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

In this sense, for a real workers’ movement, the substantial power inherent in it is much more important than the struggle for an abstract power whose possession or non-possession is just as insignificant as an abstract freedom. {70}That the worker really occupies a decisive position can already be concluded from the fact that, today, every dimension which possesses will to power seeks to relate itself to him. Thus there are labour parties, labour movements, and labour governments of various kinds. More than once, one has experienced in our time the worker “conquering the state”. This spectacle is inconsequential if its result is to bring to light a reinforcement of bourgeois order and a final outpouring of liberal principles. Experiences of this kind indicate, on the one hand, that what one understands today by state power possesses no existential character; yet, on the other hand, one must also conclude that the worker has not yet understood himself in his alterity. (p.48)


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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