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 is worth stating now that this is a question of discussing those instruments of power characterised by the hallmarks of specialised work character. It is therefore wrong to believe that so-called ‘total disarmament’ is somehow able to reduce the danger of war. It is rather entirely possible that it increases this danger, to the extent that the energies which are no longer counted in the specialised work character do not disappear without trace, but flow into the total work character as a highest and creative potentiality. Here we find the explanation for the fact that the demand for total disarmament tends to be raised precisely by such powers in which an advanced relationship to total, hence work mobilization, is already inherent. In 1932, the point of view of Russia or Italy necessarily differs from that of France as a power in which the bourgeois concept of freedom is above else is still alive. The debate reaches unsurpassable pinnacles of maliciousness when a work power specifies its demands for disarmament to a liberal state in which public opinion still constitutes a major entity, using humanitarian formulae. (p.206)


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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