The Rational Argumentator's Eighth Anniversary Manifesto
I am pleased to announce that, once again, The Rational Argumentator has had its most successful year to date. While visitation during its eighth year did not exceed that of the other seven combined, it certainly exceeded that of any individual year. This was the first year in which TRA received over a million visits – 1,235,379 visits to be precise. Visitation during the first seven years combined was 1,732,577, with the seventh year contributing 917,558 visits. A 34.63% rise in visitation is still a considerable success, and TRA has earned it through an increased publication rate and a broadened range of content.
New Issues and Features
During its eighth year, TRA has published 55 issues, with a total of 550 features, which is a considerable increase over the 31 issues and 310 features published during TRA’s seventh year. This number is unprecedented in TRA’s history, even when compared to the more prolific fifth year (50 issues) and sixth year (51 issues). The turbulent times we live in certainly justify this rate of publication. There are plenty of accelerating dangerous political, societal, and economic trends to identify and analyze – but also just as many rational, life-affirming solutions to the Western world’s current predicament. In addition, one must never forget the importance of human creativity and esthetics even in the most challenging of times. Accordingly, TRA’s art offerings have been amplified dramatically with the addition of tens of new works by my wife Wendy and myself. This year has also seen the addition of five of my new musical compositions, including the most recent, Progress Amidst a Crisis, Op. 66, which fittingly characterizes the mood of our time as it affects the individualist creator.
The endeavors of TRA to provide accessible, free academic education of the highest caliber were taken to new heights with the completion of my two largest actuarial study guides to date, preparing candidates for Exam 4/C and Exam 5. In addition to many smaller articles, I have also published a paper that I hope will be instructive to any movement seeking to achieve economic freedom. “Lessons from Successful Free-Trade Activism: The Arguments and Methods of Richard Cobden’s Anti-Corn Law League” is a thorough exploration of how a British textile manufacturer inaugurated the era of the freest trade in world history through a combination of principled argumentation, economic erudition, effective organization, and sheer persistence.
Wendy and I have also initiated a new series of recordings, G + W Audio Broadcasts, which aim to present rational ideas and the process of intellectual discovery and exploration in a more conversational, informal style. These broadcasts, of which we hope to produce many more, explore issues ranging from current events to philosophy and human fulfillment. Many of our conversations are listener-driven, as we respond to intelligent listener comments and even devote entire broadcasts to them.
The Rational Argumentator and The Progress of Liberty
Just as during TRA’s seventh year, I found myself needing to undertake a major rescue endeavor of TRA issues and features this year. My previous rescue effort preserved TRA’s first 45 issues from the imminent closure of Yahoo! Geocities. This time, another external entity – the former Today.com – made a decision that was beyond my control. This entity changed its name to the ill-advised BlogDog.com, with the even less appealing slogan, “Blogging has gone to the dogs.” As a result of this change, all of the URLs of articles and posts on The Progress of Liberty were altered from containing “today.com” to containing “blogdog.com” – leaving many of TRA’s hyperlinks and tens of issues from 2008-2009 dysfunctional, as that was the era when I still entertained the hope of integrating TRA and The Progress of Liberty in order to pay for some of TRA’s web hosting expenses. Now, however, after two experiences that consumed massive amounts of my time, I have learned the important lesson that one cannot solely trust an external organization with keeping one's content in one’s desired format, structure, and accessibility – or even at all. It is certainly beneficial to gain added exposure by publishing on other websites, and I continue to do this regularly. However, one should never have external sites as the sole repository of any of one’s creations – and a publication should remain as much as possible within the property of its owner, lest others’ decisions endanger the preservation of vital parts of that publication. If some minimal advertising revenue might be foregone to achieve the preservation of TRA in perpetuity, then so be it. The informational treasure offered by TRA is worth any such small costs. I have, however, enabled a donation option via PayPal, which is an excellent way for interested readers to help address some of TRA’s ongoing expenses while incentivizing further growth.
I spent much of May 2010 rescuing some fifty issues of TRA, whose content had largely been published on The Progress of Liberty. Now all of the articles and other features, including Antideath, TRA Audio, my actuarial study guides, and my compositions, have been duplicated on TRA, with the TRA versions being treated as primary in all hyperlinks. This is a major accomplishment for preserving the integrity and history of TRA, and it has other benefits as well. In my recent studies, I have delved into the science (and art) of risk management. Duplication is one major risk management strategy; with information on the Internet, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement. Duplication ensures that an asset cannot be fully lost when just one instance of it is disabled. Backups and replicas should be available and ready to deploy when the original is lost or tampered with. This is why publishing an article on multiple sites is preferable to publishing it on one, if one wants the message to survive with much greater probability.
The Progress of Liberty, by the way, is still intact at its new URL, and I continue to add a post there once a month. However, my major plans for expansion will be focused elsewhere.
The Future of TRA
I have numerous projects in mind that can still further amplify TRA’s range of intellectual offerings. I still intend to render my 2003 novel, Eden against the Colossus, publicly and freely available. I plan to also offer downloadable MP3 versions of the audio components of many of my YouTube videos in the TRA Audio library. And of course, more art, more music, more essays, and more videos are forthcoming.
The Western world today is facing a crisis of galloping totalitarianism, where individual freedom is increasingly being trampled by an obsolete institutional order – a new Ancien Regime – that does not recognize the possibilities offered by emerging personal technology. We truly are in a race between technological progress and authoritarian intervention, with technology offering the only feasible way to finally rid humanity of age-old problems, ranging from prohibitive transaction costs of information to human senescence and the overwhelming irrationality of many people. Of course, my readers, even after a single glimpse at this publication, need not wonder which side of this struggle TRA is on.
With such threats as ACTA on the horizon, the freedom to use the Internet is itself in jeopardy. But TRA will continue to exist and will continue to expose the foolishness and tragedy of stifling individual aspirations and productivity through ill-conceived impositions and crackdowns. Freedom of the press is an essential human right, and I will find ways to exercise it. Per TRA’s Statement of Policy, all of my own works do not have “all rights reserved” but are rather published under a Creative Commons license. The same holds for many, though not all, of TRA’s other contributors. Ultimately, while TRA does not agree with the concept of intellectual property, it respects the wishes of its contributors, and that includes honoring any copyrights and conditions they place upon their work. But even this complete compliance with the law and undertaking of purely voluntary and consensual trader relationships might not protect TRA – or any intelligent or controversial website – if ACTA is implemented in the form originally envisioned. Under ACTA, there would be no due process, no presumption of innocence until proof of guilt, no opportunity for the accused to explain his side of the issue. There would simply be censorship and arbitrary punishment – and that would be crossing the line into totalitarianism.
I ask my readers to continue visiting TRA and interacting with it, as they have done so often before. I also encourage the widespread reprinting of any content where the author has not reserved all rights. We need all the publicity and exposure we can get right now. Perhaps, with enough determination and enthusiasm, the cause of grassroots intellectual publications – our era’s arenas of individualism and human creativity – can overcome the assaults that the old oligopoly-seeking media organizations – the proponents of ACTA – are putting in their way.
Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.