The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

no worse

with 3 comments

The world is not as it should be, rather it is as it is and always has been.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When a humble narrator was a boy, there were quite a few “doomsday scenarios” in play. Existential threats included the probable outbreak of a global thermonuclear war fought between the United States and the Soviet Union and the so called “population bomb” which was meant to cause mass starvation (predictions included the deaths of over 60 million Americans due to food shortages – a third of the population at the time). There was also an ozone hole which was meant to BBQ farm and city alike, an atmospheric phenomena whose formation was blamed on the presence of certain chemicals in aerosol hair spray cans. Additionally, an ice age was thought to be just around the corner, one which would depopulate the northern hemisphere and force humanity to cluster about Earth’s equator.

Slightly lower on the scale – but still terrifying – were threats posed by the rise of violent crime, disestablishmentarianism, and the rise of narcoterrorism. The world was ending, so say your prayers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a whole set of existential worries afoot these days – sea level rise, global warming, the rise of religion based terrorism, etc. Since these terrors are routinely explored in mainstream media, there’s no reason to repeat them as I’m sure you’re quite familiar with the various story lines. There’s a lot of drums that get beat upon by the “usual suspects.”

For those on the so called “left” – any factory or mill is by definition “satanic.”

For those on the so called “right” – the natural world is merely a collection of unharnessed natural resources.

The lefties want to see strict regulatory controls enacted on business, capital, and seek to curtail personal liberties in the name of protecting populations whom they have decided are vulnerable. The righties wish for an unfettered business environment, cessation of tax and regulation, and to curtail personal liberties in the name of protecting themselves. Both poles see society as teetering on the brink of destruction. Some predict a second American Civil War as being just around the corner.

Both sides populated by absolutists, who are dwellers in ivory towers. One set of towers is found in academia, the others on Wall Street. Both forget about the rest of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are no Mongol armies about to ride over the hill and force our village to submit to their yoke. If there were, these Mongols would meet the United States Marines, or the Russian Spetsnaz, or the British SAS and there would soon be no more Mongols. It’s no secret that the biggest problem encountered by the United States military in its recent wars was how to fight a war in which you don’t exterminate the entire population of any given country and instead just target the bad guys.

Superman would have to consciously pull his punches when apprehending bank robbers. One good punch from the big guy could reduce a human’s head to a spray of red mist, and his gaze could easily immolate. Criminals in Metropolis would seldom need to be reminded of what they’re dealing with. Neither would the ones in Gotham City.

The lefties would want Superman or Batman jailed for vigilante activity, and the righties would want them to go overseas and slaughter some Mongols.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I find both arguments pedantic. There are so many things commonly agreed upon, that are actionable, which get lost in this ideological tug of war that it actually depresses me. Don’t throw litter and garbage into the street? Be nice to each other and don’t call people ugly names? Don’t feign political naïveté? Don’t call yourself a “progressive” when you don’t understand what that means?

Maybe I’m just getting old. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maybe everybody else is right, and the Mongols are in fact coming to get us – or we should celebrate their vibrant diversity. The division between the two points of view is exactly the sort of thing which wily old Chingis Khan would have expolited. The Khans viewed themselves as appointed by God itself to rule mankind, and Chingis often referred to himself as “God’s curse.” The Mongol term for submission and peace used the same word.

The Khans would send a rider to the village gates before an attack, who would pronounce the following (the actual quotation is lifted from a letter sent to Pope Innocent IV, in 1246, by Chingis Khan’s grandson Güyük):

“You must say with a sincere heart: “We will be your subjects; we will give you our strength”. You must in person come with your kings, all together, without exception, to render us service and pay us homage. Only then will we acknowledge your submission. And if you do not follow the order of God, and go against our orders, we will know you as our enemy.”

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 2nd, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek – Bushwick & Mapeth Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

August 8th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills – LIC Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 30, 2015 at 10:37 am

3 Responses

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  1. being a mongol, i disagree on there being no threat as i keep telling you. my fellow bubbas are gathering

    From: The Newtown Pentacle Reply-To: The Newtown Pentacle Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2015 16:37:05 +0000 To: Patricia Dorfman Subject: [New post] no worse Mitch Waxman posted: “The world is not as it should be, rather it is as it is and always has been. – photo by Mitch Waxman When a humble narrator was a boy, there were quite a few “doomsday scenarios” in play. Existential threats included the probable outbreak of a g”

    Patricia Dorfman

    July 30, 2015 at 2:28 pm

  2. “Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” H.L. Mencken

    This of course gives rise to the collectivist managerial state that reduces citizens to the status of clients who will eventually degrade into serfs. In this monoculture of rigidly and ruthlessly enforced rules of thought, speech and conduct, the individual is crushed. With the loss of the individual comes the slow decay of sciences, technological advancement and the arts which even now is slowly grinding to a halt.

