Ernst Jünger and National Bolshevism – Louis Dupeux – Magazine littéraire n°130 – November 1977

In the face of National Socialism, in the Germany of the 1920s, National Bolshevism developed around Ernst Niekisch and the magazine Vormarsch. Jünger contributed his thoughts on the primacy of the nation there, and wrote Der Arbeiter, before the disappearance of the movement, crushed by National Socialism, from which Jünger turned away with horror.

“National Bolshevism,” a marginal political current but of the highest theoretical interest, appeared in the spring of 1919 on the German extreme right. Its point of departure was the conviction according to which the fundamental values of the right, like the nation, state, or hierarchy, are eternal realities that revolutions can certainly obscure temporarily, but which only reemerge stronger, regenerated by the test of fire. Thus, Bolshevik Russia was only an avatar of the eternal Russia; the Russian state was stronger than ever and would never perish; the Russian nation, stripped of occidental influence, rediscovered its identity: Marxist materialism poorly concealed a grand spirit of idealism; Lenin and then Stalin were “red Tsars”, etc.

This interpretation, then very widespread (and not only on the right and in Germany) did not in itself constitute a “National-Bolshevik” reasoning. For there to be “National Bolshevism,” there must be activists extracting practical results, that is to say deciding to apply the recipe to their own country, “contaminated” by liberalism and democracy. It is necessary for them to accept integral socioeconomic revolution, not for the good of individuals or groups, but for the reinforcement of the nation and its state. There must be, on the other hand, the acceptance of not only the “Russian” alliance, but also alliance with German communists and even, logically, their eventual hegemony, since the natural movement of history would only use German communism to give birth to a new Germany – or more exactly a “new Prussia.”

Such was the solution proposed, in April 1919, by the first of the “National Bolsheviks”, the National German deputy Paul Eltzbacher, who called his compatriots to “place themselves in all honesty on the ground of Bolshevism,” in order to escape the “slavery” promised by the future peace treaty, but also to bring about a “complete reconstruction of the state” according to the purest criteria of traditional German idealism …

Ernst Jünger was charged with “National Bolshevism” by different observers, the most notable of which is certainly Hermann Rauschning, the author of The Revolution of Nihilism, which has long passed as an essential work on the interpretation of totalitarian phenomenon.

In reality, it is imprecise to consider Jünger as a “National Bolshevik,” while its also imprecise to consider him as a National Socialist in the “Hitlerian” sense of the term … It is true that Jünger was fascinated by the problem of Bolshevism; in his capacity as a theorist of a certain modernist extreme right, he felt infinitely closer to Stalinist totalitarianism than “Western” liberalism. Also, without essentially engaging with it himself, he advocated a “hardline” political attitude, that spread “National Bolshevik” commitments among his very numerous admirers. It is also significant that the majority of “National Bolshevik” leaders, starting with the most famous among them, Ernst Niekisch, were friends, sometimes even intimate friends of Jünger.

In 1925, Jünger tried, for the first and last time in his life, to throw himself into active politics. He called for the leagues of former soldiers to unite in order to create a “national, social, armed, and authoritatively structured” state, the formulation betrayed an evident admiration for the Fascist model. The appeal failed. Convinced by the “fiasco of the leagues,” Jünger then decided to devote himself to the formation of an “intellectual elite.” At the head of a small phalanx of war veteran writers, he collaborated with a large number of ultra-nationalist magazines, like Vormarsch, particularly striving to influence the hard nucleus of Youth Leagues. His talent allowed him to impose himself very quickly as “the uncontested spiritual leader” of what one called “young nationalism” or “neo-nationalism,” that is to say a particularly hard variant of the global ideology of the German extreme right – an extreme right where the National Socialists were still only a small group among others …

The principal characteristics of this “neo-nationalism” were linked to its paramilitary origin as well as a strong Nietzschean influence. Militant anti-rationalists, imbued with a Darwinian and “vitalist” vision of the world, the “neo-nationalist” writers took pleasure in the expression in a so-called “soldierly” brutality. While exalting blood, force, and fate, fruitful barbarity, and primitivism, they also showed themselves to be fascinated by the power of technology, which they experienced on the battle field. So these ultra-reactionaries were also modernists at the same time, attentive to all the aspects of industrial societies and convinced that “the city is the front” in an era where many others still or already exalted the virtues of a return to the soil … On the level of practical politics, they cultivated “steadfastness”, that is to say radicalism, which is the German name for extremism. One of their watchwords was “decision,” decision “without respect” for others or themselves, since the country was at stake.

In this often very sloppy jumble, Jünger distinguished himself with a subtlety and breadth of personal view – without speaking of his talent with the pen. He liked to present his nationalism not as an end in itself but as the privileged means of a sort of cultural revolution. For example he wrote, “Nationalism is the counter-critique to the critique directed against life in the context of a weakened faith. As such, it is akin to the Counter-Reformation … It expresses a resolute conversion to the soil, astonishing after 150 years of Enlightenment.”

