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STRESEMANN LETTER – 1ST QUARTER 2012

“If old truths are to retain their hold on men’s minds, they must be restated in the language and concepts of successive generations. What at one time are their most effective expressions gradually become so worn with use that they cease to carry a definite meaning.” (Friedrich August von Hayek)

Editorial ............................................................................................................... 2 A lobby for liberty .............................................................................................. 3 Starting point: Why a new foundation? .......................................................... 3 Organization & structure of the Stresemann Foundation .......................... 7 Activities .............................................................................................................. 7 Contact & how you can get involved .............................................................. 8 Recommended reading ...................................................................................... 8

Gustav Stresemann Foundation Kanzlei im Roten Turm | Löbdergraben 11a | 07743 Jena | Germany Donation account: 44 36 53 08 | BLZ: 830 944 54 | Volksbank Saaletal


STRESEMANN LETTER – 1ST QUARTER 2012

EDITORIAL Dear Current and Prospective Friends and Supporters of the Stresemann Foundation, The quote on the title page is from Austrian economist and Nobel Prize recipient Friedrich August von Hayek, from his 1960 book The Constitution of Liberty. And in fact we observe that values such as liberty and words such as liberalism are not only subject to a pervasive shift in meaning; they have also apparently lost some of their power in the past decade. In response to this development, we established the Gustav Stresemann Foundation in 2010 to promote civil liberal values and protect our free democratic order. Totalitarian ideologies such as that of political Islam threaten our European societies. At the same time, leading politicians have declared the European Union to be an end in itself, as a result of which the national sovereignty of member countries is gradually being eroded. The Stresemann Foundation is opposed to this multicultural zeitgeist and blind faith in the state. It promotes a liberalism that is aware of the history that enabled liberty in the first place while taking into account the reality of globalized politics. The purpose of this first Stresemann Letter is to present to you the plans and initial structures of the foundation as they have been developed by us in recent months. This work has been made possible by a generous donation from the Middle East Forum (MEF) in the US, specifically from its president Daniel Pipes. We are deeply indebted to this organization for its support. Warmest regards from Berlin,

Felix StrĂźning | Director

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STRESEMANN LETTER – 1ST QUARTER 2012

A LOBBY FOR LIBERTY Freedom is not for free, as the old saying goes. Freedom, that legendary, mystical, undefinable concept. It is a recurring theme throughout human history, from the great Greek philosophers to John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant. People have lived and died for it, yet no one can really say what it is. Abused hundreds of times, reinterpreted thousands of times, freedom is always in danger of collapse. Freedom means responsibility and uncertainty. It is granted the highest status in German Basic Law, next to human dignity. And freedom never simply happens by itself. On the contrary: in very few countries do people actually enjoy personal freedom, freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. And even here in the stronghold of Europe, freedom has powerful enemies. But there have always been equally passionate defenders of liberty. One of them was Gustav Stresemann, a liberal politician in the Weimar Republic and a relatively unknown figure today. Stresemann was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926 for his achievements in

European peace as Foreign following World War I.

Minister

We named the Foundation after Gustav Stresemann because he was committed to protecting the German Empire at the time from left- and right-wing extremists. As a liberal who never lost touch with the civil, i.e. the history of freedom, he can continue to serve as a role model in a figurative sense today. We are convinced that freedom has a bright future. But we also know that the precious gift that we have inherited from previous generations of freedom-lovers brings with it a great responsibility: passing on our country, the West, and maybe even the entire world to our children at least as free as we received it in the first place. And perhaps a tiny bit freer if possible. In this sense, the Stresemann Foundation is designed as a lobby for freedom, representing the interests of civil liberal ideals in society and politics.

STARTING POINT: WHY A NEW FOUNDATION? The civil liberal political scene in Germany is fragmented and divided. In terms of party politics, existing organizations and as reflected in the media, it is in fact in ruins. This is accompanied by a more or less apparent erosion of the values of liberty and freedom in politics and public opinion. Could one go as far as to speak of illiberal times? Or has the time finally come for a strong advocate for freedom and liberty?

