C.C.: It’s a fact that the passivity of contemporary man rests on the following imaginary signification: technoscience as capable of resolving problems in his stead. Between 1950 and 1980, the main mystification was that of the technical competency [technicité] of politicians: they know—it’s too complicated—how to comprehend nuclear matters, how many bombs the Russians have, etc. An individual picked off the heap, it seems, wouldn’t be able to comprehend what it means for the Russians to have two thousand bombs and the Americans one thousand five hundred. That’s beyond them; one needs a specialist—and not a nuclear specialist but a specialist in “politics”!—in order to understand it. Or this same individual couldn’t understand why the French State has to throw away eight hundred millions dollars for planes that are said to “sniff” oil at an altitude of five kilometers; in order to understand the need for that, you have to have graduated from France’s finest schools of engineering and administration [être polytechnicien, énarque] and be named Giscard. This farce about the technical competency of politicians prevailed for an entire period.
At present, the two elements coexist. Fabius, for example, still embodies the mystification of technical competency: he’s the “expert.” Léotard embodies the other pole, created by Ronald Reagan, even if he hasn’t acted in Westerns, and . . .
Q.: . . . he runs the marathon.
C.C.: There you have it. We are a country with a classical culture; the marathon is Léotard’s Western.