Counter Currents Staff
Cloverfield

[1]1,608 words

10 Cloverfield Lane is an interesting piece of work, and one relevant to the national question, for two related reasons. Firstly, there is the theme of alien invasion, familiar from the contemporary political situation with regard to immigration. Secondly, there is the character of Howard, a man quite dedicated to keeping himself and others safe from this invasion. This character is disquieting in several related ways which should be familiar to the alt right.

Howard, played by John Goodman, lives in an underground bunker after a devastating attack, one whose nature and source he is not sure of but which makes him unwilling to return to the surface. Contamination and aliens are included in his unclear explanation. He shares the bunker with a young woman named Michelle, who he has abducted after crashing into her car with his truck, and a young man who helped build the structure and claims to have forced his way in.

[2]

Howard charmingly introduces himself to Michelle.

Emmett, the young man in the bunker, comes across as not very bright and does not suspect Howard on his own. Michelle, though, is immediately suspicious. This is not only because she initially wakes up chained to a wall, but based on the old man’s strange mannerisms and outlandish talk about the attack. She eventually convinces Emmett that the two of them must escape.

Howard’s creepiness is a major theme of the movie, although the word is never used. The basic issue is that he seems to lack normal connections with others, and not only because most others are already dead. This isolation includes family; he says his wife has left him, but although he is old enough to have gray hair, it is not clear that he has ever had either a wife or children. A young woman he claims was his daughter “Megan” was in fact a former classmate of Emmett’s, a girl he abducted and killed in unclear circumstances.

[3]

Michelle finds evidence of what happened to “Megan.”

Howard’s alienation from others is not difficult to explain when we consider his personality. He shows no sign of being able to relate to Michelle or even wanting to relate to Emmett. He brags that he has saved Michelle’s life and repeatedly makes it clear that he expects gratitude, which in this context refers to romance. According to his formulaic way of thinking, providing someone with some benefit entitles you to a relationship with them. This of course does not work out as he hopes; he is an old man with a terrifying personality, so his feelings for Michelle are not reciprocated.

In one sense the old man’s attitude toward Michelle is similar to the way in which some racial egalitarians try to be benefactors to outgroups with whom there is little basis for a human connection. Westerners cannot have healthy relationships with starving children in Africa, regardless of how much contact they have with them, how much aid they give them, or even how many they adopt; they have too little in common. Obviously Howard’s intentions are different, but there is a strange disregard of one’s own limits here which some cucks share with Howard.

[4]

Howard confronts Michelle over her flirting with Emmett, calling her a traitor.

Howard sees Emmett resentfully as a competitor for Michelle’s affection. He shows a striking lack of sympathy for him and angrily discourages his attempts to engage in light-hearted conversation over dinner. When Michelle attempts to flirt with Emmett, Howard becomes enraged, accuses her of betraying him, and demands an apology and a promise to “behave.” It would not be out of character for him to be unable to recognize flirting, but he would also consider the two of them becoming romantically involved to be a betrayal in itself, as he hopes to make Michelle his wife.

Although his fears about aliens ultimately turn out to be well-founded, it is clear from the beginning that the man of the bunker is paranoid and controlling. He initially forbids Emmett to touch Michelle and does not trust the young woman to even use the bathroom alone or according to her own schedule.

[5]

Emmett learns the truth of what happened to “Megan.”

Outside of the human problem, Howard is prepared to maintain his own life to his own satisfaction for a long time. His bunker is well-stocked with food and entertainment, and he is perfectly safe from aliens or even desperate humans who might want to enter without his permission. On an emotional level, he is profoundly alienated even from Emmett and Megan, despite living with them. This may remind viewers of the insulated elites of Western nations who suffer little personal risk, physical or emotional, from the social degradation of their own societies, while the general population has quite a different experience.

Howard’s lack of awareness of normal human interactions is profound and dangerous. He does not understand that Michelle is bothered by his behavior, let alone why anyone would be; according to him he seems like “a reasonable guy.” Further, not only is he surprised and angered to not receive romantic interest from a woman he has abducted, but he never abandons the idea that he is obligated to protect her and takes extreme measures to do so, oblivious to what this means for her.

Howard ultimately murders Emmett in front of Michelle. In an attempt to cover up the pair’s escape plans, the young man has confessed to a desire to steal his gun but left Michelle out of the story. Michelle is of course shocked and terrified, but Howard does not entirely understand her reaction, apparently believing that he has rightly protected the two of them from a violent threat.

[6]

After killing Emmett, Howard starts shaving to be more attractive to Michelle.

Instead, after an awkward attempt to comfort Michelle, Howard decides this is an appropriate time for romance. Breathing heavily, he says he wants the two of them to be a “happy family,” offering her a choice of a bowl or a cone for her ice cream, and acting as if the cause of her distress is the limited quality of life inside the shelter rather than the murder of her friend.

Near the end of the film, Michelle is attempting to escape the bunker through an air duct after a violent confrontation with Howard. He warns her that “you don’t know what’s out there” and “you can’t run from them,” as if still concerned for her safety even after plunges a knife into the duct.

One might hope that the situation with the alien invaders was intended as a commentary upon the Third World invasion of Europe. Given the social justice signaling in his previous films such as 2009’s Star Trek, enriched with interracial romance, and the feminist superhero film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, producer J. J. Abrams is not likely sympathetic to the nationalists who are most willing to recognize the invasion. He would likely see them as a great danger in themselves, and this view would be shared by the director and others involved in the project.

If we interpret Howard as a dangerous nationalist fanatic, then, the aliens outside represent the actual aliens flooding into the West from the Third World. This assumes that nationalists are essentially right about the seriousness of the conflict. After escaping the shelter, Michelle sees no sign that communication with the creatures is possible or even desirable. She is attacked by a monstrous lifeform on the ground as well as some kind of hungry machine in the air, and only survives through an unlikely set of lucky breaks. Minus the details of the monsters, this seems more like an invasion by ISIS.

Although the director or producer may not have intended it, a better analogy draws on Howard’s confused self-image, considering himself the great benefactor of another while showing wanton disregard for her well-being. Claims to be protecting Western nations and values by importing people quite hostile to these things are now made all over the West, namely by the political elites, as well as many in the population who sympathize with them. These claims resonate with people who are not murderers themselves but still have something critical in common with Howard.

From this point of view, the monsters outside are not alien in the sense of having allegiance to a foreign nation, let alone a distant planet. Instead they represent a culture which the elites see as equally alien, unthinking, and hostile, namely nationalism. As with Howard in his bunker, they do have a defensive edifice to keep it out, consisting of ideology and taboos. But it is still something they are desperate to protect people from, even at the cost of those people’s lives.

[7]

Michelle still does not love Howard, not even with a choice of dessert presentation.

Although there are of course other internal factors, the perpetuation of the current self-destructive paradigm in the West depends upon a million Howards. They are perfectly competent or even talented in some areas, such as bunker construction, but are at best oblivious to their actions’ impact on others. Their creepy disconnection from human realities, including their belief that nationalism is not natural but pathological, leads them to see themselves as heroes while behaving as the opposite. When faced with others’ perfectly natural suspicion of them, their reaction ranges from baffled to enraged.

Our nations will never entirely be free of Howard, but knowing what he is capable of, we cannot allow him to remain in charge of our governments or our culture. He may have built himself a fine bunker, but we cannot share it with him.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff

[1]3,545 words

Hungarian translation here [2]; Czech translation here [3]


Audio version: To listen in a player, use the one above or click here [4]. To download the mp3, right-click here [4] and choose “save link as” or “save target as.” To subscribe to the CC podcast RSS feed, click here [5].

If I could choose to be anyone from the twentieth century, I would not hesitate for a moment to pick Ernst Jünger. The man did just about everything it was possible to do in his time, and stretched the limits of what one individual can accomplish in a lifetime to their breaking point. His incredible lifespan alone (he died a month shy of his 103rd birthday) spanned the Kaiserreich, the German Revolution, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, the Federal Republic of Germany, and finally, reunited Germany in his final decade – and was active in all of them. As such, his life itself can be seen as a symbol of Germany in the twentieth century, albeit he remained unconventional throughout all of its phases.

Although Jünger is commonly perceived as having been something of a Prussian aristocrat, he was in fact born into a middle-class family in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg. Jünger was quite physically active as a youth, and developed a passion for reading and writing early on. In 1913 he ran away from home in order to join the French Foreign Legion and made it to Algeria, but was dismissed from the service after only six weeks after the German Foreign Office (acting on behalf of his father) informed the Legionary authorities that Jünger was underage.

Jünger did not have to wait long to realize his dream of becoming a soldier, however, with the outbreak of the First World War the following summer. On August 1, 1914, the day Germany declared war, Jünger volunteered for the 73rd Infantry Regiment of the Hannoverian 19th Division. After receiving his training, he was sent to the front in France in December. Jünger saw combat throughout the remainder of the war, being wounded fourteen times, and he was decorated with the Iron Cross First Class as well as the Prussian Pour le Mérite. After the war, he wrote a series of books based on his experiences, most famously Storm of Steel [6], the book for which he is still best-known in the Anglophone world, and which was closely based on the diaries he had kept during the conflict.

Jünger’s take on war was unconventional in that, unlike other writers of the war, he rejected pacifism, emphasizing the life-affirming, adventurous, and almost mystical qualities of the experience of industrialized trench warfare. This is not to say that he celebrated war, as he certainly did not eschew the unpleasant or ugly aspects of combat, but Jünger adopted a Nietzschean, amoral approach which viewed modern warfare as an opportunity for personal growth and transcendence. Also missing from Storm of Steel was any biographical or political approach; one would learn very little about the politics or strategies of the war from reading it, and even less about Jünger’s life prior to the war. The early drafts of the book contained a number of passages celebrating German nationalism, but Jünger, who revised the book many times in later years, would soon come to remove them from future editions, keeping the focus solely on the experience of the war as seen by the front-line soldier.

Jünger’s war books became bestsellers during the Weimar period and especially later, during the Third Reich. In the 1920s they secured his veneration by German nationalist circles, including the fledgling National Socialist Party. Jünger remained as an officer (Lieutenant) in the German Army until 1923, however, and as such refrained from participating in politics, and later recorded how during this period he struggled with drug addiction as a result of the physical and psychic wounds he had suffered in the war (a problem he soon overcame). Upon leaving the Army, he briefly participated in the nationalist Freikorps, but left quite soon, by his own account because he found the people in it to be of generally low character, who frequently asked to borrow money from him.

Jünger wrote a great deal during the Weimar period, and was also a student of biology, zoology, and botany, and he became a noted entomologist, a field with which he was to continue to be preoccupied throughout his life (indeed, one species of beetle even bears his name). He also became an accomplished photographer. He wrote many essays for a number of nationalist publications – were Counter-Currents to have existed at the time, Jünger surely would have been contributing to it – in which he made his disdain for the values of democracy well-known. He never joined any party, however, and while he maintained contact with the National Socialists as well as with other parties, he refused to participate in any direct way. Indeed, he was twice offered a seat in the Reichstag by the Nazis – on the first occasion, in 1927, he turned it down with the quip, “It is much more honorable to write one good line than to represent sixty thousand idiots in parliament.”

It was to the circle known as the “Conservative Revolutionaries” that Jünger was most closely associated, however: those thinkers who were not merely engaged in the polemical struggles of the day, but who were reevaluating politics – indeed, all aspects of the modern world, including the very nature of society itself – at its most fundamental level, rejecting not only liberal democracy but also Communism, seeking a new synthesis of Germany’s aristocratic, hierarchical traditions with socialism. It was a monumental project which perhaps has no precedent in the West since the ancient Greeks. This circle included Oswald Spengler and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and influenced Martin Heidegger and Julius Evola, among many others.  Like many of the Conservative Revolutionaries, Jünger freely mixed with both the radical Right and Left, and was as interested in the activities of the German Communists and anarchists as he was in the nationalists.

Jünger was especially close to Ernst Niekisch, who was the leader of the current known as the “National Bolsheviks,” which sought to combine nationalism with the best elements of Communism, and Jünger was a frequent contributor to Niekisch’s newspaper, Widerstand (Resistance). Many years later, he was to remark that if Niekisch had become the leader of Germany in the 1930s instead of Hitler, that the history of Germany in the twentieth century would have taken an entirely different, and more successful, course.

In 1932, Jünger published what is still seen as his most important philosophical work: Der Arbeiter (The Worker [7]), which outlined the type of civilization he imagined for the future (more on this later). It was also during this year that he published his last nationalist writings, adopting an apolitical attitude from that point forward.

He greeted Hitler and his Party’s rise to power without enthusiasm. He turned down all offers of official posts from them, refused to allow his writings to appear in official Nazi publications, and would not appear on Nazi radio broadcasts. Jünger largely withdrew from public life, although he continued to write and publish, and his early war books were celebrated more than ever before. In 1939, he published the novel On the Marble Cliffs [8], which is a thinly-veiled allegory about totalitarianism, depicting a pastoral community of traditional, aristocratic people destroyed by a ruthless dictator known as the Head Forester. Whether the novel was intended as an allegory for Nazism or for Communism, or both, is still debated. Surprisingly, the book was never banned, and Jünger was not blacklisted for publishing it, likely due to the high regard in which he was held by Hitler personally because of his war record and war books.