According to Jünger, an essential means of achieving this counter-revolution was to confer to ideas like the nation “a power such that they escape any discussion.” So the nation should be presented as a “central value” and nationalism used as a sort of explosive, capable of provoking the reversal of values. Moreover, and to accelerate things, one should utilize all means of nihilism, exalt chaos, the “blank slate” and the “cleansing through the void,” of course meaning a provisional nihilism, “responsible,” or, in a word, “Prussian,” aiming to reconstruct, but on new bases. As Jünger himself said, after the deployment of “what remains in us of nature, of the elementary, of true savagery, of the original language, of the power of true conception with blood and seed, only then will the possibility of new forms arise…”

Deepening his thought, Jünger arrived at 3 fundamental ideas in 1929, which stirred the enthusiasm of his most daring admirers. He firstly noted the existence of what he called an “invisible alliance,” that is to say an objective solidarity between nationalism and communism in the struggle against the “bourgeois” world. He also discovered, thanks to the Russian example in particular, that the sense of nationhood was strong enough to “triumph over all dogmas” and mix very different ideas without risk, including the idea of social revolution. In this double realization, which was likewise “a monstrous concentration of force,” he even saw it as “the philosopher’s stone that the master of modern politics must discover” … Finally, he perceived an identification between nationalism and socialism – quite simply because the gave the same “organicist” meaning to the word “socialism” like nearly all of the new German right

These ideas (or images) – shocking, expressed in a very pure and illustrative language, through very subtle examples – also reinforced by the more direct argumentation of men like Friedrich-Georg Jünger who demanded an “state of steel” on his part – would push the most determined disciples to “National Bolshevism” according to ultimately very simple processes. Far from considering nationalism as the simple instrument of a vast cultural revolution, a certain number of ultras, youth or older, would position themselves as “absolute nationalists” and consider the nation not as “a” central value but “the” central value.

In the same time where the aesthetic of the “blank table” marked them as revolutionaries – or “anti-bourgeois” rebels – the will to the “ultimate consequence” would lead them to radically challenge everything that seemed to oppose the power of the nation and the state. At this time, that is to say in full “prosperity” as well as in the heart of the Great Depression, the German extreme right was marked by a violent anti-capitalist current. In the magazines of the activist leagues as in multiple debates of the Youth Movement, more or less skilled analysts, but generally sincere, demonstrated that the economy had taken precedence over the political (thus over the state).

They reproached capitalism for being foreign to the “German spirit” and accused it of compromising both national independence and the cohesion … But intellects split on the level of the solution to the problem. While the pure Hitlerians only attacked “Jewish” capital, the “left wing Nazis” and likewise proposed a vast system of partial nationalization on their part. As for the most “consequent” neo-nationalists, they took the analysis to its conclusion and found themselves to be “National Bolsheviks.” A moment troubled by the sincere reformism of the Strasser brothers, they soon refused to stand for half solutions. They required the pure and simple eradication of capitalism by nationalization of the entire productive system. This choice lead them to advocate alliance with the communists – always “for the love of the nation” and defend the Soviet experiment by all means, then illustrated by the “Central Planning,” which they interpreted as an extraordinary affirmation of the political and as an essential instrument for the construction of a hierarchical, structured, “national community” endowed with an ideal.

Yet Jünger pressed his thought, increasingly orienting it towards examining the dynamic of contemporary industrial societies. Observing that “progressiveness” achieved, in Western countries, value as a “faith” and a force of mass movement (thus irrational), he saw in the manipulation of democratic techniques a means to achieve the inversion of values and total mobilization, to which he devoted a small book in 1931. He thus engaged himself in a way that would make him one of the first theorists of totalitarianism, with his friend Carl Schmitt. In 1932, he published The Worker (Der Arbeiter), a fundamental work which furnished the schema of a rigorously totalitarian society.

The “Worker” according to Jünger is not exactly a laborer nor (especially not) a “bourgeois.” It is absurd to interpret him in terms of economy and (especially not) rationality. He represents a human “type,” the type of the New Man that arises in deep resonance with the tendencies of mass technical society, subsumed under the name of “Work.” Jünger confers to this “Work” a “cosmic” character, “total”, and thus inescapable. In the universe thus defined or marked, every man, every “worker” sees or will see his place rigorously determined by his degree of acclimation to the universal tendency. He will take his rank on an ideal socio-political pyramid. Thus “total mobilization” will be realized, that is to say a totalitarianism without flaws, allowing for a monstrous concentration of power within what Jünger calls, not nations, but “planned spaces.”

In these spaces, the economy will not necessarily be collectivized, but it will be totally controlled by the state, which could content itself with mastering the strategic nodes of power: for example, electrical grids and radio stations. This modern Leviathan will expand through different means, in particular through war, considered as a superior form of “Work” (that is to say, in fact, activity or action…) The planet will progressively see itself divided into a small number of political unities, within which the smaller people will find protection, waiting for the advent of a planetary domination procuring a superior form of security for all, “surpassing all the processes of wartime and peacetime work.”

It is clear that the ideas developed in Der Arbeiter do not conform to the criteria of “National Bolshevism” as we have defined them above. Certain “National Bolsheviks” would reproach Jünger in particular for having adopted an planetary view (which is not otherwise incompatible with an eventual German imperialism). But what truly distinguished Jünger’s concept from “National Bolshevism” was firstly its abstract character. Authors like Niekisch and Rauschning, who saw the archetype of “National Bolshevism” in Der Arbeiter were only able to do so because they saw in Bolshevik Russia the particular form of a global “anti-Western” process, which also expressed itself in Italian Fascism. It is also what Jünger thought himself, because he interpreted Bolshevism as “the barbarian-Scythian form of the universal process of the restoration of values…”

If we stand on these generalities (or this confusion), it is quite true that we can make Jünger a sort of “National Bolshevik” of the masses. But in concrete politics, the sympathy that he expressed for the Soviet Union was accompanied by a solid distrust, quite distant from the enthusiasm of the “National Bolshevik” militants, and extended through an even larger mistrust regarding German communists. Finally – and especially – the vague or abstract character of the solutions proposed by Der Arbeiter in the economic domain fundamentally differs from the concrete radicalism professed by “National Bolshevik” activists. An incontestable discomfort was felt between Jünger and some of his admirers – as enthusiastic as they were for the idea of a “total state” on one hand. One of them even reproached him for opening the way to “neo-fascist” experiences of state capitalism – and it is true that the vague economic model sketched in Der Arbeiter evokes the practice of Italian Fascism … and the future Nazi practice.