    Computer science has not advanced in new technology since the 1970 invention of the microprocessor chip. All that has happened since is merely further miniaturization and increased speed. The so-called 5th generation artificial intelligence is nowhere in sight nor can it ever truly become under a binary digital paradigm. Physical sciences is still in the quantum mechanics of the 1920s and still working the standard model of the early 1960s with only untestable theoretical flights of fancy such as string and ‘m’ theory proffered since the 1980s. Worse now that it has devolved into pure magical thinking with many worlds and dark energy.
    And much of modern art and music has become pure talentless drek more intended to shock and annoy as an attention getting device than to inspire. Many pop songs include riffs borrowed from older songs. How pathetic is that?

    Creativity and innovation, necessary ingredients in the arts, sciences and technology, is an individualistic pursuit of one not bound by the strictures of a collective. The collective, in seeking to enforce an artificial physical and intellectual equality must impose the lowest common denominator on all in its domain to ensure an equality of outcome. This is of course, inimical to creativity.

    How can a truly creative person exist in an environment where all thought and opinion must be approved by the collective? What person who willingly acquiesces to the externally imposed strictures of thought and seeks first the approval of the collective before any endeavor can be truly a creative person?

    Our current systems of technology and economics are a byzantine array of ad-hoc patches designed only to “kick the can a bit further down the road” than to understand past errors and failed assumptions and properly rectify them. As long as the collectivist rulers, those I refer to as “The Machine Gods” can keep things moving however slowly and they can reap their ill-gotten rewards, there will be absolutely no attempt made to actually solve any problems. Greece anyone?
    How much longer before we can no longer understand how it all works let alone make it all work again if the system fails?

    So what’s the solution?
    Unfortunately, there is no single “magic bullet” solution but several things must be addressed and it will take years, if not decades for much of it to work. Some of them will sound harsh and shocking at first but bear with me and think them over before coming to any conclusions.

    -Allow the individual to be an individual. See above.

    -Progressivism must go and be replaced with a more lassiez faire economic system on the model of the industrial revolution tweaked to iron out some of the problems. No system is perfect and seeking the perfect solution is a fool’s errand. We must use the system that yields overall the best results with the fewest negatives. The individual freedoms, less intrusive government and less crushing tax regimes that existed in the early to mid nineteenth century (and well into the early twentieth century before the progressive era) allowed individuals with ideas the opportunities to pursue them. The result was not only tremendous advancements in technology that lasted well into the twentieth century but major improvements in the quality of life for even the poor.

    Progressivism is an utter failure. Just look around you. It’s obvious to anyone with eyes in their head that this system sucks. Its overbearing regulations and onerous taxes serve only to create barriers to progress and prevents social mobility.
    Taxes create a barrier that keeps the poor from becoming the middle class and the middle class from becoming the rich. And why is it “fair” that someone who makes more money should have to pay more money? Are not all Americans supposed to be treated equally? There is no valid moral or logical argument to “soaking the rich” other than to assuage the hurt feelings of the less able envious.

    Regulations protect already existent industries from competition from less affluent upstarts who do not have the capital and resources to navigate byzantine regulations (often without any scientific proof as to their necessity) or afford the equipment needed to comply with the same. The crony capitalist as well as the bankers concocting the shifty accounting schemes necessary to keep the “free stuff” flowing are the willing henchmen of the progressive. Has the poor gotten any richer from all this?
    The only sort of people who support this system are either the ones who profit from it or those rabbit people too afraid to live outside the nanny state and all its social safety nets.

    -The perpetually angry and aggrieved “Social Justice Warriors” should simply be ignored and pushed back into whatever dark corners they crawled out of.These types have no other reason for life except to be angry about something so consequently making any concessions to them does not appease them and they simply keep increasing their demands.

