Autarky is the characteristic of self-sufficiency, usually applied to societies, communities, states, and their economic systems.
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Autarky as an ideology or economic approach has been attempted by a range of political ideologies and movements, especially left-wing ideologies like African socialism, mutualism, war communism, communalism, swadeshi, syndicalism (especially anarcho-syndicalism), and left-wing populism, generally in an effort to build alternative economic structures or to control resources against structures a particular movement views as hostile. Conservative, centrist and nationalist movements have also adopted autarky in an attempt to preserve part of an existing social order or to develop a particular industry.
Proponents of autarky have argued for national self-sufficiency to reduce foreign economic, political and cultural influences, as well as to promote international peace. Economists are generally supportive of free trade. There is a broad consensus among economists that protectionism has a negative effect on economic growth and economic welfare while free trade and the reduction of trade barriers has a positive effect on economic growth[excessive citations] and economic stability.
Autarky may be a policy of a state or some other type of entity when it seeks to be self-sufficient as a whole, but it also can be limited to a narrow field such as possession of a key raw material. Some countries have a policy of autarky with respect to foodstuffs and water for national-security reasons. Autarky can result from economic isolation or from external circumstances in which a state or other entity reverts to localized production when it lacks currency or excess production to trade with the outside world.