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What are the largest anarchist organisations internationally by membership? I am curious about the relative popularity of different anarchist ideologies, to understand if say, anarcho-capitalism is more or less popular worldwide than anarcho-syndicalism, or something else.

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    And, as a mere opinion, I think we should not mix anarcho-capitalism with classical (leftist) anarchism. True, they both want the abolition of state, but their motives are completely different and there are lots of politics in which they oppose. It sounds like mixing Hannibal Lecter and a surgeon because they both spend time amputating human limbs...
    – SJuan76
    Aug 23, 2016 at 17:27
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    @SJuan76 Excellent points. Regarding the latter, this is precisely why I ask, because I would agree that anarcho-capitalism isn't anarchism in any traditional or historical or indeed philosophical or practical sense. BUT, like the term "libertarian" it is being co-opted by its rivals, so the question of how many people are on each side is surely more important than ever to gauge which way the popular definition swings?
    – user8398
    Aug 23, 2016 at 17:47
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    CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) has some 50 000 members (down from about 1.5 million before the civil war and banning under Franco).
    – liftarn
    Feb 25, 2019 at 9:21
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    Hmm, I'm not sure which one is biggest, CNT or CGT. There is also CNT-f in France (although they prefer to avoid the anarchist connotation). All of these follow some model of anarcho-syndicalism. There is also a lot of mutualism (including companies based on it). As for smaller groups, and from my own experience, I would argue that the norm is feminist, green, antifa, and pacifist movements with no unique model concerning economics but very homogeneous in ethics.
    – armatita
    Feb 25, 2019 at 9:46

3 Answers 3

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This heavily depends on how you qualify "movement" and how you measure popularity.

The most active revolutionary Anarchists worldwide are:

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation

The Worker's Party of Kurdistan

Anarchism was also saw increased popularity in Greece after EU crisis, however there are no clear organizations with mass support that I can point to.

The societies oppose nationalism - identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations according to Oxford Languages - and support some form of direct democracy. The Kurdish movement also practices Democratic confederalism which is partially based on the ideas of American anarchist Murray Bookchin and the zapatistas were partially inspired by the ideas of social Anarchism (& AnarcoSyndicalism according to the Anarcho-Syndicalist Review article written by Anarchist Andrew Flood), so they are at least anarchist adjacent and based around libertarian socialism.

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    The PKK has clear and definite ties to the DFNS, but the most active party in the region is the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The ideology of the PYD (as developed by PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan) has been proliferated through the TEV-DEM coalition. The PKK itself is less influential in Syria. Feb 25, 2019 at 5:19
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    To be clear, these movements are significantly influenced by anarchist thought, but AFAIK they do not explicitly claim this as their primary political ideology.
    – Brian Z
    Feb 25, 2019 at 18:12
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    I would seriously question the classification of either of those revolutionary movements as "Anarchist". Both are basically nationalist movements and neither self-identify as anarchist movements.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 9, 2023 at 19:13
  • @ohwilleke The Zapatistas don't identify as anarchists because they reject all labels and are considered to be close to syndicalists by some actual anarchists (abahlali.org/node/6664#attachments). Plus, they are not nationalists, they believe in internationalism, cooperatives, and radical democracy, unlike nationalists who tend to be anti-democracy, anti-outsider, and think their society is so great that others should be murdered or subjugated. If anything, the cartels they fight are more nationalists
    – Tyler Mc
    Aug 26, 2023 at 16:15
  • @TylerMc Most of the 19th century nationalist movements that shaped modern Western Europe were pro-democracy and didn't favor murdering outsiders and also favored internationalism. The fact that a movement rejects all labels doesn't mean that labels aren't accurately applied to a movement.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 28, 2023 at 16:05
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This heavily depends, but I believe one of the largest movements is anarcho-mutualism because there is a community actively practicing it called FEJUVE or The Federation of Neighborhood Councils-El Alto. As Emily Achtenberg said in her 2004 book Community Organizing and Rebellion: Neighborhood Councils in El Alto, Bolivia, the community's informal economy is most like anarcho-mutualism: an anarchist school of thought that advocates a socialist society based on free markets and usufructs - the right to have property if it is actively being occupied or used to provide goods/services for the community. Back in 2008, FEJUVE was estimated to have a population of 114,000 and the community has been around since 1979, so it has lasted for forty-three years.

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    I'd never seen usufructs mentioned in connection with political ideology before, and looked it up and learned a lot from doing so. Thanks for the pointer.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 9, 2023 at 22:11
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In addition to the other answers, I believe the most popular kind of anarchism is democratic confederalism: a political concept of having a society based on democratic self-organization with a confederation based on autonomy, direct democracy, political ecology, feminism, multiculturalism, self-defense, self-governance and elements of a cooperative economy. It is currently being practiced in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria or Rojava. It has been around since 2012 and since 2018, it has a population of over 2 million. It is libertarian socialist to some, but democratic confederalism is literally inspired partially by the ideas of anarchist Murray Bookchin according to one of the founders of the ideology Abdullah Öcalan, so it is not completely disconnected from anarchism and is even described as being deeply inspired by anarchism in the text Stateless Democracy written in 2015 Renée In der Maur & Jonas Staal.

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  • This too doesn't really sound like "anarchism" and doesn't really self-identify as an anarchist political movement. The wikipedia description of this ideology, for example, characterizes it as "libertarian socialism" without any mention of anarchism in a long political theory aritcle on the ideology. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_confederalism
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 9, 2023 at 19:16
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    @ohwilleke: probably closer to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_anarchism One might even say that "social anarchism" is a contradiction in terms, in particular since Bookchin said it has an "unbridgeable chasm" to individual anarchism. Mar 9, 2023 at 22:42
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    @ohwilleke: OTOH stranger tems have been coined en.unesco.org/courier/enero-1984/george-orwell-tory-anarchist Mar 9, 2023 at 22:48
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    @ohwilleke With all due respect "What sounds like anarchism" to you? At various times in history "libertarian" and "socialism" would have been used synonymous to anarchism and probably only aren't today as they got co-opted by "right wing libertarians" and "Marxist(-Leninists)" who use the terms quite differently from their original meaning. So what is anarchism and why isn't it that?
    – haxor789
    Mar 10, 2023 at 11:18
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    @ohwilleke And wikipedia and other sources say it is inspired by the ideas of social anarchist Murray Bookchin & is described as being anarchist inspired in the text Stateless Democracy.
    – Tyler Mc
    Sep 3, 2023 at 19:22

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