Greek: an, without; archo, rule

A social theory which maintains that the restraint of law is an invasion of the right of a free, intelligent being, that the individual has the right to unlimited self-expression, and that the self-interest of the individual, if intelligently pursued, will best lead to the promotion of the general welfare. The origin of the theory is variously attributed to Denis Diderot, the Hebertistes of the French Revolution, and to Proudhon. In method some anarchists are evolutionary, believing in the advent of anarchism through propaganda and the use of the ballot. Others are revolutionary and propose to establish anarchism by violence. Nihilists, who believe in the assassination of rulers and other violent acts of opposition to the existing forms of society, represent the radical extreme of revolutionary anarchists. Anarchism is founded on an unwarranted optimism regarding the goodness of unrestrained human nature.