Though I’m about to start demanding to be paid for all this work – real money, actual boatloads of it – the concept of “social nihilism” needs explication, mainly because of the wan, pettifogged, or inept attempts to ride it like a sparklepony.
Sure, social nihilists should feel gratified that the concept has moved up 20 spots on the Top 110,00 Global Meme List, but it’s not exactly a smash. Here’s former Iraq War volunteer soldier Roy Scranton in the NY Times, trying to do Nihilism 101:
Meanwhile, as the gap between the future we’re entering and the future we once imagined grows ever wider, nihilism takes root in the shadow of our fear: if all is already lost, nothing matters anyway.
You can feel this nihilism in TV shows like “True Detective,” “The Leftovers,” “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones,” and you can see it in the rush to war, sectarianism and racial hatred.
Nihilism is precisely NOT these types of action beliefs – war is fought by believers in overarching, irrational meaning. Sectarians and racists are convinced of the monumental importance and necessity of their delusional constructs.
And it is far too early in the process to bandy about the phase all is lost. Or, alls is lost, more accurately capturing the tenor of the times.
Human life has never promised some sort of constant bewonderment: we do harm, we do evil, we fail and stagger, because we have an collective orientation towards rationalized destruction. Doctors have done immense harm in the past, and continue to do institutionalized harm, before because of their widespread ignorance, now more because of pervasive corruption, at least in the US. Google perpetuates great evil through its monopoly on “information” control, its server farms, its corporate fascism, its insidious advertising pollution.
All is not lost – 7 billion humans will go about their business today, and some of them will find reward and personal satisfaction in at least a few events in their agitated movements. The Titanic has not yet hit the iceberg, so fine, rearrange the deck chairs, play and dance, but don’t look to Nietzsche for a guide: he’s long gone, and never made a mixtape, or played a game of dominoes, or made life more fun.
You are on this ride towards the unavoidable perils of the Arctic, yes, sorry, that just came with the ticket stamped human existence, so let’s find the right ways to do this long last trip in a fashion that will matter.