WHAT DOES FREEDOM MEAN TODAY? Liberal values among the population seem to be plagued by problematic processes. In the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism, surveys showed an astoundingly high regard for freedom. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to travel freely throughout Europe, while East Bloc citizens discovered capitalism with its apparently

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STRESEMANN LETTER – 1ST QUARTER 2012

boundless freedom, or so it seemed at least initially. But despite this era of flourishing liberty in Europe, freedom’s reputation has suffered in the past decade in favor of equality, security and justice.i At the same time, we observe that the FDP is perceived by most Germans as the undisputed liberal party in Germany, but that roughly half of voters for the Green, CDU and SPD parties also describe themselves as liberal – along with 40% of voters for the German Left Party. In other words, there is only a partial association between policies of freedom and political parties. This can partially be explained by the fact that the term liberalism is often associated with economic liberalism, largely due to the policies of the German FDP party, while the genuine political meaning (that of the personal responsibility of citizens in particular) is losing ground. In fact it can be observed that social redistribution of wealth and minimum wages are increasingly being described as desirable goals for a liberal party, when in fact these values have really nothing to do with liberal philosophy.ii This confirms that Germans tend to conceive of freedom as freedom from social hardships.iii This leftist ideological understanding of freedom also ultimately leads to the defamation of rightist liberals who place more importance on the personal responsibility of citizens. This development goes hand in hand with the opinion propagated by leftist intellectuals for decades that freedom means being able to assert oneself and holding power. But those who follow this definition of freedom open up the door wide for abuse of political power under the guise of freedom. The (former) socialist countries of the East Bloc should be more than ample warning.iv PARTIES: FRAGMENTED AND WITH BLIND FAITH IN THE STATE

The political parties in Germany directly reflect this situation while also acting as a source for the poor image of freedom among the general population. Under the leadership of former General Secretary Christian Lindner, Germany’s only (formerly) liberal party the FDP has cozied up to leftist liberalism and is losing more and more support from the population every day as a result. The party received more than 14% of votes during the last Bundestag election in 2009, but now has dropped to 3-4%. An internal survey of party members conducted by Euro critic and Bundestag member Frank Schäffler regarding the “Euro safety net” in late 2011 indicated support for the policies implemented by FDP leadership as the junior partner in the coalition government with the CDU, and rejection of national self-determination. The FDP’s doctrine of being a Europefriendly party has apparently blinded them somewhat to a realistic view of quasisocialist EU politics. Unfortunately, it must also be noted that the only rightist liberal organization within the FDP party, the Stresemann Club, is barely known outside the party and exerts hardly any political influence, despite a number of prominent members including former Chief Federal Prosecutor Alexander von Stahl. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation closely associated with the FDP does excellent work with the issues it tackles, but enjoys little recognition among the population.v At the same time, for decades now it has been impossible to establish a corresponding freedom-oriented party in Germany in the long range. All attempts have failed due to subversion, exceedingly fast growth, the egotism of those involved, but in particular due to differences in content and themes of its leadership. These kinds of party projects take place

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again and again when a critical mass of political activists coalesces around a common issue (for example Islam, the Euro, political paternalism).vi But during the course of the collaboration, it typically turns out that fundamental values have not been clarified and as a result the form of collaboration cannot be satisfactorily defined for all participants. One of the main problems is fixation on the personality of a leader instead of on his/her leadership function. If the leader fails, the leadership in general also fails, because properly defined mechanisms for making decisions have not been implemented.vii Uwe Jun, one of the most well-known political party researchers in Germany, provides a particularly accurate analysis of the civil liberal and conservative freedom camps. In 2010, he observed that the integrative societal function of the parties as mediators between civil society and the state has drastically decreased in recent decades. According to Jun, parties today can be understood primarily as fragmented organizations, formed from a variety of groups and subunits which are only loosely connected to one another. Diverse, heterogeneous, and even diametrically opposed interests, contrary and independent rationalities and actions make parties seem like a conglomerate of different organizational units, a colorful kaleidoscope of organizational realities.viii

that develop as communities related to websites or online forums.ix This fragmentation manifests itself especially in differences in content. Because the entire field of criticism of Islam has been denounced as rightist (see below), many critics of EU paternalism or the Euro single currency are not willing to work with such representatives, although both groups in fact carry out ideological criticism. And there are also great differences in the scene defined by criticism of Islamic ideology: participants here include devout Christians and Evangelicals, atheists and socialists, along with numerous organizations that can accurately be described as nationalist to right-wing extremist in nature and which only exploit the criticism of Islam to articulate their misgivings about foreigners. Liberal participants are not easy to recognize, partly because of all the different terms used to describe them including bourgeois liberals, national liberals, conservative liberals, liberal conservatives, etc. What values other participants represent and what motivations they have can hardly be ascertained from how they label themselves.

