anarchist theory.
Anarchism is a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which consider the state, as compulsory government, to be unnecessary, harmful, and/or undesirable, and favours the absence of the state (anarchy). Specific anarchists may have additional criteria for what constitutes anarchism, and they often disagree with each other on what these criteria are. According to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, "there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance."
There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive. Different versions of anarchism have been categorised as socialist anarchism and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications. Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology, and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics; however, anarchism has always included an economic and legal individualist strain, with that strain supporting an anarchist free-market economy and private property (like old anarcho-individualism and today's anarcho-capitalism).
Others, such as panarchists and anarchists without adjectives, neither advocate nor object to any particular form of organisation as long as it is not compulsory. Some anarchist schools of thought differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. The central tendency of anarchism as a social movement have been represented by communist anarchism, with anarcho-individualism being primarily a philosophical/literary phenomenon. Some anarchists fundamentally oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defence or non-violence, while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and terrorism, on the path to anarchy.
The term anarchism derives from the Greek ἀναρχος, anarchos, meaning "without rulers", from the prefix ἀν- (an-, "without") + ἄρχή (archê, "sovereignty, realm, magistracy") + -ισμός (-ismos, from a stem -ιζειν, -izein). There is some ambiguity with the use of the terms "libertarianism" and "libertarian" in writings about anarchism. Since the 1890s from France, the term "libertarianism" has often been used as a synonym for anarchism and was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United States; its use as a synonym is still common outside the U.S.
Accordingly, "libertarian socialism" is sometimes used as a synonym for socialist anarchism, to delineate it from "individualist libertarianism" (individualist anarchism). On the other hand, some use "libertarianism" to refer to individualistic free-market philosophy only, referring to free-market anarchism as "libertarian anarchism."