Whether Jünger (who we personally consider as the greatest contemporary German writer) was sincerely and profoundly repulsed by Nazi vulgarity and barbarism (a “barbarism” that he conjured the specter of himself), is an entirely separate affair. Here one touches on the domain of the responsibility of the intellectual or aesthete, a responsibility that would doubtlessly be as relevant in the more hypothetical case of a “National Bolshevik” crystallization of the German extreme right … Jünger put his immense talent in the service of a global tendency of which “National Bolshevism” only represented a marginal expression, but the most “substantial,” the most radical, if not the most logical. Neither truly a “National Bolshevik,” nor a “left wing Nazi,” especially not a Hitlerian, he situated himself at the crossroads of all totalitarianism, before realizing all the horror. Not a “National Bolshevik,” but a cynical discoverer of the most destructive tendencies of contemporary mass societies.

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“The spiritual path of Jünger found its salvation in writing and voyages” – Robert Steuckers – March 3, 2016

Robert Steuckers is the author of a reference work, “La Révolution conservatrice allemande (2014),” that compiles biographies and selected texts from this great intellectual movement of which he is a recognized specialist. He is at the head of the movement Synergies européennes after having left GRECE in 1993. We interviewed him about an emblematic figure of the German Conservative Revolution, Ernst Jünger, as well as a personality less known by the public, Armin Mohler, great theorist of the Conservative Revolution.

PHILITT :You distinguish many currents within the German Conservative Revolution. Which one does Jünger belong to?

Robert Steuckers: Ernst Jünger belongs, surely, in the National-Revolutionary vein of the “Conservative Revolution,” almost from the start. It’s a current necessarily more revolutionary than conservative. For what reasons does Jünger fall into this revolutionary nationalism rather than another another category of the Conservative Revolution? Like many of his counterparts, the reading of Nietzsche, before 1914, while still an adolescent, was determinant. We must firstly summarize that Nietzsche, in this era, was read above all on the most controversial fringes of the German left and by Bohemian literati. There reigned a joyous and mocking anarchism in these milieus that tore off the masks of the bien-pensants, that denounced hypocrisies and castigated moralism. It was in the overflowing spirit of the Wandervogel youth movement, in which Ernst Jünger participated from 1911-1912. The discovery of Nietzsche left few written traces in the work of Jünger. Between his return from the Foreign Legion and his engagement with the German Imperial Army, we have few of his personal notes, letters addressed to his parents or friends. His biographer Heimo Schwilk simply notes that Jünger read the Will to Power and the Birth of Tragedy. We can deduce that the adolescent inherited a rebellious attitude from this reading. No established order found grace in his eyes. Like a good number of his contemporaries in the Belle Epoque, where they were bored, he rejected what was frozen. So it’s essentially the Nietzsche they called “critical” and “unmasking” that transformed 18 year old Jünger. It was necessary to think dangerously, according to the injunctions of the loner of Sils-Maria. It was also necessary to make a complete renewal, to experiment in incandescent living in communities of Dionysian ecstasy. This ardent living, the war would offer him. The cataclysm freed him from the boredom, sterile repetitions, hesitant humdrum in educational institutions. The experience of the war, with the daily confrontation with the “elementary” (mud, rats, fire, cold, wounds …) destroyed all the frozen reflexes that a child from a good Belle Epoque family could still harbor in his heart.

Where does the nationalism of Jünger come from?

What made Jünger a “nationalist” in the 1920s, it’s the reading of Maurice Barrès. Why? Before the Great War, they were conservative, but not revolutionary. Henceforth, with the myth of blood, sung by Barrès, they became revolutionary nationalists. The term, rather new at the start of the Weimar Republic, indicates a political and aesthetic radicalization that broke with the conventional right. Germany, between 1918 and 1923, was in the same disastrous situation as France after 1871. The Barrèsian revanchist model was thus transposable in humiliated and vanquished Germany. In following, not inclined to accept conventional political work, Jünger was seduced, like Barrès before him, by General Boulanger, the man, he wrote, “who energetically opened the window, throwing out the babblers and letting fresh air in.” With Barrès, Ernst Jünger not only found the keys to a metapolitics of revenge or an ideal of violent purification of political life, in the fashion of Boulanger. Behind this reception of Barrès there was a mystic dimension, concentrated in a work that Ernst Jünger had already read in high school: Du sang, de la volupté et de la mort. It holds necessary an orgiastic drunkenness, which does not fear blood, in any sound political approach, that is to say in the context of the era, any non-liberal non bourgeois political approach.

The National-Revolutionary camp, within the Conservative Revolution, was thus essentially a camp of young former soldiers, directly or indirectly influenced by Nietzsche and Barrès (often via the interpretation Jünger gave). A camp that very much desired, if the occasion presented itself, to make a coup in the fashion of General Boulanger, this time with the Freikorps of Captain Ehrhardt.

