No Comment, Quotation — July 17, 2007, 12:00 am

Schiller on the Bubble-Boy Leader

phillip-ii

Before observing his deeds, let us cast a brief glance into his soul and find there the key to his political life… He was no “people person,” because he never looked down from his Self, he looked only upwards. His faith was terrible and dark, because his God was a terrible creature. He had nothing more to receive from God, only to fear. To the lesser man, God may seem a comforter, a savior, but to him God was an image of anxieties, the painful and humiliating barrier to his human omnipotence. His awe in the face of God was all the more deep and internalized the less he shared it with other beings… Absolute rule is from the outset too strong a temptation for human pride, and too great a test for human power. The pursuit of happiness and the highest expanse of individual freedom may be paired with a great human spirit… But the goal of the despot… is uniformity, and to that end, human poverty and misery serve as essential means. Philip was therefore compelled to be still more of a despot than his father because his spirit was more constrained, or to put it differently, he was required to keep all the more anxiously to the accepted rules because he had been kept all the more distant from the companionship and ways of his fellow humans. And what did all this produce? For Philip the Second, there was no higher cause than the uniformity of faith and of the state, precisely because he would be unable to rule without them.

Friedrich Schiller, Philipp der Zweite, König von Spanien (1785) in: Sämtliche Werke, vol. 4, pp. 77-79 (Hanser ed. 1976)(S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

April 2017

You Can Run …

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Never Would I Ever

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The March on Everywhere

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Defender of the Community

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Echt Deutsch

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Boy Without a Country

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The March on Everywhere·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Photograph (detail) © Nima Taradji/Polaris
Post
The Forty-Fifth President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Photograph (detail) by Philip Montgomery
Article
Defender of the Community·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Illustration (detail) by Katherine Streeter
Article
The Boy Without a Country·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Illustration (detail) by Shonagh Rae
Article
Asphalt Gardens·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In a city that is rapidly pricing out the poor, NYCHA’s housing projects are a last bastion of affordable shelter, with an average monthly rent of $509
Photograph (detail) © Samuel James

Ratio of the amount of water used to make the containers to the amount of bottled water consumed:

2:1

Police in Pforzheim, Germany, detained an owl who was drunk on schnapps.

In the United States, legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act was advanced by the House Ways and Means Committee after 18 hours of deliberation, during which time the Republican members of Congress passed around candy.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today