For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Worker: Dominion and Form

by Jünger, Ernst (2017)


Written in 1932, just before the fall of the Weimar Republic and on the eve of the Nazi accession to power, Ernst Jünger’s The Worker: Dominion and Form articulates a trenchant critique of bourgeois liberalism and seeks to identify the form characteristic of the modern age. Jünger’s analyses, written in critical dialogue with Marx, are inspired by a profound intuition of the movement of history and an insightful interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy. Martin Heidegger considered Jünger “the only genuine follower of Nietzsche,” singularly providing “an interpretation which took shape in the domain of that metaphysics which already determines our epoch, even against our knowledge; this metaphysics is Nietzsche's doctrine of the ‘will to power.’” In The Worker, Jünger examines some of the defining questions of that epoch: the nature of individuality, society, and the state; morality, justice, and law; and the relationships between freedom and power and between technology and nature. This work, appearing in its entirety in English translation for the first time, is an important contribution to debates on work, technology, and politics by one of the most controversial German intellectuals of the twentieth century. Not merely of historical interest, The Worker carries a vital message for contemporary debates about world economy, political stability, and equality in our own age, one marked by unsettling parallels to the 1930s.

Key Passage

It should be noted here that the condition of unemployment in relation to the typus does not obtain at all insofar as work does not possess, for him, an empirical, but rather an intelligible character. At the moment when the typus withdraws from the production process, the total work character manifests itself by appearing under a different specialised form, for example that of armament. Thus a group of unemployed people in which the typus is represented, such as can be observed for instance in a forest camp, in sport, or in a political group, differs from the image of an old-style striking mass. A militant character comes forth here; and the condition of unemployment, seen correctly, must be reckoned in terms of the formation [276] of a reserve army. Another form of wealth conceals itself here, a form, however, whose development bourgeois thinking cannot fathom. Millions of men without an occupation – this pure fact is power, it is elemental capital, and here too one recognizes the worker because he alone possesses the key to this capital. (p.186)


Ernst Jünger, Der Arbeiter, Weimar Republic, Bourgeois Liberalism, Marx, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Technology, Politics, Political Theory, Political Economy, Twentieth Century, German, Social Contract


The Worker: Dominion and Form [1932]

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