I wrote in 1840 that profession of political faith, as remarkable for its brevity as its energy: I am an anarchist. I posited with that word the negation, or rather the insufficiency of the principle of authority… By that I meant, as I later showed, that the notion of authority is only, like the notion of an absolute being, an analytic idea, powerless, from whatever direction one might come at authority, and in whatever manner it is exercised, to give a social constitution. For authority, for politics, I then substituted ECONOMY, a synthetic and positive idea, alone capable, in my opinion, of leading to a rational and practical conception of the social order. However, I did nothing in this but to repeat the thesis of Saint-Simon, so strangely disfigured by his disciples, and combated today, for tactical reasons that I cannot work out, by M. Enfantin. It consists in saying, based on history and the incompatibility of the ideas of authority and progress, that society is on the way to completing the governmental cycle for the last time; that public reason has gained certainty of the powerlessness of politics, with regard to the improvement of the condition of the masses; that the predominance of the ideas of power and authority has begun to be succeeded, in opinion as in history, by that of the ideas of labor and exchange; that the consequence of that substitution is to replace the mechanism of the political powers by the organization of economic forces, etc., etc.
If being an anarchist has something to do with the insufficiency of the principle of authority, but perhaps not its negation, and if it relates to the “synthetic and positive idea” of “economy,” well…? We obviously have some details to fill in.
Is the answer perhaps related to this summary statement from the “Study on Ideas,” in Justice in the Revolution and in the Church?
Two families, two cities, two provinces, contract on the same footing: there is always only these two things, an equation and power of collectivity. It would involve a contradiction, a violation of Justice, if there were anything else.