Marc-Olivier Padis

Research Director of Terra Nova. Publisher and commentator of French and European politics. Editor-in-Chief and director of the journal Esprit for almost twenty years. Former member of Eurozine Editorial Board (2009-2015). From 2012 to 2017, regularly intervened on the French public radio France Culture in the programme ‘L’Esprit public’. Board member of the University Paris 3 Sorbonne-nouvelle as outside personality in 2014 and 2015. From 2005 to 2011, professor at Sciences Po Paris. Has published several books on French political philosophy and on international issues. Released Policy Brief in France, Germany and Italy in June 2018 ‘How to fight populism in Europe’.


Cover for: Who are the gilets jaunes?

The gilets jaunes belong to an integrated but invisible middle class whose grievances are centred on the increasing unaffordability of their commuter lifestyle. The protests highlight Emmanuel Macron’s failure to form a consensus, but by rejecting engagement with the political system the gilets jaunes themselves fail to offer a way out of the democratic crisis.

Cover for: Dynamics of inequality

Dynamics of inequality

A conversation with Thomas Piketty

At the heart of every great democratic revolution there was a fiscal revolution, argues Thomas Piketty. And the same will be true of the future. Only a global register of financial assets and a progressive global tax on capital can keep global wealth concentration under control.

Cover for: Creating a space for debate

Creating a space for debate

European cultural journals and the making of the public sphere

As the 25th European Meeting of Cultural Journals commences in Oslo, it is timely to remember that cultural journals have long facilitated a level of intellectual exchange indispensable to societies that put stock in democratic and cosmopolitan spirit. And, as ongoing crisis overshadows the upcoming European elections and the European integration project risks being reduced to the task of reaching formal economic goals, the contribution of cultural journals to a European public sphere is more important than ever.

There can be no doubt that cultural journals need to take gender into account in the context of their daily activities. But, write Marc-Olivier Padis and Alice Béja, associated procedures should also be adapted to the journal’s size and mode of functioning.

Cover for: Relocating the European debate

On 28 September 2012, the Institut français d’Estonie opened a series of debates entitled “New ideas in Europe”. In the first event, Marc-Olivier Padis of Esprit and Märt Väljataga of Vikerkaar exchanged ideas on “Cultural journals and new ideas”. The following is a reworked version of Marc-Olivier Padis’ contribution to the debate.

Cover for: Responsibility for Europe: A relative concept

Responsibility for Europe: A relative concept

On French-German tensions during the euro crisis

French-German leadership during the euro crisis has been fraught with tension. It’s not so much the case that Germany is abandoning its European responsibilities, more that the crisis emphasizes differences in political culture. While Germany may seem dilatory, French resolve forfeits democratic deliberation.

Cover for: French universities: Outlook and resistance

French universities: Outlook and resistance

An interview with Yves Lichtenberger

The decentralization of French Universities has forced individual faculties to cede control to the university management, and has met with opposition from teaching staff, says Yves Lichtenberger. The new culture of assessment has been particularly resisted by humanities departments, which object to being judged on the criteria of the physical sciences. Yet critics have suggested that this sense of having to defend a broad cultural education against business is somewhat exaggerated and unrealistic. Is it not the case that while centralized but remote state control favoured opaque compromises, local control challenges long laid-down university habits?

Faced with public funding cuts, the editors of “Esprit” write an open letter defending the role of generalist cultural journals. When the academic world can communicate only with specialists, and the daily press can provide only superficial analysis, cultural journals are needed to balance depth against accessibility. “Esprit” can find the right questions to ask, write its editors, and can help create shared culture in a world fragmented by globalization. Self-consciously “international”, it can bring French ideas into contact with those from elsewhere in Europe and beyond.

Cover for: A history to be handed down

A history to be handed down

Interview with Lilian Thuram

“Identity is only a good thing if it is a force that opens you up to others.” Celebrated former French national footballer Lilian Thuram talks to Esprit about sport and integration, the history of racism in France, and the success of laicité. From the Eurozine archive.

The democratic neighbour

Politics of human rights in an enlarged Europe

The politics of human rights in Europe had its heyday in the 1990s: today, human rights discourse is held responsible for a multitude of ills. In domestic politics, interest in human rights has been overtaken by a concern with welfare systems, while in international relations, especially in EU accession negotiations, political, economic, and social issues take priority. Marc-Olivier Padis, editor of Esprit, defends democracy’s radical commitment to the politics of human rights.

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