Elements of the modern tragedy of sovereignty as activated in Schiller’s “The Robbers” (1781)

An individual claims agency as an autonomous subject by rebelling against a declining ruling order.

He searches for principles of self-authorizing legitimacy of a new order, based on absolute freedom, which will plot its own history.

The antinomy of the autonomous subject becomes manifest as self-division between freedom and stasis.

The split subject commits the hubris/excess of one-sidedness and becomes a criminal.

The tragic antinomy of collective rebellion becomes manifest as the hubris of freedom which pursues justice though lawlessness.

The history of the modern tragedy of sovereignty, from Romanticism to Post-colonialism, may be written in terms of the agonism between the sovereign and the robber.

1 December 2020

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