Starting from “The Peace” an essay published in 1946, his work seems to take an individualist turn, maybe even spiritual. Must we see a break with the Conservative Revolution there?

I think that the “individualist” turn, as you said, and the spiritual and traditionalist attraction operated surreptitiously since the very effervescent political period, from 1918 to 1926, ceased to animate the German political scene. The treaties of Locarno and Berlin brought appeasement in Europe and Germany signed more or less satisfactory treaties with its neighbors to the East and West. We can no longer speak of a revolutionary period in Europe, where everything would be possible, like National-Bolshevism from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The futurist and Barrèsian dreams were no longer possible. The Bolshevik up-welling, it too faded, and the USSR tried to stabilize itself. Jünger made the first of his voyages, leaving Germany, with a scholarship to study marine fauna in Naples. The encounter with the Mediterranean was important: its landscapes calmed the Nordic soldier coming from the Hells of Flanders and Picardy. The treaties and the trip to Naples certainly did not interrupt the editorial activities of Ernst Jünger and his brother Friedrich Georg. They both participated in the most audacious journals of the little nationalist, National-Revolutionary, or National-Bolshevik sphere. They were resistant towards the advances of Goebbels, Hitler or Hess: above all because the two brothers remained “Boulangists.” They did not want to participate in political carnivals, they placed themselves under the sign of a nationalism born from war and the refusal of the implications of the Treaty of Versailles. Since the advent of National-Socialist power in 1933, the retreat of the Jünger was accentuated. Ernst Jünger renounced any position in the literary academies brought to heel by the regime. Sitting in these controlled academies would lead to a sterile, even quietist, humdrum life rather than a Nietzschean one, he could not accept. It was also the time of the first retreat to the rural zone, in Kirchhorst in Lower Saxony, in the region of Hanover, the cradle of his paternal family. Then a few voyages to Mediterranean countries, and finally, uniformed sojourns to Paris in the occupation army.

It is an aging Jünger who expresses himself more in this individualist tone?

The abandonment of the entrenched positions of the years 1918-1933 certainly came with age: Ernst Jünger was fifty when the Third Reich collapsed in horror. It also came from the terrible shock of the death of his son Ernstel in combat in the marble quarries of Carrare in Italy. At the moment of writing The Peace, Ernst Jünger, bitter like most of his compatriots at the time of defeat, stated: “After a likewise defeat, we do not rise like they could rise after Jena or Sedan. A defeat of this extent means a turning point in the life of all people that it subdues; in this phase of transition not only do innumerable human beings disappear but also and above all many things that would move us more deeply in ourselves disappear.” Unlike the preceding wars, the Second World War brought the destructive power of the belligerents to paroxysm, to dimensions that Ernst Jünger qualified as “cosmic,” especially after the atom bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our author understood that this destructive excess was not longer comprehensible in the usual political categories: in fact, we enter into an era of post-history. The defeat of the Third Reich and the victory of the allies (the Anglo-Saxon and Soviets) had rendered the pursuit of historical trajectories inherited from the past impossible. Technical means had lead to mass death, the destruction of entire cities in a few minutes, even a few seconds, which proved that modern civilization, as his biographer Schwilk wrote: “tends irremediably to destroy everything that underlines the natural, traditions, organic facts of life.” It’s the post-historic age of “poly-technicians of power” which began everywhere, and above all in ravaged Europe, forming the world to its standards.

The 22nd of September 1945, Schwilk recalls, Ernst Jünger wrote in his journal: “They know neither Greek myths nor Christian ethics nor French moralism nor German metaphusics nor the poetry of all the poets in the world. Before the true life, they are only dwarfs. But they are Goliath technicians – thus giants in every work of destruction, where they ultimately conceal their mission, that they ignore as such. They have a clarity and unusual precision about everything that is mechanical. They are confused, stunted, drowned, by all that is beauty and love. They are titans and cyclops, spirits of darkness, negators and enemies of all creative forces. Those who can reduce millions of years of organic development to nothing by a few meager efforts, without leaving anything behind that could equal the least spring of grass, the least grain of corn, the smaller wing of a mosquito. They are far from poems, wine, dreams, games, hopelessly lost in fallacious doctrines, articulated in the manner of pretentious professors. Nevertheless, they have their mission to accomplish.”

Are those the words of a disillusioned man?

They are the sentiments that Ernst Jünger wanted to communicate to his readers immediately after 1945. Schwilk, in my eyes the best biographer by far, explains the meaning of the gradual evolution that occurred in the spirit of our author: Everyone is guilty in this Second World War that was the “first collective work of humanity.” And a work of destruction! Political projects could no longer be national, reduced to small or middling nations alone. It was necessary to create Europe, Jünger thought immediately after the war, where the peoples could recognize that the war had been simultaneously won and lost by all. This Europe must renew the principles of tranquility of the Middles Ages or the Ancien Regime: he clearly renounced the concepts that he forged in from 1920-1930, those of “total mobilization” and the “Worker” that had formed the quintessence of his National-Revolutionary philosophy just before Hitler’s rise to power. These concepts, he stated in 1946, no longer lead to anything positive. They called to push humanity into horror.

