Anti-statists differ greatly according to the beliefs they hold in addition to anti-statism.
A significant difficulty in determining whether a thinker or philosophy is anti-statist is the problem of defining the state itself. Terminology has changed over time, and past writers often used the word, "state" in a different sense than we use it today. Thus, the anarchist
Mikhail Bakunin used the term simply to mean a governing organization. Other writers used the term "state" to mean any law-making or
law enforcement agency.
Karl Marx defined the state as the institution used by the
ruling class of a country to maintain the conditions of its rule. According to
Max Weber, the state is an organization with an effective legal
monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force in a particular geographic area.
Henry David Thoreau expressed this evolutionary anti-statist view in his essay
I heartily accept the motto,—"That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe,—"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men and women are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.