This Week: Issue #2 in the Fall 2021 Nygaard Notes Pledge Drive!

Last week kicked off the Fall 2021 Nygaard Notes Pledge Drive.

This is Issue #2 in the Fall 2021 Nygaard Notes Pledge Drive!

Two things are in store for you in Part 2:

1. Some comments about the Notes from readers. Intended to inspire you!

2. A collection of miscellaneous headlines and selected quotations that have appeared in the Notes since the previous Pledge Drive. Also intended to inspire you!

Of course, you don’t need to read any of this stuff, interesting though it may be. All you need to know is this:

It’s Time To Donate to Nygaard Notes!

Remember how simple it is:

Just mail a check to:

Nygaard Notes
P.O. Box 6103
Minneapolis, MN 55406


Go to the Nygaard Notes website and hit “Donate.”

Some of you meant to send in a Pledge after Pledge Drive Part I. But, for whatever set of reasons—you got distracted, couldn’t find an envelope, the dog ate your stamps—you never did send in that Pledge.

Now, here is Part II of the Drive. There will only be two parts, so now is the time to make a Pledge of support for Nygaard Notes. And by “now” I mean: Today. Go.

And… Thanks!

People Like Nygaard Notes!

Nygaard Notes readers sometimes take the time to tell me what they think of things I’ve written. And sometimes they take the time to tell me what think about Nygaard Notes in general. In hopes that they will inspire you, and perhaps remind you of why YOU may wish to support this project with a Pledge of your own, here are a few of the comments I’ve received since the last Pledge Drive:

* Jocelyn said “Thanks for everything you’re doing… I’ve read every single word you’ve put out in, gosh, how many years? It’s brilliant, and I’m so glad you’re carrying on with it.”

* In response to NN #646, reader Peter (a retired college professor) wrote to say: “How do I love thee? At least 646 ways. And this one, #646, is the best of all, but it rests on the base you have built – of integrity, of inquiry, of self-interrogation. When I say that knowledge is produced outside the academy, I know of no better example than you. Thanks for this, and so much more.”

* Declan added, “Kudos for your continued efforts. I find that it is at least refreshing that out among the bewildered landscape of pseudo-journalists there are beacons of honest writing.”

* Roger wrote to say “We all thank you. Your vocation is a ‘light at the end of a very dark tunnel.’ Keep up the great work.”

* #642 prompted Vincent to send a two-word note: “Profoundly enlightening!”

* John sent in a Pledge with this note: “Your writing is amazing! Needless to say, I love your thought process. Working class scholar!”

* Claude says, “Your newsletters are always insightful and help me see beyond the myths that rule our thinking.”

* Susan said to me, “You go deep and wide and that’s what it takes to understand where we are right now. I appreciate your work so much!”

* Frank very kindly said (the capital letters are his), “You are SO TALENTED that you could be writing in NATION magazine, or the New Yorker.”

* And Bill offered his opinion on this humble newsletter, saying that “Jeff has the ability to evaluate, dissect, and then discuss issues as well as anyone I know.”

Have you ever entertained any thoughts like these?

If you have, then I suggest you make your feelings known with a Pledge of support for Nygaard Notes! How? It’s easy!

Mail a check to:

Nygaard Notes
P.O. Box 6103
Minneapolis, MN 55406


Go to the Nygaard Notes website and hit “Donate.”

And, again, thanks for your financial AND moral support. You keep me going!

A Few things That I’ve Said Recently

One of the things I enjoy the most when putting together an issue of Nygaard Notes is coming up with intriguing titles for my essays, which I think of as headlines. The ones that stick in my mind are the ones that are a little mysterious, the ones that are hopefully as intriguing as the essay itself, and the ones which promise to act as stimulants to the imagination. Here are a few headlines that I’ve published since the last Pledge Drive, along with a few of the comments that appeared under those headlines.

Let’s start with a title that appeared in #640 in April 2019, during the previous Pledge Drive. The headline was “Let’s Not Call Donald Trump a Racist,” and in it I said, “The Big Misconception has to do not only with what a racist is, but also with what racism is. It’s not Individual, Conscious, and Intentional. Rather it is Systemic, Institutional, and Useful (to the dominant white racial group).”

“Trumpism, The Wall, and Terrified Whiteness” appeared in the “Othering and Belonging” issue, #646: “The changes occurring in the early 21st Century are big and rapid indeed! At such a time of tumult, when so many are terrified and feeling abandoned, large numbers of people in, or wishing to be in, the dominant group look for leaders who offer a sense of group identity, who promise to clarify exactly who is Us and who is Them. And every time a leader insults, demonizes, excludes, targets, blames, accuses or otherwise scapegoats an identifiable Other it is another brick in the wall separating winners from losers, separating the in-group from the innumerable out-groups, separating the virtuous from the wicked, separating Us from Them.”

“The Enemy is… US!” That was the headline, and it appeared just a couple of months ago, in issue #677. My editor’s note included these words: “The Costs of War project at Brown University reported this month that the cost of the U.S. Global War on Terror now stands at $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths. The decision in 2001 to launch this costly and deadly war was the real tragic mistake here, the mistake from which so many mistakes have arisen, and continue to arise. I think it’s time to stop apologizing for the Empire, and start working to end it.”

