Ernst Jünger’s Der Arbeiter (Pt. VI of VII)

Just as Technology is an art requiring creativity and ingenuity, so it too does it pave the way for political-economic change. The conditions of Total Mobilization compel the need to alter the conception of the nation-state as a Western polity. Rather than the continuation of Monarchies and Republics that defined the Enlightenment-era worldviews of English Tories and Whigs (or “Liberal Democrats” as they are now called in the UK), Total Mobilization will revolutionize governmental and legal practices. Jünger and Heidegger saw those transformations occur within Weimar Germany as well as the early years of the Soviet Union. The implications are breathtaking as they are also prescient of today’s technologically-dependent world.

“Parliamentarian governance” will be swept aside along with the old Monarchies that they had displaced because of Total Mobilization. Replacing Parliamentary Democracy requires a distinct conception of the State that Jünger identified as the “Work-State.” The Work-State can be best understood as a State ruled by the Figure of the Arbeiter. The Arbeiter defines the political-economic and legal discourses of the State, particularly its legislative and judicial practices. Laws are forced to undergo reforms to accommodate the technological changes, just as certain governmental procedures are supplanted by newer ones.

Democracy under that context becomes a “Work-Democracy,” where the concept takes on forms favorable to the Arbeiter. “Work-Democracy,” Jünger wrote, does contain aspects of a “State of Exception,” a term he borrowed from Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology. While Jünger does maintain that there are similarities between Work-Democracy and a State of Exception, these similarities are quite superficial insofar as they do not address why the Arbeiter thrives under such conditions. 

In Political Theology, Schmitt stated that all of the recent transformations of the Western nation-state since the Enlightenment are Secular in nature. Most political developments prior to the 18th and 19th centuries were Sectarian, the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century being the most notable example. Due to Secularism, it became inevitable for “the concept of the political” to assume theological-like qualities through ideologies, through “isms.” A State of Exception is decided by the Sovereign, which has oftentimes been the Head of State. 

But unlike the State of Exception, a Work-Democracy does not arise just from declarations of a “Continuity of Government” (COG) or “Continuity of Operations Plan” (COOP). That subtle distinction once plagued the Bush 43 administration in the wake of 9/11 during the 2000s, where the 9/11 Truther can draw comparisons to the Reichstag Fire of 1933. The same is also true for similar conspiracy theories related to the so-called “Shadow Government.” These descriptions, however, are insufficient in grasping the deeper meanings behind a Work-Democracy.

The Work-Democracy is an entirely distinct form of political governance. The moment it is allowed to exist by the Arbeiter is also when Parliamentarian governance can no longer be revisited by legislatures and judiciaries. In some cases, Technology itself may even render certain aspects of Parliamentary Democracy obsolete. The Arbeiter dominates the democratic practices because it is this Figure who enables Work-Democracy to become possible. The Figure may assume the characteristics of a managerial technocrat or it could become a State functionary like the kind described by Spengler in Prussianism and Socialism. Unfortunately, the former has turned out to be the case for Liberal Capitalist regimes through Parliamentary Democracy.

The growing appearance of the Arbeiter and its influence on democractic governmental procedure is more evident in the 2010s as it was in the 1930s. The only real difference is that Arbeiter graduated from a university and entered a profession as the “certified expert” of a particular discipline. The Figure did not perish in neither the Deindustrialization of the Western world, nor the rise of Globalization, nor even the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. When not manufacturing goods on an assembly line or typing at a computer in an office cubicle, the Arbeiter is an “expert,” an analyst drawing conclusions from information for consulting corporations, NGOs, think tanks, lobbying groups, parties and governments.

What the Arbeiter did not view as part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, the Figure treated them as “sciences.” The ‘Art of Technology’ has become the “Science of Technology” and the ‘Art of Statecraft’ as “Political Science.” Sociology, economics, psychology and anthropology became “social sciences,” while other fields were treated as “Humanities” and “Studies.” The Arbeiter and its technologies became subjected to the whims of Kapital. Its technologies were subverted in order to create Kapital from personal experiences through personalized advertisements (the ads on this Blog serve as a physical example) and the data mining of personal information on social media by data analytics. 

The Arbeiter, as an “expert,” uses its access to information to mobilize average people into the realms of political Populists and pop cultural Fandoms. It is becoming increasingly relevant nowadays to encounter all kinds of people voicing opinions on the Internet, including the conflation of personal opinions with general facts. A “Post-Truth political climate” has emerged where people can no longer distinguish fact from fiction. They are withdrawn into isolated echo chambers on social media, their beliefs shaped and reinforced by others. The clash between politicians gets to be “fact-checked” by the Arbeiter, deciding whether there is any truth to their statements. And more recently, the Arbeiter has even been employed in figuring out ways to combat Climate Change and sustain Liberal Capitalism’s Total Mobilization—endless creation for consumption, endless production for destruction. 

