The earliest recorded use of the term "synarchy" is attributed to Thomas Stackhouse (1677-1752), an English clergyman who used the word in his New History of the Holy Bible from the Beginning of the World to the Establishment of Christianity (published in two folio volumes in 1737). The attribution can be found in the Webster's Dictionary (the American Dictionary of the English Language, published by Noah Webster in 1828). Webster's definition for "synarchy" is limited entirely to "joint rule or sovereignty".
The most substantive 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-theological formula which he believed would lead to a harmonious society by viewing it as an organic unity. He defended social differentiation and hierarchy with co-operation between social classes, transcending conflict between social and economic groups: Synarchy, as opposed to anarchy. Specifically, Saint-Yves envisioned an European society with a government composed of three councils, representing economic power, judicial power, and scientific community, of which the metaphysical chamber bound the whole structure together.
Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, an occultist, also used the word "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. He associated this form of governance with "ascended masters" in subterranean caverns of Agartha, who supposedly communicated with him telepathically. Saint-Yves believed that this synarchist world government was transferred to a hollow Earth at the start of the Kali Yuga era, around 3,200 B.C.
Some 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. For example, Lyndon LaRouche, leader of a controversial movement on the political fringe, describes a wide-ranging historical phenomenon, starting with Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre and the Martinist Order followed by important individuals, organizations, movements and regimes that are alleged to have been synarchist, including the government of Nazi Germany. He claims that during the Great Depression an international coalition of financial institutions, raw materials cartels, and intelligence operatives, installed fascist regimes throughout Europe (and tried to do so in Mexico) to maintain world order and prevent the repudiation of international debts. LaRouche identifies U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney as a modern "synarchist", and claims that "synarchists" have "a scheme for replacing regular military forces of nations, by private armies in the footsteps of a privately financed international Waffen-SS-like scheme, a force deployed by leading financier institutions, such as the multi-billions funding by the U.S. Treasury, of Cheney's Halliburton gang."
The National Synarchist Union (Unión Nacional Sinarquista, UNS) was founded in May 1937 by a group of Catholic political activists led by José Antonio Urquiza, who was murdered in April 1938, and Salvador Abascal. In 1946 the movement regrouped as the Popular Force Party (Partido Fuerza Popular). Synarchism revived as a political movement in the 1970s through the Mexican Democratic Party (PDM), whose candidate, Ignacio González Gollaz, polled 1.8 percent of the vote at the 1982 presidential election. In 1988 Gumersindo Magaña Negrete polled a similar proportion, but the party then suffered a split, and in 1992 lost its registration as a political party. It was dissolved in 1996.
There are now two organisations, both calling themselves the Unión Nacional Sinarquista, one apparently right-wing orientation, the other apparently left-wing.
Carlos Abascal, son of Salvador Abascal, was Mexico's Secretary of the Interior during Vicente Fox's presidency. Many sinarquistas are now militant in the National Action Party, PAN, the party in power since 2000 first with Vicente Fox and now with Felipe Calderón (since 2006) as presidents. Sinarquistas are influential policy makers in matters like education and health.
Fairbank's synarchy is a form of rule by co-opting existing elites and powers, bringing them into the system and legitimising them through a schedule of rituals and tributes that gave them a stake in the Chinese regime and neutralised any risk that they might rebel against the monarchy. He believed that the Qing, who were considered outside rulers because of their Manchu origins, had developed this strategy out of necessity because they did not have their own political base in China. This conception of Qing rule is not universally accepted among sinologists and historians of China, but is a respected, mainstream view with significant support in the field.
According to former OSS officer William Langer (Our Vichy Gamble, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1947), there were French industrial and banking interests who "even before the war, had turned to Nazi Germany and had looked to Hitler as the savior of Europe from Communism... These people were as good fascists as any in Europe... Many of them had extensive and intimate business relations with German interests and were still dreaming of a new system of "synarchy", which meant government of Europe on fascist principles by an international brotherhood of financiers and industrialists." This view was originally based on the discovery of a document called pacte synarchique following the death of Jean Coutrot, former member of the Groupe X-Crise group, in May 15, 1941. According to this confused document, a Mouvement Synarchique d'Empire had been founded in 1922, with the aim of abolishing parliamentarianism and replacing it with synarchy. This has led to the belief that La Cagoule was the armed branch of french synarchism, and that some important members of the Vichy Regime such as Pierre Pucheu, Jacques Barnaud, Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie, Jacques Benoist-Méchin, Yves Bouthillier, François Lehideux or Henry Du Moulin de Labarthète were synarchists. An investigation was in fact ordered by the Vichy government, leading to the Rapport Chavin but no evidence for the existence of the Mouvement Synarchiste d'Empire was found. Most of the presumed synarchists were either associated with the Banque Worms or with Groupe X-Crise and were closed to Admiral François Darlan, and this has led to the belief that synarchists had engineered the military defeat of France for the profit of Banque Worms. Historian Annie Lacroiz-Riz wrote a book on this subject, titled Le choix de la défaite : Les élites françaises dans les années 1930 (The Choice of Defeat: the French elites in the 1930s, 2006 . This belief system has been dismissed as a "work of a paranoid imagination which wove together the histories of three disparate groups of activists, creating a conspiracy among them where non existed". In fact, some historians suspect that the Pacte Synarchique was a hoax created by some members of La Cagoule to weaken Darlan and his technocrats and that the Mouvement Synarchique d'Empire never existed. According to this view, the Vichy regime would have found the conspiracy theories about synarchy convenient to justify the repression of secret societies such as freemasonry, and thus did not bother to dispel the rumors concerning synarchy.