What are the Beliefs of the Liberal Party

Why Liberalism?

The Liberal Party is being put to the test. In day-to-day government she has lost trust and argumentative power. Some are now advising a reconciliation with the eco-egalitarian mainstream. Others blatantly suggest a right turn. If liberalism followed this advice, it would lose its soul. He has a rich tradition that gives him orientation. In a difficult situation he has to go back to the sources of his convictions in order to gain new confidence in action from there.

When asked what it is about, liberalism answers: about you! About your right to be happy in the here and now. About your chance to take your life into your own hands. About your freedom to make or break ties. Because these rights apply equally to every individual, liberal regulatory doctrine wants to break any form of concentration of power. Nobody is allowed to expand their freedom at the expense of the other. Liberalism is therefore not an amalgamation of group or class interests. He does not ally himself with the holders of market or opinion power, but seizes Party for the odds the deviator, the beginner and the powerless.

For openness

Since Adam Smith, liberals have (tended to) rely on this unplanned togetherness in the economy and society being shaped as if by an “invisible hand” into prosperity, new knowledge and the common good. But Smith also knew “ethical feelings”, which are essential for a successful society. Liberalism, which is interested in people, does not grow cold in technocratic operations; it declares realizable life chances as its standard. He was and is compassionate.

The Openness of society is the liberal answer to the challenges of the future. It guarantees the development of diverse individual opinions and interests, goals and perspectives. It allows self-organization by independent citizens, companies, associations, clubs, foundations and other cooperations beyond the state. It gives less protection against wrong decisions. It saves the possibly superior idea of ​​a single pioneer from the dictates of the majority.

Today this openness is sublimely threatened from within. In many places we have already thought and decided for us - for undoubtedly noble motives: Climate protection? A human task that justifies any restriction of freedom. Social justice? For them, social democrats and greens replace the social market economy with their “democratic market economy”, in which politicians decide on the direction of private investments. The designated Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg recently announced the practical consequences of the theory to the automotive industry. Protection of minors? Nocturnal shopping bans at petrol stations protect young people from alcohol abuse - but above all it affects adults. Health? Smokers stay in front of the door. Nobody should be discriminated against? For this, the private freedom of contract on the housing and labor market must be restricted - up to and including the women and immigrant quotas just discussed. Sequel follows.

This boom in noble motifs is always weaving new threads into it bureaucratic meshworkthat can suddenly become a tight-knit network of curtailing freedom. Thinking in terms of social, ecological and police security dominates. The politician Claudia Roth steers free citizens with a raised index finger as if they were children. Instead of the responsible society, the prevention state threatens, which claims the monopoly for the solution of all problems. Its legal individual case justice is complicated, its financial distribution flows are opaque and its results are therefore also inefficient. Civil liberty withers into portioned freedom of choice between politically stereotyped options. The prevention state creates citizens in its own image, who first lose room for maneuver and then the ability to freedom and finally the willingness to be free. Opinion polls show that Germans already prefer security to freedom. The citizen protected from himself is no longer free in the end - he becomes a servant of political commands and prohibitions.

Not every theory advocated today will remain the state of affairs in the future, not every intention welcomed today asserts its dignity before history. Liberalism knows the limits of human knowledge, our fallibility and seducibility. The ends of politics are relative - therefore they do not justify their means.

Liberal regulatory policy therefore protects citizen sovereignty in an open society from the purposes of the well-meaning. It checks its funds for proportionality. It wants to reduce complexity, loosen the bureaucratic network and reduce subsidies that direct the economy. She trusts individuals to only make the best of their opportunities in competition. It imposes fiscal modesty on the tax and levy state so that it does not suppress private initiative and so that citizens retain their financial strength for investments and provisions. Because of these goals, liberals must not lose their creative ambition.

In this country, standing up for the open society stands against a deep psycho-historical current. After all, the state in Germany was once constructed as the “realization of the objective spirit” (Hegel). This concept of the state is still in effect today. The deconstruction of the state authority has been given up to liberalism because its principles are rooted in the French Revolution, the American independence movement, the British Enlightenment and the orderly thinking of the social market economy. This gives rise to a skeptical friendship with “Father State”: It is needed - but efficiently and “above the economy, above the interested parties” (Alexander Rustow) in order to set the framework within which free citizens pursue their life plans.

The market is just an artificially created institution, whose superior wisdom consists of clever rules combined with the scattered knowledge of its participants. The recent crises in the financial markets have also reminded liberals that economic agents sometimes act so irrationally, honest merchants cannot be taken for granted and rules can be so flawed that the system itself is destabilized. A scandal when everyone can become less hostage.

The key regulatory task is therefore a new market design that makes crises less likely. Liberals will not put the markets in chains for this, but will pull the natural brake on risk - individually attributable responsibility and liability up to, for example, the orderly resolution of failed banks. In future, through consumer rights, they will have to establish equality of arms between the suppliers of complex products and their customers.

