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Ordoliberalism, Polanyi, and the theodicy of markets

Woodruff, David M. ORCID: 0000-0001-7503-8052 (2017) Ordoliberalism, Polanyi, and the theodicy of markets. In: Hien, Josef and Joerges, Christian, (eds.) Ordoliberalism, law and the rule of economics. Hart Enterprises, Oxford, UK. ISBN 9781509919048

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Though they are seldom paired, there are important points of contact between the thought of ordoliberals like Eucken and Böhm and that of the idiosyncratic social democratic theorist Karl Polanyi. Like Polanyi, the ordoliberals recognised the crucial historical and contemporary role of the state in creating and sustaining market economies, and the consequent emptiness of the laissez-faire slogan. Some of Polanyi's inter-war analyses of the political use of state power to create monopolies show significant parallels with ordoliberal diagnoses. There were points of contact in moral perspectives as well: both Polanyi and the ordoliberals emphasised that inter-war markets were producing manifestly unjust outcomes, incompatible with any notion of desert. Their reactions, of course, were very different. To put it in Polanyi's terms, ordoliberals accepted that laissez-faire was planned, and argued it needed to be re-planned: more consistently, with the state mobilised to structure markets in ways that ensured market earnings reflected desert. Polanyi, for his part, felt that the state structures underpinning any market order made the very idea of individual desert unintelligible and a barrier to clear thought about how society ought to be organised. This chapter will analyse these parallels and distinctions, and discuss the ways in which Polanyi offers significant resources for analysing ordoliberal positions.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Divisions: Government
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2018 10:42
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 10:06

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