A Brief History of Anarchist Thought
It is easy to fall into two errors when giving a history of anarchism. First, one is tempted to include various philosophies and movements with anarchistic proclivities, enlarging the scope of anarchism erroneously. Loosely anti-authoritarian sentiment does not constitute anarchism proper. Secondly, one is tempted to exclude writings of people who were not anarchists, or were not anarchists for long or predominantly, even when their thoughts are important in anarchist theory. But the fact is that many minarchists and non-anarchist proponents of liberty were pioneers in anarchist thought, and provide some of the most cogent theory. Here we attempt to steer between both shoals.
Avoiding the first error is easy, since we have defined anarchism fairly stringently as including three anti-statist contentions: 1) No state has legitimate moral authority over the individual (legitimacy); 2) All states are unnecessary or undesirable or immoral (desirability); and 3) All states should be abolished immediately (purity). Thus, we can eliminate the Diggers, Quakers, and Christian Non-Resisters as anarchist movements proper. As for the second shoal, we will include the writings of such people as Edmund Burke and Herbert Spencer, even though the former is widely considered "the father of conservatism" and the latter, in his later days, wavered from his earlier anarchism.
Finally, it will be noted that this history avoids the Eurocentrism of most traditional anarchist histories, along with the accompanying bias toward collectivist economic theories. Anarchism is about political authority - economic theory is secondary, and only relevant insofar as it is the consequence of that political theory. We will not dwell on quaint economic notions at the expense of anti-statist philosophy.