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Ordoliberalism and the Crisis of Neoliberal Political Economy: On the Social Market, the Free Economy, and the Strong State.

  • Start date: 01 September 2010
  • End date: 31 August 2011

The project explores and expounds the roots of neoliberalism in the German ordoliberal tradition. Its methodological approach is grounded in critical theory. It is an interdisciplinary study in the ideological history of neoliberalism, and bears on how we conceptualise current political economy.

The research comprises critical study of primary German language sources. Ordoliberalism developed in the late 1920 at a time of great economic uncertainty, a political crisis of ungovernability, social polarisation and strife. It argued that the free economy depends on the existence of a strong state. Ordoliberalism saw itself as a critique of laissez faire liberalism which it deemed to be unable to maintain free markets in the face of social challenges. Its political philosophy of the strong state and its conception of laissez faire are distinctive. It sees the economic as a political construct, and construes laissez faire akin to Rousseau's idea of a people being 'forced to be free'.  As we parse the meaning of the 2008 economic crisis, the research establishes a body of knowledge that is fundamental to the understanding of the nature and crisis of neoliberalism, and its possible future(s).