From dialectical materialism to neoliberalism, any politics that lays claims to the truth is both illusory and dangerous. But does this mean that democracy is simply rule by opinion, without recourse to facts? And does the rejection of absolute relativism mean abandoning the postmodernist critique of truth and power?
Senior researcher at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) and associated professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris). Recent publications include: Penser l’ennemi, affronter l’exception. Réflexions critiques sur l’actualité de Carl Schmitt (La Découverte, 2006, new edition paperback, 2016), Qu’est-ce qu’un chef en démocratie? Politiques du charisme (Seuil, 2012, new edition “Points”, 2017), Ecrire – à l’heure du tout-message (Flammarion, 2013).
The assumption of ownership as an absolute right is largely a creation of the nineteenth century, writes Jean-Claude Monod. Roman law separated abusus, the right to sell, give or destroy property, from usus, the right to make use of it, while medieval custom saw different groups holding complementary claims to the same resource. Today, there are signs of a gradual return to a less deregulated way of looking at our relationship with things.