Engelhardt, A Year-End Plea Like No Other

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The World Needs TD — and We Need Your Help

Dear TomDispatch Reader,

Yes, this is indeed that end-of-the-year fundraising letter I always hesitate to write. This one, however, is somewhat different from the norm. In fact, in the 21 years I’ve run TomDispatch, I’ve never written anything quite like it. I mean, I don’t like bothering you for money (any more than I like getting such letters myself), but what choice have I ever had?  Without your contributions, this site would have gone under long, long ago. This time around though, I have to wonder whether it may be the last such missive I’ll write.

Once upon a time, only a few years after I started TomDispatch, I met a man named Patrick Lannan. I was invited to Santa Fe where the Lannan Foundation was located because Eduardo Galeano, a wonderful Uruguayan author I’d worked with in the 1980s (when I was an editor at Pantheon Books) — I had published his classic Memory of Fire trilogy — had been invited to give a talk there. Until then, I’d never met him, so when the Lannan Foundation invited me, despite the long trip from New York, it was something of a thrill.  And in the process, I also met Patrick.

To make a long story short, he took a liking to TomDispatch and, at some point so many years ago, promised to support me in my work for the rest of his life. Patrick was, I have to say, truly a man of his word. I got grant payments every year from his foundation that covered my own salary and so I never had to take a cent of the money you readers contributed to TD. That went instead to the authors writing for the site and the wonderful crew who have worked with me all these years. Unfortunately, as happens to all of us sooner or later, Patrick died in July at 83. Now, his foundation is winding down and, partway into next year, TD will stop receiving those payments. 

At 78, I still find myself running this website that offers — or so I believe, at least — a take on our world that’s both all too sane and all too rare. If, starting with America’s disastrous Global War on Terror and running through so many of our other nightmares of this century, including climate change, those who matter in this country had paid attention to TomDispatch, we might have found ourselves in a different world today. No such luck, of course.

As for this website, which began almost by happenstance in response to the invasion of Afghanistan and has chugged along (and swept me away) all these years, I must admit I think it remains remarkably ahead of the curve. It hardly matters whether you’re talking about the looming end of the American Century as brought to you by Andrew Bacevich, the frontlines of the politics that saved the Senate from the Trumpublicans (thank you, Rebecca Gordon!), the crisis when it comes to paying for a desperately overheating planet as explored by Stan and Priti Gulati Cox, fighting a war on the wrong planet (Rajan Menon), or wondering how to survive us (as Frida Berrigan put it recently). And of course, that’s just to start down a list of memorable recent TD pieces that could go on and on and on. Not to mention the classics I repost from time to time by long-gone wonders like Barbara Ehrenreich or Mike Davis, or even new interviews with that ongoing wonder of our world, 93-year-old Noam Chomsky.

And mind you, old as TD is, it regularly features new authors like, only recently, Clarence Lusane on the MAGAfication of America, Helen Benedict on the global refugee crisis, and Chris Hedges on war in our time. And that just begins a list that includes countless sterling longtime regulars like Nick Turse, co-founder of the Costs of War Project Andrea Mazzarino, geopolitical expert Michael Klare, Alfred McCoy (author of the Dispatch Book To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change), and… well, just so many others who mean the world to me.

But I’ll stop there. After all, if I really made such a list, I’d never get to the point of this letter.  Let me add one thing, though: a small wonder of TomDispatch is that, while the site itself is modest indeed, the articles it publishes travel the web and are regularly reposted at places ranging from the Nation magazine to Common Dreams, Alternet to the LA Progressive, and so, to my eternal amazement, are undoubtedly read by hundreds of thousands of people. 

I could go on and on, but you know perfectly well just where I’m heading. To keep TomDispatch going at least through next year, if not beyond, I need the usual money that TD readers contribute with such remarkable generosity and, unfortunately, thousands of dollars more. It’s a lot to ask, even of a crew that’s been so unbelievably wonderful over the years, and if it’s too much, so be it. I still thank you for everything you’ve done for this site (and me) from the bottom of my heart.

Let me just add one regret that I mention each year: Whenever a donation comes in, I do indeed see it, but I just can’t thank each of you. I only wish I had the time, but believe me, TD leaves me no extra space for much of anything else. So, I can only thank you in advance and en masse for whatever you send in as this year ends — but thank you I do. You mean the world to me!

Now, those of you who feel the urge to lend a further hand, please visit our donation page and do your damnedest. 

My warmest regards,

Tom (Engelhardt)