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A New Platform for the Free Democrats (FDP) (October 25-27, 1971)

The Free Democrats’ political renewal in the 1960s reached a preliminary highpoint with the 37 Freiburg Theses, which called for a liberal social policy and “social capitalism” as party objectives, thereby signaling a shift away from conservative social policies and traditional neoliberal economic policies.

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The Freiburg Theses of the FDP

Introduction: Liberal Social Policy

Liberalism was and is the bearer and heir of the democratic revolutions, which started in the late eighteenth century from the premise of human liberty and dignity in America and France.

The liberal tradition emerged from these bourgeois revolutions and became rooted in the later movements to reform the state. It emerged from the bourgeois Enlightenment as an intellectual countermovement to the absolutism and mercantilism of the monarchic state and feudal society, and has had a dual aim from the very beginning.

It aims for a democratization of the state, creating, at first with the third estate and most recently with the fourth, the right to vote and run for office for all citizens of the state, and thus the right for the greatest possible and equal participation and co-determination in the organization and activities of the state.

At the same time, it aimed in both bourgeois revolutions for a liberalization through the constitutional guarantee of inviolable civil liberties and of the human rights of citizens vis-à-vis the state. Free development of the personality, equal status before the law, freedom of opinion and of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, but also the right to life and health, and so on, are the great democratic achievements of this liberalization of the state.

[ . . . ]

This new phase of democratization and liberalization, in the original and not in today’s often misused sense of these words, arises from an evolved understanding of freedom and liberty that opens up modern liberalism to the new political dimension of a no longer merely democratic, but also social liberalism.

Modern liberalism, as first conceived by John Stuart Mill in England and Friedrich Naumann in Germany, no longer views freedom as the freedom of an autonomous individual derived from society and diametrically opposed to the state. Instead, it is the freedom of every autonomous and social individual – always simultaneously an individual and social being – as it truly lives in state and society.

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