An -ist for our times – social nihilist.
Others -ists are fatally shot through with contradictions – an environmentalist driving a car, a capitalist asking for help, a faithiest working a job, a punk rockist recording a benign answering machine (“Please leave a message after the beep…”), an artist with a bank account and three kids, a burners-on-high fictionist going to church (David Fos-W), a humanist hating his or her students, a libertarianist demanding health care. Name another -ist that you believe has survived the supersystem, and there will be glaring, Mont Blanc-tunnel sized self-cancelling hypocrisies, contradictions, omissions, or outright frauds right below the Wikipedia definition of it. To point them out, though, becomes a buzzkill, an act of trolling, ingratitude, or, in the penultimate perversity short of the all-time award winner nihilism, cynicism.
The problem is that the labels that people peel and stick upon themselves are often faded, sometimes inconsequential, and often demonstrably false. Religionists of all stripes are often capable of stunning rationalisms, though the social world has not equipped them with the necessary cultural and linguistic support for their rational, atheistic, sociologically adept ratiocinations. They doubt, they hedge their mind, they get off their knees and get down to brass tacks, but in the US, the religious propaganda has been so thick since the McCarthy years that they dare not speak the A-word about some of their own neural formulations.
Atheists, heretofore a tiny subset of Americans, are now going though a relentless sorting process – pro- or anti-Dawkins? Some virtue-signalers see him as a Trump-like “misogynist,” and have broken with him – PZ Myers and the Watsonians. Others continue to rapture the ground before the recent TIA sufferer. There are marvelously hurt feelings up, down, and around our lowly flagpole, but the work of establishing a counter-religious social philosophy continues for atheists, even now mortal familial enemies. Want my two cents on our current civil war? No, I don’t believe you do. We’ll sort it out, eventually, ’cause that’s what families do, right?