Compendium: Ernst Jünger’s Der Arbeiter (Pt. II of VII)

Previously, it was established that the Arbeiter cannot be categorized according to Liberal Capitalist conceptions of political-economic thought. A Liberal Capitalist will always think in terms of “abstractions” in the sense that they will arrive at conclusions based on personal experiences, personal opinions, and personal expectations alone. Everything and everyone in Life, according to this mindset, is nothing more than simply being the sum of their parts in terms of a “Cartesian Self.” Anything can be “objectified” and even “quantified” without even bothering to understand their deeper qualitative meanings. Ernst Jünger rejected this worldview because it is too easy to rely on simple-minded answers without any meaningful thought.  

The Arbeiter by contrast understands the world around this “Figure” in terms of a Totality. Drawing from the basic premises of Gestalt Psychology, the Arbeiter perceives everything and everyone as being a Totality that is far greater than the sum of their parts. In essence, this means a rejection of the Cartesian Self as Rene Descartes conceptualized it during the Enlightenment. A more preferable alternative to the Cartesian Self would be a “Jungian Self” as Carl Jung understood it within Jungian Psychology as a rejection of the Freudian Psychoanalysis of the Self. Only in this sense does Jünger’s arguments in understanding the Arbeiter as a Figure become clearer.

Since the psychology of this Figure perceives itself as a Self (as opposed to a Subject) that understands everything as a Totality (instead of an Object), it becomes necessary to address the question of Values. The Arbeiter resents the concept of Marginal Utility, as well as the Incentives of Supply and Demand, as being unnecessary and redundant under the conditions of Total Mobilization. Abstract notions of pleasure and pain, abundance and scarcity, are as irrelevant to the Arbeit as attributing any economic Value based on “movement.” The idea of valuing “Progress,” that “time is money,” belongs to the epoch of Liberal Capitalism in the 19th century rather than the epoch of Total Mobilization in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The repudiation of such familiar concepts of Liberal Capitalist thought, especially when they manifest themselves in everyday language (as in terms like ‘utilize’ or ‘modern’), raises concurring questions on the concept of freedom. One can make a counterargument along the lines of Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom that the Liberal Capitalist conception of “freedom” does not exist. This conception of freedom, however, claims that what matters more is the superficial appearance (as in political-economic freedoms that are indicative of Liberal Capitalism) of freedom. Those are the freedoms which will be rejected by Total Mobilization and the technologies that enable it, something that von Hayek himself never understood in his lesser-known writings on Cybernetics. Russell Kirk definitely understood the significance of Total Mobilization on Western Civilization, as did Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, except no serious reading of Der Arbeiter on the World Wide Web considered their works as being indirectly supportive of Jünger’s arguments. Again, it goes back to the need to think of the world in terms of a Totality rather than in terms of an Object.

Therefore, what is freedom under Total Mobilization and how is it different from the Liberal Capitalist conception? Total Mobilization presents the opportunity of providing certain freedoms that are never allowed under Liberal Capitalism. More important freedoms like the freedom to choose which goods or services one needs and wants without the influences of mass advertising. The freedom to be free from the turmoil of asset-price bubbles and the speculation of important resources like land and housing. The freedom to think freely and speak one’s mind as a member of the State within its political-economic policies. The freedom to create Currencies pegged to the Quality of Arbeit. And the freedom to know that the actions of oneself and everyone around them has the potential to affect the livelihood and well-being of the Totality as a whole. Not just the national economy, Central Bank and social structures, but also the environment, other nation-states and their peoples, religion, family, Civilization, and the Destiny of the Western world.

These are the sorts of freedom that Jünger saw as being capable of existing under Total Mobilization. This freedom cannot be tempered by Liberal Capitalist conceptions of “security” and “insecurity.” If anything, “security” and “insecurity” reveal the limitations of Liberal Capitalist thought whenever a major crisis like the Great Depression and the Coronavirus Pandemic arises. It also appears in the contexts of the 1973 and 1979 Energy Crises, Asian Financial Crisis, the 9/11 Attacks, the Great Recession, Eurozone and European Migrant Crises, Arab Spring and the Civil Wars it caused. Whenever these crises occur, there is always this false need for “security” in the form of gold, silver, cryptocurrencies, government bonds, foreign currencies, and anything deemed ‘valuable’ according to the Incentives of Supply and Demand. The pleasure and pain that normally exists under Marginal Utility is supplanted by security and insecurity respectively. Thus, Liberal Capitalism contradicts itself through “freedom from insecurity” and “freedom to security” in this sense because it justifies the existence of a State as opposed to a Civil Society.

Terms like “security” and “insecurity” are insufficient for understanding the circumstances of Total Mobilization. It is from here that a different conception of freedom is needed by the Arbeiter. The most obvious manifestation of such a freedom is the “demand for Arbeit,” the sort of demand that cannot be satisfied by Liberal Capitalist conceptions of finance. That is precisely where the Work-Standard prevails in the context of Total Mobilization and Der Arbeiter.  

The conditions of Total Mobilization abide by its own logic, its own set of laws that operate independently from the Liberal Capitalist ones. Every “demand for freedom” should not met by a “supply of freedom,” as the lessons of economic reforms among Socialistic nation-states in the 1980s have demonstrated. Instead, they are to be met by the concurring “demand for Arbeit.” The demands of freedom through the demands of Arbeit are both realized when the Arbeiter is able to convert his Arbeit into Currency and allowed to participate in the affairs of the State as part of the Totality. Only then can such a Figure become able to command the Will-to-Power that was once foretold by Zarathustra in Friedrich Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.  

“Arbeit,” as it is understood in the SMP Compendium, is not a Commodity. It is an expression of economic power that can be converted into financial power as “Geld.” With Arbeit and Geld under the Work-Standard, the Arbeiter is able to define himself and to chart a different course for Western Civilization and humanity at large. Such power is not a temporal or fleeting moment as in the cases of “Progress” and the types of Kapital traded at Financial Markets. This power is given its political-economic legitimacy by the Arbeiter and thus the secret to being free under the conditions of Total Mobilization is to emulate the Figure of the Arbeiter.  

Emulating the Figure of the Arbeiter presents the opportunity to impart an entirely different “methodology” to interpreting economic and financial trends. Such a methodology deviates from the norms of Liberal Capitalist and Marxist conceptions of economics and finance insofar as the Figure is concerned. One of the most notable instances where this change in perspective occurs for Jünger is within technology and art. Technology is not constantly “updating” and “upgrading” without any conceivable beginning or end. It cannot be employed in the service of Kapital or for anyone’s political-economic agenda because technology can only be the expression, the means by which the Arbeiter revolutionizes the world.

In addition to technology, art undergoes its own interpretation for the Arbeiter. Total Mobilization changes the manner in which art is easily accessible and made available for future generations. What passes as art cannot be considered as “trendy” or “fashionable” at particular periods as in the case of Pop Culture and niche Subcultures. How any work of art is created and the criterion of how they are judged are both derived from the Values of the period. Art is a type of Arbeit conducted by a form of the Arbeiter known as an “artist.” Their Arbeit cannot be valued according to the Marginal Utility of Liberal Capitalists at an art museum or an art gallery, where Kapital is the means by which the Value is judged. Every work of art must be judged according to the skill and dedication of the artist as an Arbeiter rather than how much it is worth.  

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