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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
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Ordoliberal ideals (with modifications) drove the creation of the post-World War II German social market economy and its attendant Wirtschaftswunder. In the beginning, many Ordoliberals called themselves Neoliberals to separate themselves from old school classical liberalism. However, ordoliberals promoted the concept of the social market economy, and this concept promotes a strong role for the state with respect to the market, which is in many ways different from the ideas who are nowadays connected with the term neoliberalism.
The theory was developed from about 1930–1950 by German economists and legal scholars from Freiburg School such as Walter Eucken, Franz Böhm, Hans Grossmann-Doerth and Leonhard Miksch. Alexander Rüstow, Wilhelm Röpke and Alfred Müller-Armack are classified as ordoliberals or at least associated with this theory as "ordoliberalism in a wider sense", whereby this attribution is controversial.
While Lars Gertenbach regards Hayek as one of the greatest exponents of the Freiburg ordoliberalism, Sibylle Tönnies regards his theories as opposed to ordoliberalism in its true sense. According to Kathrin Meier-Rust the theories of Hayek are incompatible with those of Eucken, Röpke and Rüstow; in contrast Ingo Pies concludes that, despite the differences in detail the works of Eucken and Hayek would have the same conception.
Hayek himself pointed out that he had the "closest agreement on scientific as well as on political questions" with his "valuable friend" Walter Eucken. According to Manfred E. Streit that seems to be exceeding a statement of courtesy, not only because of similarities in their basic values, but also because of their shared deep interest in matters of economic order.
However, there were differences in important questions that Manfred E. Streit continues to explain lengthy. In a different article Manfred E. Streit and Michael Wohlgemuth wrote that despite his warm words Hayek's work shows no significant reference to the work of ordoliberals (as well as the other way round). In principle ordoliberals arrived at some similar policy implications like limited government. On the other hand ordoliberals were skeptical about the invisible-hand-explanations taken up by Hayek; their vision of government was a strong government regulating the market where necessary. Hayek therefore arrived at the judgement that ordoliberalism is "restrained liberalism".
Ingo Pies explicitly contradicts this and states a close personal friendship between Eucken and Hayek. He does not see the undisputed finding that ordoliberals are not quoted in the writings of Hayek as necessarily a evidence of disagreement, because during the Hitler dictatorship Hayek seems to have resigned on the attribution out of consideration to his German friends and before and after that period there is rather a absence of concern for the ordoliberals work.
Michael Wohlgemuth has also stated, that Hayek's Freiburg followers Hoppmann, Streit and Vanberg have made a creative symbiosis between Hayek`s work and Ordoliberalism by adding some old Freiburg tradition to Hayek`s theorie. Streit calls Hayek the undoubtedly most outstanding example of a scholar that continued ordoliberal tradition on new challenges. He sees a continuity mainly between Hayeks "Rechtsordnung und Handelsordnung" und Franz Böhms "Privatrechtsgesellschaft und Marktwirtschaft".
Walter Oswalt explains that Hayek's Freiburg followers Manfred Streit and Viktor Vanberg tried to create a tradition between Hayek and Eucken. Oswalt continues to explain that in fact there was no tradition. He explains that the insurmountable difference between Hayeks "paleoliberal" work and ordoliberalism was first verbalized by Alexander Rüstow in a letter to Wilhelm Röpke stating that there is the "sharpest and most fertile subcontrary difference". In contrast to Hayek's theory of group selection, Eucken believed in a rational and moral setting of rules by government. An example is Eucken's criticism of Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" for not differing between market regulation and laissez-faire. The sharpest contrast to Eucken occurred when Hayek denied the idea of Social justice.
Since the 1960s ordoliberal influence on economics and jurisprudence has significantly diminished.
Ordoliberal theory holds that the state must create a proper legal environment for the economy and maintain a healthy level of competition (rather than just "exchange") through measures that adhere to market principles. This is the foundation of its legitimacy The concern is that, if the state does not take active measures to foster competition, firms with monopoly (or oligopoly) power will emerge, which will not only subvert the advantages offered by the market economy, but also possibly undermine good government, since strong economic power can be transformed into political power. Quoting Stephen Padgett: "A central tenet of ordo-liberalism is a clearly defined division of labor in economic management, with specific responsibilities assigned to particular institutions. Monetary policy should be the responsibility of a central bank committed to monetary stability and low inflation, and insulated from political pressure by independent status. Fiscal policy—balancing tax revenue against government expenditure—is the domain of the government, whilst macro-economic policy is the preserve of employers and trade unions." The state should form an economic order instead of directing economic processes, and three negative examples ordoliberals used to back their theories were Nazism, Keynesianism, and Russian socialism.
Wilhelm Röpke considered Ordoliberalism to be "liberal conservatism," against capitalism in his work Civitas Humana (A Humane Order of Society, 1944). Alexander Rüstow also criticized laissez-faire capitalism in his work Das Versagen des Wirtschaftsliberalismus (The Failure of Economic Liberalism, 1950). The Ordoliberals thus separated themselves from classical liberals.
Michel Foucault also notes the similarity (beyond just historical contemporaneity) between the Ordo/Freiberg school and the Frankfurt School of critical theory, due to their inheritance from Max Weber. That is, both recognise the "irrational rationality" of the capitalist system, but not the "logic of contradiction" that Marx recognized. Both groups took up the same problem, but in vastly different directions. The political philosophy of Ordoliberals was influenced by Aristotle, Tocqueville, Hegel, Spengler, Karl Mannheim, Max Weber, and Husserl.
In Germany, ordoliberalism is often seen as a central reason for the German Wirtschaftswunder. However, there are also critics. According to Sebastian Dullien and Ulrike Guérot Ordoliberalism is a central reason for the peculiar German approach to euro crisis resolution which often has led to conflict with other European countries.