Thus Jünger became the prophet of “deceleration” (die Entschleunigung), after having been the prophet of paroxysmal acceleration (die Beschleunigung) in the 20s, like the Italian Futurists gathered around Marinetti. Jan Robert Weber released a biography of Ernst Jünger in 2011 centered around the notion of “deceleration:” he explains there that the spiritual and “individualist” progression (I would say the progression of the anarch) was deployed in two principle phases: the retreat to writing, claimed as a refuge to escape the work of the titans and cyclops or the degenerating throes of post-history; then voyages to Mediterranean refuges which, very soon, would become victims of voracious modernity and its strategies of acceleration themselves. Jan Robert Weber: “It calms me as a man who travels across the world in post-history.”

Armin Mohler was the secretary of Ernst Jünger and worked to make the German Conservative Revolution known. Could you tell us more about his role?

It’s evidently not so much a rupture with the Conservative Revolution (which has too many facets to be able to reject entirely) but with his own National-Revolutionary postures. Armin Mohler wrote the first laudatory article on Ernst Jünger in Weltwoche in 1946. In September 1949, he became Ernst Jünger’s secretary, whose first task was publishing a part of his war journals in Switzerland, under the supervision of the moderately existentialist and Protestant philosopher Karl Jaspers, from whom he retained a cardinal idea: that of the “axial period” of history. An axial period creates the perennial values of a civilization or geo-religious great space. For Armin Mohler, very idealistic, the Conservative Revolution, by rejecting the ideas of 1789, from English Manchesterism and all the other liberal ideas, laid the bases for a new battery of values to regenerate the world, to give it a new solid course, through the efforts of audacious elites, following the idea of amor fati formulated by Nietzsche. The ideas expressed by Ernst Jünger in the National-Revolutionary journals of the 1920s and in The Worker of 1932 were the “purest,” the most purified from all regressive baggage and all compromises with one or another aspect of pan-liberalism of the “stupid 19th century” which Daudet spoke of, it would be necessary that these ideas triumph over post-history and revive the dynamism of European peoples in their history.

The sustainability of these new values’ founding ideas would sweep away the lame ideas of the Soviet and Anglo-Saxon victors and surpass the very caricatured ideas of the National-Socialists. Armin Mohler wanted to convince the master to return to the struggle. But Jünger had just published The Wall of Time, whose central thesis was that the era of historical humanity, steeped in history and acting within it, was definitely over. In The Peace, Jünger still evoked a Europe unified in sadness and reconciliation. On the threshold of a new decade, in 1960, “national empires” and the idea of a unified Europe not longer enthused him. There was no other perspective than that of “universal state,” the title of a new work. Modern humanity was delivered to material forces, to endless acceleration of processes what aimed to seize the entire world. This planetary fluidity, also criticized by Carl Schmitt, dissolves all historical categories, all peaceful stability. So to reactivate them has no chance of leading to anything one way or the other. In order to complete a National-Revolutionary program, as the Jünger brothers imagined, they needed willing citizens and free soldiers. But this liberty had faded from every regime around the globe. It was replaced by obtuse, cumbersome, instincts like those that guide insect colonies.

So the attitude of the anarch described by Jünger is an alternative, a new perspective for this era. How it is defined?

Before the extent of this anthropological catastrophe, the anarch must try to escape the Leviathan. His will of independence, calm and no longer rowdy, must espouse the “will of the Earth,” that seeks to smother the Goliaths and titans. For Armin Mohler, Ernst Jünger renounced the heroic ideals of his youth. He didn’t accept it. Corresponding with German language journals in Paris, he regularly addressed mordant and ironic reproach to Ernst Jünger. It was their rupture. The criticisms and recriminations were: Mohler wrote that Jünger had aligned himself with the “democracy of the occupiers.” Worse: he accused the second wife of Jünger, Liselotte Lohrer, of being responsible for this reversal; she ensured that her husband, “took the ideas that forged their destiny from his own disciples.”

Did this tension transcribe itself into the reception the “Nouvelle Droite” gave to Jünger’s work?

The French Nouvelle Droite emerged on the Parisian political-cultural scene at the end of 60s. Ernst Jünger first appeared to it in the form of a booklet penned by Marcel Decombis. The Conservative Revolution, more precisely the thesis of Mohler, was evoked by Giorgio Locchi in issue No. 23 of Nouvelle École. Beginning with these texts a diverse and heterogeneous reception emerged: the war texts for the lovers of militaria; the National-Revolutionary texts (little known and little translated) in bits and pieces among the youngest and most Nietzschean; the journals among the silent anarchs, etc. From Mohler, the Nouvelle Droite inherited the idea of a planetary alliance between Europe and the enemies of the Yalta duopoly firstly, then American unipolarity next. It’s the direct heritage of the politics and alternative alliances suggested under the Weimar Republic, notably with the Arab Muslim world, China, and India. Moreover, Armin Mohler rehabilitated Georges Sorel in a more explicit and profound manner than the Nouvelle Droite. In Germany, Mohler received a third of the space in the journal Criticon, directed by the very wise and much missed Baron Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing in Munich. Today, this Mohlerian heritage has been assumed by the publishing house Antaios and the magazine Sezession, directed by Götz Kubitschek and his spouse Ellen Kositza.

Armin Mohler worked in France and had shown himself to be relatively Francophile. However his position on the question of French Algeria contrasted with that of the proponents of the “Nouvelle Droite.” What does this controversy teach about the relation between Conservative Revolutionary thought and the world?

