Here is a man who is free.
Embroiled, to the point of risking his life, in the turmoil of the century, he held himself apart from his passions. Nothing can appropriate his name, nor his gaze, unless it be that butterfly in Pakistan which is now called "Trachydura Jüngeri", and which is his pride. For this rebel chases after glow-worms, this soldier writes novels. A philosopher, he possesses an appetite for living which time has not wearied.
Few life works are more diverse, few minds more restless. As inheritor of Goethe, of Hölderlin and Nietzsche, but also of Stendhal, Jünger's thought conjugates the riches of the Enlightenment with those of Romanticism, the rigour of the one with the generosity of the other.
It challenges fashions and attracts disputes. Those fond of systems hanker in vain to find them in it. Truth is to be sought in it like a balance amid contrary forces. Between engagement and resistance, respect for the real and rejection of the predestined, Jünger charts the space of human freedom and its true struggles. Because ist origins lie in the zest for life, it contemplates and faces contradictions: between mind and matter, nature and history, reason and dream.
Likewise with his idea of progress which repudiates alike the prophecies of Hegel and Marx and the pessimism of Spengler. No one has better grasped than him the advent of the world of technology, its benefits and catastrophes. If he deems inevitable the triumphs of science and numbers, he struggles against the excesses of their conquest.
Likewise with his thoughts about religions. He is agnostic, but has a sense of the sacred; he is an entomologist, but is at home with the irrational and affirms his faith in the spirit's survival.
Likewise with his passion for time - "the wall of time" as he likes to put it. He collects hourglasses and has written a treatise on them. Here too, between the temptations of surrender and refusal, Jünger faces the enigma and establishes a kind of wisdom. We talked about all that during our all too short meetings. The man before me impressed me by his demeanour. It is that of a Roman, haughty and simple, unalterable. I salute him and offer him my good wishes for a hundredth birthday in peace. But I know this: he and peace have long belonged together.
The Anarch gives us the means to observe and understand the materialist age we find ourselves in, without jeopardising our own sovereignty. Because the Anarch is the natural form of man, by Jünger's own definition, we should not be mistaken that we are talking about the individualist or individualism as it has become known today. Individualism itself is an extension of the rampant nihilism of our age and therefore an illness to be overcome. The individual is a private being closed in his own world. The individualist even rejects the naturalness of a social milieu free of the exploitation of the modern servile state. If we are talking of the Anarch as a natural man then we must also mean a man who is social in his form. The sovereign individual is always capable of joining together with others of his kind. It means to be an individual only in the truth with which one faces oneself, otherwise it has nothing to due with individualism. Still this Anarch may not find many people who understand him or what it means to be natural. If this figure is a threat to the status quo, he is an Anarch, if not we must suspect the individual.
By extension the Waldgaenger is the Anarch who has had to retreat into the wilderness because he has been exposed as the Anarch, the free sovereign man and is in danger of being killed. So he must range the forest, or the city for that matter, but it requires a style of resistance to the forces of tyranny. He will have to take up the fight and this is the indication that the Anarch again is not an individual in Jünger's meaning, because although the Waldgaenger can and might have to fight alone, it is futile to do it without support, one cannot live the Hollywood film of the lone hero. This is simply a psychological indoctrination for the masses enforcing the nihilistic idea of the individual and must therefore be recognised for what it is, a baseless myth.
The retreat into the forest comes today under certain conditions which Jünger describes for us, "The Waldgang (retreat into the forest) followed upon proscription. Through it man asserted his will to survive by virtue of his own strength. That was held to be honorable, and it is still today in spite of all indications to the contrary. Waldgängers (Rangers in the forest) are all those, isolated by all great upheavals, and are confronted with ultimate annihilation."
"Since this could be the fate of many, indeed, of all, another defining characteristic must be added: The Waldgaenger (the Ranger) is determined to offer resistance. He is willing to enter into a struggle that appears hopeless. Hence he is distinguished by an immediate relationship to freedom which expresses itself in the fact that he is prepared to oppose the automatism and reject its ethical conclusion of fatalism. If we look at him in this fashion we shall understand the roll which the Waldgang plays not only in our thoughts but also in the realities of our age. Everyone today is subject to coercion and the attempts to banish it are bold experiments upon which depends a destiny far greater than the fate of those who dare to undertake them."
Here we have it in its essence, we see its nature as broad capable of taking many forms, but all to the same end, the preservation of the dignity and freedom of man in its original and most natural form. This is beyond the polemics of modern philosophy and politics. It is the removal of the coercion that has become characteristic of the modern mega-state and its master the banking titan.
Jünger: "The Waldgang is not to be understood as a form of Anarchism directed against world technology (technik), although this is a temptation, particularly for those who strive to regain a myth. Undoubtedly, mythology will appear again. It is always present and arises in a propitious hour like a treasure coming to the surface, but man does not return to the realm of myth, he re-encounters it when the age is out of joint and in the magic circle of extreme danger..."
The Waldgang is the stuff of myth, but not created by the likes of us. Myth has its root in the disclosure of the divine and it is only the natural man, a man who is beyond the concepts of liberty, fraternity and equality that might achieve this. Where the modern concepts of the Enlightenment prevail, so prevails the tyranny of the state. Here the Anarch becomes potent in his reflection even dangerous, he has recognised the tyranny and if he is exposed he must choose the method of retreat into the forest or pay the price.
In our age we cannot underestimate the heritage that Jünger has left us. All around us we see the levelling effects of technology. It becomes more and more difficult to be free in the golden cage of the world state. Who are the men and women that are still sovereign in this age? It is certainly becoming more difficult to find real ‘Anarchs’ devoted to learning and freedom, but they are there; some of them are the readership that Jünger honours so greatly and others are unaware of Jünger, but possess a natural inclination to his thoughts.
These ideas have never been popular, even with some of his loyal readers. Jünger himself had burnt himself on the hot iron of modern democracy. Naturally those who believe in the saying of Winston Churchill, "Democracy is the worst form of government, but the best we've got," will certainly disagree with Jünger's political analysis, but the further we go down this strange path called the modern world, the more we must realise how much Jünger's political analysis rings true. Modern Democracy is a sham, covering up the all too real and undemocratic exploitation of people, wealth, and resources, siphoning it off into the hands of the few, in the name of the many. We have entered the age of the Anarch and who knows what will come next?
ABDALBARR BRAUN - 7 March 2002