In spite of his antipathy for the Nazis, however, Jünger was nonetheless recalled to the German Army shortly before the Second World War broke out and was given the rank of Captain, which he willingly accepted. He was assigned the command of the 2nd Company of the 287th Regiment of the Wehrmacht, and participated in the invasion of France in 1940, winning himself another Iron Cross. Jünger saw little combat for the remainder of the war, however, and was instead assigned as an officer of the occupation in Paris. One of his duties was censoring letters; he later claimed to have saved the lives of several people by destroying letters that he knew would have run them afoul of the authorities. Apart from this, he spent most of his time visiting bookshops in Paris and spending time with artists and writers such as Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. He also kept a series of diaries during this period (as yet untranslated) which are regarded as being among his greatest works.

Like many of the senior officers of the Wehrmacht, however, Jünger was fearful for the fate of Germany when the fortunes of the war took a turn for the worse, and he was an inspiration to many of those who took part in Claus von Stauffenberg’s plot against Hitler in July 1944. Jünger had been in contact with many of the plotters (including Erwin Rommel), circulating a secret document entitled The Peace, which was a blueprint for a new post-war and post-Nazi order for Europe. Although Jünger’s peripheral role in the conspiracy was known to the Nazis, he only suffered dismissal from the Wehrmacht, and no additional punishment – again, likely due to the high esteem in which he was held by the Nazi leadership and by the German public in general. Jünger’s son, Ernst Jr., a naval cadet, was arrested the same year for allegedly holding subversive talks, and he was sentenced to serve in a Wehrmacht penal unit, and was killed in action in Italy in November 1944.

After the war, Jünger found himself in the unenviable position that all of the survivors of the Conservative Revolution were thrown into: although he had never been a National Socialist, and in fact had resisted them to some degree, he had nevertheless been a well-known figure of the Right and had contributed to the milieu which had allowed the Nazis to rise to power, not to mention his Wehrmacht service. As such, he was still regarded with suspicion by the Allies, and in 1945 the British authorities banned him from publishing for four years. Although he was to continue to write and publish for many decades thereafter, the dark cloud which hangs over all those who have refused to toe the line of the wonders of liberalism and democracy continued to follow Jünger for the rest of his life, and indeed, still overshadows his legacy to this day.

In 1951, Jünger embarked on yet another, much more unorthodox, adventure: he was one of the first people to take LSD. Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who originally synthesized LSD by accident while attempting to develop an anaesthetic for women in childbirth, had been a long-time admirer of Jünger’s books, and after undergoing the psychedelic experience himself, he felt that his only precedent for it was certain lyrical descriptions of mystical states in Jünger’s novels. As such (Hofmann recounts the story in his book LSD: My Problem Child [9]), he contacted Jünger and asked him if he was interested in trying it. Jünger, who had already sampled a wide variety of drugs in earlier life, eagerly accepted, and in 1951 Hofmann showed up at his home, where the two took it together (under medical supervision). Jünger was quite fascinated by the experience, which he wrote about in fictional form in his novella, Visit to Godenholm [10], recently translated into English by Annabel Lee for Edda Publishing in Sweden. Hofmann and Jünger continued to trip together occasionally for many years afterwards, apparently well into Jünger’s 90s (Hofmann likewise lived to age 102, passing away in 2008). Jünger writes about all of his drug experiences in his as-yet-untranslated book, Annäherungen.

In spite of the continuing controversy regarding his involvement with the Right, Jünger nevertheless became a literary celebrity in post-war West Germany, as well as in France, where most of his work has been translated, and he won many literary prizes across Europe. He likewise travelled the world, and is said to have visited every continent except Antarctica. His stature was such that in 1984, when Germany and France held a ceremony of reconciliation at Verdun, the site of one of the great battles of the First World War, Jünger was asked to act as a mediator between German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President François Mitterrand, the latter of whom was a professed admirer of Jünger’s work.

Jünger continued to be productive into his old age, publishing dozens of books – works of fiction, including books that could fairly be called science fiction, as well as non-fiction on a wide variety of topics (the final edition of his Collected Works consists of twenty-two volumes) – and many more essays, the last of which was published only weeks before his death in 1998.

The question that is probably in the minds of many Counter-Currents readers is, was Jünger still a man of the Right after 1932? There is no easy answer. Julius Evola, who praised Jünger’s Weimar-era work and published a book on The Worker in 1960, nevertheless regarded Jünger as a traitor for going back on his oath of loyalty by participating (however peripherally) in the plot against Hitler in 1944, and saw him as selling out to the liberal values of the new Republic in the post-war years.

As for the first accusation, while it cannot be denied, one must take into account the circumstances of the time. By 1944, Germany was facing certain defeat, and Hitler’s announced policy of total war and fighting to the last man was already leading to the complete devastation of the country. Also, most of the leaders of the Stauffenberg plot were Prussian aristocrats who had no intention of allowing Germany to become a liberal Anglo-American colony in the aftermath of their success. Rather, their intention was to insist on an independent Germany which would side with the Western allies in a continuing struggle against the Soviets – but they made it clear that they would not countenance the wholesale surrender of the country. Jünger’s desire to see Hitler overthrown could therefore be seen as a form of loyalty to his people, even if he was expressing disloyalty to its leaders.

As for the second, I think it is unjustified. While Jünger clearly softened in his later years (he would refer to his early works as his “Old Testament” – but he never disavowed any of them), it is clear to see even in his post-war writings that he was far from a liberal democrat. Jünger always remained an elitist who sought to stand apart from the crowd, and expressed horror at the dehumanizing effects of the ever-accelerating modern world (as he had predicted in The Worker). In his later decades, if anything, Jünger could be fairly described as an anarchist – not of the form one associates with the antifa and street demonstrations, but rather in believing that the modern state has become a prison for the individual, and that only by standing aloof from it and living on one’s own terms, and according to values of one’s own making, can one hope to attain any genuine freedom in a world dominated by bureaucrats with incredible and unprecedented forces at their disposal.

But there is also some evidence that Jünger never really lost his interest in the Right. For example, Alain de Benoist, the founder of the French New Right, has related [11] how he was at a stand at a book festival in Nice in 1977 when Ernst Jünger unexpectedly approached him, striking up a conversation. As Benoist tells it, Jünger was very much interested in the activities of his GRECE organization, and the two continued to correspond until Jünger’s death. This is significant, given that the New Right is very much a continuation of the efforts of the German Conservative Revolutionaries. Also, as I learned in Lennart Svennson’s book about [12]Jünger [12], the German Right-wing journal Junge Freiheit [13], which has been published weekly since 1986, revealed after his passing that he had been a long-time subscriber. According to one of their writers, Thorsten Thaler, Jünger always took the latest issue with him on his travels, praising the journal for taking an unconventional stance between mainstream conservatism and the radical Right. So in spite of the fact that he refrained from commenting on politics directly, it seems that Jünger never truly turned his back on it.

It would be impossible to summarize all of Jünger’s literary work in an essay of this size, but there are three works which seem to epitomize the archetypal periods of his thought. The first is The Worker from 1932, which marked the culmination of his nationalist period. He did not use the concept of “the Worker” in a Marxist, classist sense, but rather as an archetype: the Worker is man engaged in any sort of productive or creative endeavor. Jünger believed that the industrial processes which had shaped and supported the impersonal killing fields of the First World War were soon to be implemented across the world, in all fields, and that the individual was doomed to be swallowed up in the processes of collectivization. For Jünger, this would be a world dominated entirely by impersonal forces in which all traditional values would be destroyed in favor of the value of material goods: mass production and consumption. In short, it would be a world made up of nothing but numbers. However, Jünger did see a possible upside to this disturbing vision: he also predicted the rise of a new race of Worker-Titans, Faustian men who would use these new powers as a means of achieving superhuman aims. Humanity as we know it would be destroyed, but the Titans of the future might give rise to something new and more powerful, attaining god-like status.

In 1951, Jünger published The Forest Passage [14], and this is very much the reflections of a man who has lived through the horrors of the World Wars, and who now sees his homeland divided and occupied between the forces of liberal democracy on one side and totalitarian Communism on the other, which are not only imprisoning the individuals under their rule but threaten to unleash apocalyptic destruction at any moment. Jünger no longer talks of the superhuman potential of the Titans to make use of these forces. Rather, he speaks of the “forest rebel,” he who flees into the forest (symbolically), like a guerrilla fighter, to escape the ravages of the modern world and the forces of authoritarianism which seek to dominate and control him (already in this book, Jünger claims that America is “nearing perfection” in this technique through the use of radio and television). The forest rebel is one who withdraws from participating in this inhuman society as much as possible, living according to his own rules, but who seeks to undermine society by performing acts of resistance (even if these are doomed to failure), or through personal disciplines and religious practices. Jünger also calls upon the Germanic tradition of the home as one’s sanctuary: one’s home is a place of freedom, he writes, not because that freedom is guaranteed by law, which can betray you, but rather because one is prepared to fight anyone who tries to violate that space.

And lastly, there is the post-apocalyptic novel Eumeswil [15], published in 1977, which draws on the ideas of Max Stirner and other anarchists. In it, Jünger introduces the concept of the Anarch. “The Anarch is to the anarchist, what the monarch is to the monarchist,” he writes. The Anarch is one who participates fully in modern life, but who is not inwardly part of it. Internally, he still has his own beliefs and values, and sees himself strictly as an observer of events. In other words, he is in this world, but not of it. It bears a striking resemblance to Evola’s idea of apoliteia, and of “riding the tiger.”

Whatever one thinks of Jünger’s life and work, it is undeniable that he was one of the most prominent members of an increasingly rare breed – that of geniuses who make important strides in many different fields simultaneously, and who make a brilliant work of art out of their own lives, both in terms of what they do as well as how they live it. In our age of small men who are encouraged to never grow up and to keep their ambitions low, Jünger is a towering figure from the Age of Titans, a man who dared to live life on his own terms and contributed to transforming the world around him in the process.

While a great deal of Jünger’s work is available in nearly every other European language, for some reason his books, apart from Storm of Steel, have never caught on in the Anglophone world, and only a small portion of his body of work has been published in English. Fortunately, Telos Press has been making an effort to remedy this situation, and in recent years has issued a number of his works in translation. An excellent introduction to Jünger’s life and ideas is the film 102 Years in the Heart of Europe [16], which consists of an interview with him that was shot by a Swedish crew only a year before his death interspersed with narration.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff

2,860 slov [1]

English original here [2]; Hungarian translation here [3]

Kdybych mohl být kýmkoliv z dvacátého století, ani na vteřinu bych neváhal s volbou Ernsta Jüngera. Tento muž totiž ve svém vymezeném čase vyzkoušel takřka všechno a napnul hranice toho, čeho může jednotlivec v životě dosáhnout, až na úplné maximum. Jeho nesmírně dlouhý život (zemřel měsíc před svými 103. narozeninami) překlenul Kaiserreich [4], německou revoluci, Výmarskou republiku, Třetí říši, Spolkovou republiku Německo a konečně v poslední dekádě jeho života také sjednocené Německo – a v každém z těchto období aktivně působil. Jeho život lze tedy chápat jako symbol Německa 20. století, přestože Jünger sám zůstával za každého režimu velmi nekonvenční.

Přestože bývá obecně pokládán za pruského aristokrata, ve skutečnosti se Jünger narodil do středostavovské rodiny z Heidelbergu ve spolkové zemi Bádensko-Würtembersko. V roce 1913 utekl z domova, aby se přidal k francouzské Cizinecké legii a dostal se až do Alžírska. Po pouhých šesti týdnech však byl propuštěn, když německá ministerstvo zahraničí (jednající na základě pokynů jeho otce) sdělilo velení Legie, že Jünger ještě není plnoletý.

Na splnění svého vojáckého snu však mladý Ernst příliš dlouho čekat nemusel, protože hned následujícího léta vypukla 1. světová válka. 1. srpna 1914, tedy stejného dne, kdy Německo vyhlásilo válku, narukoval Jünger jako dobrovolník do 73. hannoverského pěšího pluku generála polního maršála prince Albrechta Pruského (Füsilier-Regiment Generalfeldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen /Hann./ Nr. 73 [5]). Po absolvování výcviku ho v prosinci poslali na frontu do Francie. V boji pak Jünger vytrval až do konce války, čtrnáctkrát byl zraněn a za své bojové výkony byl vyznamenán Železným křížem [6] [druhé i] první třídy a pruským řádem Pour le Mérite [7]. Po skončení války tuto svou zkušenost zpracoval v sérii knih, z nichž tou jistě nejslavnější je V ocelových bouřích, která ho nejvíce proslavila v anglicky mluvícím prostředí a jež ve velké míře vychází z jeho válečných deníků.

Jüngerův vlastní postoj válce se vymykal běžným kategoriím – na rozdíl od ostatních spisovatelů odmítal pacifismus a místo toho se soustředil na život utvrzující, dobrodružné a takřka mystické rozměry zkušenosti zprůmyslněné zákopové války. To samo o sobě ještě nutně neznamená, že by válku oslavoval, v žádném případě se totiž nevyhýbal popisu ošklivých stránek boje, zaujal k moderní válce však nietzscheovský amorální postoj, když ji vnímal jako příležitost k osobnímu růstu a transcendenci. Nápadně nepřítomné byly (v knize) V ocelových bouřích jakékoliv biografické nebo politické prvky – z jejich řádek se toho člověk o politice nebo válečné strategii dozví velice málo a ještě méně pak o Jüngerově předválečném životě. Původní verze knihy obsahovaly i četné pasáže oslavující německý nacionalismus, ale Jünger je v rámci četných pozdějších revizí z dalších vydání odstranil, aby tak zdůraznil sílu válečného zážitku očima frontového vojáka.

