Olivier Mongin

has been director of the French journal Esprit since 1988 and is co-editor of the La couleur des idées series published by Seuil. He is the author of numerous publications on Paul Ricoeur, democracy, politics, and globalization.


Le Havre, port


On the new geography of containerization

Ports as points of juncture in the globalized transport network, operating mechanisms of access and arrest; the oceans remapped by containerization, cargo-shipping setting the pace of world commerce; the new harbours as decontextualized zones, nautical memories recycled for heritage: Olivier Mongin outlines a social geography of the global maritime system.

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.

Financial markets, like politics and the media, lurch between optimism and pessimism, confidence and crisis, boom and bust. “Esprit” editor Olivier Mongin argues that in order to understand the crisis of contemporary global finance, we should be turning not to Smith or Marx, with their emphasis on the value of work, but rather to Walras, the first to posit desire as cause of value.

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