AMAZON REVIEW OF "THE PEACE" BY ERNST JÜNGER
"The hatred, which is completely conqueredby love, becomes love: and such love isthen stronger than if hatred had not preceded it"Spinoza, Ethics, 44th Theorem [or Proposition]
"The camps filled, too, where forced labor ceased only with annihilation - thus achieving its deliberate aim. [...]The secrecy, the shunning of the light, the slaughterings in cellars and evil places and the hasty, unceremonious burial of the victims showed only too clearly that here was no execution of just sentence, but mere outrage and wanton murder.The number of Golgathas where the disenfranchised were slaughtered is enormous. The crime of which the unfortunates were accused was merely that of existing, the stigma of their birth. They fell because they were sons of their people, of their fathers, of their race, as hostages, as adherents of a disinherited creed, as disseminators of their faith, which laws invented overnight had decreed to be a mortal taint.[...] they attempted to root out whole peoples, whole races, whole classes, and where leaden tyranny in league with technical efficiency celebrated endless bloody nuptials. (pp. 28-29)"
"It was the evil spirit of the rabble which there in darkness practiced its grisly arts. Then we saw the feigned indignation of other evil forces which came to the haunts of infamy to exhume the hastily buried victims and expose the wasted corpses, to measure, count and reproduce them as served their ends. They played the accusers only to acquire the right to still baser vengeance which they sated in similar orgies.Thus one massacre was succeeded by another baser still. (p. 30-31)"
"Not in the even course of the bourgeois world, but in the thunder of the Apocalypse are religions reborn."Walter Schubert, Europa und die Seele des Ostens
"We have seen the victims of this war. To their somber ranks all nations added their contingent. All shared the suffering and therefore the peace must bear fruit for them all. That is, this war must be won by all." (p. 37)
"The reasons why the formation of great empires must come are spiritual by nature and are based on the principles of the age." (p. 44)
"Europe must become a partner in the great Empires which are forming on this planet, and are striving towards their final form. (p. 46)"
"...neither parties nor nations should sit in judgment on their opponents." For if "partisans make the distinction, then they convert criminals into martyrs and national heroes. (p. 54)"Again, Jünger is here arguing against the Allies imposing another Versailles Treaty. This was a very real fear among Germans. And do note that this was not merely German paranoia; the Morgenthau Plan envisioned turning Germany into a pastoral state sans industry and army. (Although, I do believe that the present essay was composed before the Morgenthau Plan was leaked in September of '44.)
"It is the question of living space, for there are certain powers which are fighting for space - those that are also called the totalitarian states. The fact that they are on the move is a sign that the division of the earth, as developed historically, requires to be altered. (p. 55)"Two points immediately jump out: first, he tacitly makes an equivalence between Germany and the USSR (the 'totalitarian states') and thus seemingly proposes that land gained by both these powers in the course of this war be allowed to remain with them. The second point is that this meant that certain states (Poland, e.g.) might disappear and some areas (Alsace Lorraine, e.g.) will be annexed by one or the other of these 'totalitarian' powers. I honestly don't see how the UK or the US could possibly have allowed that! "The earth must provide bread far all." Hmmm...
"certain other powers claim to be fighting for justice. Undoubtedly, the curtailment of rights which the totalitarian states have imposed upon men is not their internal affair alone. (p. 56)"And now we see, a 'deal' is being proposed, if the totalitarian states are allowed to expand then they, in turn, must democratize or 'liberalize' themselves. So, Jünger is not here proposing a little tête-à-tête between Germany and the USSR, rather he is proposing to end totalitarianism by some shrewd horse-trading: Land for Freedom. While the German Army, to rid themselves of Hitler and his Party, would gladly accept this, there was really no chance that Stalin would have accepted it!
"No other peace can last except that made between free people."That is, our author is here maintaining that no alliance is possible with the USSR and that if it does not 'de-totalitarianize' WWIII is around the corner.
"To cure the sickness of the land-hungry peoples is to give them the chance of reforming the laws, and thus the element of danger is removed. The forces which are released from making armaments will produce for all. (p. 57)"But, as one might expect from the author of the essays "Total Mobilization" and "The Worker" (this last, "Der Arbeiter, Herrschaft und Gestalt", to the best of my knowledge is still untranslated), the most important element, according to our author, is the Worker and his Mobilization:
"In this respect the nations have come to resemble each other closely and are becoming daily more alike; for the same great rhythm inspires the total mobilization on which they have embarked. This is not merely a question of armaments but of far-reaching transformations. That the products of this labor process are delivered to the fronts is only one aspect of it; the other, invisible but no less effective, is at work within the nations themselves. Thus no nation will be demobilized in the same form as that in which it entered the war. War is the great forger of nations as it is of hearts. (p. 56)"
"At the same time the figure of the worker, losing its titanic cast, will reveal new aspects of itself - then it will be seen what relation it bears to tradition, creation, happiness and religion. (p. 57)"
"In this connection there is no point in going into details. (p. 59)"He does not believe that a United Europe is a utopian project, pointing out that "the world knows states where the most diverse nations, races and tongues are united. (p. 59)" He here mentions the USA, USSR, Switzerland and the British Empire. But today the USSR has fallen and Britain has not been an Empire for a long time. While up to the end of the WWII it might have seemed that the direction of history was towards states (or Empires) of ever greater size and diversity, postwar developments have not clearly borne that out.
