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Programmatic Guidelines for the Free Democratic Party (February 4, 1946)

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5. Like the state, the economy must serve the people and never be viewed as an end in itself. Therefore, in accordance with the needs of the broad masses, the foremost goal of economic policy is to increase production in all sectors to satisfy the vital needs of a growing population living in a constricted space. This goal can only be achieved by reintroducing free enterprise and reducing economic bureaucracy. Thus, the planning and guidance that is crucial to overcoming this dire situation must not be bureaucratic; rather, it must manifest itself as the democratic self-management of the economy by its bodies under the controlling influence of the state. The planned economy must not become an end in itself that suffocates all life and free labor under state coercion.

Personal initiative and free competition enhance economic performance, and personal property is an essential foundation of a healthy economy.

On the other hand, the freedom of the economy must not be socially abused, and it must not lead to the predominance of the excessively powerful. We must ensure that the little people have the right and the opportunity to hold their own alongside the bigwigs, just as we must protect the rights of workers who are not self-employed, but who spend their lives employed by companies both large and small.

It is both the task and the obligation of the economy to satisfy the needs of the masses. To achieve this goal, the economy must be integrated into the global economy with an international division of labor.

6. What is true of the economy in general is even truer of agriculture in particular. The primary task of agricultural policy is to increase agricultural production. When and where the right to land ownership inhibits productivity instead of enhancing it, it is the task of a well-considered policy to ensure that this right also includes the obligation to actually utilize the land so as to achieve the highest possible level of production. Only this type of policy – and not arbitrary divestitures or expropriation – amounts to true land reform. The proven capability of German farmers, who are deeply rooted to the land, is the best guarantee of proper land use. A democratic agrarian policy must therefore be based on the preservation and promotion of the free class of farmers.

Source: Programmatic Guidelines for the Free Democratic Party (February 4, 1946); reprinted in Theo Stammen, ed., Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit: westdeutsche Innenpolitik 1945-1955 [Unity and Law and Freedom: West German Domestic Politics 1945-1955]. Munich, 1965, pp. 108-09.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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