Unity in Diversity: Ernst Jünger and the Importance of Multiplicity

IN the Winter of 1941, just two years into the Second World War, Ernst Jünger (1895–1998) began writing an essay that would finally be completed in the Summer of 1943. The title of this 70-page document was ‘Peace’ and in the 1948 English edition he explained that it was dedicated to his late son.

Having fallen in combat on November 29th, 1944, the young man had become a testament to the catastrophe and vicissitude of inter-European warfare and it was Jünger’s intention that his own family tragedy could offer a stark warning to others. ‘Peace’ was originally designed to act as a blueprint for a Germany that had rid itself of Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) and yet which still wished to retain its nationalistic aspirations. Explaining that whilst the Jews had become a scapegoat for Nazi Germany and the Trotskyists convenient whipping-boys for Joseph Stalin (1878–1953), Germany was being cruelly vilified by the United States to the extent that it was being presented as “a sort of insane asylum and prison house combined.”

Towards the end of his essay, after which the reasons and consequences that had led to this state of affairs had been discussed, Jünger set out his thoughts on freedom:

Liberty dominates in diversity wherever nations and men differ. That applies to their history, their speech and race, to their customs and habits, their art and their religion. Here there cannot be too many colours on the palette.

It is refreshing to find Jünger advocating the kind of diversity that the Third Reich wished to bring under the heel of its totalitarian regime, and he believed that this vast multiplicity could be achieved by making a crucial differentiation between the spheres of culture and material civilisation.

Despite the fact that Junger wished to see historical and cultural diversity preserved within a single political union, something which simply does not tally with the comparatively more decentralised and manifold aspects of my own National-Anarchism, Jünger nonetheless accepted that “Europe can become a fatherland, yet many homelands will remain within its territories” and that within “this framework the nations large and small will flourish more strongly than before.”

It all sounds very idealistic, particularly when discussing large political units that had just been at one another’s throats. Nevertheless, Jünger firmly believed that ancient rivalries between competing nation-states and their respective regions would disappear and that

the Alsatian, for instance, will be able to live as German or as Frenchman without compulsion from one or the other. This regained freedom will dawn even for racial minorities, for septs and towns. In the new home it will be possible to be Breton, Wend, Basque, Cretan or Sicilian – and that with greater freedom than in the old.

There is certainly something very noble about the theoretical harmony of which Jünger speaks, but in reality – and despite Hitler’s own imperialist ambitions – the Allies themselves had also sought to foment widespread conflict as part of their own profiteering agenda and, thus, it was not simply a question of removing the Führer.

Jünger concludes his ‘Peace’ by insisting that the

real struggle in which we are involved is more and more clearly that between the powers of destruction and the powers of life. In that fight the fighters for justice stand shoulder to shoulder like the chivalry of old.

This is a sentiment that many of us can identify with, but the fact remains that unless we hasten to bring about the collapse of all nation-states Jünger’s dream of harmony and diversity will never be achieved. Particularly when the governments of Europe, North America and many parts of Africa and Asia have since been reduced to regional departments within a vast business empire.

We must strive for unity in diversity, but not at the expense of political, social and economic self-determination.

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