ASSOCIATIONS AND INITIATIVES ARE DIVIDED This fragmentation applies in particular to associations, initiatives and NGOs. In recent years, protagonists have established themselves here with varying degrees of success to pursue certain individual interests but with very little in common with one another. There are also increasingly virtual types of organizations

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STRESEMANN LETTER – 1ST QUARTER 2012

COUNTEREXAMPLES:

STRUCTURES

THAT

WORK

At the same time, two successful phenomena independent of one another can be observed in Germany’s political landscape. The Freie Wähler (Free Voters) is a group of voters with different organizations and minimal internal consensusx that has nonetheless proven highly successful in municipal elections compared to other freedom-oriented parties. Whether they can prevail at the national level will not be clear until federal parliamentary elections in 2013. But the most important characteristic here is that various personalities join forces to achieve something none of them can attain on their own: candidacy for election.xi There is certainly something to be learned from this model. The Pirate Party has also enjoyed great popularity throughout Germany, especially after winning seats in the Berlin Chamber of Deputies in autumn 2011. According to current surveys, they enjoy between four and eight percent of the vote, approximately the same as the Left Party and several percentage points ahead of the FDP. But the success of the Pirates cannot be explained by their platform, which is too similar to other leftist parties in many points and is characterized by a certain blind faith in the state (minimum wage, etc.). The enthusiasm generated by the Pirate Party must then be related to its form or structure. Its (at least publicly proclaimed) internal grassroots democracy and high degree of transparency seem to appeal to a population extremely disillusioned with political parties. Despite significant differences between the Pirate Party and liberalism, of particular interest

here are the mechanisms which can be useful tools for liberal political activists as well. SUMMARY To reiterate, Germany’s political landscape can be summarized as follows: Values of freedom are not particularly important in the public discussion; terms such as liberalism are associated exclusively with economic liberalism and are increasingly losing their real political meaning. 

The liberal camp in its broadest sense (parties, NGOs) is highly fragmented and divided on core issues. 

The example of the Free Voters however shows that cooperations between various individuals with very little consensus can function at critical times or in critical activities without forcing everyone into an ideological and organizational straitjacket. 

The Pirate Party proves that transparency and participation in politics can actually mobilize voters. 

We relied on these insights to derive the essential purpose of the Stresemann Foundation: first and foremost, it should be a lobby for liberty. It aims to promote the values of freedom in society and serve to network and support the members of the liberal political camp. The foundation will use its expertise to advise and mediate between associations, initiatives and parties and bring them together on key issues. It will also carry out documentation projects and issue publications analyzing and clarifying societal debates.

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STRESEMANN LETTER – 1ST QUARTER 2012

ORGANIZATION & STRUCTURE OF THE STRESEMANN FOUNDATION The Stresemann Foundation is patterned after other large political foundations. Its legal form is the “eingetragener Verein” (e.V. or registered association), similar to the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). The general assembly is the foundation’s highest body; it elects the Board of Management and votes on admitting new members. Similar to the Board of Trustees of a civil law foundation, the number of members is to be limited to minimize bureaucracy and ensure a strong thematic orientation. To bring together people who want to support the foundation, the Friends of Stresemann has been formed. Members of this group assist the work of the Stresemann Foundation by providing financial support in particular and receive in turn for example the foundation’s political analyses free of charge. A membership application is included at the end of this Stresemann Letter.

STATUS AS OF EARLY 2012: WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED ALREADY

At the founders’ meeting in July 2011, lawyer Philipp Wolfgang Beyer was chosen as Chairman of the Board of Management, lawyer Sascha Giller as Vice-Chair. The ordinary Board appointed Berlin-based political advisor and journalist Felix Strüning as Director of the foundation in November 2011. Registration in the Register of Associations at the district court in Jena has been applied for; as soon as that is completed, the foundation will also register as a notfor-profit. Because the Stresemann Foundation does not yet have any structures whatsoever and only a limited staff, the year 2012 will be dedicated primarily to selfdevelopment. One of the main goals is to establish contact with researchers to be able to develop the foundation’s planned projects. The already existing political magazine Citizen Times will serve as the main vehicle of the foundation during this time of development.

ACTIVITIES The future activities of the Stresemann Foundation will focus primarily on three areas. 

The Stresemann Academy will carry out documentation projects communicating liberal values and expressing ideological criticism (especially of left-wing extremism and Islam).

Stresemann Publikum will issue print and online publications in the future.

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And finally, the Stresemann Forum series of events is scheduled to start this autumn including lectures, meetings and symposia.


STRESEMANN LETTER – 1ST QUARTER 2012

Additionally, the Stresemann Foundation will expand its expertise in the various participants of the liberal camp and provide consulting services in Germany and abroad. To be able to advise at relevant conferences, the Stresemann Foundation has been registered as a human rights organization with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

We maintain contacts with numerous initiatives in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark and are conducting networking activities. The liberal political scene is currently at a critical crossroads, but will hopefully undergo a renaissance in the near future.

