The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) is the Foundation for liberal politics. Established in 1958 by Theodor Heuss, the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany, it promotes individual freedom and liberalism.
The Foundation follows the ideals of Friedrich Naumann who at the beginning of the last century was a leading German liberal thinker and politician. He resolutely backed the idea of civic education. Friedrich Naumann believed that a functioning democracy needs politically informed and educated citizens. According to him, civic education is a prerequisite for political participation and thus for democracy.
The Foundation promotes liberalism in cooperation with her local partners through civic education, international political dialogues, and political counseling. The Foundation has a network of institutes in Germany and also numerous offices in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, America and Asia. It also enjoys close links with Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Liberal International (LI).
While the Foundation’s activities in the field of civic education consist of seminars, conferences and publications aimed at promoting liberal values and principles, the international political dialogue program provides a discussion forum for a wide range of liberal issues. The Foundation’s counseling programs focus on candidates for political office, liberal political parties and other democratic organizations.
The following political principles were agreed to by the Board of Directors and approved by the Board of Trustees on September 24, 1993.
The political principles describe what the Friedrich Naumann Foundation understands by the constitutional clause "the Foundation acts on the basis of liberalism" (2, clause 1).
These political principles shall serve as a guideline for hiring the persons working on behalf of the foundation, either in an honorary capacity or as salaried staff, for the selection of candidates for its various activities, for the definition of objectives in political education, for political consulting, for the scholarship program and for the editing of publications.
The Political Principles of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for its Activities in Germany and Abroad:
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation is the foundation for ideas on liberty and training in freedom. It wants to contribute to the furtherance of the principle of freedom in human dignity in all sectors of society in the united Germany as well as together with partners abroad.
It is the goal of liberal policies that all citizens may freely live together in an open society: the civic society. Without freedom other human values cannot be realized. Each human being needs freedom in order to develop his or her talents and to realize him or herself. Without freedom the human spirit languishes, culture and science decay, and the economy stagnates. Our mind needs freedom just like our body needs air to breathe.
Each human being is an individual with his or her own ideas and desires. But he or she is also a social being, dependent on other human beings and under an obligation to them. Freedom and responsibility are inseparable. They determine the relationship between individual and community. Liberals base human relationship on spontaneity not coercion - on the exchange of ideas and goods, free trade, reason, compassion and responsibility. Voluntary associations promote mutual trust. They lead to the recognition of the values and goals of others, and they deserve respect.
Liberal Policies and the Individual:
Liberal policies promote respect for the rights of the individual, for civil rights. The individual needs these rights, if he or she wants to freely shape his or her own life. Therefore, freedom of opinion is not only a compelling moral requirement of tolerance and of the rule of law. It is also the path toward progress of the human mind, a path which can be found only through competition of free ideas and knowledge. The right to private property is a civil right too. Without respect for private property, many other rights cannot be realized.
Liberal policies are in favor of equal opportunities at the outset, in favor of competition and pluralism. They strive, therefore, for the free access of everyone to all markets, education, information, labor, goods and capital markets.
Liberal policies seek to free the individual from coercion by the state and by anonymous institutions so that he or she can fulfill his or her responsibility in freedom. Freedom requires responsibility for the community.
Liberal Policies and Civic Society:
Liberal policies strive to increase the freedom of citizens in all spheres of life and to restrict the role of the state to the essentials. This includes recognizing the ability of citizens to organize themselves.
The citizens can shoulder many responsibilities in municipalities, wards, associations, lobbies, other private institutions and initiatives, and they wish to do so.
Liberal Policies and the State:
Liberals consider the tasks of the state as the protection of individual freedom and the protection of citizens against violence from within and abroad, as well as the safeguarding of the constitution. Liberal policies want to ensure that rules apply to all, while leaving space for the free decision of the individual. Liberal policies do not want to predetermine a certain outcome; they want just rules instead of just results, because such results do not exist.
Liberal policies aspire for democracy. Democracy permits choice and change, but it does not guarantee freedom. That is why liberals are for the strict division, control, and limitation of state power as well as private power.
Liberal policies aspire for a state that is bound by rules and that respects freedom. The state has the duty to guarantee the legal safety of everybody. In a liberal state, the rule of law respects group interests. That is why it provides them with freedom in responsibility, but not with political power. Liberal policies do not want the state to be active economically. The state should not compete with private enterprise through its own institutions.
Liberal policies aspire to maintain the citizens' freedom to make decisions in all areas of politics, both now and in the future. Therefore, they reject solving today's problems at the expense of tomorrow's generations, at the expense of sound public finances and particularly at the expense of the environment.
Liberal Policies and International Cooperation:
Liberal policies aspire for an open world culture and a free world market. For liberals, the common features of mankind are more important than the division into categories of locals and foreigners. The liberal vision is a world society in which there is free exchange, cooperation and competition among different peoples, states, regional groups and cultures.
Liberal policies strive for cooperation in development through free international trade and through helping to establish free and responsible civic societies in developing countries.
Liberal policies work towards the world-wide liberalization of all markets - information, technology, goods and services as well as currency and capital markets.
Liberal policies want the European unity and other regional associations, but not at the expense of internal diversity and openness towards others.
Liberal policies aspire for the triumph of human and civil rights in every corner of the world.