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As in all things (seriously!—"the freest country on earth," according to TOC, remember?!), New Zealand leads the way into 2005. It’s New Year’s Eve down here—thus, from this vantage point (as Dr. Diabolical Dialectical would say), an appropriate moment for these salutations.
From my personal perspective one of the most important SOLO happenings this year was my return visit to TOC. This made it plain enough, as if it wasn’t already, that in spite of our differences over "freest country on earth" and other matters, the two organisations could overlap, cross-fertilise and generally hang out together to mutual advantage. Most folk who’ve signed on to SOLO were card-carrying TOCites anyway, so for them this was something that was already happening. In occasional lapses into insanity I fantasise about persuading the ARI to remove the cacti from their recti and join in the party, but then reality intervenes. The Objectivist chapter of the Exclusive Brethren Church is unlikely to reform itself in the near future.
The year has seen an explosion of new activity, new writers … and from time to time, an explosion of tempers, my own included. This last is inevitable among such highly-charged people with such fiercely-held convictions on a board upholding rational passion and passionate reason—especially when there’s an issue like the war in Iraq to exercise us. Folk have remonstrated with me for using the term "Saddamites" to describe those opposing the war. I have explained my reasons for that many times and I’m not going to relitigate the matter now. Nor do I resile from the term, though I have had to learn to accept that it’s possible to be a Saddamite—one who succours Saddam—inadvertently, in good faith. As everyone knows, some of my best friends are Saddamites!
Good faith, indeed, is one of the three ingredients essential to maintaining a degree of equilibrium and harmony consistent with the prerogative of virtually unbridled free speech that we grant on the SOLO Forum. By "good faith" I mean people posting sincerely, not to win a hair-splitting contest, beat up on Objectivism just for the hell of it, satisfy a craving for attention, or cause distress to an adversary. Sincerity—a sorely-needed commodity in these postmodern times—doesn’t mean po-faced priggishness, the shunning of fun, or morbid dullness; it means authenticity, genuineness, fidelity to one’s values. Oscar Wilde wickedly said: "One should never take sides in anything… Taking sides is the beginning of sincerity, and earnestness follows shortly afterwards, and the human being becomes a bore." Well, one could happily report to Oscar that SOLO abounds in sincere people whom he would be hard-pressed to describe as "bores"! The boring ones, in my experience, are those who refuse to take sides in anything but instead whisk up some New Age blancmange in an attempt to drown disagreement in fluffy foam when disagreement is actually appropriate. I would paraphrase Oscar by saying, "One should usually take sides in all things… Not taking sides is the beginning of insinserity, and blandness follows shortly afterwards, causing the human being to become a bore."
The other two ingredients are good will and good humour. Good will, because that’s what we owe every human being until it’s clear it should be withdrawn; good humour, because it’s in our delicious self-interest—see my article Of Belly-Laughers And Anal-Retentives—and oftentimes, a deft, well-directed epigram is just what’s needed to defuse an incipient melee (not, of course, an epigram directed from the fence by a bore. Bores are incapable of epigrams in any event).
Good will, good humour, and good faith ...
Concerning new activities, the most conspicuous during the year was the relaunch of SOLOHQ in its current incarnation. This one event, more than any other, put us on the map because of everything it made possible. Even though we lack physical headquarters with fulltime staff employed in a dedicated office, and even though we lack the financial resources of the ARI and TOC, people are already referring to us as one of the Big Three. (In terms of sense-of-life, of course, I would rank us Number One. In terms of signs of life, I would rank us Number Two. And there’s no rush—world domination is not scheduled till 2008.) SOLOHQ Mark 2 was undoubtedly a high point of 2004.
The steady rise in membership and the number of contributors has been most gratifying. Established writers have stayed on board, new writers have emerged from all over. I’d like to pay special tribute to the ferociously fecund Tibor Machan, whose incisive "musings" have flowed forth in a veritable torrent.
To try to do justice to everyone worthy of being singled out would take for ever, so I shall confine myself to a generic "thank you" and salute to everybody who has helped make SOLO bigger and better this year, and mention just one name: Joe Rowlands, my staunch and indispensable comrade-in-arms. In a world where there are heroes, if one but looks to find them, he’s right up there. He practises what he preaches and does both superlatively well. (Such a shame the boy is heterosexual, but I'm told there's a lot of that about. Especially within SOLO. In fact ... ah, but my lips are sealed.)
Next year will see SOLOC 4 in Los Angeles—a chance for all SOLOists to put faces to NEMs. For details of that, and a whole lot more, stay tuned. If you thought 2004 was a KASS-blast, you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet! (Newbies unfamiliar with such SOLO-specific terms as "KASS" and "NEM" are invited to peruse the relevant articles at http://www.solohq.com/Articles/Author_1.shtml)
I raise a glass to you all, SOLOists! Happy New Year ... and excellent premises!
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