Armin Mohler was effectively the correspondent of various German and Swiss papers in Paris since the middle of the 1950s. He learned the spirit of French politics: a magisterial text (which revived the Jüngerien cult of Barrès a bit …) attests to this enthusiastic reception. This text was titled Der französische Nationaljakobinismus and has never been translated! Mohler was fascinated by the figure of Charles de Gaulle, who he qualified as a “political animal.” For Armin Mohler, De Gaulle was a disciple of Péguy, Barrès and Bergson, three authors that we could interpret and then mobilize in order to re-energize the values of the Conservative Revolution. Regarding the Algerian affair, Armin Mohler reasoned in his text on Gaullisms (in the plural!), Charles de Gaulle und die Gaullismen, in terms drawn from the work of Carl Schmitt (who, at the time, criticized the “stardom” of Jünger, his art of publicity seeking as a “diva;” the criticisms of Mohler could be compared to those formulated by Schmitt…). For the jurist, theorist of “great spaces,” and for Mohler, Jünger had committed the sin of “de-politicization.”

Mohler’s infatuation with De Gaulle is astonishing!

Regarding the phenomenon of “De Gaulle,” Mohler was full of praise: the general had succeeded in decolonizing without causing a big political explosion, a general civil war. He also praised the founder of the Fifth Republic for having begun a great institutional upheaval after the turmoil caused by Algerian independence. Here again, he benefited from the reading of Schmitt rather than Jünger, that said: the Constitution of 1958 was ultimately the work of a Schmittian, René Capitant; it values the political much more than the other constitutions in the West. To which Mohler added that he approved the introduction of direct presidential election, following the plebiscite of October 28th 1962. Ultimately, Schmitt, the disciple of Charles Maurras, Maurice Hauriou and Charles Benoist, was horrified by “intermediaries” between the monarch (or president) and the people. Mohler, inspired by Schmitt, welcomed the presidential suppression of the “intermediaries,” the logical consequence of the new constitutional principles of 1958 and the power concentrated in the person of the president, from 1962. The “Fourth Gaullism,” according to Mohler, is that of “Grand Politics,” of an alternative global geopolitics, where France tried to escape from the American vice, not hesitating to align with “rogue” states (China, for example) and assuming an independent policy with the entire world. This “Grand Politics” shattered in Mai 68, when the “chienlit” demonstrated and began “their long march through the institutions,” which lead France to the big carnivalesque joke of today. Mohler, not so much as a reader of Jünger but as a reader of Schmitt, was Gaullist, in the name of the same principles of his Conservative Revolution. He thought we could only judge De Gaulle on Schmittian criteria alone. He commented on the adventure of the ultras on the OAS along those lines. So Mohler belonged to another political school than the future leaders of the Nouvelle Droite. The German New Right possessed other idiosyncrasies: the convergence between Mohler and the Frence Nouvelle Droite (with the Jüngerian Venner) only came about when the differences of the Algerian War were no longer relevant.

Mohler wanted to transpose the Gaullist independent thinking into Germany. In February 1968, he would defend the Gaullist “Grand Politics” point of view at a meeting of a “Euro-American colloquium” in Chicago. This text, released in English and not translated in French, has the merit of a programmatic clarity, it desires to remove Europe from the straitjacket of Yalta, under the banner of a new European Gaullism. If there is a lesson to draw from it, not from this argument but from this intransigent Euro-Gaullist stance, it’s effectively that a Schmittian reading of European political decline (in the era of post-historical decadence) proves itself to be very necessary. And that an exit program from all incapacitating subservience is imperative, otherwise we will sink into a definitive decline. All the ingredients of our disappearance are near.

Is the influence that Jünger exercised on Mohler felt in our contemporaries’ reception of the German Conservative Revolution?

For the most part, yes. Despite the great diversity of aspects and perspectives that the Conservative Revolution takes and adopts, Jünger the National-Revolutionary, the nationalist soldier, doubtlessly fascinates more than than the anarch or the voyager who observes wild worlds more or less still intact or the entomologist who engaged in his “subtle hunts.” However, it is also exactly the central idea of “The Wall of Time” that is not without relevance. We are marinated in post-history through and through; as for Gaullism or a similar Europeanism, we hardly see a trace: Sarkozy and Hollande have liquidated the last vestiges of Gaullist independence. The anti-American stance of Chirac in 2003, at the time of the Second Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, is already a distant memory: rare are those who still invoke the Paris-Berlin-Moscow Axis, defined by Henri de Grossouvre. However, the long list of authors suggested by Mohler in his doctoral thesis advised by Jaspers, inspires numerous intellectual vocations. We can no longer count the theses on these authors, even if they have been ostracized for a long time in the name of a “political correctness” avant la lettre. All these studies do not share the same approach. But beyond history, in the disordered tumults of chaotic post-history, this long buried world of increasingly blurred memories will be reconstructed. In order to make a museum? Or in order to make the premises of a “grand return?”

The figures of the rebel and the anarch are marked by a living aspiration for liberty, which is not without links to a notion of adventure based on the dignity of the human condition with Mohler. Is the free and adventurous individual the archetype of man that the Conservative Revolution idealized?

