The ideal of anarchism is an extension of democracy and the ultimate in individualism. The practice of anarchy is usually equated with violence and total disruption.
The anarchist believes that it is practicable and desirable to abolish all forms of organized government. Forerunners of anarchism include the Greek philosopher Zeno and some hussite and Anabaptist religious reformers. Anarchist ideas were expressed by the French writers Rabelais and Fénelon and were familiar to 18th century French intellectuals. The English writer William Godwin gave anarchism its first modern exposition in 1793, advocating a stateless and communist society. The term 'anarchist' was coined as a reproach by the moderate Girondists of the French Revolution. In the 1840s anarchism gained momentum with the writings of Proudhon and the Hegelians Hess and Grun and later Nietzsche. In the 1870s anarchist groups split from the Marxist International Workingmen's Association and formed their own international in 1881. Mikhail Bakunin was its outstanding leader. Anarchism as a political movement subsided by the mid 20th century but continued to have intellectual influence.
Anarchism exists among minority and intellectual political movements and is especially notable in 'western' industrialized countries. It tends to increase in situations of civil or guerrilla warfare and to spread internationally because of the need to be supplied from outside sources (for example, the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group in Germany was supplied with arms and a car by a Zurich anarchist group).