Beyond this general definition, however, both "synarchism" and "synarchy" have been used to describe several different political processes in various contexts. Increasingly, the terms have been used by conspiracy theorists to mean rule by a secret elite.
The most substantial early use of the word "synarchy" comes from the writings of Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre (1842–1909), who used the term in his book La France vraie to describe what he believed was the ideal form of government. In reaction to the emergence of anarchist ideologies and movements, Saint-Yves elaborated a political formula which he believed would lead to a harmonious society. He defended social differentiation and hierarchy with collaboration between social classes, transcending conflict between social and economic groups: synarchy, as opposed to anarchy. Specifically, Saint-Yves envisioned a Federal Europe (as well as all the states it has integrated) with a corporatist government composed of three councils, one for academia, one for the judiciary, and one for commerce.
Rule by a secret eliteSome conspiracy theorists use the word "synarchy" to describe a shadow government, a form of government where political power effectively rests with a secret elite, in contrast to an "oligarchy" where the elite is or could be known by the public.
OccultismSome authors have claimed that Saint-Yves was a "theocratic occultist" who used "synarchy" to describe a form of government where political power effectively rests with secret societies or, more precisely, esoteric societies, which are composed of oracles. Furthermore he is supposed to have associated "synarchy" with the rule of "ascended masters" who lived in the subterranean caverns of Agartha and supposedly communicated with him telepathically. However, other authors[who?] have described these claims about Saint-Yves as false and originating in occult conspiracy theories.