A Critical Look at Jünger’s Workerism

THE whole, according to Ernst Jünger (1895-1998), represents far more than the sum of its parts because one must also take account of that which is transcendent.

Jünger refers to this alternative totality as the ‘supreme meaning-given reality’, or that which operates as a mighty, independent form that rises above and beyond the purely bourgeois interpretation of reality. Jünger therefore insists that the Worker must be removed from the economic sphere completely, because authentic form implies that he performs a much higher role in the grand scheme of things. Jünger is asking us to accept that by recognising the importance of an overarching form the Worker himself

allows the revision of the world through a uniform being in which the spirit has become autocratic and obeys only itself.

In other words, this is said to remove the notion of either individual or collective value from the equation completely and, for Jünger, entirely dispels the myth of progress.

Unlike the bourgeoisie, the Worker is said to reposit himself in the elemental sphere and thus becomes active in terms of realising his unitary existence. Personally, however, I do not accept that the Worker can ever be removed from the economic sphere. Not because I wish to endorse what is often described as ‘workerism’, of course, but simply because Jünger merely transforms the status of the Worker from the purely economic to the level of a glorified termite operating on autopilot. Although I would not describe myself as an individualist – at least in any extreme sense – I nonetheless believe that whilst Jünger’s search for a more transcendent evaluation of the Worker’s role in the destiny of the world is admirable, it remains a form of collectivism.

The similarities between Jünger’s world of forms and the Traditional societies discussed by Julius Evola (1898-1974), Réne Guénon (1886-1951) and various others is fairly obvious, yet without a spiritual bond to cement his community together the Worker inevitably remains part of a decidedly modern reconstruction with nothing but the thin veneer of a shared technological destiny.

Ironically, Jünger claims that “freedom can only be experienced if one takes part in a unitary and meaningful life”, yet by insisting upon a categorical workerism he essentially nullifies freedom altogether. Again, there is a connection with Tradition here in that the Worker is allotted a specific role in something above the range of normal or physical human experience, but to attempt to recreate caste in the midst of Western castelessness will not allow the Worker to overcome his economic status. Any attempt to reapply such values, if at all, must be done within the initiatic sphere and not involve a rearrangement of contemporary society along industrial lines.

Indeed, whereas Jünger’s experiences in the First World War led him to see the value of gravitating towards a common cause, standing armies – or, in this case, groups of workers – are not the answer. Rather than force people into societal boxes, I prefer that we retain our individuality and only come together when it suits our purposes. Jünger’s mentor, Max Stirner, would have said much the same thing. A tactical or non-contractual mutualism, if you will, rather like the fyrds of Anglo-Saxon England that allowed people to defend their respective shires from outside attack without ever having to form a rigid military caste. After all, whilst the lone magician prefers to spurn the ties of organised religion, he never forgets his place both in this world and beyond. It can be argued that one does not have to enter a church or join a congregation in order to realise that fact.

Whilst the unitary exists, it must never become subsumed within the darkly uniform vision of the worker-state.

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