If a phrase like ‘the political’ is to mean anything, I would argue, it can refer only to that domain of human action and experience where reality actually is whatever one can convince others to accept. This is precisely what makes it different from other spheres of human activity. After all, if I were to convince everyone in the world that I could fly and then jumped off a cliff, their confidence in my abili- ties would make no difference: I would still plummet to my death. If I were to convince everyone in the world that I was Emperor of Argentina, on the other hand, I would indeed be Emperor of Argentina. Politics, then, is the domain of the performative, but therein lies its central dilemma, its fundamental para- dox—that is, to conduct politics effectively, one cannot admit this. I cannot very well convince the world that I am Emperor of Argentina by telling everyone that if they believe this, it will become true. To play the game of politics, one must constantly insist that there is something else, something more real, lying behind one’s claims. What that is does not much matter and can vary almost infinitely, from divine grace to popular will, national destiny, the right of conquest, or the inevitable unfolding of some historical dialectic. What matters is that it is not seen as sheer performativity. As a result, politics everywhere has always been surrounded by a certain air of buncombe, hypocrisy, and lies.
— David Graeber, “The Sword, the Sponge, and the Paradox of Performity”