    -The activist (not as bad as the SJW) likewise lives for their cause and has no real interest in solving the problems they demonstrate against as that will put them out of business. And they like being in business. Can anyone name a defunct activist group other than the abolitionists (folded into the civil rights industry) or the Women’s Christian Temperance movement (folded into the feminist industry)?

    Therefore the activist should be held accountable for honestly identifying a problem then devising and proposing a solution. If the problem and proposed solution are found to have merit, they are implemented and the activist groups strikes the tents and goes home. If the cure is worse than the disease, it is rejected and the activist group strikes the tents and goes home. If the problem is found to be not as bad as the activist claims or not to be a problem at all, the activist group strikes the tents and goes home.

    -Cheap and abundant energy. There is no real excuse for not having it other than the deluded apocalypse porn of Neo-Luddites and Neo-Malthusians. Those zombie ideologies that no matter how many times they are disproven through history and reason and dispatched with a logical stake through the heart, they still shamble back to life to annoy the masses with their nonsense.

    -Fast and efficient transportation of people and goods. That means planes, trains, trucks and automobiles.

    What I have written would once have been considered plain common sense but now is considered unthinkable and insane.
    The folly of our present generations is in deciding, without evidence, that we are in fact more intelligent and wiser than all previous generations. We have eschewed what our forefathers have learned through the ages of hard won practical experience and instead chase frivolous novelties and hide behind puerile delusions rather than face unpleasant truths.

    D. Cavaioli


    July 30, 2015 at 7:10 pm

  3. “Personally, I find both arguments pedantic. There are so many things commonly agreed upon, that are actionable, which get lost in this ideological tug of war that it actually depresses me. Don’t throw litter and garbage into the street? Be nice to each other and don’t call people ugly names? Don’t feign political naïveté? Don’t call yourself a “progressive” when you don’t understand what that means?”

    Perhaps I am merely beating a dead horse to no good purpose but here goes:

    Nonsense. There is a right and wrong or a better and a worse. We may look at right and wrong as transcendent concepts in which we have absolutes but better and worse as physical concepts therefore both can be imperfect and distinguished by balance of imperfections. Conflating the transcendent and physical and attempting to evaluate them together is what is causing confusion.

    Organization and operation of society is a physical concept. To determine better or worse is an empirical evaluation much like any engineering problem: A series of compromises with reality to obtain what is most desired with as few flaws as possible. This requires a thorough examination of all arguments and an objective research of history and current events. Away from the jaundiced coloring of revisionism and personal prejudice by attempting to falsify both the pros and the cons. The only metric here that matters is what is most practicable and works the best. That should be readily determinable.

    To find both arguments pedantic is to either not to have given them any thought at all or just a stubborn refusal to give up one’s own prejudices in light of knowing better. It is then either through sentimentality, fear of losing friends or of offending people. As I have a high regard for you as an observant man and astute student of history, of above average intelligence and exceptional memory, I may conclude the latter is more likely correct. Ergo, medicus ipse mederit potes.

    The measure of contemporary morality is a transcendent concept. The interpersonal rudeness and the laziness of littering is a direct result of the cultural poisoning of postmodern philosophy. As postmodernism began to be more widely spread throughout the collective consciousness with its moral relativism and postulate that Man is the highest power. This leads to the conclusion that if Man it is the highest power, therefore Man must be God. This gradually eroded the constructs of the traditional morality of organized religion replacing it with a worship of the self. However, Man is a flawed being with limited knowledge and obviously would make for a terrible God. The horrid excesses of the Nazis and the ever present possibility of a similar occurring again should alone be proof of the inevitable trajectory of the worship of the self.

    It was only the remaining cultural inertia of traditional religious based morals that gave the deceptive appearance that empirically, postmodernism is a logically consistent and workable philosophy. However, now the gradual decline of cultural standards is easily measured and observable finally proving the intellectual bankruptcy of postmodern thought,

    In conclusion, your angst is a self-inflicted wound due to your refusal to adhere to or openly avow a set of principals. The truth hurts, especially when you hide it.

    Taking the moderate stance is not the answer. Moderation is not a virtue in that it is a lack of principles. Agreeing with both sides is not the virtue of intellectual nuance, of the wise and benevolent who “reach across the aisle” but of the cowardly appeasement of both sides in order to curry favor with all. In the end, no one is pleased and grow to despise the moderate. One who stands for everything stands for nothing and even Superman and Batman stood for something.

    Don Cavaioli


    August 1, 2015 at 3:58 pm

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