Jeho válečná díla se ve výmarském období, a zvláště pak za Třetí říše, stala bestsellery. Ve 20. letech mu zajistila obdiv německých nacionalistických kruhů včetně lidí z prostředí rodící se NSDAP. Jünger však zůstal důstojníkem (poručíkem) německé armády až do roku 1923 a politiky se tedy neúčastnil. Později vzpomínal, jak v této době bojoval se závislostí na drogách vyvolanou fyzickými i psychickými traumaty utrženými za války (tento problém brzy překonal). Po odchodu z armády se nakrátko přidal k nacionalistickému Freikorpsu [Gerharda Roßbacha [8]], odkud ale brzy odešel, podle vlastních slov zejména proto, že lidé v této jednotce měli zpravidla dosti chabý charakter a často si od něj chtěli půjčovat peníze.

Za Výmarské republiky toho Jünger hodně napsal, studoval biologii, zoologii a botaniku a stal se i uznávaným entomologem. Tímto oborem se zabýval celý život a jeden druh brouka po něm dokonce byl pojmenován. Vypracoval se také ve zdatného fotografa. Svými esejemi přispíval do řady nacionalistických publikací – kdyby tehdy existovaly Counter-Currents, psal by Jünger jistě i pro ně – a nijak se v nich netajil svým znechucením z demokratických hodnot. Nikdy se však nestal členem žádné strany a i když udržoval styky s národními socialisty i dalšími politickými hráči, přímo se zapojit do politiky odmítal. Národní socialisté mu opakovaně nabízeli křeslo v Říšském kancléřství, on jej však při první příležitosti v roce 1927 odmítl se slovy: „Napsat jednu dobrou řádku je mnohem čestnější, než zastupovat v parlamentu šedesát tisíc idiotů.“

Nejčastěji však bývá Jünger spojován s kruhy známými jako „konzervativní revolucionáři“: tito myslitelé se nevěnovali jen aktuálním dobovým polemikám, ale zamýšleli se také nad politikou – a vlastně všemi aspekty moderního světa, včetně povahy společnosti samotné – na té nejzákladnější úrovni, když odmítali liberální demokracii i komunismus a hledali novou syntézu německých aristokratických a hierarchických tradic se socialismem. Takto monumentální projekt neměl na Západě obdoby od dob slávy starověkého Řecka. K tomuto proudu se řadí třeba Oswald Spengler či Arthur Moeller van den Bruck a ovlivnil i myšlení mj. Martina Heideggera nebo Julia Evoly. Podobně jako mnozí konzervativní revolucionáři si Jünger volně vypůjčoval od radikální pravice i levice a o činnost německých komunistů a anarchistů se zajímal stejně živě jako o dění v nacionalistických kruzích.

Zvlášť těsný vztah pak udržoval s přední postavou národně bolševického hnutí Ernstem Niekischem, který se snažil spojit nacionalismus s tím nejlepším z komunismu a často přispíval do jeho časopisu Widerstand (Odpor). O mnoho let později Jünger poznamenal, že kdyby se v 30. letech stal místo Hitlera vůdcem Německa Niekisch, dějiny země ve 20. století by se ubíraly zcela odlišným a podstatně úspěšnějším směrem.

Roku 1932 vydal Jünger knihu dodnes pokládanou za jeho nejvýznamnější filozofické dílo: Der Arbeiter (Dělník – momentálně není dostupné v angličtině, přestože Northwestern University Press na letošek ohlásil vydání překladu /kniha již vyšla [9] – pozn. DP/), kde vykreslil typ civilizace, jíž si představoval do budoucna (ještě se k tomu vrátíme). Téhož roku také publikoval poslední své nacionalistické texty, aby napříště zaujal zásadově apolitický postoj.

Nástup Hitlera a jeho strany k moci přijal bez velkého nadšení: odmítl všechny nabízené oficiální pozice a nesvolil ani k otištění svých textů v oficiálních nacistických publikacích nebo vystoupením v rozhlasových pořadech. V podstatě se stáhl z veřejného života, přestože dál psal a publikoval a jeho starší válečná díla se těšila větší oblibě než kdy předtím. V roce 1939 vydal román Na mramorových útesech, jen pro forma skrytou alegorii o totalitářství. Idylické společenství tradičního aristokratického lidu zde ohrožuje a ničí vzestup nemilosrdného diktátora: Nadlesního. Zda tato alegorie směřovala proti nacismu, komunismu nebo oběma, zůstává dodnes předmětem debat. Kniha však překvapivě zakázána nebyla a Jüngerovi nezajistila ani zařazení na černou listinu – zřejmě díky respektu, jež k němu Hitler kvůli jeho válečnému hrdinství a tvorbě osobně choval.

I přes svou nechuť k nacistům byl však Jünger krátce před vypuknutím války povolán do armády v hodnosti kapitána, kterou ochotně přijal. Bylo mu svěřeno velení 2. pěší roty 287. pluku Wehrmachtu, s nímž se zapojil do letního francouzského tažení v roce 1940, za něž získal další Železný kříž.

Do konce války se pak už do boje nedostal a prožil ji jako důstojník okupační správy v Paříži. Jednou z jeho povinností byla také cenzura korespondence; později tvrdil, že několika lidem zachránil životy, když zničil dopisy, které by jim zle zatopily u úřadů. Kromě toho trávil hodně času v pařížských knihkupectvích a s umělci i spisovateli jako Pablo Picasso a Jean Cocteau. Vedl si také několik sérií (dosud nepřeložených) deníků, jež jsou počítány mezi jeho nejlepší díla.

Když se však válečné štěstí otočilo, stejně jako řada vysokých armádních důstojníků se i Jünger začal obávat o osud Německa. Obraceli se na něj mnozí z těch, kteří se později zapojili do spiknutí a pokusu o atentát Clause von Stauffenberga proti Hitlerovi v červenci 1944. Jünger byl v kontaktu s řadou spiklenců (včetně Erwina Rommela) a podílel se na šíření tajného dokumentu nazvaného Mír, nákresu poválečného a postnacistického uspořádání Evropy. Přestože byla nacistům jeho okrajová úloha v komplotu známá, byl potrestán jen propuštěním z armády bez dalšího trestu – zřejmě i v tomto případě díky úctě, již se těšil u nacistického vedení i německé veřejnosti. Jeho syn Ernst mladší, námořní kadet, byl téhož roku zatčen za údajné vedení podvratných řečí a odsouzen ke službě v trestné jednotce Wehrmachtu. Padl v boji na italské frontě v listopadu 1944.

Po válce se Jünger ocitl v podobně nezáviděníhodné pozici jako všichni ostatní přeživší konzervativní revolucionáři: přestože nikdy nebyl národním socialistou a vlastně se režimu do jisté míry postavil na odpor, patřil k nejznámějším postavám pravice a přispěl k vytvoření milieu, jež umožnilo nástup nacismu moci, nemluvě pak o jeho službě v branné moci. Proto na něj Spojenci pohlíželi s nemalým podezřením a v roce 1945 mu britská okupační správa zakázala na čtyři roky publikovat. Přestože pak v psaní pokračoval ještě dlouhá desetiletí, nikdy už se nad ním nepřestal vznášet temný mrak nerozdílně doprovázející všechny, kteří se odmítli plně poddat kouzlu liberalismu a demokracie. Ten ho ostatně doprovází i po jeho smrti a dodnes vrhá stín na jeho odkaz.

V roce 1951 se Jünger pustil do nového a snad ještě neortodoxnějšího dobrodružství: jako jeden z prvních lidí vyzkoušel LSD. Švýcarský chemik Albert Hofmann, kterému se původně podařilo syntetizovat LSD omylem, když se snažil vyvinout anestetikum pro rodičky, byl už dávno příznivcem Jüngerovy tvorby, a když sám prodělal psychedelickou zkušenost, jediný srovnatelný precedent podle svého mínění našel v některých lyrických popisech mystických stavů z Jüngerových románů. Proto tedy Hofmann (který příhodu popisuje ve své knize LSD: Mé nezvedené dítě [10]) kontaktoval Jüngera s dotazem, zda by neměl zájem LSD vyzkoušet. Jünger, který už v mládí okusil širokou paletu drog, nadšeně přijal a v roce 1951 Hofmann přijel k němu domů, kde oba si LSD (pod lékařským dohledem) vzali. Pro Jüngera to byl fascinující zážitek, který v beletrické formě popsal v novele Návštěva Godenholmu, nedávno přeložené do angličtiny Anabel Leeovou pro švédské nakladatelství Edda. Hofmann s Jüngerem pak s tripy na občasné bázi pokračovali ještě dlouho potom, prý až do desáté dekády Jüngerova života (i Hofmann žil až do 102 let, zemřel v roce 2008). O všech svých zážitcích s drogami Jünger píše ve svém dosud nepřeloženém díle Annäherungen.

I přes trvající kontroverzi zapříčiněnou jeho dřívější angažovaností na pravici se Jünger v poválečném Západním Německu i Francii stal literární celebritou, když byla přeložena většina jeho knížek a získal řadu literárních cen po celé Evropě. Procestoval celý svět a navštívil všechny kontinenty s výjimkou Antarktidy. Jeho renomé vzrostlo natolik, že když roku 1984 slavily Německo s Francii smiřovací ceremonii u Verdunu, na místě jedné z největších bitev 1. světové války, požádali Jüngera, aby se ujal role prostředníka mezi německým kancléřem Helmutem Kohlem a francouzským prezidentem Françoisem Mitterrandem, který se nijak netajil svým obdivem k německému spisovateli.

Ani v pokročilém věku nepřestával Jünger pracovat: vydal tucty knih – beletrie, z nichž některé lze směle nazvat sci-fi i literaturu faktu na různá témata (konečná edice jeho Sebraných spisů má dvaadvacet svazků) – a nespočet esejí, z nichž ta poslední vyšla jen pár týdnů před jeho skonem v roce 1998.

Mnoha čtenářům teď jistě vrtá hlavou otázka, zda Jünger zůstal i po roce 1932 mužem pravice? Snadná odpověď na ni asi neexistuje. Julius Evola, který vysoce hodnotil díla Jüngerova výmarského období a v roce 1960 vydal Dělníka, Jüngera označil pro jeho porušení slibu věrnosti účastí (jakkoliv okrajovou) na spiknutí proti Hitlerovi v roce 1944 za zrádce a považoval ho za zaprodance liberálním hodnotám nové poválečné republiky.

U prvního obvinění, přestože jej nelze popřít, musí hodnotící vzít v potaz dobové okolnosti. V roce 1944 stálo Německo před jistou porážkou a Hitlerem oznámená politika totální války a boje do posledního muže mohla mít jediný výsledek – naprosté zničení země. Většina předních postav Stauffenbergova puče navíc pocházela z pruské aristokracie a neměla sebemenší touhu nechat Německo po dokonání svého činu proměnit na liberální angloamerickou kolonii. Místo toho doufali ve vytvoření nezávislého Německa, které by po boku západních spojenců pokračovalo v boji proti Sovětům – dali však jasně najevo, že žádná bezpodmínečná kapitulace země nepřipadá v úvahu. Jüngerovu touhu vidět odstavení Hitlera od moci lze tedy chápat i jako projev věrnosti svému národu – navzdory projevům neloajality jeho vůdcům.

Co se týče druhého nařčení, považuji jej za neopodstatněné. Přestože v pozdějších letech jeho života u Jüngera pozorujeme jasné zmírnění některých postojů (sám pak mluvil o raných dílech jako o svém „Starém zákonu“ – nikdy se však od žádného z nich nedistancoval), i z jeho poválečné tvorby je jasně patrné, že zůstal liberální demokracii na hony vzdálen. Jünger vždy zůstal v prvé řadě elitářem toužícím vyčlenit se z davu a netajil se svým zděšením z odlidšťujícího působení stále se zrychlující modernizace světa (již předpověděl už v Dělníkovi). V pozdějších desetiletích lze Jüngera dosti přesně popsat jako anarchistu – samozřejmě nikoliv onoho typu, jaký najdeme v řadách antify nebo pouličních demonstrantů; každopádně však soudil, že moderní stát se pro jednotlivce stal vězením a že jedině životem mimo něj, podle svých vlastních podmínek a v souladu se svými vlastními hodnotami může člověk doufat v dosažení jakékoliv skutečné svobody ve světě ovládaném byrokraty, v jejichž rukou se soustředilo nebývalé a až neuvěřitelné množství moci.

Nalezneme však také četné indicie toho, že Jüngerův zájem o pravici trval i v pozdějších letech. Zakladatel francouzské Nové pravice Alain de Benoist například vzpomínal [11], jak k němu u jeho stolku na knižním festivalu v Nice roku 1977 neočekávaně přistoupil Ernst Jünger a dal se s ním do řeči. Podle Francouze se Jünger živě zajímal o činnost jeho skupiny GRECE a oba si pak dopisovali až do konce Jüngerova života. To jistě o mnohém vypovídá, zvlášť uvážíme-li, že Nová pravice je do velké míry pokračováním úsilí a práce německé konzervativní revoluce. Jak jsem se navíc dozvěděl v knize Lennarta Svennsona o Jüngerovi, německý pravicový týdeník Junge Freiheit [12], vycházející už od roku 1986, po jeho skonu odhalil, že slavný spisovatel byl jeho dlouholetým předplatitelem. Podle jednoho z přispěvatelů Junge Feiheit Thorstena Thalera si Jünger vždy bral nejnovější číslo s sebou na cesty a cenil si Junge Freiheit pro její nekonvenční postoj mezi mainstreamovým konzervatismem a radikální pravicí. Přestože se tedy k politice přímo nevyjadřoval, zády se k ní Jünger zřejmě nikdy neobrátil.

