As is obvious today, LFB.org is getting ever better, more stable, filled with more and more services, and ebook archive is more impressive each week. The book offerings are growing as is the traffic and the energy in this enterprise. In the new year, we are in all the way with audio books and more and more services, including multimedia books and conferences. This is still the ground floor but it is looking fantastic.
Last Winter 2011, before we launched, we knew that there was a need for a new approach to producing, distributing, and curating ideas in the world of liberty. We weren’t sure what form that would take. We had a vague idea of the outlines — drawn from the experiences of many of us in various sectors of the world of ideas — but the particulars had yet to be discovered. The overall services, the look and feel, the marketability, the direction we would take, the consumer response, the product, the technical feasibility — none of this we could know for sure. We were only at the dreaming stage.
All we knew for sure was that liberty and commerce needed to be fused. We knew this for specific reasons. Libertarian ideas are too important to be robbed of those great gifts of commerce: the creative spark, the balance-sheet crucible, the consumer feedback, the trial and error process, the future orientation, the capacity for adaptation to change, the higher knowledge emerging from colliding ideas, the North star of profitability, and the element of surprise. These are the tools that the market grants to humanity to make something wonderful out of this world we’ve been given. With these tools, humanity builds civilization piece by piece, day by day. Surely the great project of libertarian thinking could benefit from these.
So long as I live I will never forget that first conversation I had with Agora Financial president Addison Wiggin on this topic. It was little more than one year ago. The part I remember most lasted perhaps no more than 15 seconds. In a quick back and forth, we agreed on something along the lines of the above paragraph. Commerce and big ideas needed each other. We can do this.
It was a collaborative effort of so many talented people. Among the staff, there was total free speech and total commitment. Everyone made some contribution to the overall outline. By that spring, we were ready to launch — actually not ready at all, and that was the beauty of it. We weren’t ready but we did it anyway. Why? Because we wanted the machine to run in real time so that we could begin to draw from the energy it produced, so that we could begin to discover how to fix it, so that we could gain a clearer picture of what needed to be done in the future.
Honestly, it was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. It was like skydiving. It was like rock climbing with a blindfold on. Action films that I watched in these months seemed less like fantasy and more like allegories of our own journey.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that what we see today would have come about in this period of time. It didn’t exist and now it does exist. Ah, the creative wonders of the market!!
What comes next? We have ideas. We have plans. But we also know that these can change. They must change because the world is changing and ever more rapidly. The biggest and best body of ideas in the history of humanity — that great liberal project of discovering how society comes to manage itself — must never again find itself chasing the change. We must move with the change and even drive it forward to the light of liberty. This is our goal.
Thank you all for being part of this.