Trump has trumped how we think about political representation. The voice of The Apprentice, now ingrained throughout the U.S. memory bank, is in the declarative performative, “You’re fired!” Eastwood channels it: body politic is the capitalist, the president a part of his workforce. Romney channels it: the government is a business that should be run by a businessman who understands markets, and not a complex political project attending to material and aesthetic processes that shape being collective. If a president can not do the job about jobs, he should be out of one. The president is reduced from a symbolic and policy-oriented figure to a C.E.O., with citizens as stockholders demanding evidence of upward mobility in the form of quarterly profits. Denuded of any imaginary component, excluded from the assessment of co-present strengths and weaknesses, the president is recast as an employee. “Employee” now means “temporary.”
We have heard before this time the reductive and empty debate about the statecraft of lawyers versus the skill of businessmen. What makes it newly powerful, tragic, and dangerous, it seems to me–and I don’t inflate my terms lightly—is the banalization of firing that this puts into place as an affective demonstration of political freedom.
Talking (kind of) = walking.
Illustration for Harry Collins et al, “Experiments in Interactional Expertise,” 2006. Article abstract:
‘Interactional expertise’ is developed through linguistic interaction without full scale practical immersion in a culture. Interactional expertise is the medium of communication in peer review in science, in review committees, and in interdisciplinary projects. It is also the medium of specialist journalists and of interpretative methods in the social sciences. We describe imitation game experiments designed to make concrete the idea of interactional expertise. The experiments show that the linguistic performance of those well-socialized in the language of a specialist group is indistinguishable from those with full-blown practical socialization but distinguishable from those who are not well-socialized. The imitation game can also be used to indicate whether an individual can enter an esoteric domain and master the interactional expertise, a skill required by interpretative sociologists of science, anthropologists, ethnographers, and the like.