V článku tohoto rozsahu samozřejmě nelze adekvátně shrnout celou Jüngerovu literární tvorbu, tři jeho díla však dle mého mínění vystihují archetypální fáze jeho myšlení. Prvním je Der Arbeiter z roku 1932, vyvrcholení Jüngerova nacionalistického období. Pojem „Dělníka“ u něj nemá marxistický třídní význam, definuje ho spíše jako archetyp: Dělník je člověk vykonávající jakoukoliv produktivní nebo tvůrčí činnost. Podle Jüngera měla průmyslová metoda, jež umožnila a utvářela odosobněná vražedná pole Velké války, brzy být zavedena napříč celým světem ve všech oborech. Jednotlivec je pak odsouzen k tomu, aby ho tato kolektivizace pohltila. Pro Jüngera to znamenalo vytvoření světa plně ovládaného neosobními silami, kde dojde ke zničení všech tradičních hodnot těmi materiálními: hromadnou výrobou a spotřebou. Bude to tedy svět plně sestávající z čísel. Jünger však v této znepokojivé vizi nalézal i možné pozitivum: předpověděl i vzestup nové rasy – Dělníků-Titánů, faustovských lidí, kteří díky svým nově nabytým silám dosáhnou nadlidských cílů. Lidstvo, jak jej známe, bude sice zničeno, ale Titáni budoucnosti na jeho troskách možná vybudují něco nového a mocnějšího, když při tom dosáhnou takřka božství.

V roce 1951 vydal Jünger Chůzi lesem [13], reflexi muže, který prošel hrůzami světových válek a jehož vlast si rozdělily a okupují liberálně demokratické mocnosti na jedné, a totalitní komunismus na straně druhé – jež nejen že drží podmaněný národ v zajetí, ale také v každé chvíli hrozit započít zkázu apokalyptických rozměrů. Jünger už nemluví o nadlidském potenciálu Titánů těchto sil využít, místo toho hovoří o „lesním rebelovi [14],“ který (symbolicky) prchá jako partyzán do lesa, aby unikl zničujícímu působení moderního světa a silám autoritářstvím, jež se ho snaží opanovat a kontrolovat (už zde Jünger píše, že Amerika se v této technice využitím rádia a televize „přiblížila dokonalosti“). Lesní chodec se co možná nejvíc vzdává z účastenství na této nelidské společnosti, žije podle svých vlastních zásad, ale současně se snaží oslabit sevření této tyranie akty odporu (i když jsou předem odsouzeny k neúspěchu), sebekázní či náboženskými úkony. Jünger také vzývá germánskou tradici domova coby svatyně: domov je místem svobody, píše, ne díky svobodě zaručené právem, jež ostatně může člověka zradit, ale protože je jeho pán připraven bojovat s každým, kdo by tento prostor pokusil narušit.

A konečně bych do této trojice zařadil postkatastrofický román Eumeswil z roku 1977, jenž hojně čerpá z myšlenek Maxe Stirnera a dalších anarchistů. Jünger zde přichází s pojmem Anarchy: „Anarcha se má k anarchistovi podobně, jako monarcha k monarchistovi“, píše. Anarcha se plně účastní moderního života, ale niterně není jeho součástí. Vnitřně si drží své přesvědčení a hodnoty, sám na sebe však nahlíží zásadně jako pozorovatele událostí. Jinými slovy pobývá v tomto světě, ale není jeho součástí. Nápadně se to podobá Evolovu pojetí apolitei a „jízdy na tygru“.

Ať už hodnotíme Jüngerův život a dílo jakkoliv, nepopiratelně se jedná o jednoho z nejvýraznějších příslušníků vymírajícího druhu – geniů, kteří dosáhnou velkých věcí v několika oborech současně a jejichž život se stává brilantním uměleckým dílem – jak tím, co dělají, tak způsobem žití. Nad naším věkem zmenšených lidí, které nikdo nepohání k tomu vyrůst nebo si klást vysoké cíle, se pak Jünger mocně vypíná jako figura věku Titánů; muž, jenž se odvážil žít podle svých vlastních zásad a tím přispěl k proměně světa kolem sebe.

Přestože je velká část Jüngerova díla k dispozici v mnoha ostatních evropských jazycích, z nějakého důvodu se v anglofonním prostředí jeho knihy s výjimkou V ocelových bouřích nikdy příliš neuchytily, a tak byl přeložen a v angličtině vydán jen zlomek jeho díla. Telos Press se to dnes naštěstí snaží napravit a v posledních letech vydal řadu jeho přeložených knih. Vynikajícím úvodem k Jüngerovu životu a myšlení je film 102 let v srdci Evropy [15], který je vlastně rozhovorem s Jüngerem natočeným švédským štábem jen rok předtím, než jeho smrt proložila vypravěčskou linku snímku.

Překladatel: Tomáš Kupka

Source: https://deliandiver.org/2018/02/muz-dvacateho-stoleti-vzpominame-na-ernsta-jungera-1895-1998.html [16]

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff

2,721 words
[1]

English original [2]; Czech version [3]

Ha választhatnék, hogy melyik XX. századi személyiség életét éljem újra, nem kellene sokáig gondolkodnom. Ernst Jünger szinte mindent átélt, amit a században lehetett, és elment a végső határig abban, amit valaki egy földi pályafutás során elérhet. Egy hónappal a százharmadik születésnapja előtt halt meg – elképesztően hosszú életkora átfogta a Német Császárság, az I. világháború utáni német forradalom, a Weimari Köztársaság, a Harmadik Birodalom és a Német Szövetségi Köztársaság korszakát. Végül élete utolsó évtizedében láthatta az újraegyesült Németországot is, és mindvégig aktívan tevékenykedett.

Pályája ezért önmagában jelképezi Németország XX. századi történelmét, habár ő maga egész életében kívülállónak számított.

Bár Jüngert sokan gondolják valamiféle porosz arisztokratának, valójában polgári családba született a baden-würtenbergi Heidelbergben. Sportos fiatal volt, és korán kialakult az olvasás és írás iránti szenvedélye. 1913-ban elszökött otthonról, és beállt a francia Idegenlégióba. Egészen Algériáig jutott, azonban 6 hét után elbocsátották a szolgálatból, miután a Német Külügyminisztérium – Jünger apja kérésére – tájékoztatta a Légiót, hogy a fiú még fiatalkorú.

Nem kellett azonban sokáig várnia, hogy beteljesüljön az álma és katona lehessen, mivel a következő nyáron kitört az I. világháború. 1914. augusztus 1-jén, azon a napon, amikor Németország hadba lépett, Jünger önkéntesnek jelentkezett a 19. Hannoveri Hadosztály 73. Gyalogsági Ezredébe. Kiképzése után decemberben a francia frontra küldték. A háború hátralévő részét a tűzvonalban töltötte, tizennégyszer sebesült, megkapta az első osztályú Vaskeresztet és a legmagasabb porosz kitüntetést, a Pour le Mérite érdemrendet. A háború után könyveket írt háborús élményeiről – ezek közül a leghíresebb az Acélzivatarban, amely a mai napig a legismertebb műve angol nyelvterületen, és amelyet a háború alatt vezetett naplója alapján írt.* [4]

Jünger szokatlan módon mutatta meg a háborút, mivel – ellentétben más szerzőkkel – elutasította a pacifizmust, és hangsúlyozta az ipari lövészárok-háború életigenlő, kihívásként felfogható, már-már misztikus jellegét. Ezzel nem azt akarjuk mondani, hogy ünnepelte a háborút, mivel egyáltalán nem hallgatta el annak visszataszító vagy csúnya vonatkozásait, de egy nietzschei, amorális attitűd jellemzi, amely a modern háborúban a személyes kiteljesedés és önmeghaladás lehetőségét látja. Szintén hiányzik a könyvből az önéletrajzi és politikai megközelítés – alig tudunk meg valamit a háború politikai vagy stratégiai vonatkozásairól, és még kevesebbet Jünger háború előtti életéről. A könyv első vázlatai még tartalmaztak a német nacionalizmust éltető szövegrészeket, de Jünger a későbbi években állandóan átdolgozta a művet, és ezeket a részeket eltávolította az újabb kiadásokból, amelyek így kizárólag a frontkatona élményeire fókuszáltak.

Jünger könyvei a weimari időszakban, de különösen a Harmadik Birodalom éveiben a sikerlisták élére kerültek. Az 1920-as években nagy tisztelet alakult ki személye körül német nacionalista körökben, így az ekkoriban induló Nemzetiszocialista Pártban is. Főhadnagyi rangban a német hadsereg kötelékében maradt 1923-ig, emiatt nem vett részt közvetlenül a politikai életben. Későbbi visszaemlékezései szerint ebben az időben a háborúban szerzett fizikai és pszichikai sérülései miatt drogfüggő lett (ezt később azonban sikerült legyőznie). Miután távozott a hadseregből, egy rövid ideig a Freikorps nacionalista szabadcsapathoz csatlakozott, de hamarosan otthagyta őket. Saját beszámolója szerint azért, mert a tagság zömét alacsony nívójú emberek alkották, akik állandóan pénzt kértek tőle kölcsön.

Jünger sokat írt a weimari években, valamint biológiát, zoológiát és botanikát tanult, és neves entomológussá vált – a rovarok élete végéig foglalkoztatták (még egy rovarfajt is elneveztek róla). Tehetsége volt a fotóművészethez is. Számos esszét írt nacionalista kiadványok számára – ha a Counter-Currents már létezett volna abban az időben, Jünger bizonyára a szerzőink között lenne –, ezekben világossá tette megvetését a demokratikus értékek iránt. Ennek ellenére sosem lépett be egyetlen pártba sem, és bár kapcsolatban állt a nemzetiszocialistákkal és más szervezetekkel is, visszautasította, hogy közvetlenül részt vegyen a pártpolitikában. A nemzetiszocialisták kétszer is helyet kínáltak neki a Reichstagban, először 1927-ben, ekkor szellemesen így utasította vissza a felkérést: „Sokkal nagyobb dicsőség egyetlen jó sort leírni, mint hatvanezer idiótát képviselni a parlamentben.”

Jünger legközelebb a konzervatív forradalmárok csoportjához állt. Ennek a körnek a gondolkodói azonban nem vettek részt a napi politikai csatározásokban, ehelyett a politika, sőt az egész modern világ, benne a modern társadalom alapokig ható újraértékelését végezték el. Ennek eredményeként elutasították nem csak a liberális demokráciát, hanem a kommunizmust is, és az arisztokratikus, hierarchikus német hagyomány és a szocializmus szintézisét keresték. Monumentális feladat volt, szinte előzmények nélküli az európai történelemben az ókori görögök óta. Ehhez a körhöz tartozott Oswald Spengler és Arthur Moeller van den Bruck; hatást gyakoroltak többek között Martin Heideggerre és Julius Evolára is. Mint számos konzervatív forradalmár, Jünger is szabadon érintkezett a radikális jobb- és baloldallal egyaránt, és éppúgy érdekelte a német kommunisták és anarchisták tevékenysége, mint a nacionalistáké.

Jüngerhez különösen közel állt Ernst Niekisch, aki a nemzeti bolsevizmus néven ismert áramlat vezetője volt – ez az irányzat a nacionalizmust a kommunizmus legjobb elemeivel akarta kombinálni. Jünger gyakran publikált Niekisch Wiederstand (Ellenállás) című lapjában. Sok évvel később megjegyezte, hogy ha Hitler helyett Niekisch vált volna Németország vezetőjévé a ’30-as években, akkor a XX. századi német történelem egészen más, sokkal sikeresebb irányt vett volna.

1932-ben jelent meg Jünger máig legjelentősebbnek tartott filozófiai műve Der Arbeiter (A munkás) címmel. (Jelenleg nem elérhető angol nyelven, bár az év második felében tervezi megjelentetni a Northwestern University Press.) Ebben felvázolta, milyen civilizációt képzel el a jövő számára – erről lásd alább részletesen. Ugyanebben az évben tette közzé utolsó nacionalista irányultságú írásait, a későbbiekben attitűdje teljesen apolitikussá vált.

Hitler és a náci párt felemelkedését lelkesedés nélkül vette tudomásul. Visszautasított minden pozíciót, amit felajánlottak neki, nem engedélyezte, hogy az írásai hivatalos náci kiadványokban jelenjenek meg, és nem szerepelt náci rádióműsorokban. Szinte teljesen visszavonult a nyilvános élettől, bár továbbra is írt és publikált, és korai háborús könyveit jobban ünnepelték, mint valaha. 1939-ben jelent meg A márványszirteken című regénye, a totalitarizmus könnyen megfejthető allegóriája, amelyben egy kíméletlen diktátor, a főerdész elpusztít egy természetközeli életet élő tradicionális, arisztokratikus közösséget. Hogy a regény a nácizmus, vagy a kommunizmus, vagy mindkettő allegóriája, az a mai napig vita tárgyát képezi. Meglepő módon a könyvet nem tiltották be, és Jüngert sem tették feketelistára – alighanem azért, mert Hitler személyesen nagyra tartotta háborús hőstetteiért és könyveiért.

