aug 13 2007

August 13, 2007 § Leave a comment

aug 13 2007

Scott Horton

is bringing to us the best of German humanism. Here is a part of one of many resources he is laying out for us.

“What Is, and To What End Do We Study History?” by Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine)

And finally we come to Wallenstein. This trilogy of plays is central to Schiller’s work. He is describing the birth of the modern European state system, the horror of religious warfare which gave rise to it. War may indeed be the father of many things, Schiller tells us, but those who launch wars in the expectation of the fulfillment of simple designs are fools. A powerful lesson for Americans and Britons today, lodged in a fool’s errand in the Middle East. Schiller reminds us of the essentially Saturnine and unpredictable quality of these wars. Horror and misery are certain; something positive may flow. But rarely if ever will it match human designs. And then he turns to the curious character of Wallenstein, the Bohemian nobleman who came to make princes, kings and emperors tremble, but who was himself the prisoner of remarkably primitive superstitions. With Wallenstein, Schiller issues a warning to posterity.

Beware of religious war, which knows no bounds and only brutality. Religious war breeds fanaticism, and fanaticism breeds violence with no conscience or limits. (Heads are rolling on the Place de la Concorde in Paris; is Schiller writing about the Thirty Years War—or is it the Revolution which is eating it own children, as Danton said?) Beware of the times when an old state system fails, when states go under and an old way of live falls to the wayside. This is the time of the opportunist, of the Wallenstein. He may offer a clear vision, a seeming dynamism—and this may be a great illusion. Is Wallenstein an example of human greatness? Or he is a simple opportunist? Schiller asks questions, compellingly. And his advice is that the only protection against the meteoric opportunist in time of crisis is skepticism—keep asking questions. Do not be taken in by charisma; least of all by charisma attached to power.

The problems with Rove:

Like a Whisper

Is it me or is the most remarkable thing about Karl Rove’s resignation that it seems almost like a non-event? I had the feeling as the day wore on that all of us in the news and commentary business were trying to make it a big event. But somehow it just wasn’t there

The problem is that with this administration, nothing seems noteworthy. they can bomb, lie, undo the constitution, and it seems rather bland, or, yes, severe, but what is one to do? I think it is a combination of the misuse of language and the impenetrability of the administration. these two work together to make no response the only adequate response.

Perhaps we should add that we know the press will not do much abut it but treat it like “he said she said..”

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