04 February 2010

Book: The political theology of Ernst Jünger

Peter Trawny is the author of a 2009 book published in German by Matthes & Seitz Berlin under the title "Die Autorität des Zeugen: Ernst Jüngers politisches Werk" (The Authority of the [Time] Witness: The Political Work of Ernst Jünger; my translation). The subtitle of this book was first announced as "Ernst Jüngers politische Theologie" (The Political Theology of Ernst Jünger), and – despite what is printed on the cover now and what it says on the publisher's website – so it is still listed, for example, on the German site of Amazon.


Ernst Jünger was a soldier, writer, and contemporary of Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger and, after the Second World War, equally an outcast. However, unlike Schmitt and Heidegger, he succeeded in living down his nationalist right-wing past (helped by the fact that he had never joined the Nazis) and died in high honours at the age of 102 in 1998.

From the publisher's description: "As a world-warrior, Ernst Jünger knew what he wrote about: he had been there, (...) he was the witness and thus claimed a higher authority. His essay 'Der Arbeiter' [The Worker] (1933) was meant to be a 'little fighting machine' that invoked the future of a 'new race'. It does so as a political theology, as a foundational work, that legitimizes itself theologically. But Jünger fails. The authority of the witness isn't shattered by the war, but by the Shoah. His attempts to immerse into the pain of the events come to nothing. [...] Unpublished manuscripts and letters show to what extent Jünger's later efforts to cast himself as unpolitical are to be regarded as a cover-up." (my translation)

The book received very positive reviews in Germany.

Peter Trawny is a German philosopher who has been a visiting professor at various universities in Europe and Asia.

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