"There should be uniformity of organization in whatever concerns technical matters, industry, commerce, communications, trade, weights and measures, and defense. (p. 60)"
"Liberty, on the other hand, dominates in diversity - wherever nations and men differ. That applies to their history, their speech and race, to their customs and habits, their art and their religion. Here there cannot be too many colors on the palette. (p. 61)"
"Europe can become a fatherland, yet many homelands will remain within its territories. (p. 61)"Law, economics, science and technology will continue on their universalist path but the various cultures and ethnicities will at the same time be sacrosanct. But today we have to ask, after well nigh 50 years of postmodernism, how is this possible when the cultural tends to become the political and therefore tears at the fabric (I mean to say at any possible fabric) of political unity?
"The peace must not be founded solely on human reason [...it must] also exist as a holy covenant. (p. 62)"Without religion our author wonders
"What do treaties avail"?He then argues that nihilism was strongest in Germany and Russia and that was why
"between these two peoples that the war assumed its purest form. (p. 62)"The word 'pure' here must not be understood as praise. The eastern front consisted of two nihilisms (Nazis, Stalinists) at war, and we are left to infer that the infamous horrors that occurred on the eastern front derive from that fact. Jünger pointedly notes that this nihilism first came to power in the USSR and only then in Nazi Germany, as a 'reaction'. The historian Ernst Nolte made this argument famous - or, if you like, infamous - years later.
"in spite of all tribunals and treaties we will plunge deeper into destruction if the transformation remains purely humanitarian and is not accompanied by a theological one. (p. 63)"With this our author breaks from all forms of secularism, whether of the left or the right.
"although America, like Russia, will exert a powerful influence on Europe, neither of these two possibilities will be realized. (p. 66)"Thus Jünger's Europe is to be a 'third way' between both the Soviet and the American way.
"Technical knowledge should be kept in its place. (p. 67)"How?
"That is possible only if men strengthen themselves metaphysically in proportion to the growth of technical science. (p. 67)"The 'new theology' begins here. This theology will be "knowledge of the deepest causes and of the highest law which shaped the world. (p. 67)" It is, according to our author, the danger of nihilism that makes the 'new theology' necessary. And now he reveals the limits of his tolerance of cultural differences:
"Whoever places his trust in man and human wisdom alone cannot speak as judge, nor can he expound as teacher, heal as doctor or serve the state as official. These are modes of life that ends with the hangman in the seats of the mighty. (p. 68)"
"The state therefore acts in its own interests if it not only advances the great doctrines of salvation, but places its trust in those of its citizens who confess to belief in an intelligence transcending man's. To the extent that this comes about we will see nihilism decline, the desert shrink - just as persecution on grounds of faith flourished when nihilism was strongest. (p. 68)"
"The view is still widely held that to re-establish order it would suffice to return to the liberal state. But that would merely mean returning to our point of departure. (p.69)"That is why liberalism must end according to our author; it failed to stop nihilism. and it will so fail again.
"The true conquest of nihilism and the attainment of peace will be possible only with the help of the churches. (p.69)"Thus education must now "aim at adherence to a faith and not indifference. (p.69)" Jünger argues that:
"man is determined to believe; that he has demonstrated by the very strength with which he has clutched at absurdities, at fleeting phantasms of the mind. (p. 70)"So, while the various European secularists (liberal and socialist, and let's be honest and here add the German 'Konservative Revolutionaries' too) all believe that religion is a dead issue, Jünger maintains that the need to believe among the people was unbroken; thus the only real question then is - what, exactly, will they believe? And so this turn to theology on the part of our author can be said to be based on prudence...
"Diversity of peoples, races and nations - besides these Europe can also possess a diversity of churches, no matter with what rites and symbols they worship. (p. 71)"But even this has its limits:
"In Europe, however, the state church can only be the Christian church. (p. 71)"The Christian church gained this right in the crucible of war, for it opposed the totalitarian monsters. Thus simple faith and complex theology proved superior to the 'subtle systems' of Man.
"They all lead to murder and the cult of power. (p. 72)"The World Wars have taught the futility of merely human solutions.
"The people must be brought back to Christian morals, without which they are rendered as defenseless prey to destruction. (p. 72-73)"
"That is the prospect which nihilism has to offer - the great triumph of death after which it yearns. (p.75)"Diversity without liberalism, Europe a single empire, the world divided by several empires. And religion guiding all... - It is the medieval plus technology! And this is, according to our author, our last hope to evade Destruction.
"The real struggle in which we are involved is more and more clearly that between the powers of destruction and the powers of life. In that fight the fighters for justice stand shoulder to shoulder like the chivalry of old. (p. 77)"