Dead man walking : current European interest in the ordoliberal tradition

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Series Details No 03, 2018
Publication Date 01/01/2018
ISSN 1725-6739
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Ordoliberalism became during the years of the financial crisis the target of a European-wide critical campaign. This school of thought is widely perceived as the ideational source of Germany’s crisis politics which has even led to an “ordoliberalisation of Europe”. The essay questions the validity of such assessments. It focuses on two aspects which are widely neglected in current debates. One is the importance of law in the ordoliberal vision of the ordering of economy and society. The second is its cultural and religious background in particular in German Protestantism. The influence of the ordoliberal school on European law, so the essay argues, is overrated in all stages of the integration project. Anglo-American neoliberalism rather than German Ordoliberalism was in the ideational driver seat since the 1980s. In the responses to the financial crisis the ordoliberal commitment to the rule of law gave way to discretionary emergency measures. While the foundational synthesis of economic and legal concepts became indefensible, the cultural underpinnings of the ordoliberal tradition survived and developed a life of their own in particular in German political discourses.

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