For many people of our time the term "liberal" unfortunately has negative connotations because they associate it with extreme measures such as the abolition of the welfare state or the complete deregulation of the economy.
In reality, however, liberalism means among other things:
1. The rule of law, i.e. protection from state arbitrariness.
2. Separation of powers in the state apparatus.
3. The granting by the State of fundamental rights and freedoms (right to private property, right to life and limb, right to freedom of expression, etc.).
4. Self-realization as a recognized goal of each individual.
These are all points that have to do with a liberal philosophy of life. In other ideologies these things play no or only a subordinate role. In Real Existing Socialism there was neither separation of powers nor the rule of law.
According to the constitution - thanks to Hans Kelsen! - Austria is a liberal democracy. That is why all parties are obliged to be faithful to certain basic liberal principles. But only with decidedly liberal parties one can be reasonably sure that they will not betray these principles.
There are two main types of people who claim to have a non-Marxist worldview. Some call themselves conservatives, others liberals.
Many theorists think of terms such as "conservative" and "liberal" as doctrines of some kind, such as that conservatives want to maintain existing social hierarchies and leave privileges to the privileged, while liberals want to stand up for social advancement and Marxists want to make everyone equal. However, it must be remembered that in practice these concepts mean quite different, tangible things:
Anyone under a Conservative's thumb must wear a tie, shirt and jacket. Many find this repulsive for aesthetic reasons. In addition, a conservative in Austria must follow a particular religion, celebrate Christmas and Easter, ideally go to church every Sunday and pray in the evening and before lunch. Many find this repulsive for personal and ideological reasons. Furthermore, a true conservative must marry the first woman he likes and have children with her, because sex before marriage is a taboo and sex in marriage must only serve reproductive purposes.
Liberals, on the other hand, do not dictate to anyone how to lead their lives, and only adhere to those social norms which they themselves consider to be meaningful and correct.
"Neoliberalism" is a combat term created by Marxists to associate - quite questionable - economic excesses with the idea of liberalism, against which no one with common sense can object.
Basically, the use of the term "neoliberalism" by Marxists borders on slander.
Many supporters of the liberal movement have decided to become politically active because they believe that it is not good for the state if public debt continues to grow. After all, at some point they will have to be paid back. The other parties often give the impression that they have no serious efforts to reduce the mountain of debt.
From the state's point of view, public debt has been particularly problematic since we have had the euro, because the state has now been deprived of the opportunity to pull itself out of the affair by printing banknotes. It should be noted, however, that the printing of banknotes would in any case be a bad thing from the point of view of the citizens, because the expansion of the money supply could lead to an increase in inflation. The euro therefore forces us to budget discipline - an advantage from a liberal point of view.
Liberals assume that there is a natural right. So that every human being is naturally entitled to certain rights, for example: Right to life, right to freedom of expression, right to property. From a liberal point of view, there can be no discussion about this. These rights must be guaranteed by law by the state apparatus. This natural right still stands above agreements that have been democratically established. Under no circumstances may a law be passed that contradicts natural law, even if a majority votes for it.
At school we hear a lot about democracy, but very little about the liberal principles on which our constitution is based. Liberalism is in fact even more important than democratism. Think, for example, of democracy in ancient Athens and its extensions (keyword: ostracism). Only the liberal constitution forbids such referendums on the life of an individual human being.
Claus Volko, MD MSc