Vancouver Institute for Social Research: Geoffrey Winthrop-Young

April 27, 2015

Geoffrey Winthrop-Young: A Turbine Driven by Blood: Ernst Jünger’s Total Mobilization between Hitler and Heidegger


First published in 1930, Total Mobilization marks Ernst Jünger’s departure from his radical right-wing journalism of the late 1920s, which on occasion took on an insurrectionist flair and was carried out in in critical solidarity with the fledgling Nazi party. Moving away from a more explicit engagement with politics, it looks ahead to Jünger’s most important essay, the still untranslated Der Arbeiter (“The Worker”), and beyond to the increasingly abstract mytho-historical reflections that would come to occupy him for the rest of a very long life (1895-1998). It is — even for Jünger — an uneven text, ambivalent in its evaluation of technology, and caught between a radical nationalism and the invocation of a ‘planetary’ techno-evolution that can do without nations and peoples, including Germany and the Germans. The ambiguities of style and argument have to do with the fact that the essay is in many ways an attempt, as it were, to un-lose the First World War by revealing an allegedly more profound level of events, a hidden evolution now emerging in the shape of a total military, economic, social, and psychic “mobilization,” in which the conventional narratives of winners and losers no longer apply. This invites comparisons with the analysis of WWI in Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Martin Heidegger’s attempts to come to grips with the ongoing WWII in the recently published infamous Black Notebooks.


Recommended reading


The Vancouver Institute for Social Research (VISR) is an independent, para-academic, graduate-level, theory-based free school that began in Feb. 2013. Our intent is to move beyond the borders of the traditional university and to open up a more accessible platform in the city for the engaged discussion of critical theory.

The Institute’s fourth session will be organized around the theme of “Sovereignty,” and is being held from March 2 to April 27, 2015.

Once a week on Monday evenings from 7-9 pm at the Or Gallery (555 Hamilton Street), professors, grad students, and local activists will be presenting on topics of their choice. The seminar will be free to the public and advance readings will be distributed through our WordPress site. Videos of past classes can be found “here”:

Participant Bios

Geoffrey Winthrop-Young is Acting Head of the Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies at UBC and teaches in the German and Scandinavian programs.