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 would be a mistake to assume that the means of destruction corresponding to the worker are to be sought in the great social and economic theories. On the contrary, we have already explained that what is to be glimpsed in them is only a continuation of the work of bourgeois reason. These theories are much less comparable with the rediscovery of ‘man’ in the Eighteenth Century than they are with that aristocratic rationalism through which the very social category towards which this discovery is directed, subverts itself at the very same time.However, this self-subversion of the old society benefits the bourgeois in the same way in which, later, the subversion of bourgeois society benefits the worker. If one wants to see a weapon in this as well, this is acceptable based upon the principle that everything is advantageous which may damage the opponent. The method used certainly does not break through from the zone of destruction into that of dominion. Its underlying principles, such as equality or division, are merely of a levelling kind; they relate to the given situation of the social stock.The revolutionary means legitimised by the worker are more important than abstract-intellectual means: they are of an objective nature. (p.194)


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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