Yes, the liberty of the writer, the authentic man, the autonomy of the person, are inevitable qualities of the rebel and the anarch. Or better: they are embodied by them alone. Mohler, in a philosophical and theological debate with Thomas Molnar in the journal Criticon, had christened this “heroic realism” by the name of “nominalism.” The Nouvelle Droite, uniquely translating his contribution in the debate with Molnar, reprised his account of the term “nominalism” to express his heroic existentialism, to somehow affirm a sort of primacy of existence over essence, but through very different narratives and features than Sartre. “Nominalism” as defined by Mohler, ultimately has very little to do with the nominalism of the Middle Ages. Not only does the adventurer hero, the absolute Nietzschean, embody it, but also the quiet anarch, the voyager who seeks unsullied worlds, the explorer who defies the traps of virgin nature, the vulcanologist like Haroun Tazieff, captain Cousteau or the observers of grand land or marine mammals or the entomologist, all are equally figures who refuse the conformism of millions of consumers, the bleating flock of post-historic conurbations. In the ranks of the Nouvelle Droite, no one defined the adventurer better than Jean Mabir in an interview he gave with Laurent Schang, today a contributor to Éléments. This interview was published in Nouvelles de Synergies Européennes. Mabire expressed there, like in his literary chronicles collected in « Que lire ? », an authentic existentialism: that which desires rooted (in their physical homeland) but adventurous men and castigates the rootless and timid. In this clear formula, in this limpid distinction (thanks to my friend Bernard Garcet !) the vital program that we must apply to ourselves in order to become true rebels and anarchs is summarized.

Regarding Ernst Jünger’s “The Worker” – Part 6 of 6

The Figure of the Worker evolves to a totally different level than the proletarian in the proper sense. The spirit of technology has very simply become second nature in it; it masters with a light hand, with an entirely natural assurance, the ensemble of technical tools. The precision of the technician, the realist imagination of the engineer, the audacity of the great builder, such are the virtues that it animates. But its most powerful motor is a will of domination that aims to organize the world in its global reach and give it a new balance. For it, the idea of planning is attached to no nostalgic aspiration for a radiant happiness, but stems from the constructive spirit of technology, thanks to which the universe will be reshaped.

The work of Jünger is a bulletin, a preliminary report on a world that is still in the process of becoming. In the measure where we understand its dialect, we have already shared in this world. Also, it is, without fail, a book where the spirit of great cities breathes. And it is, at the same time, in its most stringent ramifications, a protestant book. The most modern rationality, secularization, and technicality of life are consequences of Protestantism, and no one dreams of contesting its paternity, even if Protestantism would very well like to disavow its offspring by hypocritically turning its back. Rome has always known it and Rome has always said it. Ultimately, Bolshevism, it’s Luther in Russia.

There is no other choice: on the line traced by Jünger, Germany must work against the West, against Versailles. Even if that repulses us, even if that hits our “substance.” Against Versailles all means are good; if one of them proves effective, it must be used, even if it makes us sick. Because there is a “courage before the abyss,” that permits us to know with certainty that we will not fall on the ground and that only the jump into the void permits that attainment of a space in which we could do historic work. If the reign of the Figure of the Worker achieves the German space, then it will open to us a territory that extends “from Vlissingen to Vladivostok”: should that not be for us, the guarantee of the point where the German can open his door to the free air?

There is a German sloth and softness, that always tends to expose itself before the due date of the “decision.” With its metallic precision, its sharp visions, the book by Jünger requires the decision anew. It is necessary not to give the German laxness and torpor the least respite.

Regarding Ernst Jünger’s “The Worker” – Part 5 of 6

The Jüngerian theses present a troubling similarity with the fundamentals of Marxist doctrine. The advent of the Figure of the Worker as the dominant Figure incontestably recalls, deeply, the Proletkult. The planetary pretensions of this Figure constitute a philosophical justification for the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the intransigence with which the bourgeoisie will see itself deprived of its right to existence is reminiscent of the class struggle. Finally, the planetary feeling-of-the-world that characterizes this “type” echoes in a certain fashion the spirit of proletarian internationalism called to lead the entirety of humanity. However, the trench that separates Jünger from the fundamental positions that Marxism holds, is impassable: with Jünger, what appears clearly as courage before reality and as an audacious description of what it will become, is in its Marxist counterpart, a made up, fantastic image of humanitarian sentimentality, imbibed with bitterness. Moreover, this ideological neighborship of which we speak does not come from Jünger having submitted to Marxist postulates; it simply suffices to state that Marxism, as well, constitutes a specific world view bound to an existence that its accompanied with and by the essence of technology. But Marxism still gives a sentimental response to the technologization of existence. The response of Jünger, it is exclusively imprinted with “heroic realism.”

We can trace the parallels of the same type between the view that Jünger holds of his epoch and Russian reality. No part of the Figure of the Worker was imposed in a more definitive fashion than in Bolshevik Russia. Nowhere else does the character of work encompass existence more sensibly, no part of the Figure of the Worker is a more determinant element than total mobilization. The theses of Jünger are sometimes perceived like conceptual abstractions, as philosophical transfigurations of the world and Russian reality. But in fact, they are nothing like that at all. Jünger only maintains a living interior relation with the irresistible tendency of the world towards technology, which has already overthrown the structures of Russia and readies itself to transform other peoples equally. If we try to retrace the routes imprinted by this global tendency and give an exact general description, we are always astonished to state that concrete realizations and specifics of the Bolshevik space prove Jünger right. He is not a Bolshevik, but he testifies despite himself how much Bolshevik Russia is in accord with the dominant tendency of the world.

Regarding Ernst Jünger’s “The Worker” – Part 4 of 6

The “type” embodies itself, Jünger affirms, in the Figure of the Worker. The latter does not correspond” to the “fourth estate”; that is “a bourgeois view that considers the quality of the worker as an ‘estate,’ and moreover this interpretation is unconscionably fallacious because it returns to lock up the new aspirations in an old cadre, thus leading to prolong a state of submission.” The Figure of the Worker is poised to dominate the world; founded on the technicality of the world; it bears in itself the seed of totality. Beside it, all the other human types appear obsolete, retrograde, romantic, and must wither away until they no longer have land or roots, or air to breathe.

