Anarch vs anarchist (II)


Last week’s post ended by introducing the anarchist as someone who is not anarchic, in contrast to the free human being who is. Now we continue with two quotes which provide an explicit comparison and contrast of anarch and anarchist as conceived by Jünger. The monarch and the historian are also brought into the comparison for illustrative reasons.

“If I were an anarchist and nothing further, they would have easily exposed me. They are particularly geared towards detecting anyone who tries to approach the powerful with mischievous intent, ‘with a dagger in his cloak.’ The anarch can lead a lonesome existence; the anarchist is sociable and must get together with peers.” Eumeswil, pp 41-42

“ The positive counterpart of the anarchist is the anarch. The latter is not the adversary of the monarch, but his antipode, untouched by him though also dangerous. He is not the opponent of the monarch, but his pendant.

After all, the monarch wants to rule many, nay, all people; the anarch, only himself. This gives him an attitude both objective and skeptical towards the powers that be; he has their figures go past him – and he is untouched, no doubt, yet inwardly not unmoved, not without historical passion. Every born historian is more or less an anarch; if he has greatness, then on this basis he rises without partisanship to the judge’s bench.

This concerns my profession, which I take seriously. I am also the night steward at the Casbah; now, I am not saying that I take this job less seriously. Here I am directly involved in the events, I deal with the living. My anarchic principle is not detrimental to my work.Rather it substantiates it as something I have in common with everyone else, except that I am more conscious of this. I serve the Condor, who is a tyrant – that is his function, just as mine is to be his steward; both of us can retreat to substance: to human nature in its nameless condition.” Eumeswil, page 43.



Immediately in these early quotes from Eumeswil, Jünger establishes the anarch as not merely different from the anarchist, but as something more, as a higher and more positive figure.

The anarchist is more conspicuous in society than the anarch, since his malicious intentions give him away to the rulers whose future status is threatened by him and who therefore take special precautions to catch him. The anarch, who need not join any group and who can further his cause alone, remains inconspicuous.

The an-arch is not in opposition to the ruler, the mon-arch, he is rather the individual complement to them, their antipode. As Jünger implies, monarch and anarch are interested in a similar goal, to rule, but on different levels, in different spheres. Hence, unless there is a direct personal conflict, the two can live together peacefully, as long as each keeps to his own domain. But since the monarch could interfere with the anarch’s freedom, he must also stay abreast of the objective reality of his position in order to fight for his freedom, if  need be. He must also maintain his concrete and his emotional distances – to descend to an absolute belief in mere political rotation would restrict his freedom – and freedom is his highest ideal. Hence, the anarch could be, but is not necessarily, dangerous to the powers that be.

The anarch’s interest in and ability to follow the game from an objective, practical point-of-view also makes him a natural historian – “Every born historian is more or less an anarch”. The anarch maintains his free status within the society, while he observes the changing of its figures and configurations. 

Indeed, the anarch maintains a normal social position, indistinguishable from the man on the street. He is employed and takes his job seriously, though as a means and not an end.  He shares this normal social role with his fellow human beings, as he also does an inner anarchic core, as explained in the last posting. Within we are all anarchs and, at least potentially, we are free there, but to survive physically and profit spiritually from existence, we do best to live in the world of men, in society. An anarch’s profession is merely a function he has temporarily assumed, be it as a night steward or a tyrant. These are superficial, incidental, unessential, and they can be abandoned without real loss if necessary. The anarch is conscious of his inner freedom and the unessential nature of his social functions, which the man on the street identifies with and the anarchist rebels externally against.

In contrast to the anarch, the anarchist is the natural and sworn opponent of society, in particular of the rulers, who he wants to destroy. He cannot be objective like the anarch, since his relationship with the monarch is not practical but emotional, in a negative sense. He is unaware of his a priori inner anarchic nature and so sees society and his function in it as absolutes. He sees that society restricts his freedom, which is not incorrect, and he thus sets out to destroy it, without realizing the futility of this task and without realizing that he himself needs society for his personal development. Were he aware of his inner potentials, he would have an alternative to this destructive and useless path. But this is to step ahead of ourselves….

1 comment

  • This is a very interesting blog, I must say! Please keep on posting more comments and views about Jünger!

By SiFr



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