This study, we believe, shows that the word “anarchy” in Bakunin is used mainly in its usual sense ; that the meaning of the word is often ambivalent since in the same text the word can be used with two opposite meanings. When Bakunin claims “anarchy” as a doctrine, the word is almost always accompanied by qualifiers that clarify its meaning, or by restrictive formulas that make it clear that it is being used instead of another. The pattern is the following : “I am an anarchist, that is to say...”
This pattern occurs too often for us not to question Bakuninʼs real commitment to “anarchy”.
It is also noticeable that when Bakunin wants to name positively the political doctrine he claims, he most often uses the term “revolutionary socialist” or “collectivist”. It seems that the explicit reclamation of the term as a political doctrine occur – somewhat provocatively – at a peak in his conflict with Marx in 1872 and 1873. Once this conflict is over, it resumes its usual meaning.