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

Let some regard this as relapse into a modern barbarism, and others welcome it as a baptism of steel – it is more important to see that a new and yet untamed supply of elemental forces of our world has been empowered. Under the deceptive security of obsolete orders, which are only possible as long as fatigue exists, these [63] forces are too near, too destructive, to escape even a coarse eye. Their form is that of anarchy, which, throughout the years of a so-called peace, erupts volcanically through the surface in glowing lava flows.Whoever still believes that this process can be restrained by orders of the old style belongs to the race of the vanquished, which is condemned to annihilation. What results is rather the necessity of new orders in which the extraordinary is included – orders which are not calculated through the exclusion of danger, but are created through a new union of life with danger.All signs point to this necessity and it is unmistakeable that the worker is assigned the decisive position within such orders. (p.38)


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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