The Arbeiter in this day and age can be anyone who is capable of assuming the mantle of the Intents of Command and Obedience. A Work-Democracy to the Arbeiter is an democratic aristocracy defined by ranks and achievements, not Kapital or blood ties. As Parliamentarian governance continues becoming sclerotic and lame to the realities of the 21st and 22nd centuries, the Arbeiter will realize the Work-Democracy as “Council Democracy,” the Work-State as the “Socialist nation-state.” The Work-Standard will no longer be treated as an abstract monetary policy, but a way of life that is in the midst of regaining the Art of Technology from the Liberal Capitalists as a distinct “Art of Finance.”

The Arbeiter will find itself transforming Parliamentarian governance into Councilor governance, breaking down the Left-Right political spectrum and the petty parties by mastering the plebiscites of the nation at the gradually emerging State Council. Social contracts as they are defined by constitutions will be replaced by a different form of legal jurisprudence. The Five-Year Plans of the Soviet Union for Jünger represented an early, unconscious foray into trying to realize the Work-State. The Soviets, as it is well-known, never achieved the Work-State due to the inherent flaws of STEP (Soviet-Type Economic Planning).      

Driving all of these efforts by the Arbeiter is the Figure’s attempts at trying to create a “Typus,” a mystical figure or symbol that defines its Dasein as a Being-in-the-World. One example of this has been the escalating breakdown in consensus on a basic set of facts among everyday people as they strive toward opposing depictions of what this Typus shall be. A good example is discernible in the ongoing identity politics debilitating the American Way of Life and the rise of pop cultural Fandoms where Fans dictate the direction of specific literary novels, music artists, TV shows, movies, and video games. It was not always like this insofar as the trend itself had assumed earlier forms. 

Consider the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A certain anxiety once arose where “Islamic fundamentalists” could strike anywhere, anytime. The fear alone left Americans insecure and they became willing to surrender certain freedoms to the US government in order to regain a sense of “National Security.” That fear gradually subsided over the years as the Arbeiter offered its technologies to the Federal government. Unfortunately, the result has led to people becoming anxious of the PATRIOT Act and the NSA spying on their digital communications, followed by the data mining of personal information on social media and the personalization of advertisements. Not to mention the political influence of data analytics, the endless scrolls of repetitive news feeds and the sound of instant notifications.

Similar trends have occurred in pop culture, where the Fans of most Fandoms are able to boycott certain products or dictate that certain movies and video games conform to their particular Typus. Another version includes the creators of media catering to the Fans through the Arbeiter’s Typus, which can erase the distinctions between “Order and Anarchy.” A “Toxic Fandom” where Fans can bully others into how they should interpret the characters of a 2014 movie based on their appearances or compel others into rioting over McDonalds somehow running out of manufactured Szechuan sauce in 2017. The escapism provided by most Fandoms can become political, as evidenced by the Typus of the “SJW” (Social Justice Warrior) or the Typus of the “Alt-Rightist.”

Another variation of those same trends occur among American Progressives convinced that the Typus of American Dasein ought to be one defined by oppressors and oppressed. Everyone becomes an Oppressor of “Systemic Racism” just as they themselves become the Oppressed, the “Woke victims” of their own Systemic Racism. Everyone protests against what they perceive on social media to be the antithesis of their Typus. Everything that does not conform to this Typus is either edited out of everyday perceptions of Reality or else be victimized by the emerging Cancel Culture.

Other ideologies in American politics are not immune to what the Progressives are experiencing. “Democratic Socialists” are convinced they are Socialistic, when in fact they are actually Social Democrats advocating for Keynesian economics. American Conservatives and Libertarians alike are trying to reinforce their old Cold War-era Typus forged by Fusionism, whereas others have chosen to emulate the Typus set forth by Donald Trump. Just as “Systemic Racism” and “Wokeism” compliment the Typus of American Progressivism, the antithesis to the Typus of Conservatives, Libertarians and Protectionists are identified as “Cultural Marxists,” “Democratic Socialists,” “Globalists,” and even “experts.” Everything which does not conform to their Typus, from Climate Change to Hamiltonianism, is edited out of everyday perceptions or subjected to its own Cancel Culture.  

These trends from the past twenty years in American politics alone should be understood as part of a broader one that began near the end of the 20th century. The Arbeiter has brought forth technologies and the artforms required to comprehend them. They represent changes to the psychology of the American people as a Totality in their own right. Exactly where all of these trends are heading and when the Arbeiter will realize the result of those changes deserve their own discussions. What can be stated about American politics from the early 2020s onward deserves to be addressed by Martin Heidegger’s own readings of Der Arbeiter, which later went on to form the basis behind The Question Concerning Technology.

Categories: Compendium, Economic History, Philosophy, Politics

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3 replies


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