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The author’s thesis is that liberalism – provided it is ‘pure and simple liberalism’ (in the singular) – can be traced to a distinct and distinctive historical condition, with the help of appropriate distinctions. It is necessary, first of all, to distinguish liberalism from laissez-faire, from the market economy: the liberal state is not in fact characterised principally by its size or by the quantity of the things it does: it is characterised, instead, by its structure and is thus, first and foremost, a constitutional state in the ‘civil rights’ interpretation of the term. Only after distinguishing liberalism from liberisme is it possible to discuss their relationship appropriately and constructively. Liberalism cannot be reduced to economic premises and presuppositions. Liberalism values and defends the individual with the security that his property provides him – a property that is a guarantee and has nothing in common with an economic vision of life. Liberalism, in the second place, should be distinguished from liberty: in its fundamental historical connotation, it may in fact be defined as the theory and praxis of legal protection, through the constitutional state, of individual liberty. It is necessary, finally, to distinguish between ‘pure liberalism’ and democratic liberalism: liberalism is, above all, a technique for controlling and limiting the power of the state, whereas democracy is the insertion of popular power into the state. Liberalism has shown that absolute power, arbitrary power, can be tamed: it has broken the vicious circle of quis custodiet custodes? (who will guard the guards?) and has effectively liberated man from fear of the Prince. Even so, liberalism is on the decline today. So far we have had democracy in liberalism, in the context of liberalism. But the risk of arriving at democracy without liberalism – at the perfect Leviathan – cannot, alas, be excluded.