TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

New Review of Ernst Jünger’s The Forest Passage

Ernst Jünger’s The Forest Passage is available for purchase in our online store.

Writing in the current issue of Modern Age (Summer 2014), Tobias J. Lanz reviews Ernst Jünger’s The Forest Passage:

This is a book about freedom. It was first published in 1951 as a response to the Nazi experience and the perceived threat of Soviet expansion. Its explicit focus was resistance to the totalitarian state. Yet its implicit focus is resistance to all forms of social control, including the soft totalitarianism of present-day mass democracy. And this why Ernst Jünger’s classic remains relevant today, and that is why Telos Press has reissued it. . . .

To Jünger the problem of totalitarianism went beyond the physical violence inflicted by the tyrannical state—it was metaphysical. The modern world, with its inherent materialism, created nihilism. Here the consumerism of mass democracy is as materialist as the historical materialism of Marx. Where there is no transcendent spiritual reality, there is no meaning. And a society without meaning eventually loses its freedom and dies.

Fear is a corollary to nihilism. It results from the dynamic and paradoxical nature of modern social change. As collective power and security increase, so does individual insecurity and helplessness. And this is because human survival is now based on enormous and complex systems. But when they fail, all fails. Jünger believes this is why people accept totalitarian control. “Coercion is most effective where fear is most acute.”

The full review, entitled “The Path to a Higher Freedom,” appears in the print edition of Modern Age (Summer 2014), pp. 67–71.

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