A nácik iránti ellenszenve dacára Jüngert a II. világháború kitörése előtt behívták a német hadseregbe, kapitányi rangban, amit ő szívesen elfogadott. A Wehrmacht 287. ezredében a 2. század parancsnokává nevezték ki, és 1940-ben részt vett a Franciaország elleni támadásban, ahol újabb Vaskeresztet érdemelt ki. A háború hátralévő részében azonban alig vett részt a harcokban, a párizsi megszálló hatóságokhoz osztották be szolgálatra. Egyik feladata a levélposta cenzúrázása volt; később azt állította, hogy több ember életét is megmentette azzal, hogy megsemmisített olyan leveleket, amelyekről tudta, hogy hatósági eljárást vontak volna maguk után. Ettől eltekintve az ideje javát párizsi könyvesboltok látogatásával töltötte, valamint olyan művészek társaságában, mint Pablo Picasso és Jean Cocteau. Naplót is vezetett ebben az időszakban (ez sem jelent még meg angol fordításban), amelyet a legnagyszerűbb írásai között tartanak számon.

Amikor azonban a hadi helyzet rosszabbra fordult, számos magas rangú Wehrmacht-tiszthez hasonlóan Jünger is aggódni kezdett Németország sorsáért, és személye a Claus von Stauffenberg által vezetett 1944 júliusi összeesküvés számos tagja számára szolgált inspirációként. Jünger kapcsolatban állt az összeesküvőkkel (például Erwin Rommellel), és titokban terjesztette A béke című írását, amely a háború és nácizmus utáni Németország tervrajzát tartalmazta.** [5] Bár Jünger érintőleges szerepe az összeesküvésben nem volt titok a nácik előtt, büntetésül csupán elbocsátották a Wehrmacht soraiból – valószínűleg ismét csak azért, mert a náci vezetés és a német közvélemény nagy tiszteletben tartotta. Fiát, ifj. Ernst Jünger tengerészkadétot ugyanebben az évben lázító beszélgetésekben való állítólagos részvétel miatt letartóztatták, és egy Wehrmacht büntetőszázadba osztották. 1944 novemberében Olaszországban esett el.

A háború után Jünger a konzervatív forradalom többi túlélő képviselőjéhez hasonlóan nehéz helyzetbe került – bár sosem volt nemzetiszocialista, sőt bizonyos mértékig ellenállást is tanúsított, mégis a jobboldal ismert képviselőjeként tartották számon, mint aki hozzájárult annak a miliőnek a kialakulásához, amely lehetővé tette a nácik hatalomra kerülését; ráadásul katonai szolgálatot is teljesített a Wehrmacht soraiban. Ezért a szövetségesek gyanakodva kezelték, és 1945-ben a britek négy évre eltiltották a publikálástól. Bár ezután még évtizedekig írt és publikált, élete végéig felette lebegett a fekete felhő, amely azokat kíséri, akik nem hajlandók elismerni a liberalizmus és a demokrácia nagyszerűségét. Ez a felhő a mai napig beárnyékolja szellemi hagyatékát.

1951-ben Jünger újabb, egyáltalán nem szokványos kalandra indult: az elsők között próbálta ki az LSD-t. Albert Hofmann svájci vegyész szülő nők számára szeretett volna fájdalomcsillapítót kifejleszteni, és kísérletezés közben véletlenül szintetizálta a drogot. Jünger írásainak régi rajongója volt, és úgy érezte, a szer által okozott pszichedelikus élményt csak a Jünger regényeiben leírt misztikus állapotokhoz tudja hasonlítani. Ezért aztán (ahogyan leírja az LSD: My Problem Child című könyvében) felvette a kapcsolatot Jüngerrel, és megkérdezte, hogy van-e kedve kipróbálni a szert. Jünger korábban már többféle kábítószerrel kísérletezett, és lelkesen fogadta a felkérést. Ezután 1951-ben Hofmann megjelent Jünger lakásán, ahol (orvosi felügyelet mellett) közösen kipróbálták a drogot. Jünger nagyon érdekesnek találta az élményt, amelyről irodalmi formában Visit to Godenholm című novellájában írt – ezt Annabel Lee fordította angolra a svéd Edda kiadó számára. Hofmann és Jünger később is alkalmanként együtt fogyasztott kábítószert, a jelek szerint még akkor is, amikor Jünger már jócskán elmúlt 90 éves (Hofmann szintén 102 évig élt, 2008-ban hunyt el). Jünger a droggal kapcsolatos tapasztalatairól az angolra még le nem fordított Annäherungen című könyvében ír.

A jobboldali szerepvállalása miatti állandó vitától függetlenül Jünger ünnepelt irodalmár lett nem csak a háború utáni Nyugat-Németországban, de Franciaországban is, ahol művei többsége elérhető fordításban. Szerte Európában számos díjat kapott, körbeutazta a világot, és úgy tartják, hogy az Antarktisz kivételével minden földrészen megfordult. Tekintélye akkora volt, hogy 1984-ben, amikor Németország és Franciaország közös megemlékezést rendezett Verdunnél, az I. világháború egyik legfontosabb harcterén, Jüngert kérték fel, hogy közvetítsen Helmut Kohl német kancellár és Jünger nagy tisztelője, François Mitterrand francia elnök között.

Jünger idős korában is termékeny szerző maradt, könyvek tucatjait jelentette meg. Írt fikciót – ideértve olyan műveket, amelyeket jogosan nevezhetnénk science fiction-nek –, valamint tényirodalmat is sokféle témában (összegyűjtött műveinek listája huszonkét kötetet tesz ki), és még több esszét, amelyek közül a legutolsó csak halála előtt néhány héttel jelent meg 1998-ban.

Alighanem sok Counter-Currents olvasóban felmerül a kérdés: jobboldalinak tekinthetjük-e Jüngert 1932 után? Nem könnyű ezt megválaszolni. Julius Evola nagyra értékelte Jünger weimari időszakban született műveit, és 1960-ban egy könyvet szentelt a Der Arbeiter-nek. Ennek ellenére árulónak tartotta Jüngert, amiért megszegte hűségesküjét, amikor bármennyire érintőlegesen is, de részt vett a Hitler elleni 1944-es összeesküvésben. Úgy gondolta, hogy a háború utáni években Jünger eladta magát a liberális köztársaságnak.

Ami az első vádat illeti, bár nem tagadható, de számításba kell vennünk az adott körülményeket. 1944-ben biztosra lehetett venni Németország vereségét, és a Hitler által meghirdetett, az utolsó emberig vívott totális háború az ország teljes pusztulásához vezetett. A Stauffenberg-összeesküvés vezetőinek többsége porosz arisztokrata volt, és egyáltalán nem állt szándékukban, hogy győzelmük esetén átengedjék hazájukat a liberális angol-amerikai gyarmatosításnak. A terv az volt, hogy ragaszkodnak Németország függetlenségéhez és csatlakoznak a szovjetek ellen forduló szövetségesekhez, de világossá tették, hogy nem járulnak hozzá Németország feltétel nélküli megadásához. Jüngernek az a szándéka, hogy Hitlert megbuktassa tehát úgy is tekinthető, mint a népe iránti hűség megnyilvánulása, annak ellenére, hogy a nép vezetői iránt valóban hűtlenné vált.

Ami a második vádat illeti, úgy gondolom, hogy ez megalapozatlan. Bár Jünger későbbi éveiben kétségkívül „lágyabbá” vált (korai műveit a saját „Ószövetségének” nevezte – de sosem tagadta meg), még a háború utáni írásait olvasva is egyértelmű, hogy sosem volt liberális demokrata. Mindig is elitista maradt, elhatárolódott a tömegtől, és borzalmasnak találta a modern világ egyre gyorsuló ütemben zajló elembertelenedését (ahogyan azt a Der Arbeiter-ben megjósolta). Az idős Jüngert, ha már be kell sorolnunk valahová, leginkább anarchistának tekinthetjük – és itt most nem arról az anarchizmusról beszélünk, amit az antifával és utcai tüntetésekkel azonosítunk. Jünger annak a gondolatnak volt a képviselője, amely szerint a modern állam az individuum börtönévé vált, és ebben a társadalomban, ahol a bürokraták kezében elképesztő és korábban soha nem látott hatalom összpontosul, csak akkor lehetünk szabadok, ha leválunk a világról és a magunk normái és értékei szerint élünk.

De arra is van bizonyíték, hogy Jünger sosem szűnt meg érdeklődni a jobboldal iránt. Például Alain de Benoist, a francia új jobboldal alapítója leírja [6], hogy 1977-ben Nizzában egy könyvfesztivál standjánál váratlanul megjelent Ernst Jünger, és beszélgetni kezdett vele. Benoist elmondása szerint Jüngert nagyon érdekelte a GRECE mozgalom, és ezután a haláláig leveleztek egymással. Ez jelentős momentum, mert az Új Jobboldal a német konzervatív forradalom folytatásának tekinthető. Lennart Svennson Jüngerről szóló könyvében [7] pedig azt olvashatjuk, hogy az 1986 óta hetente megjelenő német jobboldali folyóirat, a Junge Freiheit [8] Jünger halála után nyilvánosságra hozta: az író régi előfizetőjük volt. Egyik szerzőjük, Thorsten Thaler szerint mindig magával vitte a legfrissebb számot utazásai során, és nagyra tartotta a kiadványt, amely saját útját járta a fősodor konzervativizmusa és a radikális jobboldal között. Tehát annak ellenére, hogy nem nyilvánult meg közvetlenül politikai kérdésekben, Jünger sosem fordított teljesen hátat a politikának.

Lehetetlen vállalkozás egy ilyen rövid esszében összegezni Jünger irodalmi tevékenységét, de három művet ki kell emelnünk, amelyek fémjelzik gondolkodásának archetipikus szakaszait. Az első a Der Arbeiter 1932-ből, nacionalista korszakának csúcsteljesítménye. A „Munkás” szót nem marxista, osztályharcos értelemben használta, hanem mint egy archetípus megnevezését: a Munkás az az ember, aki produktív vagy kreatív tevékenységet végez. Jünger azt gondolta, hogy az ipari folyamatok, amelyek megteremtették és működtették az I. világháború személytelen gyilkoló gépezetét, hamarosan elterjednek az egész világon, maguk alá gyűrik az élet valamennyi területét, és az individuumot el fogja nyelni a kollektivizáció. Jünger számára ez egy olyan világ, amelyet személytelen erők uralnak, és amelyben minden tradicionális érték elpusztul anyagi célok, a termelés és fogyasztás érdekében. Röviden, ez egy számokból álló világ lesz. Jünger azonban látta ennek a sötét víziónak a pozitív oldalát is: megjósolta a Munkás-Titánok új fajának felemelkedését – fausti személyiségeket, akik az új hatalmat arra használják, hogy emberfeletti célokat valósítsanak meg. Az emberiség, ahogyan ma ismerjük, pusztulásra van ítélve, de a jövő titánjai életre hívhatnak valami újat és hatalmasat, és ezzel istenekhez hasonlóvá válhatnak.

1951-ben jelent meg a Forest Passage,*** [9] egy olyan ember visszaemlékezése, aki átélte a két világháború rémségeit, akinek szülőföldjét megszállta és felosztotta egymás között egyrészt a liberális demokrácia, másrészt a totalitárius kommunizmus – rendszerek, amelyek nem csak börtönbe zárják az alattvalóikat, hanem apokaliptikus pusztulással fenyegetik a világot. Jünger már nem beszél a titánokról, akik ezen erők segítségével emberfeletti lehetőségeket ragadhatnak meg – új hőse a lázadó, aki gerillaként a (jelképes) erdőbe húzódik vissza, hogy távol tartsa magát a modern világ pusztító hatásaitól és az autoriter erőktől, amelyek uralni és irányítani akarják őt. (Már ebben a művében Jünger azt állítja, hogy Amerika „szinte tökélyre fejlesztette” az uralom technikáját a rádió és a televízió révén). Az erdei lázadó visszavonul, és lehetőség szerint nem vesz részt ebben az embertelen társadalomban. Saját szabályai szerint él, de ugyanakkor ellenáll, és le akarja rombolni a társadalmat tetteivel (még akkor is, ha ezek kudarca előre megjósolható), vagy önneveléssel és vallásgyakorlással. Jünger a német hagyományra is hivatkozik, amely az otthonra mint szentélyre tekint: az otthon a szabadság tere – írja –, nem azért, mert ott a szabadságot törvény biztosítja, hiszen a törvény ellened fordulhat, hanem azért, mert aki otthon van, az képes szembeszállni azokkal, akik be akarnak hatolni ebbe a térbe.

Végül essék szó az 1977-ben megjelent Eumeswil-ről, amely Max Stirner és más anarchisták gondolataira támaszkodik. Ebben Jünger kifejti az Anarch koncepcióját. „Az Anarch az az anarchistának, ami a monarcha a monarchistának” – írja. Az Anarch a modern világban él, de lélekben nem része annak. Benső világában megvannak a saját hitei és értékei, a külvilág vonatkozásában pedig magát szigorúan csak megfigyelőnek tekinti. Más szavakkal, ebben a világban van, de nem ebből a világból való. Ez a gondolat feltűnően hasonlít Evola apoliteia és „tigrislovaglás” koncepciójára.

