People v. State

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Was Ernst Juenger Right-Wing?

October 17, 2012 By: John Kindley Category: Uncategorized

(Keep in mind my definitions of Left and Right, or rather Karl Hess’, from my Definitions page.) Some would say yes, but the main reason for this estimation seems to be that Adolf Hitler respected Juenger for being a stone-cold bad-ass in WWI and then writing about it unapologetically in Storm of Steel (1920), and for hating the Treaty of Versailles. In fact, Hitler respected Juenger so much that he restrained members of his inner Nazi circle who wanted to visit harm on Juenger for writing On the Marble Cliffs (1939), which was widely interpreted at the time of its publication as a pointed allegorical attack on Nazism and the Fuhrer himself, from doing so. A related reason for this estimation of Juenger as a right-winger seems to be that he survived WWII without suffering martyrdom, despite eventually serving in Hitler’s German army in occupied France, and then refused to submit to the de-Nazification procedures imposed after the Allied victory on the grounds that he had never been a member of the Nazi Party. Never mind, among other things, that his own son did suffer martyrdom on the battlefield, after being assigned to a penal battalion for subversive conversations at his naval academy, or that placed in charge of monitoring the mail Juenger at great risk to himself destroyed letters that would have gotten their writers killed.

Granted, in his novel Eumeswil (1977) Juenger through his narrator creates a sympathetic portrait of the so-called “tyrant” of Eumeswil, the Condor, who overthrew by military force the previously-reigning “tribunes,” but I interpret this not as an endorsement of “tyranny” or monarchy per se, but as an indifference towards forms of government combined with an entirely justified contempt for modern “liberal” “democracy.” Here is a representative passage:

While I was shaving, the tub filled up. I prefer seawater. Pumped from a great depth, it is significantly cooler than at the beach. The Domo has its chemical and biological quality tested; it is intact. Since all rivers flow into the sea, its water must have more curative power than any wellspring. In addition, there are the tiny organisms on which others feed, all the way up to the whales, and which shine in the breakers with phosphorescent power. No physician knows what they also mean to us-in any case, I break my fast with a hearty swig of seawater and I gargle. Nothing, in fact, is better for the teeth; I once heard that from the fishermen and simple people who dwell by the shore. Their life-style is the old thrifty one that is pleasing to the anarch. They also harvest their salt from the ocean by scraping it from the cracks and hollows in the rocks where it crystallizes. This was prohibited under the tribunes; they regulated everything down to the last detail. Salt, at the hundredfold price, had to be bought in their government stores. They also mixed in additives that their chemists praised as useful, even though they were injurious. The fact that men with such minds consider themselves thinkers is forgivable; but they also claim to be benefactors.

The beach was patrolled by customs officials, who ambushed the poor. This measure was particularly odious, for gold and salt ought to be every man’s untaxed due as the pure equivalent of his labor, just as he pans gold from the riverbeds or scrapes salt from the cliff. The Condor made both legal, and this was one of the first measures that established his popularity.

A little generosity is worth more than a lot of administration. The tribunes were redistributors; they raised the prices of bread for the poor in order to make them happy with their ideas-say, by building extravagant universities whose jobless graduates became a burden to the state (hence once again to the poor) and never touched another hammer.

The pauper, so long as he does not think parasitically, wishes to see as little government as possible, no matter what pretexts the state may use. He does not want to be schooled, vaccinated, or conscripted; all these things have senselessly increased the numbers of the poor, and with them, poverty.

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