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

Both freedom and order relate therefore not to society, but to the state, and the pattern of each structureis the organisation of an army, and not that of a social contract. Therefore the condition of our most extreme strength is achieved when there exists no doubt about leadership and allegiance.This must be recognised: that dominion and duty are one and the same. The age of the third estate never recognized the miraculous power of this unity, because it deemed worthwhile pleasures all too common and all too human. Therefore all ends which the German was able to reach in this age were reached despite this {14}: in all domains, the movement took place in an alien and unnatural element. The real bedrock could only be accessed, as it were, with diving helmets; the decisive work was carried out in mortal space. Honour the fallen who shattered the horrific isolation of love or knowledge, or who struck down the sword on the smouldering hills of battle!But there is no return. Whoever in Germany today is eager for a new dominion turns his gaze to where he sees a new consciousness of freedom and responsibility in work. (p.8)


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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