What did I mean with this headline, from issue #642: “Generosity to Solidarity”? Well, you’d have to read it to find out, but it included these words: “I do like the term Social Generosity; it has a nice feel to it. But, the more I think about it, the more I think that the transformation I seek leads us away from generosity entirely, whether individual or social. Instead of generosity, we need to build a society based on solidarity.”

Issue #645 offered the not-so-intriguing headline “Universal Family Care Part III,” under which I said “Caring for kids. Caring for our elders. Caring for ourselves in periods of illness and disability. The dominance of individualism in U.S. culture has made it much more difficult than it needs to be to support each other when the road of life gets rough. We need a whole new approach. What if we were to base public policy on what we know, and not on what we don’t know? In this case, what we know is roughly how many people are going to need what kind of care in the future. What we don’t know is who those people will be. Policy: Insure the whole group and everyone in it.”

In issue #656, the overall title of which was “The Big Crisis, Part 3,” there was an essay headlined “What Is Going On These Days?” I said, “We are living in a time that I call The Big Crisis, a time in which long-established structures, institutions, and ways of thinking are weakening or failing. As The Big Crisis deepens and increasingly makes real change inevitable, the currently-dominant ideas and ways of thinking will yield to new ideas. Familiar structures and institutions will die and new ones will be born. The nature of the changes that The Big Crisis is breeding is not settled. Who gets to settle it? That’s what we are fighting about.”

The entire issue #661 was headlined with a question: “Fascism in the United States?” Maybe. Or, as I put it, “Trump, in his single-minded narcissistic pursuit of power and celebrity, may be fertilizing the soil in which a future fascism could take root. And that future may not be too far away.”

“Capitalism and Our Basic Desires” was the headline in issue #664. I wrote: “So, the question to ask here is this: Are the values of capitalism the values that we want to use to organize our economy? A major disagreement about this is near the root of the ‘polarization’ of U.S. society that we hear about so much. It’s becoming increasingly clear that many people are increasingly disillusioned with the predominantly capitalist way of running the global economy. Let’s take a look at why that is so.”

In the essay preceding that one, I set up the discussion by reminding readers that “For the entire history of the United States, the only group with the power to decide, for the culture as a whole, what is acceptable and unacceptable has been white men. And that includes not only which rules and policies are acceptable, but also which people are acceptable. Who belongs. And who does not.”

In “Biden and The Movement,” in issue #665, I stated that “There’s nothing wrong with taking a few days, or weeks, to celebrate the people’s victory that removed the malignant ideology of Trumpism from the White House. But then it really is time to organize against Biden, not because he’s a bad person, but because a social change vision goes far beyond what is being offered by the Biden wing of the Democratic party.”

This past April, in “The Attention Economy” (issue #669), one could read that “In an Attention Economy, where there is an entire industry working to get us to ‘Look over here!’, I’m suggesting that it might be worth our while to look over there, or at least to remember that there IS an ‘over there,’ and that the choice of where we look is really up to us. And that’s true even in the age of Donald Trump, adorable cat videos, or whatever it is that gets our attention every day.

What I said above about the economy of the Internet bears repeating: The ‘free or cheaper content’ is not ‘free’ at all. We’re paying with our attention. In other words, in exchange for access to the information to which we wish to consciously direct our attention, we agree to make ourselves the target for people who wish to capture our attention.”

In issue #670 I made a headline out of some advice that I have been offering to readers for years, encouraging you to “Think Like a Historian.” To help in that effort, I suggested that “We can imagine three facets, or levels, of sociopolitical organization in a society: Policies; Systems; and Consciousness. POLICIES are the rules, laws, traditions, expectations, and so forth that shape our daily lives. SYSTEMS are the larger structures and institutions, patterns and power structures, architectures and infrastructures that give rise to, and are reflected in, policies.  CONSCIOUSNESS is the understanding of, or beliefs about, how the world works and how it SHOULD work. A broad agreement on this level is what binds a society together, what gives institutions legitimacy, what makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”

Many people in recent months have been talking about something they call “Critical Race Theory.” So, in issue # 672 that was my headline, and I said “But now, after 50 years or so of dominating the scene, the Powers That Be are beginning to worry that they may soon be the Powers That Were. They have a name for this struggle for dominance. They call it The Culture Wars.”

Most of the above quotations are drawn from Nygaard Notes issues that feature philosophical pieces, in issues that I hope highlight the “big picture.” But that’s not all that readers will find in these pages.

Since the last Pledge Drive I’ve also written about some very specific policies, initiatives, news events, organizing opportunities, and so forth. Among the specific things I’ve addressed are: The Movement for A People’s Vaccine; Universal Family Care; a major new anti-poverty initiative called “A Just Society”; Republican election strategy; the Solidarity Economy; election rigging (the real election rigging, that is); Operation Warp Speed and vaccine patenting; climate disruption and the earth’s ocean currents; voting rights and voter suppression; the THRIVE Agenda; Critical Race Theory; drought, and; the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I’d like to give a hint here about what is coming up in future issues. But I’ve learned to refrain from such predictions, for the simple reason that I don’t know what’s coming up! What I do know is that, without your support, there won’t be too many more issues of Nygaard Notes. That’s how important it is that you make a donation—large or small, it doesn’t matter—to this humble newsletter.

Thank you for your support!