Bármit gondoljunk is Jünger életéről és munkásságáról, tagadhatatlan, hogy egyik legjelesebb képviselője volt egy kihalóban lévő fajtának: a zseninek, aki egyszerre több területen is fontos eredményeket ér el, aki csodálatos műalkotásként formálja meg saját életét, egyaránt értve ez alatt azt, amit tesz és azt, ahogyan megéli. Ma a kisemberek korában, amikor arra biztatnak bennünket, hogy sose váljunk felnőtté és tartsuk ambícióinkat alacsonyan, Jünger a Titánok Korának fölénk tornyosuló alakja, egy olyan férfi, aki a saját szabályai szerint élte az életét, és ezzel átalakította maga körül a világot.

Bár Jünger művei számos európai nyelven elérhetők, valamilyen ok miatt az Acélzivatarban-tól eltekintve az angol nyelvű világban ezek nem keltettek feltűnést, és munkásságának csak kis részét fordították le nyelvünkre. Szerencsére a Telos Press igyekszik ezt a helyzetet orvosolni, és az utóbbi években elkezdte megjelenteti Jünger műveinek fordításait. Jünger életének és gondolatainak tanulmányozásához kiváló kezdőpont a 102 Years in the Heart of Europe [10] (102 év Európa szívében) című film, egy svéd forgatócsoport által készített, narrációval kiegészített interjú, amely egy évvel az író halála előtt készült.

Jegyzetek

* [11] Németül: In Stahlgewittern, angolul: Storm of Steel. Magyar kiadás: Acélzivatarban, Noran Libro Kiadó, 2014. (A ford.)

** [12] Németül: Der Friede

*** [13] Németül: Der Waldgang

Fordítás: Csató Pál

További magyar nyelvű írások [14]

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff

3,524 words [1]

Hungarian translation here [2]; Czech translation here [3]

If I could choose to be anyone from the twentieth century, I would not hesitate for a moment to pick Ernst Jünger. The man did just about everything it was possible to do in his time, and stretched the limits of what one individual can accomplish in a lifetime to their breaking point. His incredible lifespan alone (he died a month shy of his 103rd birthday) spanned the Kaiserreich, the German Revolution, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, the Federal Republic of Germany, and finally, reunited Germany in his final decade – and was active in all of them. As such, his life itself can be seen as a symbol of Germany in the twentieth century, albeit he remained unconventional throughout all of its phases.

Although Jünger is commonly perceived as having been something of a Prussian aristocrat, he was in fact born into a middle-class family in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg. Jünger was quite physically active as a youth, and developed a passion for reading and writing early on. In 1913 he ran away from home in order to join the French Foreign Legion and made it to Algeria, but was dismissed from the service after only six weeks after the German Foreign Office (acting on behalf of his father) informed the Legionary authorities that Jünger was underage.

Jünger did not have to wait long to realize his dream of becoming a soldier, however, with the outbreak of the First World War the following summer. On August 1, 1914, the day Germany declared war, Jünger volunteered for the 73rd Infantry Regiment of the Hannoverian 19th Division. After receiving his training, he was sent to the front in France in December. Jünger saw combat throughout the remainder of the war, being wounded fourteen times, and he was decorated with the Iron Cross First Class as well as the Prussian Pour le Mérite. After the war, he wrote a series of books based on his experiences, most famously Storm of Steel [4], the book for which he is still best-known in the Anglophone world, and which was closely based on the diaries he had kept during the conflict.

Jünger’s take on war was unconventional in that, unlike other writers of the war, he rejected pacifism, emphasizing the life-affirming, adventurous, and almost mystical qualities of the experience of industrialized trench warfare. This is not to say that he celebrated war, as he certainly did not eschew the unpleasant or ugly aspects of combat, but Jünger adopted a Nietzschean, amoral approach which viewed modern warfare as an opportunity for personal growth and transcendence. Also missing from Storm of Steel was any biographical or political approach; one would learn very little about the politics or strategies of the war from reading it, and even less about Jünger’s life prior to the war. The early drafts of the book contained a number of passages celebrating German nationalism, but Jünger, who revised the book many times in later years, would soon come to remove them from future editions, keeping the focus solely on the experience of the war as seen by the front-line soldier.

Jünger’s war books became bestsellers during the Weimar period and especially later, during the Third Reich. In the 1920s they secured his veneration by German nationalist circles, including the fledgling National Socialist Party. Jünger remained as an officer (Lieutenant) in the German Army until 1923, however, and as such refrained from participating in politics, and later recorded how during this period he struggled with drug addiction as a result of the physical and psychic wounds he had suffered in the war (a problem he soon overcame). Upon leaving the Army, he briefly participated in the nationalist Freikorps, but left quite soon, by his own account because he found the people in it to be of generally low character, who frequently asked to borrow money from him.

Jünger wrote a great deal during the Weimar period, and was also a student of biology, zoology, and botany, and he became a noted entomologist, a field with which he was to continue to be preoccupied throughout his life (indeed, one species of beetle even bears his name). He also became an accomplished photographer. He wrote many essays for a number of nationalist publications – were Counter-Currents to have existed at the time, Jünger surely would have been contributing to it – in which he made his disdain for the values of democracy well-known. He never joined any party, however, and while he maintained contact with the National Socialists as well as with other parties, he refused to participate in any direct way. Indeed, he was twice offered a seat in the Reichstag by the Nazis – on the first occasion, in 1927, he turned it down with the quip, “It is much more honorable to write one good line than to represent sixty thousand idiots in parliament.”

It was to the circle known as the “Conservative Revolutionaries” that Jünger was most closely associated, however: those thinkers who were not merely engaged in the polemical struggles of the day, but who were reevaluating politics – indeed, all aspects of the modern world, including the very nature of society itself – at its most fundamental level, rejecting not only liberal democracy but also Communism, seeking a new synthesis of Germany’s aristocratic, hierarchical traditions with socialism. It was a monumental project which perhaps has no precedent in the West since the ancient Greeks. This circle included Oswald Spengler and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and influenced Martin Heidegger and Julius Evola, among many others.  Like many of the Conservative Revolutionaries, Jünger freely mixed with both the radical Right and Left, and was as interested in the activities of the German Communists and anarchists as he was in the nationalists.

Jünger was especially close to Ernst Niekisch, who was the leader of the current known as the “National Bolsheviks,” which sought to combine nationalism with the best elements of Communism, and Jünger was a frequent contributor to Niekisch’s newspaper, Widerstand (Resistance). Many years later, he was to remark that if Niekisch had become the leader of Germany in the 1930s instead of Hitler, that the history of Germany in the twentieth century would have taken an entirely different, and more successful, course.

In 1932, Jünger published what is still seen as his most important philosophical work: Der Arbeiter (The Worker – no English translation currently exists, although one has been announced by Northwestern University Press for later this year), which outlined the type of civilization he imagined for the future (more on this later). It was also during this year that he published his last nationalist writings, adopting an apolitical attitude from that point forward.

He greeted Hitler and his Party’s rise to power without enthusiasm. He turned down all offers of official posts from them, refused to allow his writings to appear in official Nazi publications, and would not appear on Nazi radio broadcasts. Jünger largely withdrew from public life, although he continued to write and publish, and his early war books were celebrated more than ever before. In 1939, he published the novel On the Marble Cliffs [5], which is a thinly-veiled allegory about totalitarianism, depicting a pastoral community of traditional, aristocratic people destroyed by a ruthless dictator known as the Head Forester. Whether the novel was intended as an allegory for Nazism or for Communism, or both, is still debated. Surprisingly, the book was never banned, and Jünger was not blacklisted for publishing it, likely due to the high regard in which he was held by Hitler personally because of his war record and war books.

In spite of his antipathy for the Nazis, however, Jünger was nonetheless recalled to the German Army shortly before the Second World War broke out and was given the rank of Captain, which he willingly accepted. He was assigned the command of the 2nd Company of the 287th Regiment of the Wehrmacht, and participated in the invasion of France in 1940, winning himself another Iron Cross. Jünger saw little combat for the remainder of the war, however, and was instead assigned as an officer of the occupation in Paris. One of his duties was censoring letters; he later claimed to have saved the lives of several people by destroying letters that he knew would have run them afoul of the authorities. Apart from this, he spent most of his time visiting bookshops in Paris and spending time with artists and writers such as Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. He also kept a series of diaries during this period (as yet untranslated) which are regarded as being among his greatest works.

Like many of the senior officers of the Wehrmacht, however, Jünger was fearful for the fate of Germany when the fortunes of the war took a turn for the worse, and he was an inspiration to many of those who took part in Claus von Stauffenberg’s plot against Hitler in July 1944. Jünger had been in contact with many of the plotters (including Erwin Rommel), circulating a secret document entitled The Peace, which was a blueprint for a new post-war and post-Nazi order for Europe. Although Jünger’s peripheral role in the conspiracy was known to the Nazis, he only suffered dismissal from the Wehrmacht, and no additional punishment – again, likely due to the high esteem in which he was held by the Nazi leadership and by the German public in general. Jünger’s son, Ernst Jr., a naval cadet, was arrested the same year for allegedly holding subversive talks, and he was sentenced to serve in a Wehrmacht penal unit, and was killed in action in Italy in November 1944.

After the war, Jünger found himself in the unenviable position that all of the survivors of the Conservative Revolution were thrown into: although he had never been a National Socialist, and in fact had resisted them to some degree, he had nevertheless been a well-known figure of the Right and had contributed to the milieu which had allowed the Nazis to rise to power, not to mention his Wehrmacht service. As such, he was still regarded with suspicion by the Allies, and in 1945 the British authorities banned him from publishing for four years. Although he was to continue to write and publish for many decades thereafter, the dark cloud which hangs over all those who have refused to toe the line of the wonders of liberalism and democracy continued to follow Jünger for the rest of his life, and indeed, still overshadows his legacy to this day.

In 1951, Jünger embarked on yet another, much more unorthodox, adventure: he was one of the first people to take LSD. Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who originally synthesized LSD by accident while attempting to develop an anaesthetic for women in childbirth, had been a long-time admirer of Jünger’s books, and after undergoing the psychedelic experience himself, he felt that his only precedent for it was certain lyrical descriptions of mystical states in Jünger’s novels. As such (Hofmann recounts the story in his book LSD: My Problem Child [6]), he contacted Jünger and asked him if he was interested in trying it. Jünger, who had already sampled a wide variety of drugs in earlier life, eagerly accepted, and in 1951 Hofmann showed up at his home, where the two took it together (under medical supervision). Jünger was quite fascinated by the experience, which he wrote about in fictional form in his novella, Visit to Godenholm [7], recently translated into English by Annabel Lee for Edda Publishing in Sweden. Hofmann and Jünger continued to trip together occasionally for many years afterwards, apparently well into Jünger’s 90s (Hofmann likewise lived to age 102, passing away in 2008). Jünger writes about all of his drug experiences in his as-yet-untranslated book, Annäherungen.

In spite of the continuing controversy regarding his involvement with the Right, Jünger nevertheless became a literary celebrity in post-war West Germany, as well as in France, where most of his work has been translated, and he won many literary prizes across Europe. He likewise travelled the world, and is said to have visited every continent except Antarctica. His stature was such that in 1984, when Germany and France held a ceremony of reconciliation at Verdun, the site of one of the great battles of the First World War, Jünger was asked to act as a mediator between German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President François Mitterrand, the latter of whom was a professed admirer of Jünger’s work.

Jünger continued to be productive into his old age, publishing dozens of books – works of fiction, including books that could fairly be called science fiction, as well as non-fiction on a wide variety of topics (the final edition of his Collected Works consists of twenty-two volumes) – and many more essays, the last of which was published only weeks before his death in 1998.

The question that is probably in the minds of many Counter-Currents readers is, was Jünger still a man of the Right after 1932? There is no easy answer. Julius Evola, who praised Jünger’s Weimar-era work and published a book on Der Arbeiter in 1960, nevertheless regarded Jünger as a traitor for going back on his oath of loyalty by participating (however peripherally) in the plot against Hitler in 1944, and saw him as selling out to the liberal values of the new Republic in the post-war years.

As for the first accusation, while it cannot be denied, one must take into account the circumstances of the time. By 1944, Germany was facing certain defeat, and Hitler’s announced policy of total war and fighting to the last man was already leading to the complete devastation of the country. Also, most of the leaders of the Stauffenberg plot were Prussian aristocrats who had no intention of allowing Germany to become a liberal Anglo-American colony in the aftermath of their success. Rather, their intention was to insist on an independent Germany which would side with the Western allies in a continuing struggle against the Soviets – but they made it clear that they would not countenance the wholesale surrender of the country. Jünger’s desire to see Hitler overthrown could therefore be seen as a form of loyalty to his people, even if he was expressing disloyalty to its leaders.

As for the second, I think it is unjustified. While Jünger clearly softened in his later years (he would refer to his early works as his “Old Testament” – but he never disavowed any of them), it is clear to see even in his post-war writings that he was far from a liberal democrat. Jünger always remained an elitist who sought to stand apart from the crowd, and expressed horror at the dehumanizing effects of the ever-accelerating modern world (as he had predicted in Der Arbeiter). In his later decades, if anything, Jünger could be fairly described as an anarchist – not of the form one associates with the antifa and street demonstrations, but rather in believing that the modern state has become a prison for the individual, and that only by standing aloof from it and living on one’s own terms, and according to values of one’s own making, can one hope to attain any genuine freedom in a world dominated by bureaucrats with incredible and unprecedented forces at their disposal.