For fairness

The promise of the open society is “fear-free need to be different for everyone” (Odo Marquard). However, the individual must be able to prove himself in the openness of the competitive game between business and society. Otherwise opportunities will only become formal possibilities that are not realized in everyday life - and fear grows. Standing up for the open order demands fairness to offer each individual first, second and ever new opportunities for individual advancement regardless of fault or neglect. Otherwise liberalism would be halved.

But fairness does not establish equality, it does legitimate inequality: It is the inevitable consequence of freedom, personal investments, private decisions. Opportunities are not guarantees. Only the right to be able to differ is a source of hope and drive. For liberals, however, inequality is only legitimate if a comparability that can be perceived as acceptable has been established, at least with regard to the starting opportunities.

Liberals do not see social cohesion in Germany endangered primarily by the inequality of the results, but rather by the diverging opening chapters of biographies. That is why educational opportunities are our key social project for everyone. A pragmatic educational policy interested in results focuses on people.

Better quality is not created by planning new school forms at the green table, but by strengthening personalities - for example by promoting language acquisition before school enrollment, strengthening the educational work of parents and improving the quality of teaching through qualification of the teachers. As a mobile knowledge society, Germany also needs a new constitutional idea for the education system that respects the principle of subsidiarity: on the one hand, more decision-making rights in the hands of the individual educational institutions, on the other hand, comparable quality standards for learning content and qualifications nationwide. National borders should no longer be hurdles for students and teachers.

The fair education system is continued in upwardly mobile welfare state. The social-democratic welfare state, on the other hand, is an arrangement of “caring neglect” (Paul Nolte), because it has consoled excessively high hurdles for returning to work with the expansion of social services. The state and social security became the "day and night working pumping station of income" that Wilhelm Röpke had warned against. Liberals must therefore mediate anew between the employers 'need for flexibility and the employees' need for security (flexicurity). The advancement-oriented welfare state must especially take care of those who have dropped out of participation in work. The lower the qualification, the more intermediate stations are needed through the combination of social and market income up to the “normal employment relationship” - part-time, temporary work and marginal employment are not per se precarious. To this end, it is advisable to reorganize the Hartz bureaucracy in the direction of a combined tax and transfer system (citizens' money).

With the welfare associations, a social sector fraternized with the state has grown. Its intrinsic logic can tempt you to just manage “cases” and arouse new social needs. Because the sustainable overcoming of individual needs and social grievances could become a cost risk from a business perspective. With the paradigm of "social entrepreneurship" (Muhammad Yunus), with which market-based success strategies are transferred to providers of social services, liberals want to defuse this inherent logic - through transparency, financing based on social success, freedom of choice and voucher models that provide service recipients with buyer power .

For privacy

Freedom includes the right to decide for yourself who is allowed to step over your own doorstep. Liberals do not understand privacy by loneliness, but rather the decision to protect the personal sphere from strangers' eyes and ears. This Stubbornness must be maintained especially in view of the penetration of everyday life with electronic media. To the extent that our life is recorded, evaluated and used for targeted offers, the risk of being controlled and controlled by others increases. We lose the innocence of changing social roles that otherwise liberates us.

For the constitutional state, data are a means of security policy or the fulfillment of administrative tasks. Liberals strictly limit his access because supposed gains in security or efficiency must be proportionate to restrictions on freedom and possible - perhaps as with Sony even unintentional - abuse.

For private global players, however, the collection of data is no longer a means, but increasingly an end: the free culture in online media means that data streams have long since become the leading currency of the network. New convenience in everyday life, communication density, productivity gains and tailor-made product suggestions for online shopping are partly bought at the price of giving up privacy - as the example of Apple has shown recently.

Liberals understand the results of intellectual creativity and personality data as property, of which there is still too little awareness. That is why we first advocate a culture of data economy among users. After that, new transparency requirements for providers and the restoration of the legal sovereignty of the owners over their data must follow, where this is no longer or not yet secured.

For integration

The face of Germany is changing. In the near future, more than half of young people in metropolitan areas will have a history of immigration. If their integration fails, our country is threatened with “educational decline” (Jürgen Baumert). Preventing this is the central socio-political challenge of the coming years.

However, the debate oscillates strangely between the distance to “foreign cultures” preached by conservatives and attempts to talk people out of their everyday observations of integration problems as “scare tactics”. Liberals can mediate between the perspectives because they judge the individual not according to his origin, but according to his performance and goals. You expect from Immigrants no more than from any other citizen - but also no less: the recognition of the legal system, the responsibility for one's own livelihood and - as a prerequisite for this - the command of the German language as well as the efforts to educate. Corresponding funding offers must be expanded with power. Anyone who rejects them must find out more clearly than today that the welfare state and the rule of law can punish this.

