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Liberalism, German

Classical liberalism in Germany can look back on a proud but also at times tragic history. With strong roots in the legal traditions of the old empire, prior to 1806, which offered strong safeguards against centralized power, liberalism began to flourish during the Enlightenment period of the late 18th century. Inspired by the American and, more important, the French Revolution, German thinkers like Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottlieb Fichte were strong supporters of the rights of man and unhindered freedom of opinion and press. Fichte especially, although he was later to change his views in favor of a nationalistic socialism, interpreted the idea of a “social contract” in so radical a manner that it appeared consistent with each citizen's ability to secede from the state. ...

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