But there is also some evidence that Jünger never really lost his interest in the Right. For example, Alain de Benoist, the founder of the French New Right, has related [8] how he was at a stand at a book festival in Nice in 1977 when Ernst Jünger unexpectedly approached him, striking up a conversation. As Benoist tells it, Jünger was very much interested in the activities of his GRECE organization, and the two continued to correspond until Jünger’s death. This is significant, given that the New Right is very much a continuation of the efforts of the German Conservative Revolutionaries. Also, as I learned in Lennart Svennson’s book about [9]Jünger [9], the German Right-wing journal Junge Freiheit [10], which has been published weekly since 1986, revealed after his passing that he had been a long-time subscriber. According to one of their writers, Thorsten Thaler, Jünger always took the latest issue with him on his travels, praising the journal for taking an unconventional stance between mainstream conservatism and the radical Right. So in spite of the fact that he refrained from commenting on politics directly, it seems that Jünger never truly turned his back on it.

It would be impossible to summarize all of Jünger’s literary work in an essay of this size, but there are three works which seem to epitomize the archetypal periods of his thought. The first is Der Arbeiter from 1932, which marked the culmination of his nationalist period. He did not use the concept of “the Worker” in a Marxist, classist sense, but rather as an archetype: the Worker is man engaged in any sort of productive or creative endeavor. Jünger believed that the industrial processes which had shaped and supported the impersonal killing fields of the First World War were soon to be implemented across the world, in all fields, and that the individual was doomed to be swallowed up in the processes of collectivization. For Jünger, this would be a world dominated entirely by impersonal forces in which all traditional values would be destroyed in favor of the value of material goods: mass production and consumption. In short, it would be a world made up of nothing but numbers. However, Jünger did see a possible upside to this disturbing vision: he also predicted the rise of a new race of Worker-Titans, Faustian men who would use these new powers as a means of achieving superhuman aims. Humanity as we know it would be destroyed, but the Titans of the future might give rise to something new and more powerful, attaining god-like status.

In 1951, Jünger published The Forest Passage [11], and this is very much the reflections of a man who has lived through the horrors of the World Wars, and who now sees his homeland divided and occupied between the forces of liberal democracy on one side and totalitarian Communism on the other, which are not only imprisoning the individuals under their rule but threaten to unleash apocalyptic destruction at any moment. Jünger no longer talks of the superhuman potential of the Titans to make use of these forces. Rather, he speaks of the “forest rebel,” he who flees into the forest (symbolically), like a guerrilla fighter, to escape the ravages of the modern world and the forces of authoritarianism which seek to dominate and control him (already in this book, Jünger claims that America is “nearing perfection” in this technique through the use of radio and television). The forest rebel is one who withdraws from participating in this inhuman society as much as possible, living according to his own rules, but who seeks to undermine society by performing acts of resistance (even if these are doomed to failure), or through personal disciplines and religious practices. Jünger also calls upon the Germanic tradition of the home as one’s sanctuary: one’s home is a place of freedom, he writes, not because that freedom is guaranteed by law, which can betray you, but rather because one is prepared to fight anyone who tries to violate that space.

And lastly, there is the post-apocalyptic novel Eumeswil [12], published in 1977, which draws on the ideas of Max Stirner and other anarchists. In it, Jünger introduces the concept of the Anarch. “The Anarch is to the anarchist, what the monarch is to the monarchist,” he writes. The Anarch is one who participates fully in modern life, but who is not inwardly part of it. Internally, he still has his own beliefs and values, and sees himself strictly as an observer of events. In other words, he is in this world, but not of it. It bears a striking resemblance to Evola’s idea of apoliteia, and of “riding the tiger.”

Whatever one thinks of Jünger’s life and work, it is undeniable that he was one of the most prominent members of an increasingly rare breed – that of geniuses who make important strides in many different fields simultaneously, and who make a brilliant work of art out of their own lives, both in terms of what they do as well as how they live it. In our age of small men who are encouraged to never grow up and to keep their ambitions low, Jünger is a towering figure from the Age of Titans, a man who dared to live life on his own terms and contributed to transforming the world around him in the process.

While a great deal of Jünger’s work is available in nearly every other European language, for some reason his books, apart from Storm of Steel, have never caught on in the Anglophone world, and only a small portion of his body of work has been published in English. Fortunately, Telos Press has been making an effort to remedy this situation, and in recent years has issued a number of his works in translation. An excellent introduction to Jünger’s life and ideas is the film 102 Years in the Heart of Europe [13], which consists of an interview with him that was shot by a Swedish crew only a year before his death interspersed with narration.

(Review Source)
11/8/16
Brett Stevens

11/8/16 (2017)

by Brett Stevens on November 6, 2017

In every Netflix queue, somewhere a documentary appears and in weak moments, one is tempted to watch it. Such was the case with 11/8/16, the second project of this nature from its director, which set sixteen directors to work following individuals on the morning of the election which transferred power to Donald J. Trump.

If this documentary has a theme, it consists of two parts: first, that “a five minute conversation with the average voter” will shock and horrify anyone expecting logic or sense, and second, that America is so fundamentally divided and its identity politics have become so narcissistic that there is no way that the center can hold. This nation-state is coming apart.

The various camera streams follow a Sikh cab driver in New York, an independent businessman in Massachusetts, a politically-active Mormon lady in Utah, a squeaky low-testosterone Irish union leader, a political consultant for the Clinton campaign and an editor at the Los Angeles Times, among others. Each of these reveal entirely polarizing views that are part of their personal identities, to the point that giving up those views would lead to existential distress.

More intensely, the cameras reveal how few of these views are based in fact, and how much self-interest comes into play, which sets the varying groups against each other. The Leftists who make their money in Leftist businesses oppose any power to anyone else; the construction union seems to care only about what government projects will bring it money; the small businessman is interested in his bottom line.

This is where the five-minute conversation with the average voter is most poignant: there is a lack of awareness of any larger issues, or any future past the immediate, that makes one see why democracy destroys civilizations. No one is watching the world ahead, but instead they are reacting to a self-referential system, trying to make what already exists work in the short term, instead of redesigning it for the long term.

As with most documentaries, this one is boring and maudlin, mainly because the density of information is quite low as we watch Americans have relatively unscripted conversations about issues they have no hope of understanding. But it reveals the basis of identity politics in America, which is not so much the group, but the benefit to the individual from acts that benefit the group.

While you might fall asleep watching this, memorable moments of clash between cultures and worlds show us the future of America, which is not unity nor strength through disunity, but fragmentation into groups which want to support themselves and are willing to do so at the expense of all others.

In this, finally, we see some honesty about the prospects of democracy: where each vote represents self-interest, people become more self-interested, and then form little gangs of those like them to enforce this self-interest against other groups. This film about a contentious election serves to reveal the source of the contention that culminated in the election more than any sense of group participation.

Through that we see that America has finished itself off the way ancient Greece and Rome did, which is by creating an emphasis on individualism that works through a self-referential system, with the needs of the many steadily driving any conversation about reality out the window. The runaway train chases a phantom, and no one will be paying attention when it runs off the rails.

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(Review Source)
127 Hours
Steve Sailer
The exuberant 127 Hours, Director Danny Boyle’s first movie since winning the Best Picture Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, is surprisingly comparable to The Social Network. While 127 Hours is shorter, slighter, and more upbeat, both films are deftly made reconstructions of famous 2003 events within young elite subcultures: Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg founding Facebook and alpinist Aron Ralston walking away from a solo canyoneering accident by amputating his own arm. Both movies overcome their inherently static situations through showbiz razzmatazz. Aaron Sorkin enlivens a story of typing and giving depositions with snappy dialogue. Boyle employs flashbacks, hallucinations, alternative endings, and his zap-pow digital cinematography to juice up the tale of a man, his hand wedged to a canyon wall by a fallen boulder, contemplating his options. Namely, these options are: somehow survive in a crack in the Utah desert on a liter of water until somebody stumbles upon him; rig a pulley to lift the 800-pound rock; chip the boulder away; perform surgery on himself with a dull knife; or die. In contrast to the frenetic Slumdog, Boyle offers viewers time to think along with his hero by spreading out Ralston’s discoveries of his options. In truth, Ralston, a mechanical engineer from Carnegie Mellon who’d quit Intel to concentrate on climbing, identified all his possibilities within an hour after his fall. Getting audiences to like the real Ralston’s combination of cold-blooded rationality and recklessness, however, is a more complicated challenge than Boyle chooses to accept.“Both The Social Network and 127 Hours leave you wondering whether the middle-aged filmmakers, despite their undeniable expertise, truly understand their young subjects.” (In case you are worrying, no, the hero doesn’t spend all 127 hours sawing off his arm. While that took Ralston an hour, Boyle compresses the auto-surgery down to a couple of minutes, with his camera mostly on James Franco’s expressive face.) Both The Social Network and 127 Hours leave you wondering whether the middle-aged filmmakers, despite their undeniable expertise, truly understand their young subjects. For example, both films’ inspirations are more conventionally handsome than the movie stars who portray them. Franco (the kind-hearted dope dealer in Pineapple Express) looks weedy compared to the rugged-jawed Ralston. Boyle’s harsh digital colors and need to shoot with wide-angle lenses in the soundstage mockup of the four-foot-wide canyon slot leaves poor Franco looking pop-eyed and sallow. These casting choices enable the filmmakers to manipulate audience reactions. The Social Network portrays Zuckerberg as a lonely, angry nerd, even though he strikes programmers and venture capitalists as a natural leader of men. Last week, for example, Google granted all its employees pay raises to keep them from defecting to Team Zuckerberg. Next Page ]]>
(Review Source)
Amerika.org Staff
(”13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is briefly mentioned in this.)
the_downwind_children

The Downwind Children

by Johann Theron on October 14, 2016

In life, one can struggle against the current or be borne backwards by it. Using a metaphor of wind, this creates two groupings of people: “headwind” people who walk into the wind, and “downwind” people who walk with the wind behind them.

Downwind people are less likely to exert the effort required for performance above the norm. This creates a power struggle: underperforming people are more likely to grab for “superpowers” when in close proximity to over-performing people.

This arises from the “mutuality” principle whereby just being in the same “space” of an over-performer gives the under-performer the “moral right” to “engage” as it were. If we assume people are equal in a zero-sum game, then those who over-perform are taking something from those who under-perform.

This psychological “mutuality right” is exacerbated by a “stupid society” creating and perpetuating the simulacrum of fantasy by developing and even expanding on a whole range of super powers. Downwind children grow up believing in binary justice and the use of extreme force to subjugate others in its name.

In the modern era, Western Civilization marginalizes over-performers in favor of under-performers in order to avoid this problem. Our flawed societal approach to “the downwind children” is akin to pacifism or appeasement, but in actuality creates a pathological loop which becomes a death spiral as we then try to purge over-performers in order to make under-performers feel good, forgetting that over-performance is relative to the norm, which is performance in a group always fits into a mathematical standard distribution.

This craziness comes not from parents, but originates in the “fantasy” ideology the West lives in today. Fantasy ideology creates an illusory vision where the wind will blow fantasy children downhill into the hands of an enemy climbing up against that same wind.

This problem affects all countries which have reached first-world status or something like it, and may be the common ground for civilizational cooperation between East and West, something everybody wants and nobody does.

Introduction

Imagine being a child, going to the movie where little animals beat down on big animals. Or, imagine playing a computer game where you can select any “cheat” from a range of cheats in order to beat the “game.” These are downwind conditions and are inherently egalitarian.

Have you ever seen how a “protestor” walks right up to a policeman, literally spitting (sorry I meant screaming) in his face? That was a downwind child.

A headwind condition is exemplified by the story of a real dog called “Jock” described in the film Jock of the Bushveld. He was a born small and being part of a large litter Jock had to fight for his food, growing up to be a strong persistent, trustworthy, creative animal.

The popular current narrative is to say that “Jock” has overcome “adversity.” This is generally a hoax (and there are many hoaxes these days) because society secretly gives superpowers to downwind children through the social pressure of egalitarianism. These work to make the downwind children win so that it looks like those happy ending fantasies Hollywood dreams are made of.

There are actually people/children overcoming real adversity, but unless they get the Olympic Medal, nobody will talk about them. The real warrior is completely ignored and is in fact wholly expendable as was illustrated in the film 13 Hours but also identified here in T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”. In my interpretation, death’s dream kingdom is a condition where the warrior dies without knowing that it has happened.

Recent discussions highlighted how democracy or “demos” is a bad thing, even evil. But there is “bad” in all of us and before anyone else says it, the degree of evil is not equally shared between people. Calvinism gets a bad rap because it is right, in other words; some are born to darkness, and some to light, and like genetics, this orientation toward good and evil is essentially immutable. When it comes to children, education could be redesigned to maximized the “good” and control or isolate the “bad.”

This may have helped in previous generations, but for some reason it became inverted in recent memory, perhaps because of all of those stories and movies of nasty, racist honor students beating up virtuous, tolerant nerds. Nowadays the “good” gets beaten up while the “bad” gets promoted.  This inversion did not take place overnight, it slowly accelerated in a sort of unconscious manner over the last century. Our society now has a new list of people and things it will not tolerate because they offend the downwind people; this is our democracy blacklist.

There is an entire “scare” history where politics-of-fear is used to manipulate voters ranging from “the Russians are coming,” “Axis of Evil” and Hillary Clinton’s “Deplorables.” Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, stated unequivocally that in order to combat fear politics, the political opposition can only win by creating a “worse” fear. The “superpowers” therefore are those able to “scare” people. This made me think of the classic horror movies I used to rent from the video store and show to groups of friends. Women liked those the most, almost drugged by the experience, always asking for the next scarier video.

