Volume 2, Issue 1, 2021
The Meanings of History
Günther Anders, Christopher John Müller, Jason Dawsey
Following decades of neglect, the work of the German Jewish philosopher, literary author, cultural critic, and poet Günther Anders (1902–1992) is gaining increasing recognition in the English-speaking world. This translation of “Résistance heute” (Resistance Today) makes one of Anders’s most programmatic and polemical short texts available. Published at the height of his anti-nuclear activism, “Resistance Today” is the written version of a speech Anders delivered in November 1962 upon acceptance of the northwest Italian city of Omegna’s Resistance Prize (other notable recipients included Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon). It first appeared in print in the West German left-wing journal Das Argument in November 1963. Clearly written for the occasion, the text condenses (and often further radicalizes) key premises about the end of history, the amoral character of work, and the continuity between Nazi totalitarianism, the nuclear age and the world of consumerism that are developed in great nuance across a range of books that Anders had recently published. Key co-ordinates include: Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen 1 (The Obsolescence of Human Beings 1, 1956), his groundbreaking critique of technology; Der Mann auf der Brücke (The Man on the Bridge, 1959), a philosophical travel diary occasioned by Anders’s 1958 visit to Japan and his participation at the World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Tokyo; Burning Conscience (1961), a correspondence with the American reconnaissance pilot Claude Eatherly, who scouted the target area before the Enola Gay went on to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima. It seems likely that Burning Conscience, which turned into an international bestseller, occasioned the award of the prize.