Liberalism is rooted in skepticism toward power and coercion and therefore toward the state. This is also where it derives its vigor and urgency.
Freedom rights, as fundament of the liberal order, cannot be relativized without endangering human dignity. That is why they deserve our special care — and our commitment. The fundaments of a liberal order can be described by means of the following three principles:
Responsible individuals as the source and the end
Each liberal order stands and falls with the respect of personal autonomy. Where coercion prevails, voluntariness and autonomy should take hold. Individual responsibility should replace coercion and regulation through an orderly withdrawal from failed, albeit often well-intentioned, crippling statist structures. The starting point of a free order is the responsible individual who manages his life independently.
Private and citizen-friendly solutions
Individual freedom and autonomy lead not to isolation but cooperation. Self-reliance manifests itself through voluntary and contractual networks of cooperation. Where centralized structures prevailed, diverse and non-central entities should foster competition. Centralization is a danger for freedom and autonomy. A liberal order also needs the strength and tolerance to admit mutual self-responsibility and private autonomy and diversity. Beside the variety of contractual arrangements, the diversity of non-central open political entities is also essential.
Freedom is the condition for effective cooperation and solidarity. Where the crippling, centralistic coercion of the "welfare" state prevails, the spontaneous and targeted mutual help of the civil society should take effect. The unfettered exchange between helpers and help-seekers is a fundament of a dynamic civil society. When solidarity is replaced with coercion the harmonious cooperation between autonomous human beings is destroyed.
These three principles — responsible, autonomous individuals, contractual and non-central cooperation, and voluntary solidarity — can be understood as the guidelines for a liberal order. They are also the normative principles underlying the activities of the Liberal Institute.