“When in the course of my work at the Luminar, I was reviewing public law, from Aristotle to Hegel and beyond, I thought of an Anglo Saxon
This is a platitude, albeit reduced to a striking formula. The possibility of killing someone else is part of the potential of the anarch whom everyone carries around inside himself, even though he is seldom aware of that possibility. It always slumbers in the underground, even when two people exchange greetings in the street or avoid each other. When one stands atop a tower or in front of an oncoming train, that possibility is already drawing closer. Aside from the technological dangers, we also register the nearness of the Other. He can even be my brother. An old poet, Edgar Allen Poe, grasped this possibility in “Descent into the Maelstrom”. In any case, we watch our backs. Then comes the thronging in the catastrophe, the raft of the Méduse, the starving in the lifeboat….
I want to indicate this only insofar as it concerns my service. In any event, I brought this knowledge into the Condor’s range, into the inner sanctum that Monseigneur described as his “Parvulo.” I can kill him, dramatically or discreetly. His beverages – he especially likes a light red wine – ultimately pass through my hands.
Now granted, it is unlikely that I would kill him, albeit not impossible. Who can tell what astrological conjunctions one may get involved in? So, for now, my knowledge is merely theoretical, though important insofar as it puts me in his level. Not only can I kill him; I can also grant him amnesty. This is in my hands.
Naturally, I would not try to strike him just because he is tyrant – I am too well versed in history, especially the model that we have attained in Eumeswil. An immoderate tyrant settles his own hash. The execution can be left to the anarchists; that is all they think about. Hence, tyranny is seldom bequeathed; unlike the monarchies, it barely endures beyond the grandson. Parmenides inherited tyranny from his father “like a disease.” According to Thales, the rarest thing he encountered in his travels was an old tyrant.
That is my basic attitude in performing my job, and perhaps I do so better than any number of others. I am his equal; the difference lies in the clothing and the ceremonies, which only blockheads despise; you doff your clothes only when things start getting serious.
My awareness of my equality is actually good for my work; I am free enough to perform it lightly and agreeably – as if dancing. Often it gets late, and if things have gone well, I pat myself on the back before closing the bar, like a performer whose act has succeeded. “
Eumeswil, Page 44-45
I am unaware of where Ernst Jünger found the “Anglo Saxon’s axiom about human equality” to which he refers in this quote, yet I find it a remarkably powerful concept. We are fundamentally equal because we are all equally mortal; we are thus equally vulnerable to the reciprocal power we hold over each others’ life and death, however unequal our lives may be in the things of this world. Our equality is based on this equally tenuous relationship to existence itself and on the fact that we can potentially end this relationship for another – as they can for us. In the end, no-one can do no more to you than take your life, and since the same is true in reverse, an equality exists.
In the absolute last resort, when the pretensions of one mortal over another become intolerable, equality can be restored, psychologically by remembering that the other’s life is potentially in one’s hands, practically by taking their lives – as Jünger says, one may grant them amnesty, or not.
Naturally, in almost all cases we reciprocally grant each other amnesty, and the possibility remains in the realm of the theoretical. Nevertheless, to be psychologically effective, the individual must understand the reality of this possibility, it must be an actual possibility which he has consciously thought about and understands to possess. It is unlikely that most people have realized this consciously, we are mostly too frightened, too moral, to look at these hard, nasty truths. Yet they can free us within – not least from egalitarian illusions that men are, or can be made equal in the things of this world and even of the spirit.