At its core, anarchism is the rejection of permanent political authorities. The objection to and abolishment of states is a central, unifying theme of all the different strands of anarchical thought. Anarchists see permanent institutions with the monopolistic power to exercise violence and impose their will upon populations as dangerous, harmful, and inhibiting of human capacities and freedoms.
“If there is a State, there must be domination of one class by another and, as a result, slavery; the State without slavery is unthinkable, and this is why we are enemies of the State.”
– Mikhail Bakunin (1873/1990), 19th-century philosopher (see The Monopoly of Violence and the Control of Populations)
As such, anarchists reject all arguments for the legitimacy of the state and see the state as an illegitimate construct that relies on propaganda and, ultimately, inescapably naked force to control and command people. Beyond this consensus, as an ideology focusing on individual liberty and freedoms, anarchism is subject to dozens of schools of thought prioritizing different values and prescribing different actions. We can group this broad variety of anarchist thought into three main streams: social anarchism, individual anarchism, and others.
With the monopoly of violence they exercise over their territory, all states control their populations. Examples of such control can be found in almost every state. One particularly strong example is the US, where almost 1% of the total population is incarcerated – more than any society in history, an overwhelming majority of which are imprisoned for nonviolent offences. A further 1.5% of the population is registered in the penal system and under constant control and surveillance through correctional practices like parole. The incarcerated portion of the US population doubles as cheap to free labor and is forced by the state to work for wages that vary from $0.25 to $1 an hour for giant corporations such as Walmart, Microsoft, Starbucks, Nintendo, Whole Foods, Chevron, Bank of America, Boeing, Costco and others. Prisoners in the US have repeatedly rebelled against these practices, which they still argue amount to slave labor.