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That depends on what 'liberal' means.

Liberalism is a centuries-old family of ideologies that developed in rather different directions in different parts of the world over the past two centuries, although all past and present forms are based on some notion of "freedom". In South America, 19th-century liberalism was much like Whig liberalism, and it moved further right to become the class ideology of the narrow urban bourgeois. In the USA, 19th-century Whig liberalism made way in the 1930s to a liberalism you are familiar with today, one emphasizing "[government provision of] equal opportunities [to practise individual freedom]" (which took roughly the same position as Social Democracy in Europe), while those liberals who didn't want to go the Big Government route chose the "libertarian" tag. In Europe, parallel to Manchester capitalism, there have been forms of liberalism that emphasized a radical rejection of royalism and clericalism, and forms that absorbed nationalism (the notion of "national freedom") and thus weren't against state intervention in the economy. In the mid 20th century, these made way to new forms that reacted to fascism and communism. These included the Central Europeans going into US exile and mingling with the libertarians there who advocated a full withdrawal of the state from the economy, and who birthed neo-liberalism (in which, IMHO, the central ideological novelty is that it is okay to impose "economic freedom" by taking away people's political freedom of choice). In post-WWII West Germany, one of significance was ordoliberalism, which wanted the state to limit itself to imposing order and rules upon private competition with the aim of limiting both the excesses of capitalism and the excesses of collectivism. But there was a wider notion (including but not limited to ordoliberalism) of "social liberalism", which viewed wealth concentration as an inherently corrupting and oppression-breeding condition prone to trigger a blowback and thus to be tamed by strong state re-distribution. This had influence not only on the card-carrying liberals of the FDP, but parts of the CDU (and later the SPD), though it shouldn't be over-valued: for many it was a fig leaf, a counter to "real existing socialism" across the Iron Curtain, and its anti-monopolistic theses never stood a chance against the idea of national champions (especially when large state companies like telecommunications or railways were eyed for privatisation from the eighties). But this liberalism is not Schäuble's background, while liberalism developed further since 1989 in Germany, too: the ordoliberal notion of imposing order to limit excesses of capitalism (in particular reining in and splitting up employer associations) or the social-liberal notion of re-distribution to counter-act wealth concentration are gone almost completely, while the rest merged with the imported Anglo-Saxonized neo-liberalism.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 1st, 2015 at 03:58:33 AM EST
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