Authoritarian Liberalism: From Schmitt via Ordoliberalism to the Euro

Werner Bonefeld*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The contribution examines the market liberal veracity of Hayek’s view that a dictatorship may be more liberal in its policies than an unlimited democratic assembly. Hayek’s warning about the potentially illiberal character of democratic government is key to the German ordoliberal thinking that emerged in the context of the crisis of the Weimar Republic. The ordoliberal thinkers were keenly aware of Schmitt’s political theology and argue with him that the state is the predominant power in the relationship between market and state, conceiving of this relationship as free economy and strong state. They argue that the establishment of social order is the precondition of free economy; law does not apply to disorder and does not create order. The liberal state is the ‘concentrated force’ of that order. The contribution argues that ordoliberalism is best characterized as an authoritarian liberalism and assesses its contemporary veracity in relation to European Union.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-761
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Sociology
Issue number4-5
Early online date7 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2016. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details


  • authoritarian liberalism
  • democracy
  • dictatorship
  • European Union
  • Hayek
  • ordoliberalism
  • political state
  • Schmitt

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