CONTACT & HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED For questions about the political orientation or the development of the foundation, please contact Director Felix Strüning. He can be reached personally at fs@stresemann-stiftung.de. We also look forward to hearing from those who want to actively contribute to developing the foundation. We are currently looking in particular for volunteers in the following areas: 

Research tasks

Editorial assistance for the magazine Citizen Times

Translators into English and/or other languages

Researchers who would like to promote the values of freedom

RECOMMENDED READING (IN GERMAN) Today we would like to recommend the somewhat older essay Eros der Freiheit (The eros of freedom) by Ulrike Ackermann. The author chairs the only German Department for Freedom Research at the University of Heidelberg and publishes an annual freedom index for Germany. Her book Eros der Freiheit provides not only a survey of the history of the idea of freedom in Europe and the US; it is also a powerful defense of freedom against any kind of ideology. Ackermann is

one of the few liberals to understand that liberalism and a free society must protect themselves against totalitarian influences and therefore serve as a kind of guiding culture. Freedom after all can only be granted to those who want it and are willing to exemplify it in their lives. Ulrike Ackermann (2008): Eros der Freiheit. Plädoyer für eine radikale Aufklärung. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 167 pages, EUR 19.95.

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i

Felix Strüning (November 24, 2011): 2011 Freedom Index Germany. In: Citizen Times, available online: http://www.citizentimes.eu/2011/11/24/freiheitsindex-deutschland-2011/ (Feb. 05, 2012). ii

Thomas Peterson (Jan. 25, 2012): Allensbach Umfrage: Der geteilte Liberalismus. (Allensbach survey: liberalism divided.) In: FAZ, available online: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/allensbach-umfrage-der-geteilte-liberalismus-11622356.html (Feb. 05, 2012). For a discussion of the results of this survey, please refer to: Felix Strüning (Jan. 26, 2012): Freiheit, Liberalismus, FDP? (Freedom, Liberalism, FDP?) In: Citizen Times, available online: http://www.citizentimes.eu/2012/01/26/freiheit-liberalismus-fdp/ (Feb. 05, 2012). iii

Ulrike Ackermann (2008): Eros der Freiheit. Plädoyer für eine radikale Aufklärung. (The eros of freedom: a plea for radical enlightenment.) Stuttgart. iv

Friedrich August von Hayek (1983): The Constitution of Liberty. Tübingen.

v

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation did not even make the top ten list of recognized names of German foundations in 2009, unlike the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) in second place and the SPD-linked Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) in fourth place. See also: KAS belegt 2. Platz beim Bekanntheitsranking für Stiftungen (KAS places second in name recognition for German foundations) available online: http://www.kas.de/wf/de/71.7170 (Feb. 05, 2012). vi

André Freudenberg (2009): Freiheitlich-konservative Kleinparteien im wiedervereinigten Deutschland. (Small conservative liberal parties in reunited Germany.) Leipzig. vii

Felix Strüning (Dec. 15, 2011): Der (An)Führer als Person oder Funktion. (The leader as a person or function.) In Citizen Times, available online: http://www.citizentimes.eu/2011/12/15/der-anfuhrer-alsperson-oder-funktion/ (Feb. 05, 2012). viii

Uwe Jun, Benjamin Höhne (Hg.) (2010): Parteien als fragmentierte Organisationen. Erfolgsbedingungen und Veränderungsprozesse (Parteien in Theorie und Empirie, Band 1). Opladen. ix

For the Islam-critical scene in the broadest sense, this is detailed in: Felix Strüning (Nov. 22, 2010): Bürgerliche Islamkritik in Deutschland. Grundlegung eines Forschungsprogramms. (Civil criticism of Islam in Germany. The foundation of a research program.) In: Citizen Times, available online: http://www.citizentimes.eu/2010/11/22/burgerliche-islamkritik-in-deutschland-grundlegung-einesforschungsprgramms/ (Feb. 05, 2012). x

Their platform is nothing more than a two-page list of keywords. See also: Politische Ziele der Bundesvereinigung (Political goals of the federal association), available online: http://www.freiewaehler-deutschland.de/uploads/media/Politische_Ziele_der_FW-Bundesvereinigung_01.pdf (Feb 05, 2012). xi

See also: Felix Strüning (Dec. 23, 2011): Freie Wähler als Vorbild? (Free Voters as role models?) In: Citizen Times, available online: http://www.citizentimes.eu/2011/12/23/freie-wahler-als-vorbild/ (Feb. 05, 2012).

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Stresemann Letter - First Quarter 2012