A Contr’un Glossary

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Glossary entries:

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In the course of developing the ideas that I’m now in the process of summarizing on the Contr’un blog, I have at times given in to the temptation of resorting to new words or at least rather obscure old ones, in order to draw certain ideas out of the web of common associations so that they could be considered as if they were new as well. So, for example, after borrowing contr’un (the counter-one or antinomic one), I cobbled together contr’archy (“the tendency of the quest for ‘full anarchism’ to sacrifice everything for the anti-authoritarian principle.”) There have also been new phrases and formulas, such as “two-gun mutualism,” “the gift-economy of property,” “the anarchic encounter” and “absolutist anarchy.” And who could forget the old masthead phrase: “The multiplication of free forces is the true contrun.”

There are, as I am painfully aware, various things, both pro and con, that could be said about these inventive practices. Fourier, in his Theory of Universal Unity, made a point of distinguishing neologisms and neology:


Has not a new Science the ability to use some new words and to create for itself, if necessary, a complete nomenclature? Would we refuse to the sciences the prerogative granted to the subordinate functions, which have their collection of technical terms chosen without method?

I will use that license with moderation, and when I am forced to resort to neology, it will be with a care to avoid NEOLOGISMS and arbitrariness, and support the denominations already accepted in the fixed sciences.

The same regularity will reign in the signs, the special numbers, the gamut  sand series, and the whole apparatus of the new science. I reiterate this opinion in the  Médiante (188), addressed to the meticulous and punctilious readers.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: See Mercier, 1801: “Neology is the art of forming new words for new or badly rendered ideas. Neologism is the mania for using new words needlessly and tastelessly. Neology has its rules; neologism has no guide by a vain caprice.”

I leave it to others to decide which I have practiced here. But the inventions remain and the summaries that are underway will depend in part on clarifying them. So I am beginning to work on a Contr’un Glossary page for the new site and I would be grateful if any longtime readers would suggest terms that they would particularly like to see addressed there.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2690 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.