Horror videos not only identify “bad” people, but separate humans into two groups: those who can accept the new reality that has evil in it, and those who refuse to accept it because it conflicts with their personal drama. Video games do the opposite, and give downwind children superpowers to “fight” those fantasized as bad. The point of the blacklist is to create a mythology of good versus evil which rationalizes downwind status by deprecating headwind status.

The mere fact that people can be banned means that having both equality and diversity at the same time is not possible. Throughout human history, those who could not be assimilated have always been banned from societies; in the West, we tried to minimize this because we saw it unfair, and demonized its practice such as incarceration, stop-and-frisk and rehabilitative education.

In a sense, this led to a funny twist: because we cannot re-educate the bad, we must re-educate the good in order to accommodate unassimilable “bad” people and their fear of “good” people noticing the bad. This creates inversion, which is what we see now: the downwind children are celebrated at the expense of the headwind children, who are sacrificed for the feelings and fantasies of downwind children.

Headwinds

We can let our metaphor speak to us by observing the following things about adversity in life in general:

  • Walking against the wind makes your muscles stronger. It is bad in the short term but good in the long term.
  • Swimming is a sport where friction emulates wind resistance to improve body and mind.

It is possible to imagine that organizations also encounter headwinds as sometimes described by economists. It is also something that entrepreneurs are quite familiar with and is described as the requirement to overcome “barriers to entry.” But apparently civilizations do not have “winds” (which require more scrutiny) because they don’t seem to get stronger (because of successfully overcoming “adversity”). I don’t think adversity for civilizations has even been defined.

However, what we do have is some form of rebelliousness.  It appears for different reasons over generations but on the whole it is actually seen as a good thing.  It is a natural sort of “test” of formalism and wise leaders welcome “outside the box” ideas that will improve the organization in some way and it is the creative part of the change management mantra.

A rebel with a creative idea can be rewarded but since not everyone is an over-performer, the allocation of rewards became a problem. This resulted in everyone getting a reward, from a young age already. Where a headwind child would have created a “better idea” because he thought his parents were a little “behind,” the downwind child will despise his parents because he can give them “any idea” and even tell them what reward he wants. He despises them because he is actually bored with this game, which he continues playing, because there is nothing else to do.

Now imagine that this downwind child becomes an adult. He obviously has serious manipulative skills and will find work where those skills can be applied. Depending on the influence of his parents, he will maximize that, getting himself into a position where he can manipulate others. You know, something like dynastic politics.

Essentially, with downwind politicians on board, one can imagine that the Rule of Law becomes the Law of Rule where society is despised and subverted to the point that wealth is simply transferred (not even extracted any more). The civilization will decline of course and these downwind children will live their borderless fantasies.

But somewhere some headwind children will also grow up, and they will approach these dazed politicians, overthrow their civilization and start anew. And yet the problem recurs, because the new headwind children will literally have their own children riding the downwind to their destruction. Nature always returns.

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(Review Source)
Amerika.org Staff
(”13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is briefly mentioned in this.)
tolerant_intolerance

Intolerance In Benghazi

by Johann Theron on July 25, 2016

Fatalities due to industrial accidents have reached a plateau simultaneously in at least three Western countries. This means that safety professionals have reached a limit, sort of like how Moore’s law broke, below which they cannot reduce fatalities through safety measures.

On closer inspection it appears that this limit is not the result of limitations of the methods used, but a product of the increased complexity of safety in organizations. This inability to accommodate complexity could be detected by the loss of what “safety” meant. In other words, safety was oversimplified to accommodate various publics and in doing so, lost its intended meaning.

For example, trying to increase the speed of a racing car may result in one mechanic improving its aerodynamics while another would increase the size of the engine. The increased engine weight will negate the increase in airflow despite both mechanics improving on their own metrics, while resulting in the racing car having reduced performance. By succeeding at their individual jobs, they failed at the overall task, which is the result of leadership not understanding the complexity involved.

The current conceptualization of safety is insufficient, inaccurate, and even faulty. The reason for this boils down to our use of language. “Safety” has come to mean a list of tasks, not an overall goal, and as a result even our best attempts fail because we are achieving our smaller goals, but they are not contributing to the overall safety.

In the same way other concepts may become meaningless, such as “racism,” a better example can be found in the subtler distinctions involving the word “tolerance.” Our levels of tolerance have undoubtedly been pushed relentlessly to such an extent that we do not even know what it means anymore. Take for example the habit of people in this society to call someone else “racist” or “intolerant,” shifting a societal burden that is universal to a specific person, like poking pins in a devil doll or burning an effigy.

A more practical example is the concept of “leaving no man behind.” This is a US military concept that was so important that George W. Bush named his education policy “leave no child behind.” But the US military have in fact left soldiers behind, as Kris Paronto depicted in the now infamous film called 13 Hours about the Benghazi embassy siege.

Apparently the military would have rescued the embattled Embassy, but “civilian oversight” had a different “tolerance” level of safety for its personnel. The military did not come to the rescue because civilian oversight did not have the money for a couple of fighters to fly six hours, an estimated $1.2m. Four lives were lost to save $1.2m, or to preserve “safety” of an ideological type.

Clearly this should be intolerable and if it isn’t, efforts need to be made to prevent it from happening again. The entire discussion is nonsensical until you break it down as we have above. In that view, we can see that “safety” was defined in multiple different ways with no coordination between them. The politicians exercised ideological safety. The military exercised fiscal safety. And the guys in the embassy fell between the cracks.

My business dictionary lists twenty-seven terms involving the term “tolerance.” It is clear to me that the type of tolerance required for Benghazi must be related to safety. But then safety itself suffers of simplification to suit the various interested parties and special interest groups.

This represents a legal view, or one might say a demotist view, where the self-interest of every part somehow comes together into a “wisdom of crowds” moment. However, clearly this does not work with safety — nor with leadership. The legalities, formalization and regulation of safety and tolerance alike product an anti-result, or the inversion of what was desired. This is a form of dark organization at a conceptual not human level.

To beat this problem, we must see “legalities” as creating divided interests. This explains the discoordination that replaces goals with “dark organization” style self-interest, in which each party protects its own interests at the expense of others. Seeing that allows us to move to robust action, bringing the concept of tolerance from an abstract level down to the effects on the man in the trenches.

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(Review Source)
Return of Kings Staff
Rod Berne is a student, writer, and thought criminal. His columns run every Saturday. Follow him on Twitter.
(Review Source)
1900
Counter Currents Staff
(”1900” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]1,340 words

Reputation-wise, Bernardo Bertolucci (1941-2018) missed a good bet by not dying a quarter-century ago, rather than lingering on for years of illness and diminishing fame. Orson Welles spent his lengthy dotage introducing himself to new generations as a pitchman for Paul Masson wine [2], and that seemed pretty sad, but at least people knew who he was. When the equally talented Bertolucci died on November 26, he had almost no public profile at all. 

“Director of Last Tango in Paris Dies at 77,” said The New York Times, damning him with his most memorably lurid, and memorably mediocre, film. Most obituaries and film columns remembered him for that, and his Oscar-sweep for The Last Emperor in 1987.

Twenty-five years ago, Bertolucci was still front-and-center in the popular consciousness. If his latest, early-’90s films were perverse and inaccessible (The Sheltering Sky, Little Buddha), that didn’t matter. The Last Emperor Oscars were a recent memory, and his signature works of the 1970s (The Conformist, Last Tango, 1900) still stood tall in the cultural landscape, even if critics regarded them as self-indulgent. The reputation of Tango will forever be tarred by the anal-rape-with-butter scene, as well as fatuous interviews that stars Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider gave during the movie’s opening in late 1972. 1900 came out in 1976, and is probably the longest feature production ever released. It starts out with a man screaming that Giuseppe Verdi has died, and goes downhill from there, wandering all over the place for over five hours of political passion and manure, along with the most coprophagy you’ll see outside of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Saló.

But then we come to The Conformist (1970), endlessly gorgeous and influential. For a film historian, the Bertolucci of this period is intriguing because of the cross-fertilization that went on between him and director Francis Ford Coppola. They became friends right around the time Bertolucci was making The Conformist and Coppola was doing preparatory work for The Godfather.

Visually and musically The Conformist is very similar to The Godfather (and The Godfather Part II), for the very good reason that Coppola cribbed ideas from his friend. You have scenes in dim, dark-wood rooms; Venetian-blind shadows; musical crescendos behind shots of fallen, drifting leaves. People often think that Coppola gave his Godfather films a vague “Italian movie” look, but what he really did was copy The Conformist.

The two directors also shared some actors in those ’70s films. Bertolucci and Coppola both use Brando (in The Godfather and Last Tango) and then Robert De Niro (Godfather II and 1900) during De Niro’s brief, glittering zenith as a bankable, international leading man. (The only other one at the time would probably be Gérard Depardieu, playing opposite De Niro in 1900.) My favorite shared talent, though, is Gastone Moschin, the comic-relief thug who portrays Special Agent Manganiello in The Conformist, and then, a few years later, turns up in The Godfather Part II . . . playing a similar role as Fanucci, the Black Hand capo whom the young Don Corleone (De Niro) kills.

Jean-Louis Trintignant, Gastone Moschin

Like most Italian and French auteurs, Bertolucci was a very character-driven director. He didn’t really do plot, in the sense of having some overarching quest or chase that holds our attention. His people don’t have much agency; they’re passive actors, victims of history and random events. The usual Bertolucci technique is to have characters discover each other, talk or kiss or fight; and let a story unfold from there. Some directors and screenwriters (e.g., David Mamet) consider this a wretched way to make a film; plot must be the priority.

For Bertolucci, the technique worked pretty well, so long as he had a basic narrative to work from (a novel, say). But his fatalistic outlook meant that he sometimes ended up telling a very different story from the original text. This is what happens in The Conformist, based on a novel by Alberto Moravia. Moravia was part-Jewish with Fascist family connections, and his somewhat surreal, episodic novel was intended as a kind of apologia for his family’s politics. Bertolucci takes the broad outline of Moravia’s story, but subverts the novel’s plot and intent.

Most thumbnail descriptions of the film are very bad; they really describe what the novel was supposed to be about. An example, from IMDB [3]:

A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.

But that’s not really the plot of the film. The film’s anti-hero, Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a Roman civil servant, is devious, but not particularly weak-willed. He wishes to call on his old philosophy Professor, an anti-Fascist currently in exile in Paris. He uses the pretext of a honeymoon trip to visit Paris, and meantime alerts the Fascist intelligence services that he’s willing to report back to them. He’s covering all his bases and saving his job, you see, in case someone gets suspicious. And then, when Marcello gets to Paris, the Professor tries to test him by asking him to mail a confidential letter, but Marcello spots the ruse and refuses, thereby assuring his old teacher that he is not, in fact, a Fascist spy.

That’s all confusing enough for the core plot. But then Marcello forms a passionate interest in the Professor’s young ballet-teacher wife (Dominque Sanda), though she seems more interested in Marcello’s new bride, Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli). The setting of the film is 1938, but the subdued kinkiness was put in for 1970-style spice.

And Marcello’s little spy mission is expanded. His handlers order him to kill the Professor. This was never part of Marcello’s plan at all. When the time for the murder comes, after a long cross-country pursuit, Marcello won’t get out of the car. He watches impassively through the car window as some Fascist henchmen kill the Professor and his wife in the snowy hills of Savoie. This cold-blooded set-piece doesn’t make an awful lot of sense; up until now, Marcello has been a sympathetic figure. Bertolucci presumably added the scene to give Marcello one token instance of villainy.

The script is convoluted, and stuffed with flash-forwards and flashbacks, and even flashbacks-within-flashbacks. Then, on top of these other distractions, you have the film’s architectural-travelogue beauty, shot in blue-greens like a 1930s Ektachrome slide. Nevertheless, its narrative is tighter than the novel’s. The book strains to make some vague, didactic point about the attractions and pitfalls of Fascism. In the novel, Marcello suffers from obsessive thoughts that make him seek the protective cover of utter normality. Hence, a “conformist.”

But this is very abstract, a hard thing to get up on the screen. (Perhaps a Jacques Tati comedy?) So instead of a cowardly conformist, Bertolucci gives us a priggish haute-bourgeois with an overwhelming disdain for degeneracy. Marcello’s mother is a rich junkie who gets morphine and sex from her Japanese chauffeur. His embarrassing father (a wife-and-child abuser in the novel) is an early Fascist Party supporter who’s gone insane. Marcello looks down his nose at the slimy Fascisti he has to work with, just as he has utter contempt for Italy’s new Nazi allies. The film’s Marcello isn’t a weak-willed worry-wart, he’s a snobbish Don Quixote, a foppish dude who wishes to clean up Dodge.

This elegant and influential motion picture did not get wide distribution in America, and is virtually unknown outside the art-house and film-critic communities. For many years, there was neither a quality English-dubbed version, nor (preferably) a good subtitled edition. This has changed in recent years with the issue of a revised, “extended” cut.

Some of the bad translations in the original release were comical. For example, when Marcello tells his wife about his old Professor, he recalls that the students thought him a divine fool: “We called him Smerdyakov,” says Marcello (in Italian).

The subtitle translators presumably had a working knowledge of Italian, and French, and English, and some German too; but they didn’t know their Dostoyevsky. And they must have really puzzled over this one, because in the end they came up with the English subtitle: “We called him shithead.”

 

(Review Source)