view ordoliberalism as an economic policy concept that is said to have guided the German govern-
ment during the debt crisis. The influence of this policy, some claim, had brought about an “ordoliberalisation of
Europe”. Contributions echoing this criticism are relatively rare in Germany.
This finding is the starting point of
our deliberations: criticism of ordoliberalism is above all a criticism of German crisis policy.
Recent interest in ordoliberalism has been focused closely on its ideas regarding economic policy. Yet people
forget the extent to which the founding fathers insisted on interdisciplinarity and perceived the economic order
as a legal order. Besides the fact that ordoliberalism was originally anchored in legal concepts, we will go into a
second foundational element which is also left largely unconsidered in the current debate, namely the fact
that the values underlying ordoliberal theory and constituting its sociological core are heavily influenced by
We believe the direct impact ordoliberalism has in shaping German's policy towards Europe is overestimated.
The influence of this school on forming the project of integration was minor, even in the formative 1950s and
1960s. Its theoretical power and practical relevance have been declining since the 1960s. Its backing in the legal
sciences became weaker and weaker given the impact of American “economic analysis of law”.
mists close to the ordoliberal tradition have largely aligned their positions with those of Anglo‐Saxon neoclassical
economics, and ordoliberalism has fallen victim to overlying American influences on German economics. It is telling
that during the euro crisis, there were no genuinely ordoliberal contributions by economists or legal scholars that
supported Germany's crisis policy. Opinion pieces by German economists institutionally linked to ordoliberalism
(through the Walter Eucken Institut, the Stiftung Marktwirtschaft, and the Kronberger Kreis) take up public‐choice
theories and the new institutional economics in which the original interdependencies between law, economics, and
the constitution have faded away.
Nonetheless, we find ordoliberal traditions having indirect influence. This influence is based on its sociological
core: the underlying Protestant cultural values that originally constituted the foundation for ordoliberalism formed
and still form German politicians' discourse on the crisis. Ordoliberalism thus continues to be influential in German
politics thanks to its cultural foundations; politicians use ordoliberal references symbolically to indicate certain polit-
ical mindsets and orientations.
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Berghahn and B. Young, “Reflections on Werner Bonefeld's ‘Freedom and the Strong State: On German Ordoliberalism’and the Con-
tinuing Importance of the Ideas of Ordoliberalism to Understand Germany's (Contested) Role in Resolving the Eurozone Crisis”, (2013)
18 New Political Economy, 768–778; M. Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press, 2013), 141; S.
Bulmer and W.E. Paterson, “Germany as the EU's Reluctant Hegemon? Of Economic Strength and Political Constraints”, (2013) 20
Journal of European Public Policy, 1387–1405; P. Dardot and C. Laval, The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society (Verso,
2013); Gerhard Schnyder and Mathias M. Siems, “The ‘Ordoliberal’Variety of Neoliberalism”, in Suzanne J. Konzelmann and Marc
Fovargue‐Davies (eds.), Banking Systems in the Crisis: The Faces of Liberal Capitalism (Routledge, 2013), 250–268; S. Bulmer, “Germany
and the Eurozone Crisis: Between Hegemony and Domestic Politics”, (2014) 37 West European Politics, 1244–1263; T. Harjunienu
and M. Ojala, “Mediating ‘the German Ideology’? Ordoliberalism and its Alternatives in the Press Coverage of the Eurozone Crisis”,
(2014) 24 Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 414–430; F. Denord, R. Knaebel and P. Rimbert, “L'ordolibéralisme allemand,
cage de fer pour le Vieux Continent”,Le Monde diplomatique, August 2015; R. Hillebrand, “Germany and its Eurozone Crisis Policy:
The Impact of the Country's Ordoliberal Heritage”, (2015) 33 German Politics & Society,6–24; A. Lechevalier, “Eucken under the Pil-
low: The Ordoliberal Imprint on Social Europe”, in A. Lechevalier and J. Wielgohs (eds.), Social Europe: A Dead End: What the Eurozone
Crisis is Doing to Europe's Social Dimension (DJØF Publishing, 2015); P. Nedergaard and H. Snaith, “‘As I Drifted on a River I Could
Not Control’: The Unintended Ordoliberal Consequences of the Eurozone Crisis”, (2015) 53 Journal of Common Market Studies,
1094–1109; D. Schäfer, “A Banking Union of Ideas? The Impact of Ordoliberalism and the Vicious Circle on the EU Banking Union”,
(2016) 54 Journal of Common Market Studies, 961–980; J. Oksala, “Ordoliberalism as Governmentality”, in T. Biebricher and F.S.
Vogelmann (eds.), The Birth of Austerity: German Ordoliberalism and Contemporary Neoliberalism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).
S. Dullien and U. Guérot, “The Long Shadow of Ordoliberalism: Germany's Approach to the Euro Crisis”, (2012) European Council on
Foreign Relations Policy Brief; T. Biebricher, “Europe and the Political Philosophy of Neoliberalism”, (2013) 12 Contemporary Political
Theory, 338–375; idem,“Neoliberalism and Law: The Case of the Constitutional Balanced‐Budget Amendment”, (2016) 17 German
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Important signals were given in H.‐D. Assmann, Ch. Kirchner and E. Schanze, Ökonomische Analyse des Rechts (Athenäum, 1972).
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