Anyone who accepts the integration consensus is not a second-class citizen, even if he has a different cultural heritage than that of the “Christian-Jewish West”. Our coexistence is regulated by worldly laws and not religious commandments. The liberal constitutional state does not compete with religion. The search for the meaning and values ​​of one's own life is part of the freedom of the individual. Liberalism does not deny religion a truth potential for the individual, nor did it want to suppress the public life of religious convictions with secular reflexes. In relation to the individual religions, however, the state must remain neutral, because only ideologically open law can be an instrument of pacification and reconciliation. Therefore, the increasing demands to develop the state church law into a religious constitutional law are worth considering: How else should non-Christian religions be included in the cooperative relationships with the state, for example for religious instruction? In any case, the offer of identification for German citizens of other origins can only have a republican character. Liberal constitutional patriotism can form the brackets of society that Migrants to fellow citizens makes.

For future viability

Liberals measure their freedom against the freedom of future generations. The open society keeps its future open. Because the Freedom of the offspring We are not entitled to limit them by using up their chances or by irreversible action.

Classical liberalism still misunderstood the natural foundations of life as free goods. But if goods have no price, markets cannot function efficiently: market against environment - ecological costs are then redistributed between world regions and generations. Therefore, liberals today have to make environmental protection and the conservation of resources an economic self-interest - market for the environment. An ecologically informed regulatory policy eliminates external effects, takes ecological risks into account and prepares society for future shortages. Basic targets such as energy efficiency take the place of greenish detailed control, such as the ban on light bulbs, in order to use competition as an innovation driver, cost reducer and discovery process for new technologies. The federal government's energy concept was a milestone in this transformation from a consumption economy to an efficiency economy. The courage to take further steps has grown.

The sustainability principle comes from ecology, but must not be limited to it. Our offspring eventually lose as well Opportunities for freedomwhen they are bound by claims of the past. Because the demands on the state and its social security have grown faster than the efficiency of the economy, politicians have sought their salvation in debt. This pumping budgetism is the counterpart to “pumping capitalism” (Ralf Dahrendorf), in which added value from equity and labor could no longer satisfy the interest in returns.If the (social) statehood is to escape the fate of Lehman Brothers, the financial intergenerational balance must be balanced. Above all others, liberals are predestined to break through the principle of growing claims by limiting state activity and through more individualized provisions in the welfare state. This is what we are obliged to do with our government action in the future.

For citizen democracy

Hamburg school reform, Stuttgart 21, energy policy - the acceptance of the parties' decisions is eroding. And with it the normative model of German party democracy: elections were understood as plebiscites over party programs, conceptual and personal decisions were transferred to the parties. Just as party ties are waning, so is the distance to a “political class” growing. Their debates are felt to be equally aloof from everyday life and common sense.

Liberals want the rule of law secured Self-government of the citizens by citizens and for citizens. Parliamentarism has historically proven itself in this. But it has to change in order to maintain the balance between the rule of law, the ability to reform and acceptance by the citizens in the future - the party state has to shed its skin to become a citizen democracy. The role of parties will remain central. But the parties themselves can change, for example by filling the so far too often formal participation rights of the individual party member with life.

Legislation by the people, however, does not do justice to the complexity of the political issues. It would also run across the federal institutional structure. The instrument of questioning the people, on the other hand, involves the sovereign in central decision-making processes, but then leaves room for them parliamentary specification. There is more weight in public debates and the pressure to make decisions can be exerted on the “party state” (Gerhard Lehmbruch). The ultima ratio of a referendum - also exerted by the parliamentary opposition - holds the interests of governments and governed together.

For Europe

Freedom and peace are dependent on each other. That is why liberals were and will remain European patriots. The "unity in diversity" on our continent was first an assurance of peace, now it is a source of prosperity. In future it will guarantee our self-assertion in globalization, when the weight of the world economy shifts to the east and the values ​​of the west are called into question.

At the moment, conflicting interests are putting the EU and the euro currency area under tension. In some places, integration is even carelessly questioned. Especially today, therefore, liberals will fight for a united Europe - but in shaping it we have to Values ​​of freedom Make it more prominent: Modest financial management and competitiveness are the pillars of stability. The market cannot discipline states and investors if private creditors are protected more strongly than taxpayers. After the inevitable crisis intervention of the next two years, Europe therefore needs the subsidiarity of financial responsibility: reforms in the member states have priority over debt restructuring, these again over European emergency aid.

Liberals have to ask an association of states such as the European Union about the purposes and means of its policy, just as they do with the state in a national context: the powers are upside down when Europe intervenes in the market but cannot adopt common safety standards for nuclear power plants . It is contrary to the democratic principle of the separation of powers if governments can bind their national legislators via the detour of European institutions. The great European Ralf Dahrendorf warned of this more than 15 years ago.

These Aspects of Liberal Thought and their key projects are linked by a middle-class attitude of measure and middle. They are a plea for the market economy and citizens' sovereignty - but with an eye for the bigger picture. They want to achieve fairness and emancipation without reducing them to material equality. They work for the democratic constitutional state in a competitive Europe. They are an expression of social and ecological responsibility without relieving yourself of it with belief in the state. It is the coordinates of the only liberal party in Germany - the FDP.