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

We find here confirmed once again that the ‘worker’ cannot be understood either as an estate in the old sense, or as a class in the sense of the revolutionary dialectic of the Nineteenth Century. The claims of the worker reach, on the contrary, beyond all demands possible for an ‘estate’. In particular, one will never arrive at unadulterated results if one simply identifies the worker with the class of industrial workers. This would mean that, instead of seeing the form, one would be content with one of its partial manifestations – the consequence is a perspective blind to the real [82] balance of power. It is true that one must see in the industrial worker a particularly hardened sort, whose existence makes clear above all the impossibility of continuing with life in its old forms. But to place him in an old-style class politics means nothing other than to lose oneself in partial results, whereas the question is of final decisions.These decisions presuppose a colder and bolder relationship to power, which has passed through the resentment of the oppressed and through love for antiquated things, and has overcome them. (p.52)


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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