Searching in the Figure of the Worker for the meaning of the “type” is an ultimately justified case; this interpretation is neither arbitrary nor forced. It betrays no less, otherwise, a political warrior will, with an anti-bourgeois essence. The bourgeois is simply sidelined as a form of existence. Incapable of resisting the vehemence with which we deny his right to existence, he is finished by declaring himself lost! The advent of the Figure of the Worker in the rank of a planetary type removes the bourgeois from its last recess on earth. Of the rest, even its idea is already somewhat exterminated; of little import, in practice, we starve its body, its lamentable residue, we hang it on the wall, or we exterminate it in some manner or another! Faced with the Figure of the Worker, there is no longer any place for the bourgeois. In the fashion where the “type” discards the bourgeois, there is something implacable. The superiority of the Figure of the Worker results from its relations with technology: “the role that technology plays in these processes is comparable to the advantage that the first Christian missionaries, formed in the schools of the Roman empire, possessed when faced with the ancient German dukes.”

It is this superiority that is the base of the imperial rank of the Figure of the Worker. “Sovereignty, that is to say the overtaking of anarchic spaces by a new order, is only possible today as the representation of the Figure of the Worker, who professes a planetary validity.” The important fact is “that it again becomes possible to lead on earth a grand style life according to elevated standards.” The new feeling-of-the-world (Erdgefühl) that animates the Figure of the World conceives the terrestrial globe as a unity; it is “a feeling of the world sufficiently audacious to undertake great works, and sufficiently deep to understand organic tensions.”

Regarding Ernst Jünger’s “The Worker” – Part 3 of 6

The “type” that acts here is the man of the technological era; his face is already profiled in the hard and simple traits of the soldier in the last years of the war, with the combat of “material” and machines. It was he who left behind what already belongs today to the “romantic countryside”; all the bourgeois attitudes contained in these imaginary expanses. “No, the German is not a good bourgeois, and it is where he is the least bourgeois that he is strongest.” It was necessary that the Germans mistrusted the will to become bourgeois exactly now! The bourgeois costume began “to look ridiculous, like all the exercise of civic rights, notably the right to vote”; the bourgeois costume, mainly, gave to the German a “unfortunate allure.” Have we forgotten the comic side that encompasses a glow so unusual as the very serious advocacy of Hans Grimm in favor of “bourgeois honor?” Although we feel enthusiastic for a cause that, to truly say, doesn’t concern the German man. Jünger is conscious of all the consequences of his position: technology implies an assault against all attachments, including those of “the bourgeois, the christian, the nationalist” considered as the most natural. That is a front of reaction, whose efforts to reestablish itself “are necessarily linked up with all that is the hackneyed and dusty world: romanticism, liberalism, conservatism, the Church, the bourgeoisie.” Also, he adds, with the idea of the “state” (Stand). The advent of the man that corresponds to the “type” is, for him, less and less compatible with the order of the old days. “The nonsense believed on Sundays and old public holidays” seem more and more glaring. To listen to “this onerous mixture of the disgust and the presumptuousness of official discourses made by the government, patently national and Christian, which never lacks an appeal to culture,” we ask how “such a varnish of inconsistent idealism, coated with romanticism, can still be possible.” Faced with the gossip of German atheists, Jünger, who declares himself son, grandson, and great grandson of entire generations of atheists, and in whose eyes doubt itself is suspect, affirms: “The decline of the individual announces at the same time the last spasm of the Christian soul. And as for us, we should understand that between the Figure of the Worker and the Christian soul, he can no longer maintain the relation between this soul and the old images of god.”

Where will we still find the bridge that rejoins Jünger with bourgeois culture, Western civilization, Christian tradition? Until this day, the poor nationalists and bourgeois patriots have yet to understand that they are frightfully ridiculous each time they claim amicable bonds with Jünger!

Regarding Ernst Jünger’s “The Worker” – Part 2 of 6

Ernst Jünger was always interested in technology and the laws that govern it. Technology transforms the world. It gives it entirely new bases. It results in a relation of a new type between man and the nature he submits to his hold. The machine has only ever oriented natural forces; it is the form that permits their use. Man seized the energy of the cosmos and since then, his vital space loses its infinite dimension, it becomes transparent, calculable, limited. Technology is the master of the external world, the more it is dedicated to it, the more attention is accorded to the internal world seems untimely and sterile. Compared to the work of technology, metaphysical speculation becomes an importune distraction. A new type of man appears, for whom the mastery of technical instruments is more important than the “blue flower” of introspection. A new type of man, who calls for new forms of life. But these are themselves marked by the atmosphere of technology which impregnates all things. The new man is not an inexhaustible individual, nor a richly filled personality; he is a type, and, as such, he is bound to his fellows by a similarity, a conformity, that is in substance the expression of a certain fairly flat primitivism. This community of traits and this permanence of the essential creates between all the representatives of the “type” permanent bonds, bonds founded on a “existential belonging.” These bonds show to the exterior world that the type, placed at the center of existence, is in perfect harmony with his fellows. It is not a mechanically founded community, of the exterior, between immeasurable individuals, but a collective that is born from the simple fact that all the representatives of the type are tailored according to a uniform figure.